The Dagger: College Basketball Blog

Kansas suffers one of the season’s most stunning upsets, falling to Big 12 doormat TCU

Jeff Eisenberg
The Dagger

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TCU's Garlon Green celebrates the victory over Kansas (USA Today Sports Images)

Nobody thought it could happen when Kansas scored only two points in the game's first 14 minutes. Nobody thought it could happen when the Jayhawks entered halftime with just 13 points. Nobody thought it could happen even with 10 minutes to go and Bill Self's team still trailing by 14 points.

Only after the game clock read triple zeroes and coach Trent Johnson started high-fiving purple-clad students as they poured onto the floor did what TCU achieved finally begin to seem possible. The Horned Frogs, who had yet to come within nine points of any Big 12 opponent this year, defeated the league's eight-time defending regular season champion 62-55.

To put in perspective why fifth-ranked Kansas' loss is so stunning, consider the following statistics for a moment:

• TCU has five NCAA tournament victories in program history; Kansas had five NCAA tournament victories last season alone

• TCU last made the NCAA tournament in 1998; Kansas last missed the NCAA tournament in 1989.

• TCU lost all eight of its Big 12 games prior to Wednesday night; Kansas had lost eight Big 12 games in five seasons prior to Wednesday night.

If Kansas' loss isn't the season's most shocking, it at least belongs in the conversation. The only ones that come close are UCLA's November upset at the hands of lowly Cal Poly, Texas' stunner against Division II Chaminade and Virginia's loss to an Old Dominion team that fired its coach Tuesday after starting 2-20.

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Ben McLemore (USA Today Sports Images)

What may make Kansas' loss the worst of all is the the Jayhawks (19-3, 7-2) needed a late surge just to get within striking distance.

The closest they got was 44-40 on a Jeff Withey jump shot with just under seven minutes remaining in the second half. Naadir Tharpe could have cut the deficit further, but his transition 3-pointer didn't fall, igniting a 7-0 TCU spurt that restored the Horned Frogs' double-digit lead with less than three minutes to go.

"It was the worst team that Kansas has ever put on the floor since Dr. Naismith was there," Self told reporters afterward. "For the first half, there hasn't been a team that played worse than that offensively. That hasn't happened anywhere. Maybe Northern Illinois earlier in the year. I think they made one basket in the half."

As chants of "overrated" rained down on the shell-shocked Jayhawks in the final minute, they had to come to grips with the ramifications of the loss. Not only have they fallen into a first-place tie with rival Kansas State atop the Big 12, they've also now lost consecutive games for the first time since Jan. 2006.

It would have been difficult to predict this during Kansas' 18-game win streak following its mid-November loss to Michigan State, but in retrospect there were a few signs. An elite defense anchored by shot-blocking center Jeff Withey has overshadowed an often erratic offense suffering because point guard Elijah Johnson is mired in a confidence-sapping slump and everyone else isn't producing consistently.

The problems continued against TCU as Kansas missed 16 of its first 17 shots, shot 29.5 percent from the field and sank just 3 of 22 from behind the arc. Johnson again struggled, fouling out with eight points on 3 of 12 from the floor.

When Kansas lost by five at home to Oklahoma State last Saturday, it was mildly alarming simply because the Jayhawks don't lose at home very often. There's still plenty of reason to believe Kansas will emerge from this skid, but Wednesday's loss against a team nobody thought could win was definitely a wakeup call that something indeed is wrong.

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