Jayhawks wary of latest road trip to TCU

TCU head coach Trent Johnson encourages his players during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against West Virginia, Saturday, Jan. 24, 2015, in Morgantown, W.Va. West Virginia defeated TCU 86-85 in overtime.

? To some, it seems like only yesterday TCU’s unranked, sub-.500 basketball team defeated No. 5-rated Kansas University, 62-55, on the Horned Frogs’ campus.

“It’s amazing to me how many people still talk about that. It happened a long, long time ago,” third-year TCU coach Trent Johnson said in advance of today’s Big 12 battle between (14-5, 1-5) TCU and the (16-3, 5-1) No. 9-ranked Jayhawks. Tip is 8 p.m., at 4,759-seat Wilkerson-Greines Activity Center, temporary home of the Frogs while Daniel-Meyer Coliseum undergoes renovations.

“That stuff is good for fans, you guys (media) to speculate on. We’re worried about playing as hard and as well as we can to compete with this group we have,” Johnson added.

That 2012-13 TCU team finished with two league victories. The Frogs won the regular-season finale versus Oklahoma. Johnson’s teams have a 3-39 record in Big 12 play with this year’s initial victory coming against Texas Tech.

“I don’t know if I’ll mention it as much as they’ll be reminded in some form or fashion. I’m sure it’ll be brought up,” KU coach Bill Self said of his players hearing of the mega-upset vs. TCU. “It was two years ago. I’ve tried to forget about it. I am reminded and have not forgotten it. They whipped us good. We were a Sweet 16 team. Every game was a one- or two-possession game (in Big 12 that year) except TCU. They drilled us from start to finish. We have to be ready to play physically, hopefully go in there and be in attack mode and ready to play because they are very capable.”

One reason the TCU game was so memorable is the Jayhawks scored just 13 points the first half.

Also it was the night Self was quite critical and colorful in post-game remarks, indicating, “it’s the worst team Kansas has ever put on the floor since Dr. Naismith was here. I think he had some bad teams when he lost to Topeka YMCA in his first couple years.”

“We do have a couple guys, Perry (Ellis), Jamari (Traylor), Christian (Garrett), Evan (Manning) and Tyler (Self) were on the team, but not too many. That was a totally different team,” Self stated.

The 2014-15 Horned Frogs were receiving votes for the Top 25 at the conclusion of the nonconference season. The Frogs went 14-0 with wins over Washington State, Bradley, Mississippi State and Mississippi as well as Tarleton State, Prairie View A&M, New Orleans, Mississippi Valley State, Radford, Furman, McNeese State, UTSA, Grambling State and Tennessee State.

In the Big 12 … the Frogs are 0-2 versus West Virginia — a 78-67 loss at home and Saturday’s 86-85 overtime loss in Morgantown. TCU lost to Kansas State, 58-53, in Manhattan, Baylor at home, 66-59, in overtime and Texas at home, 66-48. TCU tamed Texas Tech, 63-42, in Lubbock.

“TCU statistically has as good a defensive team as we have in our league,” Self said. The Frogs allow 57.3 points a game off 35.1 percent shooting (fourth best mark in NCAA) and average 71.2 ppg off 46.4 percent marksmanship.

“They are playing well. This isn’t the same TCU team we played the last couple years. This is a good team. They could have easily won (at West Virginia). They’ve been in almost every game. All it does is continue to tell you how good the league is,” Self said.

Senior guard Kyan Anderson, who had 25 points in TCU’s 95-65 loss to KU last February in Allen Fieldhouse, averages a team-leading 13.7 ppg, which ranks seventh in the Big 12. He leads the league in free-throw percentage (89.2), is fifth in assists (3.9) and seventh in steals (1.4). Senior guard Trey Zeigler is next in scoring at 8.7 ppg. Sophomore forward Kenrich Williams averages a team-leading 6.6 rebounds per game, which ranks sixth in the Big 12. He contributes 8.4 ppg and has 20 blocks. Sophomore forward Chris Washburn and soph center Karviar Shepherd average 6.8 and 6.2 ppg.

“Anderson still keys everything for them,” Self said of TCU’s ninth-leading scorer of all time. “He makes them go. You have to make plays to score against them. They don’t give you easy points. They are averaging about 30 free-throw attempts a game (31.5 in six conference games; TCU has made 112 of 189 for 59.3 percent; opponents 124 of 180 for 68.9). We’re going to have to play a good basketball game.”

KU is coming off Saturday’s 75-62 victory at Texas in which the Jayhawks committed just three turnovers.

“I think coach was very pleased with our effort and way we competed,” sophomore Frank Mason III said. “Obviously that was a good road win for us. It’s a quality team. They have good height, great history behind them and a good program. It’s definitely good we’re moving in the right place.

“I think we’ll come out with the same energy, the same mindset, same defensive mindset,” Mason added. “We’re just looking forward to the next challenge.”

Self is hoping the team can put together back-to-back solid efforts on the road.

“One turnover in the last 35 minutes (at UT) is more impressive to me than none in the second half,” Self said. “It’s amazing the poise they (Jayhawks) showed, but were still in attack mode. We did a good job of attacking, yet being patient. We did a good job taking advantage of numbers. It looked to me they were really understanding how the game was meant to be played. We’ve had teams do that before and then we lay an egg the next game. I don’t know if there’s much carryover in things like that.

“It’s a winning formula. If you take care of the ball and steal some extra possessions, guard and rebound, you have a chance to win. That’s what happened the other day.”

Praise could turn to scorn quickly: Self has praised his team a lot for its performance at Texas. “The biggest thing in my mind is they’ve done a good thing, but they can’t negate the good thing by thinking about the good thing. They’ve got to be moving forward, thinking next play and certainly respect the next play because we are obviously playing a team that can beat you,” he said of TCU.

Self on the Horned Frogs’ temporary home: “I believe I have been there, years ago,” he said. “They’ve got a couple places in the Dallas area that are great community-type facilities. It’s a good venue. The number of people … it seats about 5 (thousand). I’m sure it’ll be a full house. It’ll be a great atmosphere. Sometimes smaller venues that are full are the best atmosphere anyway. I’m sure it’ll be fine.”

Academics: KU’s basketball team had a 2.93 grade-point average during the fall semester, it was announced Tuesday. KU student-athletes combined GPA held at 2.94, the same mark posted by the Jayhawks in spring 2014. Football had a 2.48 GPA. For all the team GPAs go to the Web address http://kuathletics.com/news/2015/1/26/GEN_0126155318.aspx

This, that: KU is 7-1 versus TCU. The series dates to 1952 when the Jayhawks won, 68-64, in the NCAA Midwest Regional at Municipal Auditorium in Kansas City, Missouri. … Bill Self is 11-4 all-time against TCU, including 5-1 while at KU. Trent Johnson is 2-3 against KU, 1-3 while at TCU. Johnson’s Stanford team defeated KU, 64-58, on Dec. 6, 2003 in Anaheim, California, in the Wooden Classic. That was Self’s first season at KU. … Charles Hill Jr., who sat out the first five conference games, scored 13 points in 17 minutes Saturday vs. the Mountaineers. … In four of TCU’s five losses, the Frogs have either led or trailed by single-digits in the last five minutes. … Cliff Alexander tweeted this on Jan. 22: “College basketball is more exciting than NBA.”