FORT WORTH, Texas – TCU is off to a good start in March, and the Horned Frogs pretty much know for sure now that they will be part of the madness of the NCAA Tournament.
Sixth-ranked Kansas has consecutive losses for the first time this season while still trying to clinch a Big 12 title.
Mike Miles Jr. had 19 points and six assists as TCU solidified its once-shaky tournament resume with a second consecutive win versus a top-10 team, 74-64 over the Jayhawks on Tuesday night.
“It means everything. … This gives us momentum,” Miles said.
“I’m really glad for our players, they really bought in,” coach Jamie Dixon said, pointing out that it was March 1. “You could see it this last week and you could just kind of see things coming.”
The Horned Frogs (19-9, 8-8 Big 12), who had never had consecutive wins over ranked opponents, secured the game during a stretch when Miles made a strong move around KJ Adams Jr. for a layup, and then made a 3-pointer to extend the lead to 59-49 with 7:44 left.
After a Kansas miss, Xavier Cork had a slam dunk that sent the full-house crowd into a frenzy. Students swarmed the court when it was over.
Kansas (23-6, 12-4) went from a half-game Big 12 lead to a half-game behind third-ranked Baylor (25-5, 13-4) with an extra game to play.
The Jayhawks, who play TCU again Thursday at home before facing No. 21 Texas on Saturday, missed a chance to clinch at least a share of their 20th Big 12 title in 26 seasons when they lost 80-70 at third-ranked Baylor last Saturday – the same day the Frogs won at home 69-66 against then-No. 9 Texas Tech.
Kansas will now go to the final day of the regular season before the title is settled.
“Baylor was a game in which we played well in stretches and we played poorly in stretches, but they’re good. And it was on the road. … I mean, sometimes that happens,” Kansas coach Bill Self said. “Tonight was more bothersome to me because we had everything to play for, but they did too. And it looked like to me, they were the quicker, more aggressive team, hands down.”
Emmanuel Miller added 11 points for TCU, which has won three of four since a three-game losing streak that had its NCAA hopes in jeopardy. The Frogs were last in the tournament in 2017-18, only their second appearance since their last tourney win in 1987 when Dixon was a senior guard for them.
“It just proves we can beat anybody,” Miles said. “We just want to play our best basketball, and that’s what we’re doing .”
Ochai Agbaji, the Big 12 leading scorer at 20.4 points per game, had 13 points for Kansas on 4-of-17 shooting, with three 3s. Jalen Wilson also had 13 points and David McCormack scored 11. Agbaji and McCormack both had eight rebounds.
The Jayhawks took a 35-34 halftime lead after scoring the last six points. Agbaji swished a 3 from the right corner in front of the TCU bench and Jalen Coleman-Lands put them ahead with a 3 from the right side.
After McCormack made two free throws in the opening minute of the second half, TCU scored the next six points – including layups by Miller and Cork – to go ahead for good.
LONE STAR LOSSES
Kansas finished 0-4 in Big 12 road games in Texas. Before the back-to-back losses to Baylor and TCU, the Jayhawks lost Jan. 8 at Texas Tech and Feb. 7 at Texas. There are some projections that have Kansas opening the NCAA Tournament in Fort Worth, at Dickies Arena that is only a few miles from the TCU campus. There is also a regional semifinal and final in San Antonio.
Kansas: The Jayhawks hadn’t lost consecutive Big 12 games since losing three in a row on the road in January 2021. Their last consecutive double-digit losses had been in February 2004, Self’s first season with KU, on the road against Oklahoma State and Nebraska. … Kansas is 107-16 in games following a loss in Self’s 19 seasons. They had been 4-0 this season.
TCU: The Horned Frogs have four wins against AP Top 25 teams this season, the first time they have ever done that. They are 4-3 against ranked teams, 3-1 at home.
Kansas and TCU play again Thursday night, this time in Lawrence, Kansas, in the makeup of what was supposed to be the Big 12 opener for both teams on New Year’s Day. That game was postponed because of COVID-19 issues in TCU’s program.