After big back-to-back losses, No. 6 Kansas tackles TCU again
A conference race once controlled by No. 6 Kansas is no longer a lock.
The Jayhawks (23-6, 12-4 Big 12) are reeling after back-to-back losses by double digits, the first time that has happened since head coach Bill Self's first season at Kansas in 2003-04.
Partial redemption for those losses at Baylor and at TCU is possible as Kansas will play the Horned Frogs (19-9, 8-8) for the second time in three days on Thursday night at Lawrence, Kan.
"I think we'll play better," Self said following the 74-64 setback Tuesday against the Horned Frogs.
"We've got to do something to make them play bad. We let them play to their strengths. We are not talented enough or good enough to let a team steal points on the glass. It was more than that. They kept balls alive."
In the Big 12 standings, second-place Kansas is chasing Baylor, which stands 13-4 in conference play, is ranked No. 3 in the nation, and has one game remaining -- against Iowa State on Saturday.
Texas Tech stands 12-5 in the Big 12 and will play Oklahoma State on Saturday. Kansas will follow its Thursday rematch against TCU with a home game Saturday against Texas.
"We've got to win our last two games," the Jayhawks' Jalen Wilson said. "We've come too far to let someone take it away."
Not only is the Big 12 title in jeopardy -- so is a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tourney.
"I can't believe we're on line for a 1-seed after that (loss)," Self said. "I guess we control our own destiny if you are going to win out."
The Big 12 tournament also remains and will help sort out seeding for the conference teams that advance to the NCAAs, but the Jayhawks insist they are more intent on correcting their own flaws.
The advantage they possess at home, where they are undefeated in conference play and 14-1 for the season, should help.
"We'll show a lot of heart competing and defending the fieldhouse," promised David McCormack, who drew Self's ire and got yanked at TCU in the first minute after failing to seal out.
The Horned Frogs eventually flexed a 47-35 advantage on the glass while limiting Kansas to 37.3 percent shooting from the field. TCU claimed back-to-back wins over Top 10 teams for the first time in its history with a win over Texas Tech last Saturday and then Kansas on Tuesday.
Those wins helped solidify the Frogs' NCAA credentials.
"This gives us momentum, not only for the next game with Kansas, but for the Big 12 tournament," said the Frogs' top rebounder, Emanuel Miller. "We're one of the best teams in the country. I stand firmly on that. We're just ready to compete."
Mike Miles scored 19 points against Kansas and leads the Frogs with 15.4-point average. Miller averages 6.3 rebounds a game.
Beating Kansas twice in three nights, however, would present an unusual challenge.
"We're one of the best teams in the country," Miles reiterated, "even though our rankings don't say that and our numbers don't say that. But we all feel like we are. We can beat anybody."
--Field Level Media
Updated March 2, 2022