FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) — Kansas coach Bill Self’s Big 12 bullies are suddenly beatable.
Even against the league newcomers who hadn’t won a conference game.
The fifth-ranked Jayhawks have their first losing streak in more than seven years after trailing throughout in a 62-55 loss Wednesday night at TCU, which had never before beaten a top 5 team.
“It’s not so much that we lost, it’s just so much to me that we were kind of the bullies of the league, and we let people think they could whip us,” Self said. “And when they did, everybody now thinks they can whip us. If we’re going to get everybody’s best shot two weeks ago, think what it’s going to be like when now everybody thinks they’re going to win.”
Four days after an 85-80 home loss to Oklahoma State ended their nation-best 18-game overall winning streak and their 33-game streak at Allen Fieldhouse, the Jayhawks went more than 7 minutes from the tip before finally scoring.
Kansas (19-3, 7-2) had played 264 games in a row since January 2006 without consecutive losses, the longest active streak in Division I. Against TCU (10-12, 1-8), the Jayhawks looked nothing like the team that has won or shared 12 of the league’s 16 regular-season titles — and now has company at the top of the Big 12 standings with 13th-ranked Kansas State.
“It was the worst team that Kansas ever put on the floor, since Dr. Naismith was there,” Self said. “I think he had some bad teams when he lost to Topeka YMCA and things like that in the first couple years. But for the first half, there hasn’t been a team play worse than that offensively.”
Instead of a bounce-back win, Kansas had six turnovers and missed its first four shots against TCU before finally scoring 7:17 into the game. Ben McLemore’s bounce pass to Jamari Traylor for a layup made it 8-2.
But Kansas didn’t get closer before halftime, when it trailed 22-13. And that was even after scoring seven points in a row over a 2½-minute span — one point more than the rest of the half combined.
The Jayhawks shot a season-low 30 percent from the field (18 of 61) — including only 3-of-22 from 3-point range. It was their lowest-scoring game since also scoring 55 in an NCAA tournament loss to UCLA on March 24, 2007.
McLemore led Kansas with 15 points, while Jeff Withey had 12 points and Naadir Tharpe 11.
“We knew going in that we would have to play extremely well, offensively, defensively, extremely hard, and they were going to have to help us out,” said first-year TCU coach Johnson said. “When I said help us, obviously they missed a lot of shots they probably would make.”
Garlon Green scored 20 points for the Horned Frogs, including five in a row after a late 17-4 Kansas spurt.
“It means a lot. Obviously we’ve had some tough years,” said Green, a senior forward. “We’ve had a tough year right now, but this is a big win. We need to carry this momentum.”
TCU played the first of three games in six days. The Frogs host fellow league newcomer West Virginia on Saturday and go to Oklahoma on Monday night.
Kansas, which plays at Oklahoma on Saturday, hasn’t lost three games in a row since February 2005 — a stretch with games that went to overtime and double-overtime.
Tharpe scored nine points in a 2-minute span for Kansas, with a 3-pointer and six consecutive free throws, before a dunk by Withey with 6:49 left got the Jayhawks within 44-40 — the closest they got since TCU’s game-opening spurt.
After Tharpe missed a 3-pointer on a break, Adrick McKinney slung a pass inside to Green for a layup. McLemore, the Big 12′s top freshman scorer, missed an open 3-pointer before Green had a three-point play to stretch the TCU lead back to 49-40.
“Everybody came to play today,” said Connell Crossland, who had eight points and 15 rebounds for TCU. “I just saw everybody was ready (in warmups). That’s when I knew it was going to be a good game. And we pulled it off.”
The record sellout crowd of 7,412 fans in the Daniel-Meyer Coliseum included a large portion of loud Jayhawks fans, but they filed out quietly after this game while TCU students stormed the court to celebrate.
“All teams go through funks, but we’re certainly in probably the worst funk that I’ve ever seen a Kansas team be in,” Self said. “Just a bad, bad, bad night. Not a good team right now. … This thing has turned on a dime and it could certainly continue to turn worse if we don’t right the ship real soon.”
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