Kansas No Longer Invincible at Home, but Will Handle TCU

Matthew Jordan

Monday, February 5, 2018 5:19 PM UTC

Monday, Feb. 5, 2018 5:19 PM UTC

Potentially big game for NCAA Tournament bubble team TCU in Big 12 action Tuesday night as the Horned Frogs visit conference co-leader and No. 10 Kansas on ESPN2 (9 ET).

TCU Horned Frogs at No. 10 Kansas JayhawksFree NCAAB Pick: KansasBest Line Offered: BetOnline

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It’s a 9 p.m. ET tipoff from Allen Fieldhouse on Tuesday (ESPN2) as Kansas looks to take temporary sole possession of first place in the Big 12, a conference they have absolutely owned for more than a decade.

On Jan. 6, Kansas was a 2-point favorite when it visited Fort Worth and won 88-84. Big 12 Player of the Year candidate Devonte Graham led the Jayhawks with 28 points, including eight straight free throws in the final 2:02. Svi Mykhailiuk chipped in 20 points for KU and Udoka Azubuike, who leads the nation in field-goal percentage at 76.2, had 14 points, but played just 13 minutes before fouling out. Vladimir Brodziansky led TCU with 20 points, including eight straight at one point to tie the game at 77-77. The Frogs dominated on the boards, 42-28, but attempted 11 fewer free throws and were just 9-for-29 from long range.

The road team has covered six of the past eight in this series. Kansas is 15-2 all-time against TCU, including 6-0 in Lawrence.

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Could KU Lose At Home Again?

Currently, ESPN’s bracketology has TCU as a No. 9 seed in the NCAA Tournament, and TCU has a solid RPI of 26 with three wins over RPI Top 50 teams in St. Bonaventure, Nevada and West Virginia.

That said, TCU (16-7 SU, 4-6 Big 12, 11-11 ATS), which hasn’t made the NCAA Tournament since 1998, could find itself on the NCAA bubble if it doesn’t start playing better. This team was 12-0 and on a school-record 17-game winning streak entering Big 12 play but has just that 4-6 league mark (the other loss was to a bad Vanderbilt team in the Big 12/SEC Challenge). One has to presume a loss here as well as most likely at least Feb. 12 at West Virginia and March 3 at Texas Tech. TCU has two wins over teams ranked at the time: WVU and Nevada.

The Horned Frogs are off an 81-71 loss Saturday at home to Texas Tech, which is tied atop the Big 12 with Kansas. Tech led the entire game and forced 17 turnovers. TCU has now alternated wins and losses for three weeks since starting point guard Jaylen Fisher's season-ending left knee injury. He was averaging 12.3 points and 5.4 assists per game.

Entering this season, Kansas had lost just three times at home over the past five years. The Jayhawks (18-5 SU, 7-3 Big 12, 12-10 ATS) lost their third at home this season Saturday, 84-79 to Oklahoma State – Arizona State and Texas Tech also won in Lawrence, and KU has a loss to Washington in Kansas City. The school hasn’t lost four games at Allen Fieldhouse since 1988-89.

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.@Devonte_Graham4 claiming more midseason accolades. @Hoophall has made him 1 of 10 candidates for the 2018 Bob Cousy Award. #KUbball
➡️ https://t.co/W6mcJnnoyc pic.twitter.com/WgrO6JYmpR

— Kansas Basketball (@KUHoops) February 5, 2018

As it fights for a No. 1 seed in the Big Dance, Kansas remains the only team in the country with an average RPI win higher than 100, though, and has six wins over Top 50 schools. KU has won at least a share of the Big 12 regular-season title an amazing 13 straight years, tying UCLA’s record under John Wooden, Gene Bartow and Gary Cunningham from 1967-1979. KU’s streak is in some jeopardy, although it if wins out it would take the Big 12 outright. It still must visit Texas Tech on Feb. 24.

Eight of Kansas' 10 conference games this season have been decided by six points or fewer, and KU is 6-2 in them. It is 81-11 SU following a loss in the Bill Self era and 31-3 in that scenario since 2013-14. Self has made a change to his starting lineup in the wake of Saturday's loss, pulling guard Lagerald Vick for forward Mitch Lightfoot. Self said he wants Lightfoot's "energy."

TCU has never defeated two Top 10 teams or three Top 25 teams in the same season. It won't do so here as I expect a big bounce-back game for KU, which is 7-3 ATS in its past 10 following a loss. Take the Jayhawks on Tuesday’s NCAAB pick.

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