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February 6, 2013

TCU Stuns No. 5 Kansas, 62-55

For the first time in 264 games, No. 5 Kansas (19-3; 7-2) has suffered back-to-back losses. Coming off a home loss to Oklahoma State on Saturday, the Jayhawks were thumped, 62-55, by TCU in Forth Worth, Texas on Wednesday night.

Not long ago, Bill Self and the Jayhawks stood atop the rankings in one poll. At the time, Kansas had rattled off 18 straight victories and was not only inching closer to its ninth straight Big 12 regular season championship, but a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament.

My how things have changed for Self and the Jayhawks in such a short period of time. Kansas, looking to rebound from Saturday's home loss to Oklahoma State, appears to have hit rock bottom in Wednesdays 62-55 loss to TCU (10-12; 1-8). The Horned Frogs, who had previously been winless in conference play, absolutely thumped Self's squad with a national audience watching.

Just how bad was KU's performance against TCU? Well, the Jayhawks shot just 18-of-61 (29.5 percent) from the field, just 3-of-22 (13.8 percent) from behind the arc and converted 16-of-23 free-throws.

While three players, Ben McLemore (15), Jeff Withey (12) and Naadir Tharpe (11) scored in double-figures for Kansas, each did so quietly. McLemore, in 36 minutes, connected on just 6-of-16 field goals, was 3-of-4 from the charity and was 0-of-6 from behind the arc.

Withey shot 4-of-6 from the field, converted 4-of-5 free-throws, grabbed eight rebounds and swatted three shots, while Tharpe, in 25 minutes, hit just 2-of-15 field goals, 1-of-6 threes, but was a perfect 6-of-6 from the free-throw line.

Senior guard Elijah Johnson, after receiving what he described as a "pep talk" from Kansas head coach Bill Self on Sunday, continued to struggle against TCU on Wednesday night.

Johnson, in 31 minutes of action, shot 3-of-12 from the field and was just 2-of-8 from behind the arc. Additionally, he was 0-of-2 from the free-throw line and committed three turnovers to just one assist.

Kansas, which trailed by as many as 16 points in the second half, pulled to within four points, 44-40, at the 7:02 mark, but would get no closer. Following a TCU miss, sophomore guard Naadiar Tharpe pulled down the rebound and, seconds later, attempted a three-pointer that came up short.

The Horned Frogs capitalized on Tharpe's miss when Garlon Green converted a layup. On KU's next offensive possession, Tharpe missed a layup, McLemore misfired on a three and Withey eventually turned the ball over. Green, as he'd done on the previous possession, hit a layup, and TCU managed to keep Kansas at bay the rest of the way.

The outcome of Wednesday's loss to TCU couldn't have been much worse for Kansas. The Jayhawks shot miserably from the field and committed more turnovers than assists. Senior Travis Releford attempted just one field goal and went to the charity stripe twice. The 6-foot-6, 210-pound guard from Kansas City, Mo., scored one point, grabbed six rebounds, dished out four assists, and committed one turnover.

After stringing together 18 straight victories, KU's season has taken an unexpected turn. With a road game against Oklahoma looming (Saturday), and a Big Monday showdown against Kansas State less than a week away, the Jayhawks simply don't have much time to right the wrongs of the previous two games.


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