With eight seconds left on the clock and TCU at the free throw line with a 61-53 lead, TCU head coach Trent Johnson knew that the win was sealed.
“A lot can happen in 35 seconds, a lot can happen in a minute,” Johnson said. “So when there was eight seconds on the clock and we were at the free throw line, I said alright. I took a deep breath, and here we go.”
TCU finally got that elusive first Big 12 win Wednesday night.
And it came against the No. 5 team in the nation.
The Frogs downed Kansas 62-55 in front of a record crowd of 7,412 fans. It was TCU’s first win over a top-5 team in program history.
“It means a lot,” senior forward Garlon Green said. “Obviously we’ve had tough years. We’re having a tough year right now. This is a big win and we need to carry this momentum.”
Green led all scorers with 20 points and forward Connell Crossland added eight points and a career-high 15 rebounds. Guard Ben McLemore had 15 points and nine rebounds to lead the Jayhawks.
Kansas (19-3 overall, 7-2 Big 12), which lost to Oklahoma State at home Saturday, has a losing streak for the first time since 2006. The Jayhawks, who are the national runners-up and defending Big 12 champions, never led in the contest and needed seven and a half minutes to score their first bucket.
TCU (10-12, 1-8) mounted a 8-0 lead in the first seven minutes and expanded it to 22-13 at the half. Before the win, the Frogs had lost all of their conference games by double digits except one, a 62-53 loss to Texas Tech.
The Jayhawks struggled from the floor in the first half shooting 13.6 percent (3-of-22). They finished the game shooting under 30 percent (18-of-61).
“It was the worst team that Kansas has ever put on the floor since Dr. Naismith was there,” Kansas head coach Bill Self said. “I think he had some bad teams when he lost to Topeka YMCA and things like that in the first couple years. For the first half, there hasn’t been a team play worse than that offensively.”
The Jayhawks were down by 16 with 11:41 left in the game, but a bucket by senior guard Elijah Johnson sparked a Jayhawks run to cut the lead to four. With 7:17 left in the game, sophomore guard Naadir Tharpe hit a pair of free throws and was looking for a steal on the inbounds pass.
Instead, he got whistled for a foul and senior forward Adrick McKinney sank a pair of free throws.
Kansas cut the lead to four again two plays later, but a layup by Green gave the Frogs a six point lead that would not drop any lower.
“We come out here every day, put our heart and soul into it every night, every morning,” Green said. “I’ve grown up since being 3-years-old and having the dream to beat Kansas or beat anybody.”
Johnson said the win was great for the fans and the team, but it’s just one game and the Frogs will put their focus on Saturday’s game against West Virginia.
“It’s not the last game of the year,” Johnson said. “It’s just the first time through league.”