KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Kelly Oubre Jr. admitted that Kansas underestimated TCU the first time the teams met this season. Underestimated them a little bit the second time, too.
Good thing they didn’t do the same thing the third time.
The ninth-ranked Jayhawks needed just about every one of Oubre’s career-high 25 points, along with a couple of big defensive stops, to hold off the Horned Frogs for a 64-59 victory Thursday in the quarterfinals of the Big 12 tournament.
“This game, we wanted to show we could handle their punches,” Oubre said, “and they threw a lot of them. We withstood them.”
Still, the top-seeded Jayhawks (25-7) had to sweat out all 40 minutes against the No. 9 seed Horned Frogs for the third time this season. It wasn’t until Oubre got loose for an easy jam with a minute left that Kansas finally had some breathing room.
Trey Zeigler turned the ball over at the other end for TCU (18-15), and Kansas was able to run down the shot clock before Frank Mason III found Landen Lucas for an alley-oop jam and a 63-57 lead with 30 seconds left. The Jayhawks were able to hold on the rest of the way.
“We didn’t play particularly well,” Kansas coach Bill Self said. “I thought TCU played really smart and really tough and we didn’t make as many plays as I’d like throughout the game.”
Still, they made enough to advance. Kansas will play No. 16 Baylor in the semifinals Friday night. The fourth-seeded Bears beat No. 18 West Virginia 80-70 in an earlier quarterfinal.
Zeigler finished with 20 points for TCU (18-15), which must wait to see whether it has done enough to qualify for one of the lower-tier postseason tournaments. The Horned Frogs have missed out the past two years, their last appearance coming in the CBI in 2012.
“I thought we competed really, really hard, had opportunities to make plays down the stretch,” TCU coach Trent Johnson said, “and we didn’t make them.”
Self was hopeful that leading scorer Perry Ellis would return from a sprained knee, but the junior forward was still feeling sore after practice Wednesday. Ellis wound up spending the game in a sweatsuit on the sideline, and his availability for Baylor was still in question.
The Jayhawks also played again without freshman forward Cliff Alexander, who has been sitting out while the NCAA investigates concerns that his family received improper benefits.
The Horned Frogs, meanwhile, played most of the way without leading scorer Kyan Anderson, who picked up his fourth foul with 15:58 left in the game. He sat for nearly 10 minutes before getting back on the floor, then picked up his fifth foul about 30 feet from the basket.
“Kyan is a big part of what we do,” Zeigler said, “so not to have him out here was really tough. Me and him usually share the ball-handling responsibility for our team. It sort of got put in my hands the whole second half.”
The teams were tied 51-all after Brandon Parrish made a pair of free throws for TCU with 6:42 left in the game. Oubre responded by driving to the basket and getting fouled on four consecutive trips down floor, making enough of his free throws to give Kansas a bit of a cushion.
The Jayhawks held on the rest of the way, improving to 10-1 against TCU. They also improved to 25-5 in the Sprint Center, just a short drive from their campus in Lawrence.
“We’re just kind of make-shifting,” Self said. “Today was a good game for us in this regard because we had to play a way we haven’t practiced very much at all.”
The Jayhawks finished 0 for 8 from beyond the arc, the second time in three games that they have failed to his a 3-pointer. “It’s not concerning because we know we can shoot,” Oubre said.
TCU: The Horned Frogs were done in by 15 turnovers. Zeigler had eight of them. … Anderson finished with three points. … TCU dropped to 1-12 when tied or trailing at the half.
Kansas: Lucas finished 6 for 7 from the field. He also had seven boards. … Kansas overcame 17 turnovers in part by blocking nine shots. … Kansas has won at least 25 games 10 straight years. … The Jayhawks improved to 5-1 in neutral-site games this season.
TCU is left to wait for a call from one of the postseason tournaments.
Kansas won a pair of close games against Baylor in the regular season.
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