FORT WORTH, Texas — Kansas Jayhawks coach Bill Self likened the final two minutes vs. the TCU Horned Frogs on Wednesday night to a rough trip to the dentist.
But Self and the ninth-ranked Jayhawks at least left with a smile after holding on to a 64-61 victory over the Horned Frogs at Wilkerson-Greines Activity Center.
Jayhawks guard Frank Mason, who finished with a team-best 16 points, hit a jumper from the top of the key with 3:35 left to put Kansas ahead, 59-48. That would be the last points the Jayhawks scored for the next three minutes as their lead shrunk to two points.
“I’ve been to the dentist and got a root canal and I may have enjoyed that slightly more than watching the last two minutes because it seemed like we gave them every opportunity,” Self said.
In the final minute, Kansas guard Brannen Greene came up with a crucial block and made five of six free throws that were essential for the Jayhawks (17-3, 6-1).
Mason missed two free throws with four seconds left, which gave TCU one last chance to tie it.
But Horned Frogs reserve guard Charles Hill’s 30-footer at the buzzer hit off the back iron and bounced away.
“In a situation like that, we work on in practice, you’ve got to go look to get a 3,” TCU coach Trent Johnson said. “He did exactly what he’s been told and been taught to do. I thought he had a good look at it.”
Guard Kyan Anderson led TCU with 17 points. Horned Frogs guard
Trey Zeigler, who finished with 12 points and 11 rebounds, scored five points during the 9-0 run that cut Kansas lead to 59-57 with 33 seconds left.
But the Horned Frogs (14-6, 1-6 Big 12), who have had free-throw struggles through much of conference play, made just 15 of 29 from the line Wednesday.
“It’s points,” Anderson said. “I feel like, if we knock half of the ones that we miss down, it’s a different outcome in probably the last couple of games. I don’t want it to be something that’s in the backs of everyone’s heads.”
Kansas shot 46 percent from the field to earn its second straight win in the state of Texas after defeating the Texas Longhorns on Saturday in Austin.
However, Self didn’t think his team had the energy it needed vs. TCU.
“The whole game was frustrating,” Self said. “I thought they played harder and obviously they were quicker to the ball. They got every 50-50 ball. We were fortunate that they shot a low percentage and missed some free throws.”
TCU led by three midway through the second half before Kansas scored 12 straight points.
Mason started the run with a driving layup and scored four points during the surge. Kansas guard Devonte’ Graham finished it with a fastbreak layup that put the Jayhawks ahead, 52-43 with 8:51 left.
TCU scored the first seven points of the second half to take a 37-36 lead. Anderson hit a 3-pointer and later got his own rebound on a missed trey and hit a jumper to put TCU in front.
The Horned Frogs gained a rebounding edge in the first six minutes of the second half as they came away with eight offensive rebounds during that stretch that led directly to nine points.
Kansas heated up in the first half, making seven of nine shots during an 18-2 run to take a 23-10 lead. Jayhawks forward Cliff Alexander helped grab momentum as he flushed an ally-oop dunk on an assist from guard Wayne Selden early in the run.
Selden later capped the surge with a 3-pointer as Kansas appeared ready to take command early.
But TCU bounced back with an 8-0 run and trailed 23-18 when forward Chris Washburn made a layup with 6:55 left before halftime.
Kansas forward Perry Ellis scored the Jayhawks’ first five points before he picked up his second foul 1:16 into the game and sat for the rest of the half.
The Jayhawks got 20 points from their bench in the first 20 minutes and led 36-30 at the break.