No. 1 Kansas struggles early, roars past TCU in second half for 85-66 win
Posted: Tuesday December 2, 2003 1:56AM; Updated: Tuesday December 2, 2003 3:35AM
FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) -- Once it was over, Keith Langford no longer tried to downplay how good it felt to play at home.
Langford scored 24 points on 9-of-10 shooting in his homecoming and sparked the game-deciding run in the second half to lead No. 1 Kansas to an 85-66 victory over TCU on Monday night.
"It was great. I've been saying all week, `It's not about me,"' Langford said. "But it's always good to see family members, and I got to see my brother play his first high school varsity game ... and see a lot of old and familiar faces."
Even though he played just 24 minutes, missing most of the first half after two early fouls, Langford gave his family and friends quite a show.
Langford, a junior, played at North Crowley High in Fort Worth, where his jersey is being retired Tuesday. He was recruited to Kansas by Neil Dougherty, the former Jayhawks assistant who is TCU's second-year coach.
After the game, Langford and Dougherty embraced.
"This was a big deal for him," Kansas coach Bill Self said. "Keith likes the stage, and the brighter the stage, the more he likes it."
The Jayhawks (3-0) became the No. 1 team in The Associated Press' poll earlier in the day with a jump from sixth -- the biggest to the top in the poll in almost 40 years.
Kansas led for good after Langford's short jumper in traffic with 17:33 left broke a 43-all tie.
TCU (1-2) had its only lead after Corey Santee's 3-pointer in the first minute of the second half made it 41-39. The Horned Frogs, hosting a No. 1 team for the first time ever, haven't beaten a Top 10 team since a win over No. 10 Arkansas in 1990.
During a 19-8 run over an eight-minute span in the second half, Langford had 11 points and two assists -- one on a horrible shot that J.R. Giddens grabbed off the rim and slammed back home.
By time Langford had a rebound and putback to end the decisive spurt with about 10 minutes left, Kansas had a 60-49 lead.
"Some of the shots Keith made in the second half, those were big-time plays individually," Dougherty said.
Jeff Hawkins added 19 points for the Jayhawks, including consecutive 3-pointers that pushed the lead to 71-55.
Santee led TCU with 19 points, while Nucleus Smith had 13.
Langford played just six minutes in the first half because of the early fouls, but made all three of his shots for seven points while Kansas built a 21-11 lead.
"He made some tough shots with our hands up and with his hang time," Santee said. "He's a good player, and good players make tough shots."
His 3-pointer was the first basket of the game, and after his steal and layup, the Jayhawks led 10-4. Another layup gave Kansas its largest lead just before he got his second foul and sat the final 12 minutes of the half.
TCU managed to get to 39-38 by halftime when Chudi Chinweze grabbed Santee's missed 3-pointer, then turned and shot just before the buzzer sounded.
The Jayhawks, playing their first game since starting guard Michael Lee broke his right collarbone in practice Friday, had 13 turnovers in the first half.
Kansas then turned the ball over on its first two possessions of the second half, Langford stepping on the baseline and David Padgett traveling. But when Langford took an inbounds pass and was fouled hard, he made both free throws to start the game-turning spurt.
Kansas took advantage of losses by the top four teams last week to move to No. 1. The Jayhawks' only game last week was an 81-74 win over then-No. 3 Michigan State.
The Jayhawks are No. 1 for the first time since a four-week stretch during the 2001-02 season. Before that, they had gotten to the top in five straight seasons from 1992-93 through 1996-97.