Kansas isn’t conceding the Big 12 title just yet. Thomas Robinson and Tyshawn Taylor showed as much during a 92-74 win Monday night against No. 3 Baylor.
Robinson, the Jayhawks’ relentless junior forward, went for 27 points and 14 rebounds, dominated the paint and showed off some solid footwork and mid-range jumper. Taylor, the senior point guard capable of brilliance and bafflement, scored a career-high 28 points, dished six assists and helped disrupt the Bears’ offense with his perimeter defense. (There were five turnovers as well.)
“I think we made a big statement tonight,” Taylor said afterward. “I told my team with like, 11 minutes left, that we have to make a statement. I don’t know if people are sleeping on us — they know we’re good — but I don’t know if people knew what we could do.”
That pair remains the biggest reason why the No. 7 Jayhawks (15-3) are alone atop the Big 12, a conference they’ve won the last seven seasons. If Kansas makes a deep run in the NCAA tournament, they’ll also likely be the reason why.
But let’s take a moment to talk about Jeff Withey.
The 7-foot junior used to be one of the most worthless players on the roster. That changed this season when he somehow morphed into a shot-blocking stud (his Block% is higher than Anthony Davis or Fab Melo) who also rebounds at a high rate and been a decent scoring option at times.
Monday was the latest example. Withey played 30 minutes, logged a double-double (10 points, 10 boards), blocked three shots, had three steals and a couple assists. But best of all were his nine offensive rebounds.
Against a team like Baylor that boasts one of the nation’s best frontcourts (Perry Jones III, Quincy Acy, Quincy Miller and Anthony Jones), that’s a little absurd. Baylor had eight offensive rebounds all game. (Robinson’s a big reason for that.)
Kansas is miles from winning the league again. It’s 5-0, but has already played Baylor, K-State and Iowa State at home. Considering KU makes trips to all three schools (and has two games remaining against Missouri), Monday was a crucial win. But that’s it, and Kansas knows it.
“We’re one of the best teams, but we’re five games in,” Kansas coach Bill Self said. “That would have been a big deal for us and our aspirations in the league to not win tonight.”
- Kansas remains potent when Robinson gets a little help
- Baylor grabs a 1 seed in our latest bracket projection
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