As we get deeper into the Big 12 season, one thing has become clear, it helps to be at home. It also helps to have Thomas Robinson. Kansas ended Baylor’s undefeated season in impressive fashion, using Robinson and the home crowd to win 92-74.
Robinson scored 27 points, grabbed 14 rebounds, and spent most of the night frustrating a very good group of Baylor big men. He was helped on the outside by Tyshawn Taylor, who despite still having five turnovers, generally controlled the game. He finished with 28 points, including 4-6 shooting from three, and six assists. It was the kind of game Kansas needed from their point guard in order to beat the Bears.
Kansas got off to a hot start thanks to Baylor playing a weak zone defense. Robinson was able to do whatever he wanted inside, and didn’t show signs of being stoppable until Scott Drew finally switched to man defense. Switching to man helped Baylor get back into the game, and even take the lead for a few minutes. Bill Self responded by tightening up his defense, tempting Baylor’s big men into taking outside shots, and eventually Kansas pulled away.
This game is not at all a knock against Baylor though. Nothing I thought about them has changed based on last night. They are still a great team, they will still win a ton of games, they are still held back by their coach. Perry Jones is an incredible talent, though at times he seems to be hesitant to really bang inside. The same can be said for Quincy Miller, though he is at least more of a small forward than Jones. Still, the two of them combined for nine three point field goal attempts, which is too many.
Scott Drew will have to work on cleaning up his offense, and perhaps spend some time coaching man to man defense. His roster is stacked with guys that have defensive talent, he just needs to use it. He can play zone against Missouri on Saturday, but if the Tigers are shooting lights out from three, it will be another long day for the Bears.
For Kansas, there were things to be learned. Taylor’s continued development into a leader is crucial for the rest of the season. He’s been really good recently, not just as a player, but as a leader. He makes Kansas go from a one man show, to a legitimate threat to make the Final Four.
The play of Jeff Withey cannot go without mention either. He’s about as solid a defensive center as there is in college right now. His presence at the rim was part of the reason the Baylor big men were drifting outside all night, and his work on the offensive glass is stellar. He keeps possessions alive, which helps cover for the Jayhawks streaky shooting. His NBA future is questionable, but he is a great college center.
Kansas moves on to play at Texas this Saturday. Baylor goes home and will face Missouri.
Just remember, and this is important for fans of both teams, NCAA Tournament games are not played in Lawrence