It was a big night in Allen Fieldhouse and the Kansas Jayhawks came to play. With no. 3 Baylor in town for a Big Monday matchup that would determine the early leader in the Big 12 Conference, Kansas used a late first half run to jump start a route.
For Kansas there were so many positives worth mentioning in this one. Thomas Robinson easily took an edge in the head to head against Perry Jones III. The National Player of the Year candidate made a statement in this game facing a Baylor frontcourt that many consider one of the top groups in the country to date. Robinson finished with 27 points and 14 rebounds while making his latest case for POY honors.
Jeff Withey stepped onto the floor and held his own going toe to tow with Baylor's bigs as well. The seven foot junior continues to show tremendous improvement in his first year as a Kansas starter and he looks more and more comfortable with a challenge like he faced tonight. Withey finished the night with 10 points, 10 rebounds and 3 blocks.
Travis Releford continued his solid play of late adding 11 points. As usual his defensive effort continues to be a potential catalyst for the Kansas offense as well. And Elijah Johnson would complete the five starter double figure scoring extravaganza with 11 points of his own.
Then of course there was Tyshawn Taylor. On a night when Kansas was able to get to the basket against a long, athletic Baylor team, Tyshawn Taylor was the most effective at doing so. One game after going for a career high 28, Taylor put on an acrobatic show and matched that effort leading the team with 28 points and 6 assists. Without question Taylor was instrumental in giving Kansas the lead and played with perhaps his highest level of confidence all year.
Probably the only thing that could be viewed as a negative in this one was the ever present problem with ball security. Early on Baylor stepped up the intensity and Kansas was on pace for 20+ turnovers. On the flip side the Jayhawks showed tremendous composure and matched that intensity and then some. This one wasn't even close with Kansas winnning this one by 18 points, 92-74.
The win means Kansas now sits on top of the Big 12 and the league title once again runs through Lawrence. It's made that much more important because it comes against one of the primary contenders. At the same time this was in Allen Fieldhouse and Kansas is supposed to win these games so there will still be plenty of challenges along the way. Texas on Saturday is the first, and a road trip to Baylor will almost assuredly be a much more difficult task. Tack on three more games against two rival schools and Kansas will need to continue push themselves in order to defend the league title when it's all said and done.
Probably the biggest takeaway is just the reality of what this team is capable when things are on point. They won't be that way every night, but as the development continues the ride sure is a fun one. And of course it's pretty clear that Bill Self is once again proving that he is one of the best coaches in the country. Big statement for Kansas, Rock Chalk Jayhawk!