|Kansas guard Tyshawn Taylor (10) shoots while covered by Baylor forward Quincy Miller (30) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in Lawrence, Kan., Monday, Jan. 16, 2012. (AP Photo/Orlin Wagner)|
Jayhawks send Baylor to first loss of season
LAWRENCE, Kan.—The last time Baylor coach Scott Drew brought a team into Allen Fieldhouse, he led them off the court and into a tunnel after his players had been introduced.
The reason was the noise: It can get so loud in Kansas' venerable gymnasium, especially during the video montage before the Jayhawks are announced, that it's almost impossible to hear.
He didn't pull them off the court Monday night.
Then the Jayhawks made it look like the Bears never showed up at all.
Thomas Robinson had 27 points and 14 rebounds, Tyshawn Taylor matched a career-high with 28 points and the seventh-ranked Jayhawks rolled to a 92-74 victory, ending No. 3 Baylor's perfect start and proving once more that the road to the Big 12 title goes through Kansas.
"Loudest place we've ever played. Their fans got into the game," said Perry Jones III, who had 18 points to lead Baylor. "We still tried to stay together and not let the noise affect us."
It didn't work.
A trendy pick to end Kansas' seven-year stranglehold on the conference, Baylor (17-1, 4-1) had been riding the longest winning streak in school history to its best start ever. It left Lawrence with the school's first loss in football or men's and women's basketball since Oct. 29, a span of 40 games.
"Start with their leadership. Thomas Robinson showed why he's a player of the year candidate. Tyshawn Taylor was outstanding," Drew said. "Early on we didn't have some success in the paint, got away from it. From there we couldn't stop them all night long."
Travis Releford and Elijah Johnson added 11 points each for the Jayhawks (15-3, 5-0), who won their 16th straight game at Allen Fieldhouse and 10th in a row at home over the Bears.
Kansas is 17-2 against them all-time.
"I think we made a big statement tonight," Taylor said. "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."
Quincy Miller finished with 17 points, Quincy Acy had 14, and Pierre Jackson had 11 points and 11 assists for Baylor, but the long and lean Bears were dominated in the paint and had no answer for the combination of Robinson and Taylor, one of the best inside-outside tandems in the nation.
Robinson overpowered the Baylor front line with an array of rim-rattling dunks and short-range jumpers, while Taylor hit four 3-pointers and had six assists. The outcome left No. 1 Syracuse and No. 12 Murray State as the only undefeated teams in Division I.
"This was a nice win for us. Baylor is terrific," Kansas coach Bill Self said. "They've got length, they can score, and we caught them on a night when maybe they weren't their best."
Facing its fourth top-10 opponent of the season, the veteran Jayhawks swarmed the younger Bears with pressure from the opening tip, making life miserable on both ends of the court.
Robinson provided the early boost, scoring eight of his 12 first-half points in the opening 6-plus minutes. The run included a dazzling one-handed dunk off an alley-oop feed from Taylor that set Twitter ablaze and generated a roar inside Allen Fieldhouse that could be heard in Kansas City.
"He pressed the up button and he went and got it," Taylor said with a grin.
The Bears answered the first salvo with a 16-5 run of their own.
Jones started it with a jumper, and Gary Franklin curled in a 3-pointer for his only points of the game. By the time Jackson knocked down another 3 and Acy added a basket inside, Baylor had pulled ahead 27-22 and Self asked for a timeout.
It sure seemed to settle down the Jayhawks.
Robinson scored on a nifty spin move inside and Jeff Withey added two free throws to start a 17-2 run to end the half. Taylor scored 11 of the final 13 points, including a 3 from the top of the key with Jackson staring him down in the closing seconds to make it 39-29.
"It's going to come down to the best players on each team making plays. That's what happened," Taylor said. "We came out in attack mode, and kept it on all game."
Jackson hit a 3-pointer to trim the lead to 39-32 in the opening minute of the second half, and Brady Heslip added another 3 a couple of minutes later to make it 43-37 with 17:32 to go.
That was as close as Baylor got.
Kansas scored on its next seven possessions, another dunk by Robinson pushing the lead to 59-42 with 13:04 left. The lead swelled to 19 when Taylor scored on an acrobatic scooping layup, missed the ensuing foul shot, and then hit a 3-pointer from the wing after Kansas got the offensive rebound.
Robinson's basket with 6:54 left made it a 20-point game.
"We missed some jump shots they got some run-outs, we didn't get back. They do such a good job in transition in this building," Drew said. "They feed off the atmosphere."
By the time Robinson checked out with just over a minute to go, the crowd that had jammed the Jayhawks' historic field house to the rafters -- and generated crowd noise registering at 114 decibels at the tip -- was on their feet and giving him a standing ovation.
It was the first time an unbeaten team had come to Kansas during Big 12 play. The last time it happened with a current league member was on Jan. 21, 1986, when Oklahoma came into the game 17-0.
Just like Baylor, the Sooners went home 17-1.
"Early on they were good, right now they're even better," Drew said, "and I think the nation saw how tough they are. But that's what's great about this league. Night in and night out, you're going to face good teams, and if you don't play well and they play well, you've got no chance."