First things first, sorry I’ve gone missing over the last couple games. Kansas wrecked some fools, I have a real job, things got a little hectic. Is what it is. But when Kansas wrecks some highly ranked fools? Time to come back out of the woodwork. No more slacking.
I’m going to break this up a little bit differently than I have been, because putting stats on there for the bench guys would be completely irrelevant. So I’m going to ignore those guys – because Kansas is essentially a 5-man team anyways – and do numbers for the starters, and then some game stats that I thought were the key. Without further ado:
Thomas Robinson: 1 foul
Baylor can run out five guys with the size and ability to frustrate most posts. All of them, except maybe Quincy Acy, are stretch-fours who can get a traditional post into trouble by dragging him out to the perimeter and either drawing fouls or getting by them for a bucket. Robinson did an incredible job of staying out of foul trouble. With the Jayhawks’ lack of depth, he needed to stay on the floor for 30-plus minutes. He played 35. Oh, and he had 27 and 14. Which doesn’t suck.
Tyshawn Taylor: 10 points
I know Taylor finished with 28. The 10 I mention are the 10 that came during KU’s 13-0 run to end the first half. Taylor’s run entering the break gave the Jays all the momentum entering the second half and put his team up a dime at half. He came out and played a brilliant second half, hitting 10 of 14 shots in his most efficient night of the season.
Jeff Withey: 9 offensive boards
This number just makes me laugh. Seriously? NINE? That’s insane! Here’s the best part, though. The Bears, with all their ridiculous length, combined to get eight offensive rebounds as a team. Man, if it weren’t for the fact that Thomas Robinson is the Greek God of Thunderdunking, we’d all be going nuts about how much Withey has improved. As it stands, I’m going nuts about it anyways. He’s the most improved player on the Jayhawks roster by far.
Elijah Johnson: 1 three-pointer attempted
We’re getting dangerously close to having Good Elijah and Bad Elijah nights just like we do with Tyshawn. The bad Elijah isn’t out of control or turnover prone or anything like that, he just jacks up an insane amount of threes with little regard for Bill Self’s offense. Self’s offense usually works. Let’s just stick with it. Elijah was great Monday because he played within himself, didn’t do too much and let the two best players on the team be the two best players on the team. Johnson has the talent to be the star, but so did Thomas Robinson last year. Sometimes you have to know your spot, and EJ’s is as the third option, at best. Great night all-around from him, though, as he embraced the role. 11 points, 5 boards, 3 assists, 4-of-7 shooting. Did it all well.
Travis Releford: 36 minutes
Releford had the biggest challenge of any Kansas defender last night. Not because he was guarding the Bears’ best player (that honor went to Withstar who D’d up on PJ3), but because he was outmatched by five inches and didn’t have much, if any, advantage in quickness against freshman Quincy Miller. Miller went for 17 points, but needed 12 shots to do it and only pulled down a couple boards. Releford played the most minutes on the team because he’s as good as it gets defensively for the Jayhawks right now, and he should be an all-conference defender by the time the season ends. Startling how similar Releford’s numbers (11 points, 3 boards, 4 assists, 5-of-7 shooting) were to Johnson’s.
Key Team Numbers
48-34, 39-24, 17-8: The Jayhawks worked Baylor in the paint, outscoring the Bears 48-34 in the lane and outrebounding them 39-24. Withey and Robinson deserve much of the credit. Also, the Jayhawks won 17-8 on second chance points, courtesy of Withey’s nine (seriously! NINE!) offensive boards. Love that number. Baylor has one of the best frontcourts in the country (I’d put them behind Kentucky and North Carolina only), and the Jayhawks shredded them.
114+: I wasn’t in the building, so I don’t know the exact number, but the highest I saw was somewhere over 114 decibels in the Fieldhouse Monday night. I’m going to toot our own horn here for just a minute: The best fans in college sports live in Lawrence, Kansas.