Kansas continues to beat back all comers in the Big 12
Baylor is the lone exception.
The No. 3 Jayhawks go for their eighth consecutive conference
tournament win in Friday night’s semifinal round in Kansas City,
but to get it they’ll have to overcome the No. 12 Bears, the last
team that defeated them in this tourney.
Since the inception of the conference in 1996-97, the Big 12
tournament has often appeared to be a Jayhawks invitational. Kansas
(27-5) has won the title in eight of 15 years, including the past
The top-seeded Jayhawks rolled to their seventh consecutive win
in conference tourney action Thursday, beating Texas A&M 83-66
for their ninth straight victory overall.
Kansas has defeated 10 of its 11 rivals in Big 12 tournament
play. The only foe it hasn’t knocked off is Baylor (26-6), which
took the only meeting between the schools in this tournament, 71-64
in a 2009 quarterfinal matchup.
That contest stands as the last conference tourney loss for the
Jayhawks, as well as the only time they’ve ever dropped their Big
12 tournament opener.
The defeat also surely weighs on the mind of Kansas coach Bill
Self, despite the fact his team took both meetings with Baylor this
season by margins of 18 and 14 points.
“They’re so talented, it’s a joke,” Self said of the Bears
following Thursday’s win. “It’ll be an interesting next 24 hours to
Self’s Jayhawks were certainly no joke in the victory over the
Aggies. Elijah Johnson scored a career-high 26 points, 15 of them
on 3-pointers. Forward Thomas Robinson went 2 for 2 from beyond the
arc and finished with 19 points and 10 rebounds for his fifth
Tyshawn Taylor added 16 points and Jeff Withey had 11 with four
blocks for Kansas, which shot 10 of 15 from 3-point range and 61.4
“They demand so much help with Thomas Robinson and Jeff Withey
that we left some guys open on the perimeter, and when they make 10
3s and Robinson hits two 3s, they’re a very difficult team to beat
for anybody,” Texas A&M coach Billy Kennedy said.
The fourth-seeded Bears went 8-6 over their final 14
regular-season games following a 17-0 start but appeared ready for
postseason play Thursday with an 82-74 quarterfinal victory over
Kansas State. The win was especially sweet for sophomore forward
Perry Jones III – suspended by the NCAA prior to last year’s Big 12
tourney – who made up for lost time with 31 points, 11 rebounds and
11-of-14 shooting in his postseason debut.
“I told Perry after the game, ‘Man, keep being who you are,'”
Kansas State coach Frank Martin said of Jones, whose suspension
because of a mortgage loan his mother had accepted two years
earlier also kept him out of the first five games of 2011-12.
“Don’t give in to perception and public nonsense. Be who you
are, man. He’s a beautiful kid and he represents class and he’s a
very talented player.”
Like Kansas, the Bears showed terrific shooting touch in the
quarterfinals, converting at a 56.9-percent clip. Guards Brady
Heslip and Pierre Jackson had 15 and 13 points, respectively, to
complement Jones’ effort.
Jones had five points while shooting 1 of 8 in a 68-54 home loss
to the Jayhawks on Feb. 8, but he scored a team-high 18 on Jan. 16
during a 92-74 defeat in Lawrence.
Taylor had 28 points and Robinson added 27 with 14 rebounds for
Kansas in that victory.
Johnson had 11 points for the Jayhawks in the home win but went
scoreless while missing six shots in last month’s rematch at