WACO, Texas (AP) Baylor coach Scott Drew was talking about the challenge of facing Kansas again and what to do differently this time when Brittney Griner, the 6-foot-8 blocking phenom for the top-ranked Lady Bears, briefly walked into the room.
Somebody jokingly asked Drew if she might be his secret to countering Kansas forward Thomas Robinson.
The sixth-ranked Bears (21-2, 8-2 Big 12) have to figure out something..
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Three weeks ago, Baylor couldn’t stop the inside-outside combo of Robinson and Tyshawn Taylor, who combined for 55 points as seventh-ranked Kansas won by 18 points to end Baylor’s perfect start.
Because of the Big 12’s full round-robin schedule this season, Baylor gets a top 10 rematch at home Wednesday night. The winner takes a share of the Big 12 lead with fourth-ranked Missouri, which has already beaten them both.
“It’s always good to get another shot,” Bears senior post player Quincy Acy said.
Kansas (18-5, 8-2) is coming off a 74-71 loss at Missouri, and has lost two of its last three games. But the Jayhawks still haven’t lost consecutive games in more than six years – a span of 227 games – and will try to extend that streak against the Bears.
“I’m not used to losing and don’t like how it feels,” said Taylor, the senior guard with 111 starts who matched career highs with 28 points and 10 field goals made in the first Baylor game. “I don’t even know how to handle it sometimes. I don’t know what I’m supposed to do, how I’m supposed to act. … I don’t like it. I’m sure my teammates feel the same way.”
The 6-foot-10 Robinson, the only Big 12 player averaging a double-double with 18 points and 12 rebounds a game, had 27 points and matched his career best with 11 made field goals against Baylor.
“We learned how good of a team Kansas really is,” Bears forward Quincy Miller said. “Thomas Robinson is a different kind of dude, man. He’s super good. … All parts of his games, he’s exactly what you want in a power forward.”
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 in that game. Taylor has scored at least 15 points in eight consecutive games.
Baylor was down only 43-37 when Brady Heslip made a 3-pointer with 17:36 left in that Jan. 16 game in Allen Fieldhouse. The Jayhawks took over with a 16-5 run over the next 4 1/2 minutes, a stretch Robinson started with a three-point play and ended with his dunk.
The Bears, who had been 17-0 with the longest winning streak in school history, left Kansas with their first loss. They finished that week at home with another loss, against Missouri, where they play Saturday. They have won four in a row since those consecutive losses.
“They’re going to be good, there’s no question,” Kansas coach Bill Self said. “The first time we played them, we played pretty good, but we also had some breaks, some things went our way. … We’re going to have to probably play as well as we’ve played all year, or better.”
With Baylor’s goal of winning its first Big 12 championship still in reach, and a chance to avenge its only losses, there is no need for any big speeches this week by Drew.
“Every week’s big. Because if we weren’t as successful in the last four games, we wouldn’t be in this position. So you’ve got to get up for every game,” Drew said. “The only difference is this game will probably be more talked-about than the past couple games were.”
Baylor sophomore standout Perry Jones III, the preseason Big 12 player of the year who missed the first five games of the season because of an NCAA suspension, tweaked his ankle in the first Kansas game and still scored 18 points. The 6-11 Jones was still ailing against Missouri, but has averaged 19 points and 11 rebounds in the four games since.
“Definitely the most consistent stretch that he’s had,” Drew said. “Once he tweaked the ankle (against Kansas), the momentum and everything changed at that point.”