As Kansas concluded a 32-4 blitz to silence a sellout crowd and take control of Wendesday's supposed Big 12 showdown, it was easy to forget there was a time when Baylor seemed to have the chance to seize momentum.
The Bears led by six with five minutes remaining in the first half when Kansas star Thomas Robinson picked up a second foul and headed to the bench to sit until intermission. Instead of taking advantage and extending its lead, Baylor relinquished it by halftime, a wasted opportunity the Bears never recovered from en route to a demoralizing 68-54 loss.
The Bears (21-3, 8-3) are still just one game behind Kansas and Missouri in the Big 12 standings, yet they've lost all three games against their fellow contenders this season with only Saturday's trip to Columbia remaining. Worse yet, the Bears have built a reputation as a team that cannot be trusted in big games because their best players have a tendency to vanish in the spotlight.
Neither 6-foot-10 sophomore Perry Jones III nor 6-foot-9 freshman Quincy Miller looked anything like future lottery picks on Wednesday, missing numerous defensive assignments and combining for nine points on 2-for-12 shooting. Miller also received a key flagrant foul for elbowing that helped extend Kansas' second-half spurt that turned a 33-30 halftime score into a 54-34 rout.
If Baylor's inept performance was a sign the Bears aren't capable of winning the Big 12, Kansas' dominance suggested the Jayhawks aren't ready to loosen their grip on the league. Despite the loss of the Morris twins and Josh Selby from last year's team, it's difficult to imagine Kansas not winning at least a share of the Big 12 for an eighth straight season unless Missouri can go into Lawrence and win in three weeks.
The key to Kansas' success at Baylor was the performance of Robinson's supporting cast.
Because Baylor packed in its zone and sent two and three bodies at Robinson anytime he touched the ball, it created numerous opportunities for the rest of the Jayhawks.
Redshirt junior center Jeff Withey took advantage of Baylor's inability to rotate on defense in the lane, surpassing his career high by halftime en route to a 25-point effort. Tyshawn Taylor continued his hot streak in Big 12 play with 19 points and Conner Teahan added eight off the bench.
Kansas could easily now have control of the Big 12 race had it not surrendered the final 11 points of Saturday's three-point loss at Missouri. At least the Jayhawks can take solace that they bounced back with one of their best efforts of the season and proved yet again that the Big 12 race still goes through Lawrence.
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