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The Dagger: College Basketball Blog

Baylor blowout proves Kansas still rules the Big 12 until proven otherwise

Ryan Greene
The Dagger

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Thomas Robinson celebrates during blowout of Baylor (AP)

Three quick conclusions from Kansas's 92-74 throttling of third-ranked and previously-unbeaten Baylor on Monday night …

1) Given what he's done so far with his most limited roster in nine seasons in Lawrence, Bill Self is as deserving as anyone of being in the national Coach of the Year discussion.

2) After racking up 27 points and 14 rebounds in a dominant performance against one of the country's toughest front-courts, Thomas Robinson is the clear-cut leader in the race for national Player of the Year honors.

3) If anyone is going to unseat Kansas as the Big 12's kingpin and end the program's 7-year run with at least a share of the conference regular season title, well … it just might not happen this season.

Five games into an 18-game Big 12 schedule, the seventh-ranked Jayhawks are 5-0, earning an early leg up on Baylor and Missouri (both 4-1) along with several others.

Making it tougher for everyone else to catch up, too, is that in the lone year in which the league has only 10 teams, each of the other nine members will have to make a trip to Allen Fieldhouse, where KU showed on Monday just how difficult it s to beat.

As has been the case all year, Robinson was a reliable rock in the middle of Kansas's attack on both ends of the floor.

But Monday showed just how far the pieces around him have come since the start of the season.

• While he's still turnover prone — he had five on Monday in 33 minutes and is averaging four per game — Tyshawn Taylor scored almost every way possible, tallying a game-high 28 points. He's averaging 18.6 points per game so far in league place and continues to be a terror on the defensive end. When he's doing those two things at such a high level, it offsets his tendencies to get a bit careless with the ball.

• Jeff Withey is the latest project of a big man to flourish under assistant coach Danny Manning, who has helped turn him into the perfect, gritty complement to Robinson. The fourth-year junior was scrappy against Baylor's front line, finishing with 10 points and 10 rebounds, including nine caroms on the offensive end. He was a major contributor to KU out-rebounding Baylor, 36-21.

• Veteran guards Travis Releford, Conner Teahan and Elijah Johnson have settled nicely into their supporting roles, helping mask Self's lack of depth in his back-court rotation.

True,  you could say it was just one night, and one stellar performance.

But Kansas is getting hot at a great time. With road games still remaining against the likes of Baylor, Kansas State, Texas, Missouri and Iowa State, the Jayhawks are not likely to run the table in league play. But they look like they have what it takes to at least be in the race until the end.

In other words, Monday was a stern reminder that Self's program is still the king of the Big 12 until proven otherwise.

Follow Ryan Greene on Twitter: @ryanmgreene

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