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Kansas plays with heavy hearts after death of forward's mother

Ryan Greene
The Dagger

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After having a school-record 69-game home win streak snapped by Texas on Saturday afternoon, Kansas coach Bill Self and his players never threw out excuses.

However, much of the talk wasn't about the game.

The Jayhawks played with heavy hearts, as sophomore forward Thomas Robinson took the floor roughly 12 hours after his mother, Lisa, passed away in Washington, D.C., from an apparent heart attack.

Robinson played only eight foul-ridden minutes, scoring two points and grabbing five rebounds in the 74-63 setback.

During his post-game press conference, Self painted a vivid picture of what he called "the saddest thing I've ever seen in my life."

Players, their families and members of the coaching staff gathered at Robinson's on-campus apartment only a few hundred yards from Allen Fieldhouse after he was rocked with the news over the phone from his 9-year-old sister.

They remained there until the wee hours of Saturday morning, and junior guard Tyshawn Taylor said after the game that he only got about an hour of sleep the night before an afternoon tip against the Longhorns.

"Thomas couldn't stop crying," Taylor said. "Coach Self was there. He cried. It was just real emotional."

It's been much more than an emotionally trying stretch for Robinson, who lost his grandmother in late December and his grandfather just a week ago.

Self said that Lisa Robinson had suffered from severe migraines since the death of her mother.

"What I told our guys … 16,000 people that were here today and supported us great like they do every game … they go home sad and disappointed," Self told reporters. "(Robinson) is one of those guys. (But) he goes home … he doesn't have a mother anymore. It certainly puts everything in perspective because you are going to wake up three or four days from now, and people will be doing their own things, and the world keeps going on, and that's the reality he's going to live with the rest of his life.

"It's unbelievable. Stop and think about it. He's got a 9-year-old sister left in his family, and she's half the country away and how life has changed so much overnight. It's a pretty sad thing. People deal with it all the time, and he'll deal with it like a man, but still your heart certainly hurts for (him) and his family."

Self didn't know after the game if Robinson will play on Tuesday, when the Jayhawks are on the road for a Big 12 North showdown at Colorado.

On the season, Robinson is averaging eight points and 6.1 boards per game while starting to catch the eyes of several NBA scouts in his expanded role off of the bench.

Ryan Greene covers UNLV and the Mountain West Conference for the Las Vegas Sun. Follow him on Twitter.

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