Robinson Helps Jayhawks Cruise in Second Half Over Sooners

Feb. 1, 2012

020212aab_711_5964564.jpegLAWRENCE, Kan. – Thomas Robinson played like a National Player of the Year candidate as the Jayhawks looked to rebound from their first conference loss against Iowa State. Robinson led the way with his Big 12-leading 15th double-double of the season as Kansas ran away from the Oklahoma Sooners in the second half, 84-62, on Wednesday night in Allen Fieldhouse.

The Washington, D.C., native finished with 20 points and 17 (15 defensive) rebounds, while also tying a season-high with four assists. He chipped in two blocks and two steals. After finishing with only 13 points and seven rebounds against the Cyclones, Robinson helped give the Jayhawks momentum as they head to Columbia on Saturday to face border rival, Missouri.

From the opening tip Robinson was on a mission. He gave the Jayhawks a 2-0 lead just 10 seconds into the game by knocking down a jump shot from the corner, letting the Sooners know they were in for a long night.

“Coach (Self) has been telling me that I haven’t been playing like the player that I’m capable of being,” Robinson explained. “He’s been stressing the whole week to me about why I haven’t been as aggressive, so I just wanted to be aggressive from the jump tonight.”

Robinson finished the night an efficient 9-for-12 from the field and 2-for-3 from the charity stripe.

Oklahoma fought hard in the first half only trailing by three going into intermission aided by a poor shooting half from KU. Too often the Jayhawks settled for contested jump shots and three pointers, as KU shot just 39 percent. However, KU stormed out of the locker room on an 8-0 run to start the second half and it was all KU from there.

The Jayhawks knocked down their first 10 shots of the second half on their way to shooting 71.4 percent for the half. KU took advantage on a few Sooner turnovers that led to some easy buckets and dunks, none more so than Robinson’s two vicious slams that ignited the Jayhawks.

Robinson finished the night with three dunks, giving him 50 for the season. As a team, KU tallied six on the night, which took its season total to 105 compared to only 32 for the opponents.

020212aab_711_5964565.jpeg“He looked like Thomas,” said head coach Bill Self of Robinson’s big night. “I was really concerned about the game after how we performed at the shoot around and we weren’t that much better yesterday in practice. It’s not as if the guys aren’t trying. I just think we’ve been flat. In the second half we got energized. When we get out and run, the guys have fun and defend a little bit harder. I think they only had 18 points (in the second half) with about three minutes left in the second half so we did a real good job defensively.”

Four different Jayhawks finished in double-figures led by senior Tyshawn Taylor’s game-high 21. Juniors Jeff Withey and Travis Releford finished with 15 and 12, respectively. KU recorded 20 assists on 31 made field goals for the night, with three different players having at least four.

Oklahoma forward Romero Osby also came away impressed with Robinson after the game.

“He’s an All-American candidate for a reason,” Osby said. “He’s big and strong. He does a good job of positioning down low and shielding people off with those shoulders that he has. He’s a great player. He causes a lot of matchup (problems) because he can do a little bit of everything with the ball in his hands.”

Robinson and the Jayhawks will face their toughest road test of the season in conference play when they travel to Columbia, Mo., to take on Border Showdown rival No. 4 Missouri on Saturday, Feb. 4 at 8 p.m. on ESPN. The game will be the setting for ESPN’s College Gameday, which KU has been a part of seven of the eight seasons the show has existed.