No. 7/10 Kansas Downs No. 6 Baylor in Top-Ten Road Test, 68-54
Feb. 8, 2012
WACO, Texas – Junior center Jeff Witheyignited for a career night to knock off No. 6 Baylor on its home court inside the Ferrell Center on Wednesday, 68-54.
Kansas (19-5, 9-2) entered the midweek matchup not only in the hunt for first place in the Big 12 standings, but also to hold fast to a claim no other team in Division I can. Following Wednesday’s victory, the Jayhawks have not suffered consecutive defeats since the 2005-06 season, a span of 228 games.
Withey responded as loudly as possible just one game after his only scoreless performance of the season, at No. 4 Missouri, in the Jayhawks last time out. The junior center played inspired, setting new career-highs in points scored (25), field goals (8) and free throws made (9), while defensively wreaking havoc with three blocks and two steals.
For the first 10 minutes, Baylor (21-3, 8-3) controlled the game, amassing a 19-9 lead to start the game.
The rest belonged to Kansas.
After falling behind by the 10-point spread in the early going, Kansas steadily outscored the Bears on their home court, including a 14-3 run to close the first half followed by a 19-4 sprint to start the second.
Senior guard Tyshawn Taylor also rattled off a career-night, tying his personal best with four three-pointers en route to 19 points. Junior forward Thomas Robinsonchalked up his Big 12-leading 17th double-double, contributing 15 points and 11 rebounds.
The Bears were led by junior guard Pierre Jackson’s 16 points, with senior Qunicy Acy and redshirt sophomore Corey Jefferson pitching in 11 points apiece as the only BU scorers in double figures.
Miller hit a three-pointer not yet two minutes into the game to force head coach Bill Self’shand. He called a timeout as Baylor opened the game on a 7-0 run. The quick start was short lived as a shovel pass to Withey for a dunk and Taylor’s first three of the game quickly closed the gap by the first media timeout.
While Kansas was slow to find its shot, shooting just 25 percent through the 12-minute mark, the Jayhawks accuracy at the line kept the Bears from racking up another run. They finished the first half shooting 90 percent from the line. In fact, Robinson’s only points through the first 12 minutes came by way of the charity stripe.
Withey stepped in to help his fellow big man, knocking down every shot taken and making a pair free-throws for eight-straight points. Withey would go on to hit 9-of-11 from the free-throw line. As Kansas climbed back in it, 24-19, Withey had 12 of Kansas’ 19 points.
Continuing to step up when needed, Withey tied his career-high with two minutes still to play in the first half, when he hit his seventh-straight free throw of the game. Two trips later, he won position under the basket for the layup that tied the game. With less than a minute remaining before halftime, senior guard Conner Teahanhit his second crucial three-pointer of the half. The duo alone finished the opening frame on an 11-1 run to send Kansas to halftime with its first lead of the game, 33-30.
Out of the break, Withey picked up right where he left off, kicking off the second half on a 5-0 run. Robinson followed suit, hitting his second bucket of the night to push the Kansas lead to 40-32, and prompt a timeout from Baylor head coach Scott Drew.
The out-of-rhythm look Kansas appeared to start the game with – that caused eight KU turnovers to Baylor’s three in the first half – had completely faded by the arrival of the second. Withey again pulled off a big play, picking up a steal near midcourt and finding Robinson for the outlet, where he converted an old fashioned three-point play. Thus, it was the Jayhawks’ turn to take a double-digit lead, 42-32.
By the first media timeout of the second period, Kansas had swung the game entirely in its favor. In the final five minutes of the first half combined with the first five of the second, Kansas outscored the Bears, 33-7. Just seven minutes into the final frame, the Jayhawks had stretched their lead to 20 points, 54-34.
With 10 minutes remaining, the Jayhawk offense was firing nearly 70 percent from the floor and showing no signs of slowing. Five minutes later, Robinson spotted up for the midrange jumper that would keep his team ahead by 20, 66-46.
Though Baylor would put up an 8-0 run to close the gap in the final two minutes, fouls would send the Jayhawks to the line to put it away, 68-34.
No. 7/10 Kansas will return home to face Oklahoma State for the first time this season on Saturday, Feb. 11 at 3 p.m. on the Big 12 Network. The Jayhawks then play on ESPN Big Monday at Kansas State on Feb. 13 at 8 p.m. KU defeated the Wildcats 67-49 in the 2012 Big 12 Conference opener on Jan. 4, in Allen Fieldhouse.