Thomas Robinson Proves Too Much for Longhorns

March 4, 2012

030412aab_121_6051577.jpegLAWRENCE, Kan. – By the end of the first half, junior forward Thomas Robinson only had seven points against a tough Texas defense. Robinson’s first half performance may have been uncharacteristic for the Washington D.C., native who averages 18 points a game, but he put it all on the line for the final home game of the 2011-12 regular season in Allen Fieldhouse and finished the game with 25 points and 14 rebounds.

“He played better in the second half,” senior guard Tyshawn Taylor said of his teammate. “I think he knew that he got off to a slow start. Coach (Self) wanted him to do different things. He picked it up and played like the player of the year.”

The opening 20 minutes weren’t pretty for either team, with both squads shooting just 36 percent from the field. The Jayhawks were able to contain junior guard J’Covan Brown in the first half but he came out strong after halftime, scoring the first 15 points on 5-of-5 shooting. However, Robinson wouldn’t let the Longhorns come back and connected on 10-straight points to halt any hopes of an upset.

030412aab_121_6051615.jpeg“I thought our defense was actually good the first half,” Kansas head coach Bill Self said. “We didn’t guard J’Covan (Brown) the second half, but we got anything we wanted in the second half offensively shooting 63 percent. We rebounded the ball better in the second half, but we just didn’t guard very well. We had some individuals play well and some not play well. Thomas (Robinson) and Tyshawn (Taylor) played well.”

Robinson proved to be too much for the Texas Longhorns in the second half after shooting 77 percent and grabbing 14 rebounds, nine on the defensive end. Texas head coach Rick Barnes knew heading into Saturday night’s matchup that Robinson would be tough to guard, but after Longhorn forward Alexis Wangmene suffered a wrist injury in the first couple of minutes in the second half, he had to play a shorter lineup, giving Robinson better opportunities to score.

030412aab_121_6051579.jpeg“Thomas was terrific,” Barnes said. “We just didn’t have an answer for him. I told him after the game, that if I had a vote, he would be my vote for player of the year. I know he has been through a lot the last couple of years, but the way he carries himself, and he is just a terrific player. He causes problems, and he has just improved; I love guys that improve. We just did not have an answer for (Robinson) tonight.”

Kansas’ 2012 National Player of the Year Candidate recorded his 22nd double-double of the season Saturday vs. the Longhorns, which put Robinson in second place for double-doubles in a single season at KU. Finishing the night with 14 rebounds increased Robinson’s career total to 669 which moved him past Markieff Morris for 18th all-time.

With the regular season now complete, the Jayhawks’ next action will be from Kansas City, Mo., for the Phillips 66 Big 12 Championship at Sprint Center. As the No. 1 seed, KU will begin play in quarterfinal action on Thursday, March 8 against Oklahoma or Texas A&M. Tip is set for 2 p.m. (CT) and will be televised on ESPN2.

“I like our chances in postseason play,” Robinson concluded . “I actually feel more comfortable about this team than previous years’ (teams). We’re just right. We don’t have too much or too little. I know everybody here is on the same page. We want to win. We’re happy for overachieving for conference play, but that’s not enough. There’s still a bigger trophy out there.”