Kansas made its loudest statement to date that it has no intention of surrendering its conference championship streak.
The seventh-ranked Jayhawks walloped Baylor 92-74 on Monday in a battle between the Big 12’s two undefeated teams, leaving the Jayhawks along atop the Big 12 standing in its quest for an eighth straight league crown.
In the process, seventh-ranked Kansas, 15-3, became the first team to defeat the Bears, 17-1 this season.
The stars — Thomas Robinson and Tyshawn Taylor — powered Kansas, but on this night everything seemed to work. The Jayhawks’ 57-percent floor shooting was a function of an efficient offense.
Their 39-24 rebounding edge spoke to their determination. This was a locked in Kansas team, different that the one than the one that two days ago trailed Iowa State for about 25 minutes on the same Allen Fieldhouse floor.
Against a team of gifted Baylor athletes, Taylor delivered the game’s freakish moves, not more wild than a second-half layup where he wasn’t just wasn’t under the rim. He was behind the backboard. But somehow, he got the ball in the hoop and was fouled.
Taylor missed the free throw, but after Jeff Withey controlled the rebound, he got back to Taylor who sank a three-pointer.
Taylor finished with 28, Robinson 27 points and 14 rebounds and at one point during the second half ESPN analyst Dick Vitale, who was calling the game, sent out a tweet, calling Robinson his national player of the year.
The Jayhawks, who led by 10 at halftime, opened the margin early in the second half and everybody got involved.
Conner Teahan sank a corner three, Travis Releford scored inside twice, Robinson scored inside and outside. Kansas scored on nine of 10 possessions after the break and led by as many as 17. The margin eventually climbed to 20 and beyond.
The first half was broken into three phases, with Kansas winning early and late and Baylor dominating in the middle
The Jayhawks jumped ahead 17-9 and got a bounce from the juiced crowd. On the Bears’ third possession, Jeff Withey blocked a Quincy Acy slam attempt from behind, bringing down the house and Baylor Coach Scott Drew from the bench. He wanted a goaltending.
Moments later, Kansas finished a transition with Taylor lobbing a pass at the basket that appeared to be headed to the student section. But Thomas Robinson soared, pawed it and viciously brought it home.
The lead got to eight when Baylor began its answer. The Bears, the league’s top shooting three-point team missed six deep shots to start the game. Reserve guard Gary Franklin finally connect and it helped spark an 18-5 Baylor run.
Back came Kansas and Taylor. Down 27-22, the Jayhawks took advantage of Baylor’s frustrated offense that resulted in poor shot selection.
Taylor scored 11 of the Jayhawks’ final 13, including a pair of three-pointers. The last one, from the top of the key with four seconds remaining gave Kansas its largest lead of the half.