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2011-12 SEASON REVIEW
THE KANSAS JAYHAWKS
THE UNIVERSITY DAILY KANSAN
MONDAY APRIL 30
GENERAL MANAGER & NEWS ADVISER
SALES & MARKETING ADVISER
All contents, unless stated otherwise,
© 2012 THE UNIVERSITY DAILY KANSAN
This magazine is here to
remember the basketball
season that was not expected.
Kansas fans are indoctrinated
in the basketball way of life
and the team is expected to be
great. The 2011-2012 men’s
basketball season ended in a
more exciting way than any fan
anticipated at the beginning of
ROCK CHALK JAYHAWK
2011-12 SEASON REVIEW
THE KANSAS JAYHAWKS
ON THE COVER
PHOTO BY CHRIS NEAL
Coach Bill Self lifts up the net after cutting off the last piece during the post
game celebration after defeating the North Carolina Tar Heels, 80-67, in the Midwest
Regional champioinship game.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
7: LEGENDS OF THE PHOG
9: EXHIBITION GAMES
10-40: REGULAR SEASON GAMES
18-40: BIG 12 PLAY
40-41: BIG 12 TOURNAMENT
42-54: NCAA TOURNAMENT
55-58: LOOKING FORWARD
oments after Kansas lost to
Kentucky in the national champi-
onship game, the Jayhawks pressed
their backs against their lockers and thought
about it all. Some eyes were bordered with
redness and tears. Some heads drooped and
faced the stable, plainness of the floor. No
one spoke until questioned. An entire season
was spinning through their minds.
Senior guard Conner Teahan was break-
ing down. He vocalized memories of boot
camp in September and how this team came
together by March. Then he dropped his
head and bawled as reporters, rookies and
veterans alike, just stood around him watch-
ing. Teahan then held it in and carried on.
“I don’t think you’ll be able to really put it
into perspective until a couple weeks go by,”
he said. “Just because it’s going to hurt.”
This pain, a proof of humanity and genu-
ine passion, was one reason why Kansas fans
adored this team. From Teahan to junior
forward Thomas Robinson to senior guard
Jordan Juenemann, the members of this ver-
sion of Kansas truly cared.
Unlike many of Self ’s teams in the past,
this one had many steps to take before it
could reach real success. While Robinson and
senior guard Tyshawn Taylor among oth-
ers had undeniable talent, most of the team
had to work through inexperience. Junior
forward Kevin Young had never seen a grand
stage. Junior center Jeff Withey never had to
produce for Kansas to win. In this season,
that changed drastically.
In New York City and Maui, Hawaii, the
Jayhawks showed that they had some unique
talents, but weren’t yet elite. They hung
around with Kentucky before a brutal second
half and they were a few bad breaks away
from beating Duke. These games proved that
this team would go as far as Taylor could
take them. It also showed that Withey could
become a force.
Shortly after, all the hope was punctured
with the loss to Davidson. Overreacting
fans wondered if this team would miss the
NCAA Tournament. Coach Bill Self said this
his team just stunk. He wasn’t sure what the
future would hold.
But the Jayhawks marched through the
Big 12 schedule like it was any other year.
They had two instant classics with Missouri;
the latter ending at Allen Fieldhouse with a
monumental Robinson block and a sweet
As the victories piled up, it started to hap-
pen. These pieces started becoming players.
Junior guard Travis Releford morphed from
a robot to a defensive ace. Withey had his
off games, but usually looked tougher as the
season moved along. Taylor had one of the
finest conference seasons in recent memory.
Robinson became one of the best players in
They didn’t win the Big 12 tournament,
but going into the NCAA tournament, with
junior guard Elijah Johnson starting to realize
his potential and the rotation taking shape,
the Jayhawks looked like a dangerous No. 2
The fact that the Jayahwks made it to the
championship game, to some, was a great
surprise. But the way they got there, slow,
hard-to-watch comebacks, made sense every
time. Purdue’s Robbie Hummel nearly ended
their season, but the Jayhawks found a way.
North Carolina’s size and speed nearly ended
their season, but Self used some defensive
tricks to stall his foe, one of the top offenses
around. Kansas led Ohio State for about 10
percent of the game, but still won and made
it to the championship.
While Kentucky was supremely talented
and deserved to win that game, Kansas
proved that it could have done the same. A
few more points, a few less turnovers and
Massachusetts Street would have been hop-
ping like it was 2008.
Perhaps easing the pain of what almost
was, most Kansas fans I talked to handled
the loss with class and understanding. This
season, as a whole, was an incredible accom-
plishment. People around Lawrence under-
stood this. When it started, few knew what
exactly this team could do. By the end, every
one knew what they were going to get. The
question was: would it work?
In Allen Fieldhouse, they don’t lift banners
for tournament appearances, they lift them
for championships. And while this team
couldn’t win it all, it did bring the best out of
a fan base. Fighting through the hard times;
an unusual phenomenon for fans of Kansas
basketball. Testing your gut through times
of uncertainty, such as both Missouri games,
the Purdue game and the Final Four matchup
with Ohio State. Sticking by your team, even
if they couldn’t fulfill a dream.
Self patrolled that sideline all year and on
the way, squeezed all he could out of a hun-
gry team with only so much skill. Self said
he never likes to teach effort, only execution.
This thought meshed with this team. They
always had an insatiable need to win, and so
they gave it what they had. It wasn’t enough
for a championship, but it was enough to
make Jayhawk fans proud.
A TEAM THAT INSTILLED PRIDE
By Max Rothman
t was a Monday or Tuesday afternoon in
February. Kansas and Missouri would
meet again a few days later in Allen
Fieldhouse and I was in the media work-
room after a Bill Self press conference.
The room was empty except for myself
and Vahe Gregorian, the Missouri beat writ-
er for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. We began
talking about nothing in particular when the
Tigers’ move to the SEC was brought up. He
immediately talked about how he was going
to miss the old barn after visiting on a yearly
basis for so long.
I then realized I had already witnessed 16
games in the Fieldhouse that season alone,
maybe as many as he had ever seen while
Then I made a newfound effort to soak
up all of the atmosphere in the building
every time I “had” to cover a game, because
no matter how exciting a place or event is
to a person, time seems to always drain that
excitement, slowly and without fail.
Especially the excitement for the little
things, like when the band started playing
and you knew there was just an hour until
tipoff. Or how I found it funny that the stu-
dent section belted out the chorus of “Living
on a Prayer” when the band played the song.
It always seemed like a strange song to sing
right before a home game.
There was also the spine-tingling pre-
game video and glancing over to the visitor’s
bench during the montage to see if any assis-
tant coaches or players were peaking up at it.
There were usually three or four culprits.
In the early afternoon of Dec. 10, it was
great. No. 2 Ohio State was in town and the
buzz surrounded pre-season All-American
center Jared Sullinger and his back spasms.
He watched the game in street clothes and
Kansas won, which isn’t surprising because
the Jayhawks have had four undefeated
home seasons in the last five years.
But, that wasn’t what I remember most
about that day.It was an encounter before the
game between Bill Self and Buckeye coach
“Merry Christmas early,” Matta said he
told Self regarding Sullinger’s absence.
“I don’t think his exact words were ‘Merry
Christmas,’” Self said after the game, smil-
ing. “I think there were some other words in
there, maybe describing the holiday.”
Was it the most important part of that
matchup of top 15 teams? No, but it’s what I
remember, and it reminds of the next time
I ran into Gregorian. We were in the bowels
of the Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis. Self
and a few players had just finished talk-
ing about their Elite 8 victory over North
Carolina and the upcoming trip to New
Orleans for the Final Four.
“The only bad thing about covering this
team,” Vahe said. “Is that you might not ever
have a better beat.”
Time will tell, but the stories were great.
The story I always come back to isn’t
about a great game or a road trip or the
debauchery in New Orleans.
It’s about a loss.
Junior guard Elijah Johnson slumped in
his chair with his head down, talking to the
media because that was part of the gig.
He talked about missed opportunities and
shattered dreams and Kentucky’s dominance
because the Wildcats were just that good.
But he also talked about a shot.
“Kardiac Kansas” as CBS’ Dennis Dodd
had called them, were 30 seconds from
flat-lining against Kentucky in the national
championship game when Johnson had a
three-point attempt in the corner to make
it a one-possession game. National Player
of the Year and shot-block extraordinaire
Anthony Davis came flying down the
baseline to contest his shot, and it worked.
Johnson was in midair when he realized
Davis’ long arms would indeed swat the ball
away so he tried taking an (illegal) dribble
before landing on the hardwood floor.
Travel. Kentucky ball.
“That was big,” Johnson said, shaking his
head and half-smiling. “That was going to be
the big shot, man.”
Maybe Johnson sat there and grinned
because Kansas wasn’t supposed to be play-
ing in April in the first place. The team
raised more preseason question marks than
Kansas teams are known to raise and they
lived on a tight rope for five months, win-
ning games with a bench that featured a
former walk-on and a guy that didn’t play
basketball the previous year.
Maybe he smiled because he was thinking
what I was thinking, that Kansas was playing
with such toughness and resiliency that it
could have beaten the 66 other tournament
teams on that rainy Monday night in New
Orleans, but it was matched up with No. 67,
a Kentucky squad with enough talent and
cockiness to fill Bourbon Street.
I’d like to think Johnson smiled because
he realized what I realized, that you only get
so many great opportunities in life and the
moments you never forget are the moments
you never thought you’d remember.
THANKS FOR THE MEMORIES
By Kory Carpenter
Every fan in Allen Fieldhouse had seen
something like this before.
Paul Pierce dribbled slowly at the top of
the key, waited until just before the shot
clock expired, then sunk a three-point shot
with five seconds left.
That’s when fans started chanting another
“Mario … Mario … Mario …”
Mario Chalmers, the same hero who
hit the miracle shot against Memphis in
the 2008 title game, followed Pierce with a
three-pointer of his own at the final buzzer.
There was no overtime, just a 111-111
tie — an ideal ending to the Legends of the
Phog exhibition game on Saturday after-
noon at the fieldhouse.
“It was just like his championship shot,”
Pierce said. “And everyone got a replay of
For most of the game, there were more
laughs than defensive stops and more air
balls than swishes. That suited the game
just fine. Simply having these guys back in
the fieldhouse was all any fan could have
But the ending was simply cinematic.
Even after badly missing a few shots
earlier in the game and losing control of the
ball with six seconds left on the shot clock,
everyone in the building knew that Pierce
would hit the shot. And so did he.
“If you don’t believe that you’re going
to hit it,” Pierce said, “Then why be out
When Chalmers followed with yet anoth-
er one of his dramatic shots to add to Kansas
basketball folklore, the fieldhouse erupted.
“Yeah I heard it,” Chalmers said of the
fans chanting his name before the final shot.
“It’s something that I’ve done before.”
After the game, coach Bill Self, former
coach Larry Brown, Pierce and Chalmers
praised the tradition and history of Kansas
Self reminisced on the day that Wayne
Simien congratulated him for winning the
national championship. Self told Simien
that he wished he could have won a cham-
pionship with Kansas. Simien told Self:
“Coach, you don’t understand. I did.”
“It meant as much to him knowing that
we won it,” Self said. “Because he is a team
member and always will be.”
Bud Stallworth strolled the fieldhouse
with a sharp blue suit and a wide smile. Ted
Owens teared up when greeting his team.
Darnell Valentine even got on the floor and
played with the younger guys. Yet for all the
legends — the history, the theatrical dunks,
the ending of Pierce and then Chalmers —
is how this game will be remembered.
“I felt like this was a game-seven playoff
game,” Pierce said.
Legends game ends in cinematic fashion
Forward Paul Pierce shakes hands with fans at the end of the Legends of the Phog held at Allen Fieldhouse. PIerce’s undefeated record at the Fieldhouse remained secure with the 111-111 tie.
SEPTEMBER 24, 2011
Freshmen Ben McLemore and Jamari Traylor got used to each other on the sideline this year. The NCAA prohibited them from playing in the 2011-2012 season.
Coach Bill Self announced Friday that
freshmen Ben McLemore and Jamari
Traylor have been ruled as partial quali-
fiers by the NCAA, and will not be eligible
to play in the 2011-12 season. They may
practice with the team at the end of the fall
semester, but cannot begin playing until the
McLemore, a freshman guard from St.
Louis, was considered to be the jewel of
Self ’s recruiting class this season. With
length and athleticism, he figured to be
a scorer and defender off the bench who
could have worked his way into the starting
Traylor, a freshman forward from
Chicago, was a bit more of a project for Self
and assistant coach Danny Manning, but
would have likely seen playing time because
of the team’s lack of depth at forward.
His strength and rugged rebounding would
have been useful, especially when junior
forward Thomas Robinson and others get
into foul trouble.
The roles of freshmen guards Naadir
Tharpe and Merv Lindsay, sophomore
forward Justin Wesley and junior forward
Kevin Young will likely expand because of
the duo’s ineligibility.
After years of following a top recruit from
Wichita, coach Bill Self now has document-
ed evidence of his prize.
Self announced Wednesday that Perry
Ellis, a senior forward from Wichita Heights
High School and the No. 24 recruit on
Rivals.com, signed a national letter of intent
to play basketball at Kansas next season.
Ellis committed to Kansas on Sept. 21 in
his high school’s gymnasium before coaches,
teammates, media, family and friends. “We
felt like he was as impor-
tant of a recruit as we
have had since we’ve been
here,” Self said. “You have
to get your local guys and
certainly he has a chance
to be in that same mold
of a Wayne Simien-type
guy. Fans are going to fall
in love with him because he is so responsible
Self and his staff began recruiting Ellis
when he was a freshman at Wichita Heights
and followed his development as he grew.
“He has progressed to the point to where
he may play as much on the perimeter than
on the inside for us,” Self said. “He’s going to
be a three man.”
Self praised Ellis’ athleticism, speed,
strength and explosiveness and said that
he could contribute immediately as a fresh-
“We can pretty much put him out there
and he can figure it out because he’s so ver-
satile,” Self said.
Ellis’ grade point average at Wichita
Heights is 4.0. He volunteers as a youth
basketball teacher and commits time to the
Wichita Children’s Home. Self attributes
Ellis’ talents and kind personality to his
“The fact he has never made a B. The
fact he’s competitive in the classroom. The
fact he will be a great ambassador for our
University and athletic program, shows that
he comes from great parents in Fonda and
Will,” Self said.
Self said he is looking forward to the Ellis
family’s future involvement with the team.
McLemore and Traylor ruled ineligible
OCTOBER 14, 2011
NOVEMBER 9, 2011
Top basketball recruit signs with Kansas
KANSAS 84, PITTSBURG STATE 55
NOVEMBER 1, 2011
A former walk-on, backup quarterback
and bench regular, senior guard Conner
Teahan isn’t used to games such as Tuesday
night’s exhibition, but he will be soon.
“Conner’s our sixth
man,” Self said. “There’s
no ifs, ands or buts about
Teahan sunk three
consecutive 3-point shots
in the opening minutes
of the game, an 84-55
victory against Pittsburg
State at Allen Fieldhouse,
and cemented his role as he first guy off the
bench in Self ’s already thin rotation.
“If I want to get in the game, it’s got to be
on,” Teahan said of his jump shot.
His hot start masked what was a sluggish
beginning for Kansas in the exhibition.
Kansas scored just four points yet surren-
dered eight turnovers in the seven minutes
that followed Teahan’s threes.
Careless passes led to turnovers, which
ushered the game into a frenzied, sloppy
pace in the first half. However, the team
settled down and pulled away from its
in-state opponent as the exhibition pro-
An exhibition game should not be
viewed as a literal translation of what fans
will see throughout the season. Three of
Self ’s best players didn’t suit up. However,
early signs indicate that Teahan, a slow
guard who can heat up from the perim-
eter in a hurry, will be more than a bench
Headlines and highlights from Kansas
victories this season look to be fairly pre-
dictable. A Thomas Robinson double-dou-
ble or windmill dunk — both of which
fans saw Tuesday night
in the 101-52 victory
over Fort Hays State —
look to be the norm.
has to get Robinson
the ball. That’s where
freshman point guard
Naadir Tharpe comes
in. Tharpe, who finished
with 19 points, seven assists, and five steals
in the win. Tharpe and Robinson were
high school teammates for one season at
Brewster Academy in New Hampshire and
Tharpe’s productive night was a friendly
reminder of the duo’s high school days.
“This is the point guard I had in BA
(Brewster Academy) right here,” Robinson
said, playfully rubbing Tharpe’s head and
smiling. “A shooter, passer, a true point
guard. All around.”
Tharpe’s debut for Kansas was less than
successful last week against Pittsburg State.
He finished with nine turnovers, and
according to him and coach Bill Self, an
extra week of practice did wonders. Tharpe
credited fellow guards Tyshawn Taylor and
Elijah Johnson for pushing him harder in
practice. Self credited Tharpe for not try-
ing to make a spectacular play on every
“We were eye-to-eye at Brewster,”
Robinson said. “Hopefully that will trans-
fer over here.”
KANSAS 101, FORT HAYS STATE 52
NOVEMBER 8, 2011
Teahan emerges as Self’s 6th man
in exhibition game with Pitt State
Tharpe raises expectations in big
performance against Fort Hays
The potential of junior forward Thomas
Robinson has been known and document-
ed, even when the Morris twins starred
and started ahead of him in seasons past.
He’s not the mystery of this year’s team;
it’s the role players behind him. In 100-54
victory against Towson on Nov. 11 in Allen
Fieldhouse, these lesser known pieces were
the key to an early onslaught that never
“If it’s possible to be underrated at 13th
in the country, I think Kansas is,” Towson
coach Pat Skerry said.
Junior guard Travis Releford, a comple-
mentary piece, exhibited his usual high
pressure defense on Towson ball handlers,
which translated into offensive chances. He
attacked the basket with quick, sharp steps
and sunk timely 3-pointers.
“After getting a few layups, I had confi-
dence in my shot,” Releford said.
Coach Bill Self was unsatisfied with
Releford in the team’s first exhibition against
Pittsburg State, but Friday was a different
The same could be said for junior for-
ward Kevin Young, who Self said was the
team’s best rebounder against Towson.
Young slammed a few crowd rousing
dunks and had his strongest game of the
season, finishing with 13 points and 7
“I’m still not sure how to react after a
dunk,” Young said. “At Loyola, I would pat
Despite Young’s solid effort on the glass,
Towson outrebounded Kansas 35 to 32.
Robinson said that he should be fully
responsible for the deficit after picking up
two fouls and spending some unexpected
time on the bench early in the first half.
“That was my fault,” Robinson said. “I
got those two fouls, so I had to sit out of the
game. I wasn’t able to help my team.”
Friday marked the first time Kansas fin-
ished a half without a turnover since an
81-68 victory against Oklahoma on Feb. 22,
2010. With committed on-ball defense and
turnover free basketball, this kind of quick
and balanced offensive attack could match
up well against No. 2 Kentucky in Tuesday’s
New York City showdown.
“We have to go after it like men,” Self
said. “We’ll spend our entire next three days
KANSAS 100, TOWSON 54
NOVEMBER 11, 2011
Despite early foul trouble,
Kansas trounces Towson 100-54
Junior forward Kevin Young gains control of the ball after stealing it from his opponent during the
season opener on Nov. 11 against Towson in Allen Fieldhouse. Young had two steals in the game.
KENTUCKY 75, KANSAS 65
NOVEMBER 15, 2011
Season to season, the Kentucky Wildcats
ooze flamboyancy and supremacy. Whether
they win it all or not, any team coached by
John Calipari consistently frightens oppo-
nents and amazes oglers.
“There’s no kid on our team other than
Tyshawn that’s played a big boy game like
this,” coach Bill Self said.
On Nov. 15, Calipari’s high flyers matched
the glitz of the shining hardwood at Madison
Square Garden and trumped No. 11 Kansas
75-65. At first, the theatrics didn’t resemble a
fairy tale. Shots were swatted, not celebrated.
Crossovers led to tumbles, not easy baskets.
Both Jayhawks and Wildcats hacked arms
“We didn’t take care of the ball like how we
practiced,” Taylor said.
In his team’s final possession of the first
half, senior guard Tyshawn Taylor dribbled
the seconds away, deked toward the hoop,
then fell flat to that shining hardwood. By
halftime, the score was tied at 28, but from
there, all of Kansas’ momentum died and
never returned. At the start of the second half,
the Wildcats blocked, sprinted and dunked
their way to an 8-0 run.
The Jayhawks either turned the ball over
or watched their shots skip to the sideline
following a block. Taylor drove to the hoop
but repeatedly met the same fate in freshman
forward Anthony Davis, who deflected near-
ly everything he could reach. Senior guard
Conner Teahan, the team’s best shooter so far
in the young season, went cold from deep.
Junior forward Thomas Robinson fouled too
often and missed layups that he usually dunks
at Allen Fieldhouse.
“We got beside ourselves on a couple of
plays,” junior guard Elijah Johnson said. “We
Once the Wildcats got going, all normalcy
dissipated. Any time the Jayhawks found a
sliver of rhythm, their superior foe topped it
with a 3-point swish or a powerful dunk.
Self was far removed from the glory of
his 2008 national championship victory over
Calipari, who then coached Memphis. Self
tried to stall Kentucky with timeout after
timeout, but the Wildcats never stopped run-
ning. He tried to find lineups that could score
effectively against the length and speed of the
defense, substituting players back and forth
It just never worked. As a slowly increas-
ing deficit tip-toed into the reality of a loss,
Self could do nothing but stare at the domi-
nance of some of the players he once failed
Kentucky, flush with NBA talent, was
meant for the glamour of the night. Kansas,
still scattered with mystery, faltered under the
lights in an early chapter of what may be an
Senior guard Tyshawn Taylor ﬂies through the air to the basket Tuesday. Taylor led the Jayhawks with 22
Junior guard Travis Releford tries to save the ball from going out of bounds Nov. 15 against Kentucky.
The Jayhawks lost the game 75-65.
Kentucky outshines Kansas in New York City
KANSAS 67, GEORGETOWN 63
NOVEMBER 21, 2011
Georgetown in Maui
LAHAINA, Hawaii — A week removed
from a loss in New York and a few long-
distance flights, the Jayhawks never had a
second to catch a breath of tropical air.
Georgetown wouldn’t let them.
Kansas slipped out of the Lahaina Civic
Center with a 67-63 victory after enduring
a tense opening-round matchup in the
“We continued to keep our composure
and we battled,” senior guard Tyshawn
Carried by junior forward Hollis
Thompson, a stringy skyrocket who
shoots 3-pointers with mechanical form,
the Hoyas rarely led, but never relented.
Thompson dazzled outside, swishing sev-
eral contested shots from deep, yet never
shied away from taking it to heart of the
Kansas had to work around varying
zone defenses and presses that clogged
lanes and denied the right to dribble. At
times, Georgetown’s formations dictated
the pace of the game and morphed Kansas
into a slower half-court team. Without the
privilege of steady fast-breaks, Self needed
his shooters to step up.
Senior guard Tyshawn Taylor obliged,
proving that his long summer of shooting
was worth the effort. He shot with bal-
ance and composure, knocking down all
three of his 3-point attempts, establishing
himself as a far more complete player than
he’s ever been.
“I just felt good,” Taylor said. “I shot it
pretty good in warm-ups, so I definitely
went into the game wanting to look for
Then there was a brief scare.
With 14:28 left in the game, Taylor
jumped to defend a Hoya three, but fell to
the floor grabbing his calves. With play-
ers, referees and trainers circled around
him, Taylor repeated: “I can’t do it.” After
stretching and sitting on the bench for a
few minutes, Taylor returned. Just as he
had done before the fall, he energized an
offense that was often dumbfounded by
“I knew I was coming back,” Taylor
Under Taylor’s tutelage, junior forward
Thomas Robinson thrived. His experimen-
tation with mid-range shooting produced
average results, but he never needed it
much. Instead, he hung by the basket,
where he’s always been effective. Alley-oop
dunks and two handed rebounds came in
bunches, as Robinson finished the game
with 20 points and 12 rebounds.
KANSAS 72, UCLA 56
NOVEMBER 22, 2011
Junior guard Travis Releford practices a shot during warmups prior to tip off against Georgetown.
Releford went 4-4 for 10 points in the Jayhawks 67-63 victory.
LAHAINA, Hawaii — It’s as if Kansas
coach Bill Self saw this game coming weeks
ago. Before the season, he talked in detail
about this year’s team and it’s offense, or
lack thereof. Self ’s teams at Kansas have
been stellar defensively, and more often
than not, those defenses have been paired
with a very good offense.
This year wasn’t going to be the case,
though. At least not heading into the
Self said the Jayhawks “weren’t going to
outscore anybody,” so 85-80 shootouts or
scores of that nature weren’t going to be
It was anything but a shootout. The
Kansas defense gave up just 26 first-half
points as the Bruins were unable to get
clear looks at the basket.
In the first half, UCLA sat on two points
until the 13:49 mark, due in part to plenty
of missed layups, clanked free-throws, and
turnovers. They didn’t reach the 20-point
point plateau until there was less than 6
minutes to play in the half. And by the
break, the Bruins had just 26 points to the
UCLA’s apparent advantage, its depth in
the front court, couldn’t really get anything
going the entire night. Josh Smith and
Reeves Nelson, the two best post options
for the Bruins, finished with just 13 points
and six rebounds combined, nullifying any
hopes of overwhelming the Kansas back-
court which many people see as thin.
Guards Tyler Lamb and Jerime Anderson
shot well from from the field and finished
with 19 points combined. However, many
of those baskets were contested three-
point attempts in the second half when
Kansas had over a 20-point lead at times.
The Bruins got within five with a second
half run which included multiple three-
pointers by Reeves Nelson and Jerime
With 4:37 left on the clock and the
Kansas lead sitting at 61-56, the Bruin
offense went silent. They missed three
layups in the final four minutes and didn’t
register a single point, eventually losing
by 16. The run the Bruins made in the
middle of the second half proved to be
more an anomaly than an actual threat,
caused mainly by bad shots and a swarm-
ing Kansas defense. It was an ugly game
for Bruins fans, and it was just the game
Bill Self expected to see many times this
Kansas defeats UCLA
in a game of defense
Senior guard Tyshawn Taylor drives into the paint during the ﬁrst half against UCLA at the Lahaina
Civic Center. Taylor contributed 13 points and 6 assists in the Jayhawks 72-56 victory. KU will face
Duke in the ﬁnals for the 28th Annual EA Sports Maui Invitational.
DUKE 68, KANSAS 61
NOVEMBER 23, 2011
Taylor’s turnover helps Duke edge Kansas
The Jayhawks stand with their runner up trophy for the EA Sports Maui Invitational at the Lahaina Civic Center Wednesday night. KU was defeated by Duke 68-61.
LAHAINA, Hawaii — Trailing 63-61
with one minute on the clock, senior guard
Tyshawn Taylor dashed into a wall that
never should have existed.
Junior forward Thomas Robinson
approached Taylor at the center of the arc,
faked a screen and sidestepped out of the
“Nine out of 10 times, when you fake the
ball screen, the defender will go with him,”
coach Bill Self said.
The wall, junior forward Ryan Kelly, must
have been the one out of 10. He never
budged, clogging the corner and the fate of
the Jayhawks. With nowhere to go, Taylor
dribbled the ball off his leg and out of
bounds; his 11th turnover. On the next
possession, unlikely hero Tyler Thornton
heaved and sunk a rainbow 3-pointer. No.
6 Duke needed nothing more, defeating No.
14 Kansas 68-61 in the Maui Invitational
championship game at the Lahaina Civic
“I don’t even know if he saw the rim when
he shot it,” Self said of Thornton’s three. “But
it was a heck of shot.”
Kelly won the tournament’s MVP award,
an honor that would have been Robinson’s
had the Jayhawks pulled the upset. And they
almost did. They outshot Duke 43 percent
to 39. They outrebounded Duke 32 to 27.
They led Duke 35-31 going into halftime.
There were 12 ties and 16 lead changes.
They just didn’t have enough in the decisive
“It came down to one possession,” Self
said. “That’s the way most great games do.”
Robinson, named to the all-tourna-
ment team, finished with 16 points and 15
rebounds. He’s notched a double-double in
all five games this season. Yet no matter the
fine statistics, he converted just six of 15
shots, or 40 percent. That rate was ominous,
especially for a player who resides by the
rim and averaged 56 percent shooting going
into the game.
However the Jayhawks clenched the Blue
Devils with their defense too. They held
freshman phenom Austin Rivers to just
10 points. Junior guard Seth Curry missed
six of his eight shots. Even Kelly missed
11 of his 17 shots. But the Blue Devils hit
11 3-pointers, edging their opponent from
deep as they always do. The Jayhawks hit
just two from behind the arc.
“Give Duke credit,” Self said. “They made
threes in the last two or three minutes that
Kansas didn’t finish the tournament on
top, but not all was lost in the title game’s
“I’m still a young player, but I do believe
that game will go down as one of the top
games of tournament,” Robinson said, “It’s
too bad we got the short end of the stick, but
I feel that my team got better.”
Call it post-Maui jet lag, laziness or sim-
ply overlooking their foe.
For the first four minutes of Kansas’ tilt
with Florida Atlantic University at Allen
Fieldhouse, the Jayhawks appeared unready
to avenge their loss to Duke.
“It was the Hawaii hangover,” Self said.
“Too much pineapple juice.”
After a pair of turnovers and a few
Florida Atlantic jump shots, the Owls led
the game 9-3 and coach Bill Self, face red-
dened and disgusted, called a time out.
From that point on, the Jayhawks found
a lead through aggression and a sense of
urgency, but despite the lead, Kansas regu-
larly committed fouls, turnovers and men-
tal errors. The ugliness wouldn’t cease.
Kansas still won the game 77-54, but
they never found a true rhythm in their
first game back in Allen Fieldhouse follow-
ing the 19 day separation.
“I don’t know if their concentration was
where it needed to be because they were
pretty much in control,” FAU coach Mike
Jarvis said. “They might have relaxed a
Perhaps baffled at what they were seeing,
the usually raucous fans of the Fieldhouse
never approached deafening volumes.
“We didn’t do anything to juice the
building,” Self said.
No. 2 Ohio State will visit Lawrence
on Dec. 10, but junior forward Thomas
Robinson said that the team won’t look past
this Dec. 3 game against South Florida, nor
Dec. 6 game against Long Beach State.
“That’s something that comes over time,”
junior forward Thomas Robinson said.
“Just keeping our focus and not catching
KANSAS 77, FLORIDA ATLANTIC 54 KANSAS 70, UNIVERSITY OF SOUTH FLORIDA 42
DECEMBER 3, 2011
KANSAS 88, LONG BEACH STATE 80
DECEMBER 6, 2011
NOVEMBER 30, 2011
Kansas calls it ‘Hawaii hangover,’
wins despite relaxing against FAU
Kansas overcomes the crud in
70-42 victory over South Florida
When junior forward Thomas Robinson
shot the ball from outside the paint last sea-
son, spectators turned their heads in shame
and blamed NBA scouts for his experimen-
tation. Now, when Robinson fires away,
those same spectators can breathe easy
and expect a swish, or at least something
close to it.
Robinson’s eight-for-eight start from the
field appeared rather routine. A jumper
from the left elbow. Another from behind
the free throw line.
“As much I worked on it, I’m going to be
honest with myself,” Robinson said. “Don’t
expect me to come out seven-for-seven
Robinson’s shots kept falling and the
Jayhawks seemed to be on their way to an
But that was the first half.
Long Beach State augmented the pres-
sure in the second half Tuesday night at
Allen Fieldhouse and Kansas snuck away
with a 88-80 victory that never should have
been so close.
“That was a game we had won several
times,” coach Bill Self said.
Junior center Jeff Withey left the game
briefly in the second half when contact
with the hoop forced one of his teeth
through his lip. He returned to the game
and finished with 13 points, 13 rebounds
and 9 blocks, one block shy of a triple-
For all the blood, comebacks, contact
and ADD, it was Robinson’s show. He’s a
shooter now, and No. 2 Ohio State may
want to take notice.
“We wanted Robinson to try to beat us
from the perimeter,” Monson said. “He
certainly did that.”
LBS nearly sneaks win, but Withey, Robinson carry team in 2nd half
There’s a sickness going around that
drained the Jayhawks in Allen Fieldhouse
on a misty Saturday afternoon.
“We’ve all got the crud,” coach Bill
Self said after the 70-42 victory over the
University of South Florida. “I don’t know
if you guys know, the crud’s going around.”
The Jayhawks were sapped of energy
in the first half, then revitalized by senior
guard Tyshawn Taylor’s 20 points in the
“I think there’s a little bug going around,”
junior forward Kevin Young said. “When
I went to the store last night I got the
Young, who may be feeling the crud, said
junior guard Travis Releford and freshmen
guards Naadir Tharpe and Merv Lindsay
were throwing up recently. Junior forward
Thomas Robinson said that he has been
under the weather the past couple of days.
Robinson finished with 14 points and 8
rebounds but snapped his double-double
streak of six games. Self said several players
and a coach have missed practice and vis-
ited Watkins Health Center for head colds
and other symptoms.
Whether it was sickness or poor shoot-
ing that impeded Kansas early, Taylor’s
ensuing dominance broke the game open.
He hit four of six 3-point shots, cueing the
turnaround and extending the lead for the
“Those 3-pointers were big for us to take
the lid off the goal,” Taylor said.
Robinson and junior center Jeff Withey
protected the interior as South Florida con-
verted just 32.6 percent of their shots.
The consistent defense paired with
Taylor’s scoring helped the Jayhawks get
past Saturday’s mess struck by the crud.
Students shake newspapers in front of their faces to express disdain for the opposing team. Fieldhouse
traditions are part of what make KU basketball so special.
KANSAS 78, OHIO STATE 67
DECEMBER 10, 2011
Sullinger sits, Taylor plays through the pain
Ohio State coach Thad Matta shook hands
with coach Bill Self before Dec. 10 game and
said “Merry Christmas.”
“I think there could have been a couple of
other words thrown in there,” Self said. “Maybe
describing the holiday.”
Matta couldn’t have been thrilled at the time.
In the Buckeye’s first road game of the young
season, he had no choice but to sideline sopho-
more forward Jared Sullinger, national player of
the year candidate, for the second consecutive
game with back spasms.
Despite the second consecutive game with a
torn meniscus in his right knee, senior guard
Tyshawn Taylor tossed a career high 13 assists,
helping No. 13 Kansas beat No. 2 Ohio State
“I wasn’t missing this game,” Taylor said.
Taylor turned the ball over seven times, but
Self said that he couldn’t have won either of the
past two games without him. Self also said that
junior forward Kevin Young was the difference
against the Buckeyes.
Formerly stuck on the bench with foul trou-
ble and inconsistency, Young played his best
game in a Kansas uniform since transferring
from Loyola Marymount. He scored 14 points,
hit two of three from behind the arc, drew
charges and energized the Jayhawks with his
“I haven’t seen that,” Self said. “If I have seen
it, we’ve made a mistake by not playing him as
much. That was his coming out game.”
Young’s previously unseen aggression com-
plemented Robinson, who scored 21 points and
grabbed seven rebounds without Sullinger to
worry about. After the victory, Robinson can
look back on the three toughest tests so far and
feel better about his team.
“The main three were Kentucky, Duke and
Ohio State,” Robinson said. “The non-confer-
ence would have been incomplete if we didn’t
get one of them.”
The Jayhawks wanted to prove their place
among the nation’s elite. They lost to Kentucky
in New York City, Duke in Hawaii, then faced
Ohio State without its best player. No matter,
they held one of the premier shooting teams in
the nation to 38.7 percent from the field, com-
pared to their own 58.3 percent.
Self said that even without Sullinger, Ohio
State is still a top 10 team.
“I don’t think you put an asterisk with the
win,” Self said.
Senior guard Tyshawn Taylor looks for an open teammate to pass the ball to during the ﬁrst half of
Saturday’s game against Ohio State where Taylor had 13 assists and nine points in the 78-67 victory.
Fans display signs of their favorite players before the start of Dec 10. game against Ohio State at Allen Fieldhouse where the Jayhawks were victorious 78-67.
DAVIDSON 80, KANSAS 74
DECEMBER 19, 2011
Jayhawks become complacent against Davidson
Whether on the road or in the friendly
atmosphere of Allen Fieldhouse, Kansas play-
ers know all about hostile crowds. Whether
cheering them on or raining down on them
with boos, a good old fashioned lively crowd
can keep a team engaged throughout 40 min-
utes of play. The 80-74 loss to Davidson in
Kansas City’s Sprint Center featured a rather
lethargic crowd that seemed like it wanted
to get rowdy, but never quite had the chance.
The Jayhawks started off sluggish as Davidson
opened up a quick 7-2 lead.
“Guys don’t understand that a possession
early in the game still counts, and we wasted
so many possessions early that allowed them
to get comfortable,” coach Bill Self said. “And
when you allow teams to get comfortable they
Self took two timeouts in the first six min-
utes to try and jump start a Kansas offense that
didn’t get its second field goal until the 14:31
mark of the first half.
“Knuckle down and focus in.” Those Self ’s
words during the timeouts, according to junior
guard Elijah Johnson. “Everybody was trying
to focus in but it seemed like every play we just
had one person that made a small mistake, and
we just tried to get all five on the same page.”
The nearly 19,000 fans in attendance
dwarfed the usual 16,300 that fill up Allen
Fieldhouse for normal home games, but the
extra Jayhawk faithful in the seats couldn’t
quite match the intensity felt in the old barn.
Whether it was the size and unfamiliarity with
the Sprint Center or the slow start by Kansas
which kept the crowd from erupting was hard
to determine. The eight point loss was also
the second in the last four tries against mid-
majors at the Sprint Center. The other loss
coming to the University of Massachusetts
three seasons ago.
“We start off and we aren’t ready to play as a
team,” junior guard Travis Releford said of the
mid-major losses in Kansas City. “That kind
of hurts us because we’re playing catch-up the
whole game. We can’t come out and do that.”
Bill Self said his team had productive prac-
tices leading up to Monday night and he
thought they would be ready to play.
“Even though we were only down one at
halftime, it was an ugly one,” Self said. “It felt
like it could have been six or eight.”
Dec. 19 game was the first for Kansas since
defeating Ohio State nine days prior. The lay-
off may have effected the team during its slow
start, but Self was having none of it.
“I think Davidson had finals too,” he said.
“So I’m not buying into any of that.”
Junior forward Thomas Robinson walks down the court in frustration during the ﬁrst half of Dec. 19 game
against Davidson at the Sprint Center in Kansas City, Mo. in which Robinson went 7-18 for 21 points and 18
rebounds in the Jayhawks 80-74 defeat.
KANSAS 63, UNIVERSITY OF SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA 47
DECEMBER 22, 2011
Abnormal atmosphere beneﬁts Kansas in triumph over Trojans
LOS ANGELES — This city’s basketball
mecca rests at the Staples Center, a few
blocks north on Figueroa Street. Unless it’s
football, the Trojans seem to be forgettable
At the tipoff, the Galen Center was half
empty. When reacting to a questionable call
by a referee, the crowd cooed, almost politely.
The University of Southern California, help-
less and slow on offense, recorded 13 points
Such a snoozer may have been just what
No. 11 Kansas (8-3) needed.
“We’re spoiled,” junior guard Elijah
Johnson said. “We’re used to playing in front
of a packed crowd every night. It shouldn’t
take a packed crowd to get us motivated.”
So the Jayhawks motivated themselves
and despite several offensive droughts, they
defeated the Trojans 63-47 on Dec. 22.
“I don’t care how we play as long as
we win,” senior guard Conner Teahan said.
After an unexpected 80-74 loss against
Davidson on Dec. 19 at the Sprint Center
in Kansas City, Mo., the Jayhawks were
forced to play in another atypical atmo-
sphere. However this time, against USC in
a game they felt was imperative to win, the
pressure was eased.
Exclude a solid performance from junior
forward Aaron Fuller and the Trojans shot
26 percent from the field. They never came
within 10 points of Kansas in the entire sec-
ond half. The crowd was out of it, but coach
Bill Self ’s defense stood strong.
“They didn’t get a lot of good looks
tonight,” Self said.
The consistent defense enabled senior
guard Tyshawn Taylor and junior guard
Elijah Johnson to settle down and simply
Taylor had surgery last week on a torn
meniscus and wasn’t playing at full speed
against Davidson. On Thursday, Taylor
played cautiously and finished with nine
assists compared to just two turnovers.
Johnson, who has seen the pinnacle of
the mountain and the darkest caverns of the
dungeon in the first 10 games of the season,
played smoothly and in control. He finished
with 14 points and snagged four steals.
After the game, Johnson reflected on the
mediocre atmosphere. He said it reminded
him of another quiet game: the loss against
Northern Iowa in the NCAA tournament.
Johnson was just a freshman then, but he
remembers the scene.
“That was an empty gym,” he said.
The loss to Davidson and the victory
over USC, both played in abnormal environ-
ments, may prepare Kansas for March when
all home games are done with.
Self also wouldn’t tolerate two losses in a
“We had to win tonight,” Self said. “There
was no other choice.”
KANSAS 89, HOWARD 34
DECEMBER 29, 2011
Kansas defeats Howard by wide margin
Junior forward Thomas Robinson gets the alley-oop from junior guard Travis Releford and dunks the ball dur-
ing the game against North Dakota State in Allen Fieldhouse where the Jayhawks won 84-58.
By the time Howard had reached double-
digit points on Dec. 29 in Allen Fieldhouse,
Kansas held a comfortable 42-12 lead. A 15-2
Jayhawk run to open the game assured fans
that the outcome would really never be in
doubt, and the Bison entered the locker room
at the half with just 13 points and a 29-point
The halftime break didn’t slow down the
Kansas intensity, and the Jayhawks continued
to build on the large lead throughout the sec-
ond half, eventually winning 89-34.
“In the past we haven’t really done a good
job of that, not only in the first half but con-
tinuing over in the second half,” senior guard
Conner Teahan said of not letting off the gas
when holding a big lead. “But today we were
able to do that.”
Teahan credited the big leads to a few
things, namely a heightened energy level
from players and more focus on playing hard
regardless of how lopsided the score may be.
“No matter what the score is, you do the
same thing every possession because you
don’t know what possession is going to turn
the game,” Teahan said. “ And when you play
against stiffer competition you have to be
sharp on every possession.”
With Big 12 play beginning on Jan. 4,
Kansas will most certainly play against stiffer
competition in the near future. The Bison
entered Allen Fieldhouse with just three wins
over Division I teams. The level of play leads
coach Bill Self to examine the 55-point win a
“I’ll evaluate it but I’m not going to put a
lot of stock in it,” Self said. “I thought from an
energy standpoint we played faster with more
energy and we looked more athletic, which
was good. Other than that, I won’t spend a lot
of time on it.”
Because of the apparent effort to play com-
petitively for the entire 40 minutes of the
game, the 29-point halftime lead was extend-
ed almost immediately by the Jayhawks, who
grabbed a 40-point advantage with just under
12 minutes to play. It gave senior walk-on
Jordan Juenemann a chance to see 10-minutes
of action and he finished with five points.
“It’s great to get some time out on the
court, especially with all the reps we have in
practice,” Juenemann said of himself and the
rest of the bench, which played a total of 94
minutes in the rout.
“I feel like the bench showed a lot more
than we have been showing, and I think it’s
because we came out aggressive,” forward
reserve Kevin Young said. “We stayed after
them and we had a lot of energy.”
Conner Teahan and Tyshawn Taylor led all
Kansas scorers with 13 points a piece while
Thomas Robinson led the team with seven
rebounds. The Jayhawks return Saturday to
take on North Dakota at 3:00 p.m.
KANSAS 84, NORTH DAKOTA 58
DECEMBER 31, 2011
Robinson has career night in lopsided victory
With New Year’s celebrations just hours
away and a sluggish first half in which both
teams scored just seven total points in the first
five minutes, junior forward Thomas Robinson
had no problem making his presence known
inside Allen Fieldhouse from start to finish
His 30 points led Kansas to an easy 84–58
victory over North Dakota, giving the Jayhawks
a 10-3 record to finish out the non-conference
“Tapes and DVD’s do that young man no
justice with the size of his body and strength,”
North Dakota head coach Brian Jones said
after the game.
Robinson recorded his 9th double-double of
the season before entering the locker room at
halftime and finished the opening half with 12
points and 10 rebounds. His work wasn’t done
until getting subbed out by coach Bill Self late
in the game with 34 minutes of action, walk-
ing off the court to a standing ovation with 30
points and 21 rebounds, both career highs.
“It definitely was a great accomplishment,”
Robinson said of his career day.
Robinson finished alley-oops that left the
rim and backboard shaking after he was already
back on defense, and was an obvious mismatch
in the paint for North Dakota, who fall to
5-8 on the season. According to senior guard
Tyshawn Taylor, the alley-oops to Robinson
just seem too easy at times.
“T-rob is a big target,” Taylor said. “Just
throw it up there and he is going to go get it.”
The improvement seen in Robinson this
season reminds Taylor of a couple of former
Kansas forwards, Marcus and Markieff Morris.
Taylor said the off-season attitudes shown by
the Morris twins before their junior seasons
mirrored the work he saw from Robinson last
summer, and the effects are shown nearly every
time the Jayhawks take the court.
Head coach Bill Self called Robinson’s game
“totally unselfish” after he finished with four
assists and was able to find open teammates on
the perimeter when met with a double-team by
North Dakota defenders.
Robinson’s usual barrage of highlight reel
dunks weren’t the only thing fans saw from
him, however. He connected on his first career
three pointer from the top of the key in the
second half, bringing the sell-out crowd to its
feet once again. When asked about the shot, he
Probably talking about the assists more so
than the 3-pointer, Self summed up Robinson’s
game rather simply.
“To me,” Self said. “He looked like a com-
plete basketball player today.”
KANSAS 67, KANSAS STATE 49
JANUARY 4, 2012
Senior guard Tyshawn Taylor plays heavy defense against junior guard Martavious Irving during the ﬁrst
half of Jan. 4 game at Allen Fieldhouse. Kansas broke Kansas State’s six game win-streak.
Kansas opens conference play with victory
When Kansas State coach Frank Martin
was asked about the rebounding margin in
his team’s 67-49 to Kansas, he just laughed. It
wasn’t a good laugh, though, not for Kansas
“27 years, including coaching 13 yr olds,”
Martin said. “And I’ve never been a part of
a game where our team got its tail whooped
in the physical part of the game like we did
today. It was a complete mismatch.”
The Wildcats entered Jan. 4 game as the
nation’s sixth best rebounding team grab-
bing 41.8 per game, but were out-rebounded
50-26 by Kansas in the loss. It was a season-
low for Kansas State.
“That’s effort,” Martin said. “Rebounds to
me, is discipline and effort. When you’re not
willing to lay your body into somebody, that’s
not very good. We take a lot of pride in doing
that and we obviously didn’t today and we got
what we deserved.”
Kansas coach Bill Self said his team
focused more on rebounding heading into
Wednesday’s game in preparation for Martin’s
physical style of play. It doesn’t mean he
wasn’t surprised with the outcome, though.
Self said he “never could have dreamed” his
team would out-rebound the Wildcats by
such a high number.
“I think so much of this game is what you
emphasize,” Self said. “And guys respond to
that. I made a pretty big deal against North
Dakota, I didn’t even play guys in the second
half at all because they didn’t go after the ball.
Sometimes guys respond to those things.”
One of those guys was junior center Jeff
Withey, who played just eight minutes against
North Dakota. He saw 24 minutes of action
against Kansas State, finishing with eight
points and nine rebounds.
“We knew they were going to be physical
and we definitely prepared to go have a physi-
cal game,” Withey said. “We were working on
rebounding all week and it showed up.”
Perhaps the biggest benefactor of the
added emphasis on rebounding was junior
guard Travis Releford, who recorded his first
career double-double with 16 points and 11
“Coming into this game coach had me
guarding Rodney [McGruder], and in the
past he’s been out-rebounding us on offense
and defense,” Releford said. “so he just told
me to get after it and make sure he doesn’t
get any rebounds.”
McGruder grabbed his season-average of
five rebounds, but the 21 total rebounds
from the rest of the Wildcats hampered most
efforts to stay in the game.
“Before coming into the game we had out
minds set on controlling the glass,” Releford
said. “And we came out and did it.”
Freshman guard Naadir Tharpe shows perfect form while shooting a three pointer in the ﬁrst half of the game on
Jan. 4 at Allen Fieldhouse.
KANSAS 72, OKLAHOMA 61
JANUARY 7, 2012
Junior guard Travis Releford swiftly moves around his opponent to get to the goal during the Jan. 7 game
against Oklahoma at Lloyd Noble Center where the Jayhawks defeated the Sooners 72-61.
Releford scores a career-high 28 points
He looks more like a running back than a
shooting guard, he moves more robotically
than fluidly and he was supposed to be a lock-
down defender, not much more. Any scoring
for junior guard Travis Releford would be a
Then Releford dropped a career-high 28
points on Oklahoma in Saturday afternoon’s
72-61 victory at the Lloyd Noble Center.
“Today the light came on,” coach Bill Self
said of Releford after No. 14 Kansas improved
to 12-3 on the season, 2-0 in conference play.
In Jan. 7 victory against Kansas State,
Releford scored 16 points and grabbed 11
rebounds, both career highs. After Saturday’s
scoring parade, Self said that Releford has
clearly found a comfort zone.
“I don’t really look to score,” Releford said.
“But coach Self lately has been telling me to
stay aggressive and take what the defense
Releford’s non-stop scoring bailed his team
out of a mediocre first half performance.
The Sooners hit 11 of their 23 shot attempts
in the first frame and headed into halftime
with a 34-33 lead.
“We were basically giving them points in
the first half,” Robinson said.
At that point, only six points were scored
by players other than Releford and Robinson,
who finished with 18 points and 9 rebounds.
The Jayhawks committed 11 fouls and missed
10 of 12 3-point shots in the first half. Senior
guard Tyshawn Taylor was scoreless and junior
guard Elijah Johnson had just two points.
“I thought a couple guys were still in
Lawrence,” Self said.
Then Kansas went on a 29-7 run in the first
11:21 of the second half, capped off with a
3-point shot from Johnson, who finished with
9 points and 5 assists. Self called the outburst
the best run his team has had all season.
“Our defense was active, we got our hands
on balls and we were able to get out in transi-
tion,” Self said.
Releford was a primary benefactor in the
fast break. Self even said that most of his
points were “off junk.” No matter, with his
grandmother in the stands, Releford played
one of his finest games as a Jayhawk.
“Trav is definitely playing his butt off right
now,” junior forward Thomas Robinson said.
Junior guard Elijah Johnson starts gets ready to take the ball for a layup during the Jan. 7 against Oklahoma
at Lloyd Noble Center where the Jayhawks defeated the Sooners 72-61.
Junior forward Thomas Robinson tries to strip the ball from his opponent after a rebound during the Jan. 7
game against Oklahoma at Lloyd Noble Center where the Jayhawks defeated the Sooners 72-61.
KANSAS 81, TEXAS TECH 46
JANUARY 11, 2012
LUBBOCK, Texas — For a team that averages
just more than 75 points per game, reaching 81
points on any given night isn’t something out of
the ordinary. That’s what Kansas did in its 81-46
victory over Texas Tech, and it was the fifth
time the Jayhawks had reached the 80-point
mark this season. Again, nothing remarkable,
especially against a team that has struggled as
much as Texas Tech has this season. However, it
wasn’t the final score that raised eyebrows in the
United Spirit Arena in Lubbock, Texas. It was
the way Kansas finished the final 30 minutes
of play after an offensively anemic opening ten
minutes in which the Jayhawks barely managed
“We had 8 points with about 10 minutes left
in the first half,” coach Bill Self said. “How did
we get to 81?”
Answering his own question a little later, Self
said it was just a matter of hitting shots and not
letting Texas Tech’s physical style of play effect
their game too much. He called it the worst
start to a game his team has had in a long time,
but credited Red Raider coach Billy Gillespie
for his physical game plan. Kansas didn’t pull
away until there was about five minutes left in
the first half.
“After about the 15-minute mark, I thought
we locked in and we played better,” Self said.
“We just didn’t make shots. And once we started
making shots everything kind of fell together.”
Kansas ended the final 5:42 of the first half
on an 18-2 run and didn’t slow down after the
halftime break, opening up the second half on a
24-6 run that put the once tight game to rest.
“The same thing happened at OU,” Senior
guard Tyshawn Taylor said of the slow start.
“We were kind of laid back when the game first
started and they made some shots.”
Against Oklahoma, Kansas trailed at the
break 34-33 before winning the second half
by 12 points and cruising to a comfortable
11-point victory. The Jayhawks didn’t trail at
halftime in Lubbock, instead holding a 15-point
lead. But the second half was much more domi-
nant as Kansas got out in space on the fast break
and wore down the Texas Tech defense. Taylor
credited the defense for the easy buckets.
“Once we started pressuring their guards and
getting our hands on the ball, we started getting
deflections and steals and turned them into
points offensively,” Taylor said.
Junior guard Elijah Johnson defends guard Ty Nurse in a game that didn’t require much focus to win.
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Kansas turns a slow start into a blowout victory
KANSAS 82, IOWA STATE 73
JANUARY 14, 2012
Withey nears triple-double in victory over Iowa State
Junior Center Jeff Withey tries to block Iowa State’s Chris Allen’s shot during the second half of Jan. 14 game
at Allen Fieldhouse.
Throughout the season, junior center Jeff
Withey has gradually transformed himself
from a big body off the bench to a legitimate
threat both offensively and defensively for
coach Bill Self. In his team’s 82-73 victory
over Iowa State in Allen Fieldhouse, Withey
did a little more to reaffirm those notions.
He captured his third double-double of the
season with 11 points and 11 rebounds and
was a pest on defense with seven blocked
shots, the second most blocks in one game
of his career.
“That was something we had to think
about when we were going into the lane,”
Iowa State forward Royce White said. “He is
a big-time shot-blocker and a big-time pres-
ence on the defensive end and it showed.”
The blocks showed up in print after
the game, but the altered shots because of
Withey’s presence in the paint had just as big
of an effect on Iowa State’s offensive posses-
sions. The Cyclones shot just 35.8 percent
from the field, a far cry from their average of
45.9 percent for the season.
In a second half in which Kansas was
suddenly down 12 after just three minutes
of action, Withey had 11 of his 13 points.
The usual dunks and newfound hook shot
-for which he credits assistant coach Danny
Manning- were teamed with a 15-foot jump
shot near the free-throw line that he made
on two occasions in the final 20 minutes of
“He’s shooing 85% or whatever from the
free throw line, so yeah, he’s a good shooter,”
Self said. “I don’t think that we thought
defensively that they would dare us to shoot,
and so we probably could have worked on
that the last couple of days. I think we
thought they’d play us soft but not that soft.”
Often times being guarded by White, the
Cyclones scouting report placed no faith
in Withey’s ability to knock down an open
jump shot. He said it kind of messed with his
head that he was so open near the free throw
line, but he was able to connect and shot 60
percent from the field.
“We read stats and look at all that stuff,
and he hadn’t hit a shot outside the paint all
year so we backed off and made him step up
and shoot,” Iowa State coach Fred Hoiberg
said. “He hit a a few then he got loose inside
on a few as well. A couple rebounds, a couple
dump offs, and he went up and finished. He’s
a long dude. That’s a tough front line to play
Coach Bill Self tells his players to think about what they are doing out on the court during the second half of
Jan. 14 game at Allen Fieldhouse.
Iowa State’s Tyrus McGee throws the ball toward the hoop after tripping over the feet of junior forward
Kevin Young during the second half of Jan. 14 match-up.
KANSAS 92, BAYLOR 74
JANUARY 16, 2012
Kansas Jayhawks hand Baylor Bears their ﬁrst loss
The hottest offense in the nation paraded
into Lawrence on Jan. 16 fresh off its most
No. 3 Baylor, undefeated and flush with all
the talent that an NBA scout could conjure,
routed Oklahoma State for 106 points on
Saturday. The Bears were merciless, just as
network know-it-alls preached they would be.
Then No. 7 Kansas (15-3, 5-0) squelched
them on both sides of the floor.
A layered, sturdy defense and an offense
unafraid of attacking Baylor’s lengthy zone led
to the 92-74 victory in Allen Fieldhouse.
“I think the nation saw how tough they are,”
Baylor coach Scott Drew said.
The Jayhawks were out to prove it, too.
Just more than three minutes into the game,
senior guard Tyshawn Taylor swiftly drib-
bled down the right side of the floor and
lobbed a pass behind junior forward Thomas
Robinson’s head. The national player of the
year candidate leaped into the air, slung his
right hand backward to catch the ball, and
pounded the lob through the hoop with one
hand, ensuring that Allen Fieldhouse would
“He pressed the up button,” said Taylor, who
scored 28 points for the second consecutive
Robinson’s dunk underlined how the game
would continue. It was the Jayhawks, not the
Bears, who would dictate on both ends.
Robinson’s increased patience with the ball
provided him with cleaner shots and fewer
mistakes. He finished with 27 efficient points
and consistently freed space for his teammates
in both fast break and half-court sets.
“He’s become more a guy that understands
the game and how he can take advantage of his
skill set and his body,” coach Bill Self said.
When the Bears attacked with forwards
Perry Jones III, Quincy Miller and Quincy
Acy, Robinson acted as the interior mus-
cle to hassle shot attempts and swallow all
“If you make it past that stage,” junior guard
Elijah Johnson said, “you’ve still got to go over
a seven footer who’s athletic and can do just
Johnson was referring to junior center Jeff
Withey, who played aggressively from the
opening tipoff and never quit bothering the
Bears with his long, shot altering arms.
After Withey clogged the opposition, Taylor
initiated the fast break that broke the game
“I’m not saying that people are sleeping on
us,” Taylor said. “But people didn’t really know
what to expect coming from this team. They
didn’t really know what we have or what we
can do. I think the last two games, we showed
them we can be the best team in the confer-
ence if we play how we’ve been playing.”
Junior guard Travis Releford celebrates with the fans after time expires on Jan. 16 at Allen Fieldhouse where Releford contribured 11 points in the Jayhawks 92-74 victory over Baylor. Kansas is now 15-3 for the season and
5-0 in Big 12 play.
Junior center Jeff Withey has his shot contested by Baylor’s Cory Jefferson during the ﬁrst half of Jan. 16
game at Allen Fieldhouse where Withey contributed 10 points and 10 rebounds in the 92-74 Kansas victory.
Senior guard Tyshawn Taylor claps his hand in celebration as the Jayhawks extend their lead midway during
the second half against Baylor where Taylor led the team with 28 points in the 92-74 Kansas victory.
Junior forwards Kevin Young and Thomas Robinson celebrate after Robinson delivers a basket and gets
fouled in the process during the ﬁrst half of Monday’s game against Baylor where Robinson had 27 points
and 14 rebounds in the 92-74 Kansas victory.
Junior forward Thomas Robinson lays in an easy basket in the second half against Baylor at Allen
Fieldhouse where Robinson delivered a double-double with 27 points and 14 rebound in the 92-74 Kansas
KANSAS 69, TEXAS 66
JANUARY 21, 2012
Jayhawks escape Texas with victory
Junior guard Elijah Johnson tosses the ball down court after ﬁghting for ball possession against University of
Texas defense during the ﬁrst half of the game. Kansas won against the University of Texas 69-66.
AUSTIN, Texas — Down three points with
one second left, the Jayhawk killer, Texas
junior guard J’Covan Brown, hurled a fade-
away three. The shot clanked off the rim, wide
left and No. 7 Kansas (16-3, 6-0) escaped with
a 69-66 victory.
“He still got a look that scared me,” senior
guard Tyshawn Taylor said of Brown, who
was defended by junior guard Elijah Johnson
and sophomore forward Justin Wesley on the
final shot. “I thought it was going in when he
It was Kansas’ closest victory of the season,
with only the 67-63 victory over Georgetown
in the Maui Invitational bearing any resem-
blance. For a team with aspirations of suc-
cess in March, Self echoed the importance of
games like these.
“Coach was saying how good this was
for us in the time-out when we were down
four points,” Taylor said. “Games like this
are always learning experiences. This is how
teams get better, having close games and fight-
ing on the road.”
One year after his mother’s death, and one
year after Brown scored 23 points and ended
Kansas’ 69-game winning streak at Allen
Fieldhouse, junior forward Thomas Robinson
started slowly, logging just six points and one
rebound in the entire first half.
He said his mother wasn’t on his mind
when he was out there.
“No disrespect,” Robinson said. “But that’s
something that I have to live with every day.
For the media it’s the anniversary.”
“It’s a regular day,” Taylor said. “Just coming
out here and doing work.”
Without Robinson’s typical production in
the early stages of the game, Taylor took
charge, slashing to the hoop and knocking
down three-point shots. He finished with 22
points, five rebounds, four assists and perhaps
more important than any other statistic, zero
“Maybe it was that guy that said something
bad about him on Twitter,” Self said of Taylor’s
three-game streak of more than 20 points
Robinson returned to his more typical,
aggressive form in the second half, posting 11
points and eight rebounds. He grabbed four
rebounds in the final 4:19 and squeezed a pass
through Texas’ interior defense to find junior
center Jeff Withey for a three-point play with
37 seconds left.
After missing his first three attempts,
Robinson sunk his fourth shot from the free
throw line, setting up Brown’s final miss.
“I thought they were more active than us,”
Self said. “But we got the key ones late.”
Junior guard Travis Releford gets fouled during the ﬁrst half by University of Texas junior guard J’Covan Brown.
Kansas won against the University of Texas 69-66.
KANSAS 64, TEXAS A&M 54
JANUARY 23, 2012
Freshman Guard Naadir Tharpe attempts to block Texas A&M’s shot during the ﬁrst half of the game in Allen Fieldhouse.
Self’s coaching helps push Jayhawks to victory
Coach Bill Self ’s words of direction, no mat-
ter how pointed or audible, seeped through
the ears of his players at Allen Fieldhouse.
After timeouts filled with nothing but play-
calling, the same plays hammered into their
minds by rote, some Jayhawks sauntered back
to the court mindlessly, unaware that a play
was called and unsure of their place on the
With 37 seconds left in the game, Self
made a few substitutions, but junior for-
ward Thomas Robinson ignored his defensive
assignment, Texas A&M senior forward David
Loubeau, who scurried downcourt freely and
dunked the ball uncontested.
“Our heads weren’t there at all tonight,”
Even with the mental miscues and spotty
execution, No. 5 Kansas denied the Aggies
and found just enough points to win 64-54.
“We’re just shooting the ball so bad,” Self
said. “Good gosh.”
Robinson and junior guard Elijah Johnson,
whom Self called “haywire, brain-dead,”
couldn’t find their strokes early, combining to
shoot one of 11 from the field in the first half.
Loubeau succeeded in pushing Robinson out
of the paint and forcing jump shots, turnovers
and frustrating possessions.
“I realize that the deeper we get into the
conference, the more the games seem to get
harder for me,” Robinson said.
After recognizing that his midrange game
wasn’t in tune, Robinson stuck his hands
and legs into the teeth of the Aggies’ interior,
snatching rebounds and trading them for two
points or a foul. When he got to the line,
he made them count, sinking all 10 of his
free throws. When he wasn’t fouled, he used
aggression and a quick first step to squeeze
through the defense.
“I thought he was in the paint a long time,”
Texas A&M coach Billy Kennedy said. “We
couldn’t move him.”
While Robinson’s success fluctuated, senior
guard Tyshawn Taylor continued to shine,
scoring 17 points off six of nine shots from
the field. Taylor, the former scapegoat of
the Jayhawks, the same player who surren-
dered 11 turnovers against Duke in the Maui
Invitational title game, followed his turnover-
less game at Texas with just two turnovers
against Texas A&M.
“I’m trying not to think about it,” Taylor
said of his recent accomplishments. “I just
want to play. I feel like if I think about it, I’ll
start messing up.”
IOWA STATE 71, KANSAS 64
JANUARY 28, 2012
Junior forward Thomas Robinson prepares for the next defensive play during the ﬁrst half against Iowa State at the Hilton Coliseum. Robinson scored 13 points and grabbed only 7 rebounds in the 72-64 Kansas loss.
Royce White, Cyclones upset Jayhawks in Ames
AMES, Iowa — Royce White, Iowa State’s
sophomore forward with a full menu of
skills, woke up on Saturday morning after
having nightmares of missing free throws.
“It becomes like an island up there when
you’re on a bad streak,” White said of his
struggles at the free throw line.
So he went to the gym early and shot free
throws with his coach, Fred Hoiberg. White’s
teammates encouraged him the entire day,
even during the game, and he made the shots
when they counted most.
With 1:42 to play and Iowa State leading
No. 5 Kansas by three points, White drained
his final two shots from the line.
After one of his six converted free throws,
White walked from the free throw line to
underneath the hoop, then looked up at the
“That was for Thomas,” he said of junior
forward Thomas Robinson. “He said I was
going to miss them.”
White, who tallied 18 points, nine
rebounds and five assists, not Robinson, the
national player of the candidate.
The Jayhawks’ 23 fouls resulted in 34
free throw attempts for the Cyclones. Free
points stung Kansas, especially after it was
“Royce was a monster down there,”
Robinson, who normally vacuums
rebounds with two hands, grabbed a pedes-
trian seven rebounds. On the offensive end,
he struggled to establish himself and find
comfort in the paint, traveling repeatedly
and missing several shots that were uncon-
tested and close to the hoop. He even missed
a wide-open, one-handed dunk, and the ball
sailed over the rim.
“I’m just not playing my game,” he said.
“I’m speeding up again and not taking my
White might have had something to do
with that. He has the ability to bring the ball
up-court like a point guard on one posses-
sion, then muscle his way inside for a tough
two points on the next. His mobility and ball
control are rare for a 6-foot-8, 270-pound
weapon. It’s a combination that forced the
Jayhawks into some touch decisions.
“We had to pick our poison,” senior guard
Tyshawn Taylor said. “It felt like whichever
way we tried to trap him, they made a shot
that we laid off.”
In a three minute span at the end of the
game, White scored eight straight points for
the Cyclones. He first backed down junior
center Jeff Withey, who was plagued with
fouls throughout the game. Once Withey
failed, White took on Robinson, who also
wasn’t able to shut him down.
“Nobody really played well,” Self said. “But
Thomas certainly labored today.”
KANSAS 84, OKLAHOMA 62
FEBRUARY 1, 2012
Junior forward Thomas Robinson celebrates with junior center Jeff Withey during the second half of the game after scoring a point. Kansas won against the University of Oklahoma 84-62.
Second half focus key in defeat of Sooners
The Jayhawks couldn’t help themselves.
They took the Sooners seriously, especially
after Oklahoma won 63-60 at Kansas State on
Saturday. The Jayhawks knew that focus was
mandatory, especially after they stumbled at
Iowa State on the same day. But at times on
Feb. 1, Kansas had another game in mind.
Can you blame them? Missouri’s up on
“In the back of our heads,” senior guard
Tyshawn Taylor said, “somewhere we were
thinking about that game.”
Though coach Bill Self refuted it, perhaps
the Border Showdown clouded his players’
minds in the first half.
Still, No. 8 Kansas (18-4, 8-1) romped
Oklahoma 84-62 at Allen Fieldhouse with a
tireless fast break that sprouted in the opening
minutes of the second half.
“We took a lot of three-pointers in the first
half,” Taylor said. “Kind of playing into their
Kansas led 34-31 at halftime, so Self told
his team to stop settling for three-pointers,
which are easier to shoot than convert, and
start attacking the meat of Oklahoma’s zone
“We weren’t by no means dominant in the
first half,” Self said. “I just thought we needed
to play with more energy.”
Keyed up by high-pressure defense, Taylor
sped his team and ran right at Oklahoma’s
interior. With six and a half minutes left in
the game, he took an inbounds pass on one
end of the floor, sprinted with the ball to the
other end, shedding would-be defenders, and
converted a lay-up before the Sooners were
even close to ready for him. The possession
transpired in no more than three seconds.
With Taylor drawing so much attention,
junior forward Thomas Robinson was able to
return to his usual state.
“To me, Thomas hasn’t been himself for
three games maybe,” Self said. “But he was
Robinson, who scored 19 points and cor-
ralled 17 rebounds, cleaned up missed shots
by using his strength and size to displace the
opposition. After all three of his dunks, he
repeatedly beat his chest and raised his hands
to the fieldhouse crowd, demanding more
“He’s an All-American candidate for a rea-
son,” Oklahoma junior forward Romero Osby
said. “He’s big and strong. He does a good job
of positioning himself down low and shielding
people off with those shoulders that he has.”
The Jayhawks shot 39 percent from the field
in the first half, then upped that to 71 percent
in the second, augmented by a 10-for-10
start. Similar to the 72-61 victory at Norman,
Okla., it was a tale of two halves, but a victory
In the locker room after the game, Self told
his team they can finally start thinking about
“I’m leaving out of here more excited about
our team than I was before the game started,”
Taylor said that he and his teammates need
to continue to stagnate opposing offenses.
“If we do that and rebound the ball,” he said,
“I think we can beat anybody.”
Step on up, Tigers.
MISSOURI 74, KANSAS 71
FEBRUARY 4, 2012
Junior forward Thomas Robinson shows his disappointment after losing to Missouri 74-71 at Mizzou Arena where Robinson had 25 points and 13 rebounds.
Taylor’s late-game errors cost Kansas at Missouri
COLUMBIA, Mo., — Tyshawn Taylor car-
ried the Jayhawks to the cusp of victory, then
squashed it all.
With 41.3 seconds left and his team trail-
ing 72-71, Taylor stood at the free throw line.
The yellow blur of Missouri’s student section
boomed behind the hoop. His first shot was
too long, bouncing off the back of the rim.
Second attempt, same fate.
With 10 seconds left and the score still
72-71, Taylor darted from the left elbow of the
three-point line toward the hoop. Missouri
junior guard Michael Dixon planted his left
foot, embraced Taylor’s contact and flew back-
wards onto the hardwood, drawing a charge
and clinching No. 4 Missouri’s 74-71 victory
over No. 8 Kansas.
“I feel like I cost us the game,” Taylor said.
“That’s a sucky feeling.”
Several Jayhawks and coach Bill Self dis-
agreed with the referee’s charge call on Taylor.
A charge requires two planted feet from the
defender. When Dixon halted his body to
defend Taylor, his right foot slightly slid across
the floor. The call was one of many that upset
Self and the Jayhawks, who felt they had the
game won but threw it away.
“I was told I don’t want to see the tape,” Self
said of the charge call.
Just before Taylor’s missed free throws,
Missouri senior guard Marcus Denmon, who
finished with 29 points, connected on two
deep, contested three-pointers. His heroics led
Missouri’s 11-0 run to finish the game.
“He made two threes with his body turned
sideways,” Self said. “Those are big time
In the first frame, Taylor scored 17; half
of his team’s points. When junior forward
Thomas Robinson struggled to manage mul-
tiple defenders and produce with his back to
the basket, Taylor relieved the Jayhawks with
fearless attacks at Missouri’s interior and calm,
accurate jump shots.
“He’s damn good,” Self said of Taylor. “He
is damn good.”
Yet at the end of the game, Missouri’s pres-
sure rattled Taylor, who turned the ball over
twice in the final 1:15.
“We had a lead and we didn’t want to play
safe, but we wanted to still try to score,” Taylor
said. “We just turned it over.”
With his team down three points, Taylor
handed the ball to junior guard Elijah Johnson
on the left side of the three-point line. Johnson
dribbled to the center of the arc and pump-
faked with 3.5 seconds left, his last chance at
an open look. Now double-covered, Johnson
hurled an off-balance shot and missed wide
After the game, reporters flocked around a
“I don’t want to lose anymore,” he said.
Jayhawks collapse late against Tigers
Senior guard Tyshawn Taylor brings the ball down the court in the second half against Missouri at Mizzou
Arena where Taylor had 21 points and six turnovers in the Kansas 74-71 defeat.
COLUMBIA, Mo. — Fresh out of the final
television timeout and holding a 69-63 lead,
senior guard Tyshawn Taylor seemed stuck
on the baseline near the corner, the raucous
Missouri student section nearly within arm’s
With any thoughts of a productive Kansas
possession dwindling by each dribble, Taylor
found space on the baseline and darted for
the hoop, throwing down a dunk to quiet
the Tiger faithful and giving the Jayhawks an
eight-point lead with just under three-and-a-
half minutes to play.
Unbeknownst to Kansas fans at the time —
or anyone watching the game, really — Taylor’s
dunk was the final bucket for the Jayhawks in
Saturday night’s 74-71 defeat. Missouri ended
the game on an 11-0 run.
“We let the game get away from us,” junior
forward Travis Releford said. “You have to give
credit to them. They made big shots, but we
also turned the ball over late.”
While Missouri senior guard Marcus
Denmon was finishing an old-fashioned
three-point play, a layup and a free throw, as
well as two highly contested three-pointers;
Kansas turned the ball over four times in the
final three-and-a-half minutes. Taylor had a
chance to give Kansas a one-point lead with a
pair of free throws with 42 seconds remaining,
but missed both.
Taylor, who played 38 minutes in the loss,
was noticeably winded in the final minutes.
Fatigue could be pointed to as the cause for
the missed free throws, but the guard is shoot-
ing just 67.6 percent from the free-throw line
this season to begin with. Taylor was one of
four Jayhawks to play 29 minutes or more and
one of three to play at least 35 minutes.
“I don’t think it was fatigue, but it could
have been,” Kansas coach Bill Self said of the
failed execution in the final minutes. “We
obviously made some really bad plays late.
Really bad plays that just put them in position
to win the game.”
Self didn’t think the collapse down the
stretch was a composure issue, but said some-
one who watched the game could definitely
make that case.
“We definitely did it to ourselves,” junior
center Jeff Withey said. “We had the lead and
if we had just held onto the ball it would have
been a way different outcome.”
They didn’t, however, and Missouri picked
up its second home victory over Kansas since
the 2005-2006 season.
“We’ve had three sets of three minutes over
here that absolutely stink,” Self said. “And that
would be right up near the top.”
Junior forward Thomas Robinson leans over in disbelief after being defeated by Missouri at Mizzou Arena 74-
71. Robinson had 25 points and 13 rebounds in the game.
Junior center Jeff Withey tips off against Missouri’s senior forward Ricardo Ratliffe during Feb. 4 last match-
up between the two teams at Missouri’s home court.
KANSAS 68, BAYLOR 54
FEBRUARY 8, 2012
Withey: head and shoulders above Baylor
WACO, Texas — Every day in prac-
tice, junior center Jeff Withey’s teammates
scream at him, punch him in the chest and
jump on him to roil his emotions.
“They’ll do it any way,” Withey said of his
At Missouri, Withey lacked consistent
aggression and didn’t score a point. Coach
Bill Self told him a scoreless night couldn’t
On Feb. 8, Withey said his coach’s words
were stuck in his head, so he scored a
career-high 25 points and guided No. 7
Kansas to a 68-54 victory over No. 6 Baylor
at the Ferrell Center.
Exactly how big was the seven-foot
Withey in the victory?
“As big as he really is,” senior guard
Tyshawn Taylor said. “He was huge
Withey had a shaky start after a thun-
derous alley-oop dunk from sophomore
forward Perry Jones III. Withey turned the
ball over and committed a foul, all within
the first 30 seconds of the game.
But with the Jayhawks trailing 7-0 and
momentum fading fast, Taylor shook junior
guard Pierre Jackson with a quick crossover
dribble at the top of the arc, drew another
defender, then lobbed Withey an alley-oop
dunk of his own.
The slam showed a glimpse of what was
to come for Withey, who scored 17 of his
team’s 33 first-half points.
“I’m so happy with my big fella right
now,” Taylor said.
Kansas attacked Baylor’s zone by expos-
ing gaps and consistently luring two defend-
ers to one player. With quick and judicious
ball movement, the Jayhawks worked to
the inside, almost always finding Withey
by the basket for layups, dunks and free
throws, which he converted a career-high
nine of 11.
“Cole had some good games,” Self said of
former Kansas center Cole Aldrich. “But I
don’t know if he had any better than that.”
Junior forward Thomas Robinson, who
finished with 15 points and 11 rebounds
for his 17th double-double, picked up his
second foul with 5:26 left in the first half.
As Robinson sat on the bench for the rest
of the half, the Jayhawks worked the offense
through Withey. For a nearly 12 minute
stretch from the end of the first half into the
second, the Jayhawks went on a 34-5 run.
Jones III had the first dunk. He’s the
prospect in this game who NBA scouts
want the most, but he also missed seven of
his eight shots, only scored five points and
grabbed two rebounds.
It was Withey’s night, no matter what the
scouting reports once said.
“I don’t know why Withey likes play-
ing against us so much,” Baylor coach
Scott Drew said. “But he looks like an All-
American every time he does.”
Junior guard Travis Releford celebrates with sophomore guard Nico Roberts when Baylor calls a time out after being down by 20 points in the second half.
Withey ﬂirts with triple-double, energizes Jayhawks
KANSAS 81, OKLAHOMA STATE 66
FEBRUARY 11, 2012
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Opposition beware: junior center Jeff
Withey is falling on the scorer’s table for
Oklahoma State freshman guard Cezar
Guerrero tried to up-fake Withey, who
held his ground. A half-second later, when
Guerrero took a shot, Withey soared at him
with an extended right arm and blocked
it. He tipped the ball to the sideline, beat
Guerrero to the ball and threw it to his
teammate, junior guard Travis Releford, as
he fell on the scorer’s table.
Withey ran from the scorer’s table to the
other end of the floor and demanded the
ball. Once he got it, he drew two defenders
and tossed a no-look, over-the-head pass to
junior forward Kevin Young for the wide-
It was this kind of hustle and skill from
Withey, who finished with 18 points, a
career-high 20 rebounds and seven blocks,
that propelled No. 7 Kansas to an 81-66
victory over Oklahoma State Saturday after-
noon at Allen Fieldhouse.
“Teams focus on Thomas a lot,” senior
guard Tyshawn Taylor said of junior for-
ward Thomas Robinson. “When Jeff is play-
ing well, it gives us that extra threat.”
With Withey flying all over the court
for blocks, deflections, rebounds and
points, Robinson reached 24 points and 14
rebounds, his 18th double-double, rather
“I feel like I’m not even working to score
anymore now with the way Jeff is playing,”
Led by Withey’s energy and production,
the Jayhawks broke the game open early
and led 51-24 going into halftime. However
in the second half, perhaps because they
felt comfortable with the lead, the Jayhawks
played sloppily, committing 11 turnovers
and succumbing to the Cowboys’ full-court
Junior center Jeff Withey puts up two points during the second half of the game against Oklahoma State
on Feb. 11. Withey scored a total of 18 points and 20 rebounds for the Jayhawks’ victory.
KANSAS 59, KANSAS STATE 53
FEBRUARY 13, 2012
MANHATTAN, Kan. — He almost did
In the final minute of Monday night’s
game at Kansas State, senior guard Tyshawn
Taylor missed two free throws and traveled.
In the final minutes on Feb. 4 at Missouri,
he missed two free throws and was called
for a charging foul.
The difference? The Jayhawks won this
time, edging the Wildcats 59-53 at Bramlage
Coliseum in Manhattan.
“It crossed my mind a few times,” Taylor
said of the similarities between the rivalry
games. “I was trying not to think about it.”
Junior center Jeff Withey starred for the
third consecutive game, falling just one
block shy of a triple-double. But when
Withey cooled off and Kansas State took a
37-36 lead with 11:49 left, Taylor hit two
consecutive three-point shots and keyed an
“That gave us a little bit of a cushion,”
Self said. “Ty made some great plays. He
made some plays that weren’t so great, but
certainly those were huge at that moment,”
Self said of the three-point shots.
Even with a fairly comfortable lead and
Self ’s guidance to do nothing but waste away
the rest of the shot clock, Taylor found a way
to create points. Usually this portion of the
game, a time to secure, not attack, stalls
even the best guards in the nation. When
the Jayhawks led 51-44 with only three and
a half minutes left, Taylor dribbled the shot
clock down to its final few seconds, shook
his defender with a cross-over, drove to the
hoop, nearly tripped himself, but lobbed a
pass to an airborne Withey who laid it in
for two points.
“Tyshawn has been unbelievable in
conference play. Unbelievable,” Self said.
“Arguably as good a player in our league.”
Just as he did at Missouri, when he
nearly carried the Jayhawks to a victory,
then unraveled in the closing minutes, he
struggled at the end of Monday night’s
Sunflower Showdown. But Taylor won this
time and he breathed easy after the game
knowing that fact.
When the game was already decided but
the clock had yet to run out, a Wildcats fan
screamed at Taylor and reminded him of his
failures at Missouri.
Taylor heard the fan, turned around,
held up the front of his jersey and flaunted
“Kansas” on his chest.
“They had their time to talk to me when
I was warming up and during the game,”
Taylor said. “So I figured that I had my time
to talk to them a little bit after the game.”
Close calls for Taylor in Manhattan
Senior guard Tyshawn Taylor ﬁres in a shot in the second half against Kansas State where Taylor led the
team with 20 points, ﬁve assists, and ﬁve rebounds in the Kansas 59-53 victory.
Junior forward Thomas Robinson measures up the Kansas State defense in the second half at Bramlage
Coliseum where Robinson had only 10 points and nine rebounds while committing four fouls in the
Kansas 59-53 victory.
KANSAS 83, TEXAS TECH 50
FEBRUARY 18, 2012
Any worries Kansas fans had of a pos-
sible letdown in the rematch against Texas
Tech were quickly squashed, as the Jayhawks
cruised to an 83-50 victory with four players
scoring in double figures.
Things didn’t necessarily start off smoothly,
however. The popular pre-game video shown
before Kansas players are introduced failed to
start because of a power outage on the video
board, altering a part of the ever-consistent
Allen Fieldhouse pre-game rituals.
“I didn’t know what was going on,” coach
Bill Self said of the malfunction. “It was kind
of a downer to me. I look forward to that
With or without the video that often results
in an Allen Fieldhouse volume decible read-
ing in the triple digits, at least one person
was worried about a sluggish start by Kansas
against a team that’s been proven to be infe-
“I think its definitely something coach
worries about,” senior guard Conner Teahan
said. “Especially today with that awkward
The opening sequences couldn’t have gone
much better for the Jayhawks, however, as
they hit their first seven shots and opened up
an early 17-7 lead.
“It is not the way you want it to happen,
obviously,” Red Raiders coach Billy Gillispie
said after the game, describing a pair of defen-
sive miscues that led to the early onslaught of
The Jayhawks shot 57.7 percent in the first
half and took a 44-22 lead to the locker room,
led by junior forward Thomas Robinson’s
The initial obstacle of not overlooking
Texas Tech was a success, but not coming out
flat in the second half was a new challenge. Is
staying focused with a big lead tough?
“I think it is for this particular group,” Self
said. “I think its human nature, but we have
shown over time that we’re not the most
mature team or handle prosperity that well.”
Led by eight points and five rebounds in
the second half by Robinson, Kansas kept
Texas Tech at a comfortable distance the
remainder of the game. There was a moment
midway through the second half that made
Self a little worried, however.
The popular “Pop Up Video” clip was air-
ing during a timeout, this time highlighting
Robinson. Out of the huddle and waiting for
action to resume, the players’ eyes were glued
to the video board.
Junior guard Travis Releford jumps up to get the ball into the basket for two points during Saturday night’s game against Texas Tech where the Jayhawks won 83-50.
A blowout victory on a strange night at Allen Fieldhouse
KANSAS 66, TEXAS A&M 58
FEBRUARY 22, 2012
Jayhawks defeat Aggies despite second half struggle
Junior guard Travis Releford drives through his opponent to get to the basket against Texas Tech at Reed Arena where the Jayhawks defeated the Aggies 66-58.
COLLEGE STATION, Texas—The
rematch between Kansas and Texas A&M
in Reed Arena wasn’t totally unlike the
first meeting on Jan 24. The tempo was
slow, defense ruled all and the Jayhawks
eventually won by a few possessions.
How they got there, however, was a dif-
“If you told me we’d won by eight before
we got here, I’d be ecstatic,” coach Bill Self
said after the 66-58 Kansas victory. “But
we were up 21 with about 10 left, and
you guys saw what happened down the
There was actually 13:25 left in the
game when Kansas held a 21 point lead
over the Aggies. Texas A&M clawed them-
selves back though, cutting the deficit to
10 with 4:36 to go. Self blamed the minor
meltdown on bad plays, among others.
With 40 seconds remaining and the
Jayhawks clinging to a 62-56 lead, a loose
ball led to a pile-up on the floor. In the
middle of it all, junior forward Thomas
Robinson was called for a technical foul
for apparently pushing an opponent. It was
his fifth foul and his night was done, fin-
ishing with 10 points and 13 rebounds.
“Inexplicable,” Self called Robinson’s
“There’s a lot of teams out there that can
focus, but there’s not too many that can
focus for 40 minutes,” junior guard Elijah
Johnson said. “Our goal is to focus for 40
Late game miscues aren’t exactly new
for the Jayhawks this season. In the 74-71
loss at Missouri on Feb. 4, Kansas was held
scoreless in the final 2:05 of the game as
the Tigers ended the night on an 11-0 run.
Late mistakes against Kansas State earlier
this month in Manhattan almost proved to
be fatal as well, with the Jayahwks holding
on for a 59-53 victory.
“I don’t know what it is,” Senior guard
Tyshawn Taylor said on the mishaps late
in games. “We just need to focus in a little
bit more defensively and offensively when
the game is close or almost over.”
A few empty possessions late for the
Aggies and timely free throw shooting
from Jeff Withey were just enough for
Kansas when the clock read all zeros.
“It’s a good win and we’ll be happy we
won, but I’m not leaving out of here feeling
great about anything,” Self said. “I don’t
think anybody in our locker room is.”
FEBRUARY 24, 2012
There wasn’t a shortage of hype leading
up to the first meeting between Kansas
and Missouri on Feb. 4 in Columbia. But
unlike many heavily publicized games these
days, the first installment of the Border
Showdown lived up to its buildup, with the
Tigers pulling away with a 74-71 victory.
Now with the Big 12 regular season
championship on the line, the hype is back.
The Allen Fieldhouse concourse looks more
like a homeless shelter with the blankets and
mattresses of eager campers strewn across
the floor since Sunday morning’s lottery.
“The Baylor game this year was pretty
good,” said coach Bill Self Thursday. “There
have been so many that have been good, but
I think this one, with our fans, will have a
Junior forward Travis Releford said his
team gave the first game away and thinks
the key for a different outcome this time
around is execution and defense, two things
that weren’t present in the final two minutes
of play in Mizzou Arena.
“We’re playing for a Big 12 title, and this
is a big game for us.” Releford said Thursday.
“The rivalry, the title and they beat us at
their place. There are a lot of factors to it.”
The Jayhawks will have history on their
side, as the Tigers haven’t won in Allen
Fieldhouse since the 1998-1999 season. The
last time they faced off as top-5 opponents
in Allen Fieldhouse, however, No. 2 Mizzou
upset No. 1 Kansas 77-71 on Feb. 13, 1990.
Fast forward 22 seasons, and Bill Self
is looking for any edge possible to avenge
the loss to the Tigers. He’ll have help from
Kansas State, who recently completed a
season sweep of Mizzou. Self said looking
at the film of those two games is on his
Self applauded Kansas State’s ability to
consistently get the ball inside and stay
aggressive throughout the games against
Mizzou, something his team wasn’t able to
do in Columbia. Junior center Jeff Withey
attempted just one shot and was held score-
less against the Tigers while having trouble
against the smaller lineup, playing for just
“I think there are a lot of keys to Jeff stay-
ing on the floor,” Self said. “One is that he
needs to be more aggressive and be more of
Withey echoed those sentiments and said
his confidence has “grown a tremendous
amount” since then.
Which team makes the better adjustments
before Saturday’s 3 p.m. tipoff remains to be
seen, but some things are certain.
“I think it will the best that I’ve seen it in
my four years here,” Senior guard Tyshawn
Taylor said of the atmosphere. “It’s going
to be crazy, but I’m excited and I’m ready
Brian Duerksen, a third year law student from Wichita, holds up an Orange Bowl and NCAA trophy as a Missouri Tigers fan passes by prior to the Feb. 24 game at Allen Fieldhouse.
Hype builds as Border Showdown approaches
KANSAS 87, MISSOURI 86
FEBRUARY 25, 2012
It may become, quite possibly, one of the
most epochal plays in Kansas basketball his-
tory. The kind of play that shows up with
Mario Chalmers and Wilt Chamberlain on
the pre-game videos. The kind of play that,
years from now, helps people remember this
rivalry when it lived. And he did it, so he says,
with his eyes closed.
The game, the last of its kind, the final
Border Showdown with conference-title
implications, was tied at 75 when junior for-
ward Thomas Robinson blocked the shot.
Robinson abandoned senior guard Kim
English in the right corner after sophomore
guard Phil “Flip” Pressey ignored a screen
and dashed for the hoop. With two seconds to
play in regulation time, Robinson hung in the
air and swatted Pressey’s layup attempt with a
hammering right hand, denying the Tigers a
victory, sending the game into overtime and
riling the Fieldhouse crowd to a volume that
“Thomas isn’t a shot blocker,” coach Bill
Self said. “That was a big-time play from a
The No. 4 Jayhawks trailed by 19 points
with 17 minutes left, but erased the deficit
in an arduous second half and won 87-86 in
overtime, clinching at least a share of an eighth
consecutive Big 12 title.
“Revenge, payback,” Robinson said. “It
definitely feels good. It felt like someone just
jumped us and ran away and we finally caught
up to them.”
For a 15 minute span, Missouri hit 17
of 23 shots while Kansas’ offense sputtered.
Robinson and junior center Jeff Withey, who
turned his ankle early in the game, both
picked up two fouls in the first half. The silent
fear of the Fieldhouse, from the Kansas bench
to the student section, was tangible.
“Missouri players played with house
money,” Self said. “We came out there trying
to protect as opposed to go take.”
With Robinson and Withey on the bench,
Self played junior forward Kevin Young for
28 minutes and senior guard Conner Teahan
“Who would have ever thought that that
would be what we needed to do to win?” Self
Young, who finished with eight rebounds,
five points and four blocks, energized a stag-
nant Fieldhouse with dunks and hustle plays.
However, it was senior guard Tyshawn Taylor
who once again took nothing and turned it
With his team down 19, Taylor hit a three-
pointer, but was quickly answered with a three
from senior guard Marcus Denmon. Taylor
then found junior guard Elijah Johnson for
two more threes in a 65-second span. Teahan
hit two of his four threes after that to help
carve into the Missouri lead.
Down 75-72, Johnson skipped a bounce
pass to Robinson, who finished a layup with
a Dixon foul, knocking him to a sideways
landing on the blue paint. Robinson hit the
free throw, then sent the game to overtime
with his block.
Taylor hit a quick three for the first points
of the overtime period and drained two free
throws with eight seconds left to win the
game. All this comes after Taylor missed two
free throws in the final minute of the 74-71
loss at Mizzou Arena on Feb. 4.
“I feel good,” Taylor said after the victory.
“Words can’t even describe how I feel.”
After Taylor’s free throws, the Tigers had
one more chance, but Johnson blanketed
Dixon, who zipped a pass to Denmon as the
clock expired. Denmon’s shot bounced around
the rim and fell in, but it was just too late.
“We had the game in our hands,” English
said. “We gave them a gift.”
As the buzzer sounded, Self walked on the
court, the furor of the crowd swirling around
him as he pumped his hands in the air.
“I’m not the most emotional guy,” Self said.
“But that was as good as it gets.”
It was over. The final edition of the Border
Showdown with everything on the line.
The comeback tied for the largest in Allen
Fieldhouse history and gave fans of both sides
a spectacle to witness before Missouri departs
for the Southeastern Conference.
If it has to end, if these seemingly perfect
foes must never again face off in an important
game, at least it ended like this.
“We’re never going to be a part of some-
thing,” Robinson said, “as big as this game was
THE FINAL BORDER SHOWDOWN
Coach Bill Self is surrounded by the media and fans as he walks out for a press conference after winning the rivalry against the Missouri Tigers at Allen Fieldhouse.
Taylor redeems himself in 87-86 victory against Missouri
In the final minute of a one-point game
earlier this month against Missouri, senior
guard Tyshawn Taylor stood at the free-
throw line with a chance to tie the game at
72 or possibly give the Jayhawks a one-point
Both shots clanked off the rim and Kansas
eventually lost, 74-71.
Shortly after, one of Taylor’s friends told
him he would face a similar situation when
the Tigers traveled to Lawrence.
Taylor finished with 24 points while play-
ing 44 out of 45 minutes and committing
just one turnover. But his final two points
stole the show.
Kansas came back from 19 points in the
second half and forced overtime. Missouri
senior guard Marcus Denmon hit a floater
along the baseline to give the Tigers an
86-85 lead with 12 seconds left.
Kansas almost never had a final chance to
Junior guard Elijah Johnson inbounded
the ball while Taylor was peering up at the
video board for a quick check of the time.
The ball bounced a few feet past Taylor,
leaving the nearly 16,300 fans in attendance
momentarily gasping for breath.
“I’m sure I did,” Taylor chucked when
asked if his near-fatal slip up scared the
There was plenty of time to smile about
the play at that point.
In the timeout moments before Denmon’s
bucket, coach Bill Self told his team to “go
flat” on offense if Missouri scored, meaning
he wanted everyone but Taylor to spread out
along the baseline to give their point guard
room to operate.
With just 12 seconds on the clock, there
wasn’t much time to think.
“We have to go score and get a good shot,
but get it as fast as possible,” Taylor said of
his thought process as he received the pass.
“I just put my head down and saw a little
seam and attacked.”
He was fouled on a layup attempt, not
unlike the final seconds in the first game
against Missouri. But with the crowd hold-
ing its arms in the air in silent support of
the four-year starter, Taylor cooly knocked
down both attempts to give the Jayhawks
the lead, 87-86.
“He got fouled,” Self said. “And for him
to make the two free throws in the same
scenario that he missed them in Columbia,
I thought that was good for him.”
“He was absolutely right,” Taylor said
of his friend’s prediction. “It was the same
team again, but not the same circumstances
and I came through this time. Words can’t
describe how I feel.”
The Kansas Jayhawks go into the huddle before heading to center court for the tip off against the Mis-
The entire team rushes out onto the court in celebration of the victory just moments before over the Missouri Tigers, one of the longest running rivalries in history for Kansas.
KANSAS 70, OKLAHOMA STATE 58
FEBRUARY 27, 2012
Junior forward Thomas Robinson ﬂies over OSU’s Philip Jurik for a dunk during the second half of the match-up at Gallagher-Iba Arena.
STILLWATER, Okla.— Two days after
Missouri, one Big 12 season later, the
Jayhawks have done it yet again. And now
it’s outright and unquestionable.
“We got eight, baby,” junior forward
Thomas Robinson said. “This one feels
After a 70-58 victory at Oklahoma State in
Gallagher-Iba Arena, No. 3 Kansas, claimed
its eighth consecutive Big 12 title for good.
As Robinson spoke, senior guard Tyshawn
Taylor took a hat off his head. He turned it
around and read “8 STR8 champs,” running
his fingers along the seams and smiling.
Taylor had reason to smile. He had con-
quered the conference that pundits said was
never supposed to belong to the Jayhawks.
As the season progressed, he decreased
his turnovers and started scoring more.
On Monday, he dropped 27 points on the
“Every time we came down and made a
big play, Tyshawn would come down and hit
a big shot,” Oklahoma State’s senior guard
Keiton Page said.
On his senior day, Page scored 29 points
and hit seven of his 14 three-point shots. At
just five-foot-nine, which some call a gener-
ous listing, Page used deceptive dribbles
and fakes to evade defenders. Taylor and
Johnson often tightly guarded Page, but he
still made shots.
“He can shoot the rock,” Taylor said. “If
he gets any daylight, he’s putting it up and
usually it’s good.”
“I’m glad he’s a senior,” coach Bill Self
Yet as Page and freshman guard Brian
Williams continued to score, the rest of the
Cowboys combined for 9 points and a 17.6
field goal percentage. Oklahoma State for-
wards and centers didn’t score a point.
The low-scoring affair suited the Jayhawks
just fine after Saturday’s overtime victory
against Missouri, which Self called “the
most emotional regular season game ever.”
“We were gassed, but it wasn’t a fast-
paced game,” Self said. “Fortunately for us,
there weren’t a lot of possessions.”
Self said that with the quick turnaround,
this game was one of the season’s great-
est challenges. The Jayhawks had just 15
minutes of stationary shooting on Sunday,
and a brief amount of time to warm up on
Monday. The game wasn’t filled with energy,
it was more a game to fight through and fin-
ish with a victory, style points be damned.
The Jayhawks did just that, and now
they’ve got another conference title to show
“You’re supposed to win at home when
you have a crowd like we have,” Self said.
“But for them to go 7-2 on the road, that’s
Jayhawks seal eighth consecutive Big 12 title
KANSAS 73, TEXAS 63
MARCH 3, 2012
Junior forward Thomas Robinson pumps his ﬁst in the air in victory after being taken out of the game late in the second half against Texas where Robinson led the team with 25 points and 14 rebounds in the Jayhawks
Robinson honored as junior, leads Kansas past Texas
Coach Bill Self said he received numer-
ous letters from fans leading up to the
game against Texas, urging him to allow
junior forward Thomas Robinson to share
a few words alongside the three seniors who
would be honored before and after the final
home game of the season.
It’s obvious to most everyone that
Robinson has played his last game in Allen
Fieldhouse and considering his special cir-
cumstances, some thought he should be an
exception to the time-honored senior night
“Paul Pierce didn’t do it,” Self said of the
possibility of letting Robinson speak. “All
the other guys that left early didn’t do it. I
don’t think you make exceptions on senior
night to do that.”
Robinson wasn’t his usual self in the
first half. He went to the locker room
at the break with seven points and five
rebounds as Kansas held a 26-21 lead over
“I think he knows he kind of got off to
a slow start,” senior guard Tyshawn Taylor
said. “Coach wanted him to do different
things, and I think he picked it up.”
Robinson traded in a 30-percent first
half shooting performance for 7-of-9 in the
He grabbed defensive rebounds and
turned into a de-facto point guard at times,
driving for a layup or pulling up for a mid-
range jump shot.
“He played like the player of the year,”
Robinson finished with 25 points and 14
rebounds. He’s now averaging 18 points and
11.9 rebounds per game in his first season of
getting serious minutes.
He’s ballooned from a potential All-
American to one of the All-Americans, a
leading candidate for the National Player of
the Year Award and a near lock to be chosen
in the top-10 of this summer’s NBA draft.
But senior night at Kansas is a special
thing. All of the national media praise and
future riches couldn’t hide the fact that
Robinson is still just a junior.
After the 73-63 victory over Texas, a
short video montage of the senior class
-Jordan Juenemann, Conner Teahan, and
Tyshawn Taylor- played on the video board
above center court. Robinson sat on the
floor in front of the Kansas bench with his
teammates and listened to Juenemann and
As the crowd prepared to shower Taylor
with a standing ovation, Self took the micro-
“It was shocking,” Robinson said. “I was
looking round to see if anyone else knew
about it. Then I was thinking I had to speak
and I was going crazy at that point.”
Self brought the packed house to a roar
when he told Robinson to stand up and
be acknowledged. He stuck to his guns,
though, and didn’t allow him to speak.
Robinson called it a special moment
“I do think he’s definitely worthy of being
recognized,” Self said after the game. Then
he smiled and said, “And if he wants to talk,
like I said, he can come back next year.”
BIG 12 TOURNAMENT: KANSAS 83, TEXAS A&M 66
MARCH 8, 2012
Johnson leads Jayhawks in Big 12 tourny victory
KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Junior guard
Elijah Johnson’s uncle passed away last
week and services were held Tuesday.
Johnson was away from his teammates
for three days, spending time with family.
When he returned, coach Bill Self took
notice of something.
In practice on March 7, in preparation
for the Big 12 tournament in Kansas City,
Mo., Johnson’s shot just looked right.
“It looked as pure as it looked all year
long,” Self said. “I told him that.”
Johnson took the words to heart
and scored a career-high 26 points on
Thursday afternoon, as No. 3 Kansas
defeated the Texas A&M Aggies 83-66.
“I think coach kind of gave me a couple
of words I needed to hear after going what
I went through,” Johnson said.
If only Johnson could face the Aggies
everyday. When the Jayhawks last faced
them on Feb. 22 in College Station, Texas,
Johnson scored 18 points in the first half
and energized a stagnant bunch with his
quick scoring. But in that game, Johnson
scord much of his points with layups. On
Wednesday afternoon, he thrived by way
of the long ball, knocking down five of
seven three-point shots and eight of 11
“You can’t really double the post like
you want to because he’ll just kick it
out every time,” Aggies forward Khris
Middleton said. “We just wanted to try to
make it hard on the post and contest their
threes, but they made most of those.”
Junior forward Thomas Robinson, who
finished with 19 points and 10 rebounds
— his 23rd double-double of the sea-
son — made both of his two three-point
shots. It was the first game of Robinson’s
career that he made more than one three-
Despite a sloppy start that included a
badly missed layup, senior guard Tyshawn
Taylor turned it on as the game pro-
gressed. He hit three of four three-point-
ers and finished with 16 points.
With Johnson, Robinson and Taylor fir-
ing away, the Jayhawks hit 10 of 15 threes,
the team’s best rate of the season.
“When they make ten threes and
Robinson hits two threes,” Aggies coach
Billy Kennedy said, “they’re a very dif-
ficult team to beat by anybody.”
Johnson said that after he made his first
three-point shot midway through the first
half, he hit another one after a referee’s
whistle. It didn’t count, but he knew that
he was starting to feel it. He told Taylor
that “it felt great,” and from then on, the
Jayhawks fed Johnson the ball. Self said
that after he saw Johnson make a few he
knew “he really had a chance to have a
“Everything I let go just felt like it was
going in, nowhere else,” Johnson said.
“Even off balance or however it went.”
With the victory, the Jayhawks advanced
to the semifinals of the conference tour-
nament, where they’ll meet the No. 12
The Bears are led by Perry Jones III,
who recorded a measly five points and
three rebounds on Feb. 8 in Waco, Texas,
the last team he faced the Jayhawks.
However Jones III, an NBA talent, torched
Kansas State for 31 points and 11 rebounds
just hours before Kansas defeated Texas
“I opened up my whole arsenal,” Jones
III said after the game.
After defeating the Aggies, Johnson
said that beating a team three times in
one season can be easy or difficult; all that
matters is the approach.
Going into the March 9 matchup with
Baylor, he may consider his own words.
“If you pay attention to how you played
them the first two games,” Johnson said,
“it can be quite easy.”
Senior guard Tyshawn Taylor drives toward the basket from the tree-point line during the ﬁrst half Big
12 Tournament match-up against the Texas A&M Aggies.
BIG 12 TOURNAMENT: BAYLOR 81, KANSAS 72
MARCH 9, 2012
KANSAS CITY, Mo. — While the com-
forts of Allen Fieldhouse were some 40 miles
away, Kansas still held a sizeable advantage in
fan support during the Big 12 Tournament
semi-final matchup with Baylor in Kansas
City. The Sprint Center was a sea of blue with
specks of yellow, green, and black mixed in.
And being the only team with the entire
band, cheerleading squad and dance team
present made it seem like a de facto home
game for Kansas.
They just didn’t play like it.
“They came out like a team that lost to us
twice,” senior guard Tyshawn Taylor said..
“They came out ready to play and I don’t
know what we did different. Maybe we weren’t
as aggressive.” Baylor eventually won 81-72.
The Bears controlled the final eight min-
utes of the first half and took an eight-point
lead to the locker room. They opened up
the lead to 13 less than two minutes into the
second half of play.
An 18-3 Kansas run closed the gap midway
through the second half, but it wasn’t enough
in the end.
“We didn’t rebound the ball,” coach Bill Self
said. “Those are man plays. Even though the
battle of the boards was even, I don’t think
anybody thought that we controlled the glass.
I think the perception would be that they
Kansas’ stamina was questioned on its sec-
ond day of back-to-back games. The Jayhawks
are noticeably thin with a bench basically
consisting of two players.
“Baylor played as many minutes last night
as we did,” Self said. “I ain’t buying into that
stuff. If you’re tired in that particular situa-
tion, then the reason you’re probably tired is
because your mind or your preparation level
is such that allows you to be tired.”
The lack of energy could have been for
a number of reasons such as the game’s
outcome may have had little effect on the
Jayhawks’ seed in the NCAA tournament.
One thing is certain, though. Kansas will
be watching the tournament championship
from Lawrence for just the seventh time in its
16 year existence.
Self added after the game that if Friday
night better prepares his team for NCAA
tournament games next week, it would have
been a ‘good loss.’
Taylor said the extra day of rest will be
He wasn’t, however, happy with how they
earned that rest.
“Going forward that could hurt us,” Taylor
said. “We’ve got to be ready to play from the
For Baylor, the third time’s a charm
Coach Bill Self covers his eyes after the Jayhawks have another bad possession on the offensive end during
the Jayhawks’ March 9 loss in the Big 12 tournament to Baylor, 81-72.
Junior guard Travis Releford dives onto a loose ball during
the ﬁrst half of the March 9 match-up against Baylor in the
Big 12 tournament at the Kansas City Sprint Center.
NCAA TOURNAMENT NO. 2 SEED
MARCH 11, 2012
Kansas receives No. 2 seed in NCAA Tournament
Coach Bill Self signs autographs after the practice session before the NCAA Tournament match-up against Detroit.
It’s not what the Jayhawks were hoping
for, but they’ll take it.
“Should be a No. 1 seed,” senior guard
Tyshawn Taylor said. “But we’re cool with
that No. 2 seed.”
The Jayhawks enter the 68-team NCAA
Tournament as a No. 2 seed in the Midwest
region. Their first matchup is on Friday
against No. 15 seed Detroit of the Horizon
League in Omaha, Neb. If they defeat
Detroit, they will face the winner of No. 7
Saint Mary’s and No. 10 Purdue.
No matter the seed for Kansas, it takes six
victories to win a national championship.
Coach Bill Self said that while his team
hoped for a No. 1 seed, it won’t harp on
what could have been. Year after the year,
the supposedly mighty always fall, so seeds
“It never plays out the way that you had
envisioned it,” Self said.
The Jayhawks have been a No. 1 seed the
past two seasons, but they lost to No. 9 seed
Northern Iowa in 2010 and No. 11 seed
Virginia Commonwealth last year.
With all the prestige and national atten-
tion of a No. 1 seed, so too comes the pres-
sure of expectations.
“We kind of felt like we had to win it,”
Taylor said of those two teams. “I think we
feel the same way this year, but I don’t feel
like it’s on us as much.”
The Jayhawks weren’t surprised to hear
that the selection committee chose them as
a No. 2 seed behind No. 1 seeds Kentucky,
Syracuse, North Carolina and Michigan
State. Self briefed his team before the seeds
“I told them we blew that by not perform-
ing in Kansas City,” Self said.
In Big 12 tournament semifinal at the
Sprint Center in Kansas City, Mo., Kansas
fell 81-72 to the Baylor Bears. Despite
defeating the Bears twice by an average of
16 points this season, the Jayhawks said they
were tired. They played without the vigor
that usually carries them to victories.
“When we do really guard and rebound,
which I think are two key elements of
toughness,” Self said, “our team takes a
whole different dimension.”
Kansas’ first opponent, the Detroit
Titans, started the season 9-11, but finished
13-2 en route to a Horizon League tour-
nament championship. The Titans feature
five double-digit scorers and are led by
Ray McCallum Jr., the son of coach Ray
McCallum Jr., who was recruited by Self
before he joined his father’s team, averages
15.6 points, 4.5 rebounds and 3.9 assists
“Ray is good enough to play for anybody,
anywhere,” Self said. “Certainly whoever
guards him, Elijah or Tyshawn, will have a
big challenge ahead of him.”
The brackets are set. The teams are ready.
And no matter the seeds, it’s on. It’s time for
“If we prepare like we want to win and
we’re kind of like an underdog,” Taylor said,
“I think it’s going to be hard to beat us.”
NCAA TOURNAMENT: KANSAS 65 DETROIT 50
MARCH 16, 2012
Defense hinders McCallum, Jayhawks advance
Junior center Jeff Withey denies Detroit’s Chase Simon from scoring with a block during the second half
NCAA Tournament game at the CenturyLink Center.
OMAHA, Neb. — The pre-game talks
heading into Kansas and Detroit’s sec-
ond round matchup in the CenturyLink
Center consisted largely of a high school
All-American and a dunking YouTube sen-
And that was just the 15 seed.
Sophomore guard Ray McCallum passed
over big-name programs like Kansas and
UCLA to stay home and play for his dad at
Detroit. He was a First-Team All-Horizon
League selection this season after leading
the Titans with 15.6 points per game.
“We knew he was going to be a big fac-
tor,” senior guard Tyshawn Taylor said. “We
knew he was going to be aggressive offen-
sively, it was going to take a team effort to
slow him down.”
That team effort held McCallum to just
eight points on 4-for-15 shooting. It was his
lowest scoring game in nearly a month and
it did the Titans no favors as they struggled
offensively all night, finishing with just 50
Taylor guarded McCallum for much of
the first half and junior guard Elijah Johnson
said Taylor “got in his head early.”
Taylor credited the Kansas big men
for hedging on screens and not allowing
McCallum and others good looks at the
basket on the perimeter.
The Titans were still able to score early
on, however, and led Kansas 23-21 with
under five minutes to play in the first
half after Doug Anderson—whom Thomas
Robinson called a walking highlight—threw
down a monstrous dunk to give the Titans
The Jayhawks clamped down from then
on, going on a 34-7 run that stifled any
hopes of a third No. 2 seed bowing out of
the tournament on Friday.
Junior center Jeff Withey had five blocks
on the night, matching a personal best since
recording nine blocks on Feb. 13 against
Johnson said he likes the way the Kansas
guards play defense on the perimeter, espe-
cially with a safety net waiting in the paint.
“If you do get lucky and get past us,”
Johnson said. “You’ve still got to avoid a
seven-foot-one person that was an All-
American in volleyball that’s ready to swat
something out of there.”
The solid defensive performance carried
Kansas on to the round of 32 on a night
when Taylor played just 23 minutes because
of cramps. The Jayhawks failed to surpass
65 points for the first time in over a month.
“People don’t get excited about watching
people play defense,” Johnson said. “but the
good teams are the ones that play defense.”
Senior guard Tyshawn Taylor tries to get a ﬁnger on the
shot of Detroit’s Ray McCallum during the ﬁrst half in
Junior forward Thomas Robinson protects the lane from Detroit’s LaMarcus Love during the second half of
the NCAA Tournament game.
NCAA TOURNAMENT: KANSAS 63, PURDUE 60
MARCH 18, 2012
Jayhawks escape Purdue, advance to Sweet 16
Purdue’s Robbie Hummel takes a shot over the reach of Junior center Jeff Withey and junior forward
Kevin Young during the ﬁrst half of the NCAA Tournament.
OMAHA, Neb. — On March 15, the
first day that coach Bill Self and his
Jayhawks were in this town, Self had a
He added it up like this: He knows that
most teams don’t play their best in six
straight games. He knows that in 2008,
the Jayhawks would have never won a
championship if they didn’t swipe a game
from Davidson. He knows something like
that Davidson game happens for most
teams that make runs in March. So he
shared his philosophy.
“The teams that won the national
championships,” he said, “stole one when
they were bad.”
And then on March 18 there was the
Purdue Boilermakers game, one that Self
at times didn’t think his team would win
but still did, 63-60.
This was a game that solidified the
“This was certainly our one,” Self said.
With the victory, the Jayhawks advance
to the Sweet 16 in St. Louis; a trip they
know almost never happened because of
Purdue forward Robbie Hummel.
As junior forward Thomas Robinson
so eloquently put it: “He don’t miss.”
In the first half, it was pretty much
true. Hummel hit seven of eight shots to
score 22 points before the break. On one
play, with the shot-clock nearing nil, pres-
sure from junior guard Elijah Johnson
and senior guard Tyshawn Taylor forced
Hummel away from the perimeter. Still,
about five feet from the three-point line,
Hummel drained the shot.
“I felt like he was throwing a rock in
the ocean,” senior guard Tyshawn Taylor
So in the second half, the Jayhawks
trotted out a smaller lineup and a dia-
mond-and-two zone defense, organized
to swarm Hummel with defenders and
dare other Boilermakers to beat them.
The scheme worked, holding Hummel to
four second-half points and Purdue to 24
But the Jayhawks also nearly missed
out on a trip to St. Louis because they
just couldn’t score. While Hummel
kept throwing rocks into the ocean, the
Jayhawks missed their first six shots and
15 of their first 17.
Robinson, who missed 10 of his 12
shot attempts, said that the Boilermakers
succeeded by challenging him with more
than just double and triple teams.
“Four, five, six, seven,” he said. “They’d
have threw their bench at me if they
While Taylor finished with just 10
points and Robinson with only 11,
Johnson relieved his points-hungry team
with 18 points, a key rebound and alley-
oop assist to Taylor and a go-ahead steal
and layup with 23 seconds to play.
“Man, Elijah’s a big-time player,”
Robinson said. “One of the biggest I’ve
“I love my big man and I love my point
guard,” Johnson said. “I don’t want them
to feel like everything is on them.”
A Taylor dunk with three seconds left
added cushion, especially considering that
a buzzer-beating heave by Boilermakers
guard Ryne Smith clanked off the back-
boward and nearly dropped in the hoop.
But it didn’t and the Jayhawks, led by
Johnson, followed Self ’s script. They may
have stolen one this time around.
“Stuff like that is stuff that you got to
face to win a championship,” Robinson
said. “Coach said that it was going to be
an ugly game and that’s the ugliest I’ve
NCAA TOURNAMENT: ST. LOUIS
MARCH 22, 2012
Jayhawk fans scramble to St. Louis
The Jayhawks celebrate after coming from behind to defeat the Purdue Boilermakers during the NCAA Tournament game in Omaha, Neb., 63-60.
ST. LOUIS — Peppered with blue, red
and green, Washington Street in the core of
downtown St. Louis served as the unofficial
home to the Midwest Regional of the NCAA
During the weekend, fans from Kansas,
North Carolina, North Carolina State and
Ohio could be found walking up and down
Washington, a street that runs parallel to the
Edward Jones Dome. The street is full of food,
bars and hotels, making it the perfect scene to
fuel the NCAA Tournament.
Co-workers Kyle Dolinski and Mitch
Miller, two Jayhawks fan from Kansas City
, were pleasantly surprised by the vibrant
atmosphere that St. Louis provided for the
event, and they had a surprising weekend
When they woke up Friday morning, nei-
ther Dolinski nor Miller planned on heading
to St. Louis until the middle of the work day.
“We were sitting there, and he was like, ‘You
want to go?’” Miller said. “And I was like, I’m
game if you want to go. So we were just like,
‘Alright, let’s go.’”
The two left for St. Louis around 4 p.m.
Friday. Neither had a ticket for the game, but
that didn’t matter; it was an event they were
not going to miss.
They found a parking garage approximately
10 minutes before tip off and ran to the sta-
dium. Luckily, the North Carolina-Ohio game
went into overtime, pushing the start of the
Kansas game back quite a bit. Luck also found
Dolinski and Miller when they found a ticket
scalper with only two tickets left.
“It couldn’t have worked out more smooth-
ly,” Miller said.
And with yesterday’s game against North
Carolina featuring a match up against for-
mer Kansas coach of 15 years Roy Williams,
Kansas fans everywhere were eager to voice
their opinion on the former Jayhawks’ com-
mander before the game.
While some still had sour feelings toward
Williams for leaving Kansas, others had start-
ed to forgive the coach who left Lawrence nine
This includes Kansas fan Derek Feagans
from Kansas City, Mo. Feagans was a shooting
guard for Avila University in Kansas City, and
his history in college athletics gave him a more
tolerant perspective toward Williams.
“He’s North Carolina’s coach,” Feagans said.
“All I care about is Bill Self and Kansas. Roy
Williams is a great coach at a great program.
Coaches move on. He went home and that’s
great. I’m glad we have coach Self.”
While Feagans was quick to answer ques-
tions on Williams, his seven-year-old son Will
didn’t say a word until he was asked who his
favorite player was.
“Elijah Johnson,” Will said.
Will wouldn’t say why, but his dad, the
former shooting guard himself, was quick to
answer for him.
“Because he’s a shooter,” Feagans said.
NCAA TOURNAMENT: KANSAS 60, NORTH CAROLINA STATE 57
MARCH 23, 2012
Kansas survives NC State scare in Sweet 16
North Carolina State’s Richard Howell and Scott Wood make their way off of the court after the Jayhawks hold on to their three point lead to end regulation.
ST. LOUIS — Purdue’s unconventional
lineup was sent home and Kansas players
and coach Bill Self almost seemed relieved
to be meeting up with a more traditional
three-guard, two big-men team like North
Carolina State in the Sweet 16 in the Edward
Junior center Jeff Withey showed why
most everyone associated with the Jayhawks
welcomed that return to normalcy.
“He really changed the game,” North
Carolina State coach Mark Gottfried said
after the 60-57 Kansas victory.
Withey had eight points and five rebounds
on the night, but his shot blocking stole the
show. His 10 blocked shots tied a school
record, matching Cole Aldrich’s perfor-
mance against Dayton in the 2009 NCAA
Senior guard Conner Teahan said
Withey’s blocks must be “demoralizing” for
“I was just in the zone,” Withey said.
“After the first block I just got in a rhythm
and kind of knew they were just going to
keep on attacking.”
Attack they did, opening up a 9-1 lead on
the Jayhawks that forced Self to call a quick
timeout. Withey already had three blocks
by then, though, and unbeknownst to most,
was laying the foundation for the cause of
bad shots later on by the Wolfpack.
“His length really bothered us,” Gottfried
said. “It affected how we shot the ball
around the basket. It seemed like we were
always trying to make a tough shot.”
Senior guard Tyshawn Taylor called this
the best defensive team he’s been a part
of and Withey’s 10 blocks, which sett a
new single-season Kansas record with 126,
couldn’t have come at a better time for the
Jayhawks, who struggled mightily on the
offensive end of the floor. They shot just
37.5 percent and were 1-14 from three-
“It bails us out of games,” junior forward
Thomas Robinson said. “Especially like this,
we were down 14-3 I think and without
Jeff in there blocking those shots, the score
could have been a little bit worse.”
The Jayhawks eventually took an 18-17
lead thanks in part to three more blocks
by Withey, but they trailed by one at the
They opened up an eight point lead
midway through the second half but North
Carolina State battled back in the final min-
utes and cut the lead to one with a minute
Wolfpack sophomore forward C.J. Leslie
drove to the hoop with a chance to take the
lead with under thirty seconds to go, but his
shot attempt became the victim of Withey’s
Taylor grabbed the rebound, which wasn’t
a foregone conclusion on a night where
Kansas gave up 21 offensive rebounds.
Self noted multiple second-half posses-
sions where Withey affected the Wolfpack
offense even though they had three or more
looks at the basket each trip.
“And if he didn’t block it, he altered it
seemed like every one of them,” Self said of
those possessions. “I thought he stepped up
and played extremely well.”
ST. LOUIS — Travis Releford dribbling the
final seconds away before chucking the ball
upward and into sweet expiration. Tyshawn
Taylor, glossy eyed, twisting gnarled pieces
of net around the edges of his brand new hat.
Bill Self standing atop the ladder, snipping
a slice of the net, only to toss it to the hard-
wood and grab the chunk of what was left.
Child-like glee emitting from all seven feet of
Jeff Withey. Heavy, wholesome embraces for
all wearing crimson and blue. The Final Four
in New Orleans —book Kansas a ticket.
“It’s always more fun to do something
when nobody really thinks you can do it,”
Did you think these Jayhawks could do it?
This is the same team that was supposed
to be rebuilding. No Morris twins, no Tyrel
Reed, no Brady Morningstar. Didn’t matter.
This version of the Jayhawks, one of shallow
depth but impenetrable toughness, slugged
their way through Detroit and Purdue in
Omaha, Neb., then North Carolina State and
North Carolina in St. Louis.
Now they’re one of four teams still danc-
ing, still hunting for a national title.
“This is every kid’s dream right here,”
junior guard Travis Releford said.
Three other teams remain: late-surging
Louisville, freakishly-skilled Kentucky and
the next opponent, heavyweight Ohio State.
But Kansas would have never joined these
teams if not for its clampdown on the North
Carolina Tar Heels. The 80-67 final score at
the Edward Jones Dome hardly hints at what
In the first half, it was simply two of the
nation’s finest teams scoring nonstop. Speed
and flair ruled just as the Tar Heels like it.
They made 63.6 percent of their shots, while
the Jayhawks made 56.3 percent. The score
was tied at 47 going into halftime and Self
knew something had to change.
“I really figured that if it was a horse con-
test we’d have no shot” Self said. “At some
point in time during the game, it had to
become a grind-it-out, defensive game.”
After the break, Self switched his team
into a triangle-and-two zone defense; a funky
little scheme that rattled Kansas State in the
regular season and Purdue in the round of
32. This time around, the formation messed
with North Carolina’s traditional style of two
posts by the basket and shooters surround-
ing them. Self figured that freshman guard
Stilman White wasn’t going to beat anyone
with his jump shot. So the junk defense kept
two Jayhawks in the paint, then dared White,
sophomore forward Harrison Barnes and
sophomore guard Reggie Bullock to shoot
In the second half, White missed all three
of his shots. Barnes missed seven of eight.
Bullock missed all three of his three-pointers.
The Tar Heels scored just 20 points on 22.6
percent shooting, the lowest field goal per-
centage against Kansas in a half in NCAA
“That triangle-and-two is coming in handy
for us,” senior guard Conner Teahan said.
As the Jayhawks confounded the Tar
Heels’ offense, they scored just enough to
break away. Leading 68-67, junior guard
Elijah Johnson knocked down a three-point
shot that unofficially called it a night. Self
said it was, without question, the biggest shot
of the game.
“He took that shot with no conscience,
with a little smirk on his face like he knew it
was going in,” Taylor said.
Unlike the vast majority of games this
season, everyone chipped in against North
Carolina. Junior forward Thomas Robinson,
all toughness, had 18 points and nine
rebounds. Junior center Jeff Withey had
15 points, eight rebounds and three timely
blocks. But senior guard Tyshawn Taylor,
who had struggled so mightily in the tourna-
ment before Sunday, truly gave the Jayhawks
enough in the end.
Taylor had his typical bozo plays. Some
passes and shots forced Self to do nothing
but cover his face with his hands and shake
his head in disbelief. Yet when Taylor was
on, when he did all he could to make plays
and did so cautiously, he was the best player
on the floor. He finished with 22 points, six
rebounds, five assists and five steals. He also
might have just rewritten his once somewhat
shoddy legacy at Kansas.
“If you can look at the body of work that
I’ve put in my four years, I don’t understand
how you can’t love me,” Taylor said. “I’ve
made a lot of mistakes, but I feel like that’s
just part of a young kid being in college and
Who else, other than Self, could explain
“You’ve got guys going from playing
seven minutes a game to a national player
of the year candidate,” Self said of Robinson.
“You’ve got guys that basically have been as
criticized a player as there’s been at KU since
I’ve been there, and now everybody’s saying
he may be the best point guard that’s played
there in a long time,” he said of Taylor.
“It’s amazing to me how much these guys
have gotten better. I take pride in that.”
NCAA TOURNAMENT: KANSAS 80, NORTH CAROLINA 67
MARCH 25, 2012
Self’s defensive switch and big plays defeat UNC
Junior forward Thomas Robinson and senior guard Tyshawn Taylor hug each other at center court after defeating North Carolina to move on to the Final Four.
MARCH 29, 2012
Kansas shines bright where Bourbon Street’s lights shine brightest
NEW ORLEANS — There’s no question
this is a business week for the Kansas basket-
ball team, but even the Final Four couldn’t
keep the Jayhawks away from exploring
New Orleans and having a bit of fun.
Normally when fun and New Orleans
land in the same sentence, that means one
thing: Bourbon Street. Shortly after Kansas
landed in New Orleans on Wednesday, the
Athletics Department let the team learn
what the city is all about.
“Last night we went to Bourbon Street,”
Travis Releford said. “We had dinner, they
gave us time to walk around, but that was
it. That’s probably the most fun we’re going
to have while we’re here until we start play-
Releford said the experience was a daunt-
ing one, and rightfully so. The epicenter
of fun in New Orleans begins right on
Bourbon Street, where neon signs light the
sky for a series of “fun-filled” blocks.
While it may be considered a distraction
for the team to get away from their normal
routine of hotels, gyms and domes, this was
not. This is the first small reward these play-
ers can get for all of their hard work.
Most college students, including the bas-
ketball team, have heard rumors about what
Bourbon Street is really like from reputation
alone, so instead of wondering, the team got
a small glimpse of the famous street.
They now know the people watching
doesn’t get any better as a number of differ-
ent characters call the notorious strip home.
They know those people are either stum-
bling back from a long night out, that there
are tourists taking in the scene, or locals just
trying to pass through.
They also know just how much attention
they’re going to be getting for the rest of the
year, even outside of the Kansas City and
“We couldn’t walk two or three feet with-
out taking a picture or anything like that,”
It reinforced the belief that what Kansas is
doing this weekend is bigger than just bas-
ketball and for more than just themselves.
It was a smart move by the Athletics
Department to let the team have a moment
of fun. To let the team get that curiosity out
of their minds. While there’s no doubt that
Kansas came to New Orleans focused and
ready to play, the trip to Bourbon Street let
the team unwind a little before getting down
“Overall it was fun, Releford said. “It was
a fun experience, especially for the guys
who have never been to New Orleans or
been on Bourbon Street.”
Students waiting before the NCAA Final Four Tournament inside the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.
MARCH 31, 2012
Panic breaks out in rush for student tickets
Students waiting in line before the NCAA Final Four Tournament in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.
NEW ORLEANS — As thousands of
students lined up waiting for tickets in a
parking garage adjacent to the Mercedez-
Benz Superdome, a “Let’s go Jayhawks”
chant boomed throughout the garage. Right
on cue, Louisville, Kentucky and Ohio State
fans drowned out the chant with boos. But
that was the calm part of March 31.
The chaos began early in the morning
when students from all four universities
lined up, hoping to get a floor seat to the
two Final Four games. A metal barrier sepa-
rated each school, and everything was calm,
until security guards told the students they
weren’t supposed to be in the garage at all.
That’s when panic broke out.
Students said they stampeded outside
of the garage, hoping to keep their spot at
the front of the line. Before things could
settle down, the students were instructed
to return to their original place inside the
parking garage, creating the morning’s sec-
Two Louisville students, senior Pat
Hoagland and sophomore Grant McKenzie,
said everything was orderly when they first
arrived at the garage. But the relaxed nature
of the line, quickly changed.
“We got here at 12:30 a.m. last night,
and there was no one here,” Hoagland and
McKenzie said. “As soon as we all got back
outside, it was literally 2,800 students, run-
ning in one direction and then the other
direction. It was like running of the bulls
with drunk college students.”
Another Lousiville fan, who wished to
remain anonymous, captured a video of a
confrontation he had with a security guard
for Festival and Event Staffing and Security
Services Inc., or FESS, that turned ugly. The
student recorded the video once the stu-
dents were let back in the garage.
“I’m going to kick your fucking ass,” the
Once they were let back inside, the stu-
dents from opposing schools began to chant
in unison, in haste of the security team and
NCAA, who turned the students’ morning
into a nightmare.
The NCAA did hand out water bottles to
every student lined up, which helped ease
the students’ frustration.
Hoagland and McKenzie said they also
saw a girl with a black eye and that someone
they know who attends Louisville got his
forehead split open.
Two students, who made the drive from
Lawrence, Kan., to New Orleans, junior
Tanga Fastouski and senior Aaron Pearson,
found themselves in the middle of the con-
Pearson lost his shoe while he was run-
ning in and had to turn around and face the
crowd of hurried students. He retracted his
steps and said he was being hit like a series
“It was crazy. It was horrible,” Fastouski
The NCAA released a statement on
Saturday’s incident, saying that approxi-
mately 500 students crossed barricades and
entered the garage without proper authori-
zation around 12:30 a.m. The NCAA said
students were instructed by their respective
schools to arrive at the garage at 10 a.m.
But the system was on a first-come, first-
serve basis, and students showed up early to
get the best seats possible.
The statement said the NCAA adjusted
their process to accommodate the students
at 7 a.m.
“While they were being removed in an
orderly manner, some students rushed back
into the garage and remained there against
the orders of security staff,” the statement
The NCAA is reviewing the incident and
taking measures with increased security for
Monday night’s game to ensure the safety of
The scene reminded Kansas students
of the camping scene for the first Ohio
State game in Lawrence on Dec. 10, 2011,
when an ambulance was called to Allen
Fieldhouse to help a girl who had passed out
after waiting in line for nearly three hours in
“It was camping to a new extreme,”
Fastouski said of Saturday’s incident.
NCAA TOURNAMENT: KANSAS 64, OHIO STATE 62
MARCH 31, 2012
Jayhawks roll on in this season’s style
Junior forward Thomas Robinson competes with Ohio State’s Jared Sullinger for a rebounds during the second half of the semiﬁnal win over the Buckeyes,
NEW ORLEANS — There’s this funny
blueprint the Jayhawks follow that prob-
ably shouldn’t work.
It starts by missing everything. If it’s
a Kansas shot going up, it’s probably not
going to drop. Up next is the opposition
heating up. If it’s one of their shots, it’s
probably bound to fall. Then the Jayhawks
trail. They seemingly always do.
But soon after, they start to buckle
down. They take care of the ball. They
score just enough points and get the stops
they need. Finally, they win. They prob-
ably shouldn’t, but they do. They always
find a way.
“Isn’t that weird?” senior guard Tyshawn
The blueprint was in full effect on
Saturday against the Ohio State Buckeyes,
so naturally Kansas abided by the steps
and won 64-62.
“This has aged me a lot,” coach Bill Self
said. “But I say this with sincerity: I’ve
never had more fun coaching a group of
kids. They drive me nuts, but they try so
hard. They’re stubborn and that’s one of
their greatest strengths.”
Kansas fans have seen this blue-
print before in narrow victories against
Missouri at Allen Fieldhouse and Purdue
in Omaha, Neb., to name just a couple.
And with this version of Kansas, this less
talented but highly cohesive team, the
blueprint just works.
“I’m still shocked,” junior forward
Thomas Robinson said about the team’s
last-second winning style. “I wish it stops
Against the Buckeyes, the blueprint
went something like this. The Jayhawks
shot 36.7 percent from the field in the first
half, while the Buckeyes shot 46.2 percent.
The Jayhawks, Self said, were slow and
tight, perhaps wrapped up in the pressure
of a Final Four game.
“We were playing in quicksand,” Self
But just as the blueprint goes, every-
thing started to change. In the final sec-
onds of the first half, Robinson corralled
one of junior center Jeff Withey’s seven
blocks and passed to Taylor who quickly
dribbled up the court. Junior guard Travis
Releford dropped his head and sprinted
as fast as he could. Taylor zipped a pass
to Releford who converted a layup in the
final second of the half.
Out of the break, the Jayhawks started
to click. In the first five minutes of the
second half, they started to attack the
hoop like Self had pleaded and ended up
with three layups and a dunk.
“When you see you’re down double
digits, it kind of takes the soul out of you
a little bit,” Taylor said. “But once you cut
it to like nine or eight, you feel like you’re
back in the ball game.”
The Jayhawks led for just 3:40 of this
game, and one of those times occurred
with 27 seconds to go. Withey stepped
into the meat of Ohio State’s defense,
embraced contact and thought he had a
foul and the basket. Instead he was called
for a travel.
With Kansas up 64-61 and six seconds
remaining, Taylor overheard Buckeyes
guard Aaron Craft tell his teammate
William Buford to run for it. Taylor used
this as an excuse to ease the pressure
on Craft and follow Buford. Taylor then
intercepted Craft’s pass and saw junior
guard Elijah Johnson running toward the
hoop on the other side of the court.
Taylor skipped a pass that widely missed
Johnson, but bounced right to Self. That
could have ended the game. Instead, it
gave the Buckeyes another life.
“It was like third-and-long and throw it
out of bounds. Throw it away,” Self said.
“He wasn’t even close to the receiver.”
After the turnover, Self directed
Releford to foul Craft; an atypical strategy
considering Kansas’ history in similar
situations. Craft made the first free throw,
but was called for a lane violation on the
From there, the Jayhawks simply had
to inbound the ball. They did and it
was finally over. Now the Jayhawks, after
another successful use of the blueprint,
find themselves in Monday’s national
“I came this far,” Taylor said. “Might as
well go home with a ‘ship.”
Robinson sees Kentucky, the same team
that manhandled Kansas in New York
City earlier this season, as an ideal oppo-
nent for the final game of the season—the
game that crowns the NCAA’s finest.
“It can’t be scripted any better,” Robinson
said. “We’re right back where we started.”
Withey rejects Buckeyes, sends Jayhawks to title game
NEW ORLEANS – If asked which player
broke a Final Four blocked shots record in
the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, most fans
would have probably answered Kentucky’s
National Player of the Year and shot-block-
ing machine Anthony Davis.
Most fans would be wrong.
It was junior center Jeff Withey, whose
seven blocks in the 64-62 victory over Ohio
State broke his coach and former Jayhawk
Danny Manning’s previous record of six
from 1988. Withey was dominant early and
often, swatting three Jarred Sullinger shots
less than three minutes into the game.
While the Sullinger and Thomas
Robinson showdown received most of the
hype leading up, Withey was the one guard-
ing Sullinger, not Robinson. Ohio State
forward Deshaun Thomas’ ability to thrive
on the perimeter made him no matchup
for Withey, so any hopes of slowing down
Sullinger rested firmly on the seven-footer’s
“Big fella here,” Bill Self said after the
game, motioning to Withey. “I thought he
played as good of low post defense on a
great player as he could.”
A First Team All-American, Sullinger
averaged 17.6 points per game this season
and averaged 20 points in the three tourna-
He walked off the court with just 13
points on 5-of-19 shooting.
“He was just playing hard,” Sullinger said
of Withey. “Seemed like he stepped up his
It’s the 11th time this season Withey
recorded at least five blocks in a game and
he’s been on a tear as of late, averaging 5.3
blocks since the Big 12 Tournament semifi-
nal loss to Baylor on March 9.
As aggressive as Withey has been, he’s
been able to stay out out of foul trouble
most of the season. He’s picked up four fouls
just once since Feb. 8. Withey credits his
volleyball background which gives him the
ability to perfectly time shots to send away.
“My teammates definitely look at me and
see me as a protector,” Withey said after
the game. “They know if they get beat, I’m
He was there a lot against the Buckeyes,
more than any other player in Final Four
history. Self said he isn’t sure if there’s
another player in the country that alters
shots better than Withey does.
Self and everyone else will see that state-
ment put to the test against Kentucky.
“Anthony Davis is the best shot blocker
in the country,” Self said. “But I think Jeff is
probably second best.”
Junior center Jeff Withey tries to grab the offensive rebound over the hands of Ohio State’s Deshaun Thomas during the ﬁrst half of NCAA Semiﬁnal matchup.
NCAA TOURNAMENT: KENTUCKY 67, KANSAS 59
APRIL 2, 2012
Senior guard Tyshawn Taylor and junior forward Kevin Young consolidate junior forward Thomas Robin-
son after teh Jayhawks fell to the Kentucky Wildcats in teh NCAA Championship, 67-59.
NEW ORLEANS — You can grow into
the best player you can be, figure how to
make it work with your teammates and take
this progression all the way to the champi-
Sometimes, it just doesn’t matter.
On a night when the Kansas Jayhawks
had to play just about perfectly to defeat the
vaunted Kentucky Wildcats, in many ways,
they did themselves in.
Kentucky was brilliant early, but some
Jayhawks in the locker room said that they
were their own undoing in Monday night’s
67-59 loss in the championship game at the
“You make it to the national champion-
ship,” senior guard Tyshawn Taylor said,
“and it still feels like you lose in the first
After all the games they should have
never won, but did, and all the steps it took
to get this far, it’s over now.
“When you get a puppy and you watch
that puppy grow up and die,” junior guard
Elijah Johnson said, “that hurts.”
Kentucky forward Anthony Davis was
forceful as expected, swatting and retaining
just about every shot that approached him.
When he wasn’t blocking, he was driving the
Jayhawks away from where he stood, forcing
long shots that have never been their forte.
In the first half, the Wildcats scored with
grace and efficiency as expected, knocking
down dagger three-pointers and throwing
down momentum-draining dunks.
But in the second half, the Jayhawks
clamped down and allowed just 26 points.
Their defense revived their spirits. The
same heads that hung dejectedly in the first
half were facilitating runs. Despite trailing
by 14 points at halftime, they fully believed
that they were going to win this game. They
brought the deficit to just five points with
1:37 to play.
“If they were going to beat us, they were
going to remember us,” Johnson said. “They
were going to feel the last of us.”
“No one could tell us that we were going
to lose except for the scoreboard,” he said.
But it wasn’t enough. They routinely
missed layups and dunks. They turned the
ball over, into a Wildcat’s hands or soar-
ing out of bounds, just when they seemed
poised for a comeback. When they finally
seized momentum, they were out of time.
“We’ve been working on this since
October,” Johnson said, “just dreaming
And now it’s over. This surprising team
that rallied behind Self ’s system and its trust
in one another made it to the championship
game. It just wasn’t enough.
The Wildcats were fully expected to win
this game. Their talent-stacked rotation had
consistently blown opponents away. But on
Monday night, this wasn’t the case.
Senior guard Tyshawn Taylor’s hands, the
magnets of fate, compelled comeback teases
with quick dribble drives, then eluded vic-
tory with five turnovers, one that was in the
final minute of the game.
“I can’t get this back,” Taylor said. “That
was my last time putting on a Kansas jer-
It seems that junior forward Thomas
Robinson, through all the tragedies and
familial support from loving fans, has also
played his last game as a Jayhawk.
Now all that’s left is time to reflect. Coach
Self, take it away.
“From start to finish, there’s been no team
I’ve been around compete this hard. There’s
been no team I’ve been around that was
able to take whatever situation dealt them
and respond to it favorably. And there’s no
team I’ve been around that represented our
University or ourselves, or their families,
any better than this one has.”
This season’s memories
will last a lifetime
Junior guard Travis Releford sits in the locker room reﬂecting after the Jayhawks’ loss to the Wildcats.
EW ORLEANS — It wasn’t sup-
posed to hurt this bad, right?
When the clock ran out on Kansas’
miracle tournament run, Tyshawn Tay-
lor’s mom, Jeanell Taylor, sobbed in the
stands with Taylor’s two younger sisters.
That is, until Angel Morris tried to ease
The supposed icing on the cake for
Kansas turned sour on Monday night,
leaving us all nauseous, dazed and
So while our arms are hugging our
legs, let’s remember how special of a
season this was. A season that was never
supposed to be so sweet. A season that
started with a disclaimer.
We will all remember Late Night in
the Phog when head coach Bill Self said
this season would be a process. He said
to enjoy the ride. Easier said than done,
We will all remember Maui, and the
game against Georgetown that had us
fuming in the morning’s first hours.
Then UCLA, when Kansas easily han-
dled Ben Howland’s Bruins. And we’ll
especially remember that game against
Duke, when Bill Self and Coach K left
the island with matching red faces.
We’ll remember Ohio State, when we
first learned this team was good. Really
good. When Sullinger never played,
Kevin Young made us jump and the
Fieldhouse structure took a beating.
And then there was Davidson, when
everything changed. Kansas was bad. So
bad, in fact, that some over-zealous fans
questioned if Kansas was even going to
make the NCAA tournament. We will
always remember how Kansas’ season
went from the gutter to the throne after
that ugly, ugly game.
We will always remember the Baylor
game, when Thomas Robinson made us
all feel sorry for the rim after an alley-
oop that will stay in the pre-game video
for years. That is when Kansas made its
opening Big 12 statement.
We will all remember Missouri, part
one, when the Tigers did exactly what
Kansas learned to do for five NCAA
tournament games—play from behind.
We will all also remember what that
game set up. Missouri, part two. We will
all remember what felt like the longest
week ever waiting for that game. We’ll
remember the tip off thunder and then
going down by 19 points. We’ll remem-
ber the team chipping away. We’ll re-
member the loudest moment in college
basketball history—the block.
And then we’ll remember this magical
NCAA tournament run. One that had
comeback after comeback. One that in-
volved a Roy Williams smack down and
a 13 point come-from-behind victory
against Ohio State.
Storming Massachusetts Street will
be remembered, as Lawrence was bliss,
strangers were hugged and friends were
Yes, we’ll all remember these come-
back kids—our classmates who never
quit. Not when they were trailing by 18
against Kentucky. We’ll always remem-
ber that miracle run that never was.
Yes, it’s been a basketball season that
every single one of us will remember for
the rest of our lives.
And that’s what led Angel Morris to
grab Jeanell Taylor.
“Those should be tears of joy,” Morris
said. “You’ve had an incredible four
By Mike Vernon
NEW ORLEANS – Everyone knew
about the margin for error Kansas had
offensively this season, and Monday night’s
67-59 loss to Kentucky showed just how
small it really was.
The Jayhawks once again dug them-
selves a large hole in the first half with
empty possessions and untimely mistakes.
If another comeback was in order, it would
have had to be the biggest halftime deficit
overcome in NCAA Championship game
It wouldn’t happen, though, thanks in
part to an offense that struggled mightily
“They’re too good of a team for us to
do that,” junior center Jeff Withey said of
the 14-point lead the team gave Kentucky
National Player of the Year Anthony
Davis had six blocks and it was painfully
clear just how much his presence affected
Kansas while penetrating to the hoop.
“There was definitely some second and
third shots while trying to score,” junior
guard Elijah Johnson said. “It wasn’t just
him; It’s a big team. The guards are huge.
They were everywhere.”
The Wildcats start just one player under
6-foot-4, a tall and lengthy team that was
able to wreak havoc on defense with its
Junior forward Thomas Robinson had
18 points but was just 6-of-17 from the
field against Kentucky forward Terrance
“A lot of times I’d try to go over my left
shoulder on Jones,” Robinson said. “But I
could see Anthony skying over the top of
him. So it was kind of tough for me to even
pass it to Jeff or try to get a shot up.”
Even with all the disadvantages offen-
sively, Johnson said they never thought
about staying away from the paint and
shooting more outside shots. Coach Bill
Self said the team tried to “take it to ‘em.”
“We weren’t going to change in 30 min-
utes yesterday how we’re going to play,”
They didn’t, staying with their attacking
style that had brought the team from Big
12 underdog to the Monday night game in
April. Kentucky’s defense proved to be too
much, however, even with another second
“Nobody in America can simulate length
like that,” Self said. “It’s hard to score over
length, but that’s who we are.”
That late run gave the Jayhawks a glim-
mer of hope, but a Tyshawn Taylor errant
pass and traveling violation from Johnson
— caused by Davis — sealed the deal.
“They locked in for those last four min-
utes,” Johnson said. “They deserved it.”
Thomas Robinson and Jeff Withey get excited to see fans who came to
support their return to Lawrence at Allen Fieldhouse Tuesday night after
their loss against Kentucky in the National Championship the night
Tulsa introduces Manning as head coach
Assistant Coach Danny Manning yells out to one of the players during a timeout.
The University of Tulsa introduced for-
mer Kansas assistant coach Danny Manning
as the program’s 29th head coach on April
Manning first served as an assistant coach
under Bill Self in 2007, and he will return to
the school that Self took to the Elite Eight in
2000. Self ’s opinion of the Tulsa basketball
program was a key factor in Manning’s deci-
sion to leave Lawrence.
“The more I spoke with coach Self about
the opportunity of coming to TU and being
a part of this rich tradition, it became a
no-brainer,” Manning said. “To get a job
of this magnitude — as my first job — is
When it came time for Tulsa athletic
director Ross Parmley and the search com-
mittee to find a replacement for newly
hired College of Charleston head coach
Doug Wojcik, Manning’s resume jumped
Manning’s history and pedigree as a play-
er made him a popular target for coaching
jobs around the country, but Tulsa was
ultimately the right fit. Since taking over a
coaching role in 2007, Manning has coached
five eventual NBA forwards at Kansas with
Thomas Robinson likely being his sixth.
“His 15 years in the NBA combined with
the last nine years under one of the best
coaches in the country have helped mold
him into a great teacher and coach of bas-
ketball,” Parmley said. He most definitely
brings the excitement, the style of basketball
and character that we were looking for in
our head coach.”
Wojcik left Tulsa as the program’s win-
ningest coach with a 140-92 record, but he
never took the Golden Hurricane to the
NCAA Tournament in seven seasons at the
helm. Manning would like to see that streak
end right away.
“It’s a process, and we understand that,”
Manning said. “But we’re going to put our
best foot forward, build and work every day,
like I said. Hopefully when you count them
up at the end, we have the right number to
Tulsa finished the 2011-12 season with
a 17-14 record, and the Golden Hurricane
did not make any postseason appearance.
Manning is immediately faced with the
task of bringing high-level talent to Tulsa.
Manning said that he doesn’t think name
recognition would play any role in imme-
diately attracting recruits, but it might be a
way to start conversations.
In his time at Kansas, Manning worked
almost exclusively as a mentor to the big
men, but he said that the Golden Hurricane
will look to play an up-tempo, transition
style of play.
“We’re going to be respectful young men
and humble, but hungry,” Manning said
“Hungry to get better as young men and as
individuals on the team committed to one
goal, which is going out and representing
TU to the highest honor that we can.”
Manning’s departure from the Kansas
coaching staff leaves Self with the task of
finding a replacement, but the Kansas head
coach couldn’t be happier for his long-time
“He’ll represent the school in a first-class
way,” Self said. “He’ll recruit good kids that
can play and he’ll coach their tails off. He’ll
have Tulsa competing for championships in
a very short time. I personally think it will
be a great marriage for both parties.”
MARCH 5, 2012
MARCH 5, 2012
uring the 2011-12 college bas-
ketball season, the Kansas men’s
basketball team reinvented the art
In one of the most memorable post-
season runs in Kansas history, coach Bill
Self led his team to an unlikely national
championship appearance. But the way this
group got there was far different than the
program’s three previous Final Four teams
in 2002, 2003 and 2008.
The 2012 Jayhawks were not gifted
offensively. They weren’t a great 3-point
shooting team, and their brand of basket-
ball certainly wasn’t the sexiest.
But Kansas ultimately did just what the
2002, 2003 and 2008 Final Four teams did:
they won. A lot.
The recipe for success, however, was
unfamiliar to a Kansas program that has
been characterized for the last decade by
prolific offense, incredible playmaking and
NBA lottery picks.
Given the circumstances facing the 2012
Jayhawks — poor depth, limited experience
and lack of firepower — Self knew Kansas’
offensive motor couldn’t run the way it did
when Kirk Hinrich, Nick Collison, Mario
Chalmers, Brandon Rush and the Morris
twins took the floor.
Thus, Self took a page from Tom Izzo’s
playbook at Michigan State (or perhaps
Brad Stevens’ at Butler), abandoning a fast-
paced, finesse approach for one of abun-
Unlike Kansas’ three previous Final Four
teams, the one spearheaded by Tyshawn
Taylor and Thomas Robinson hardly over-
whelmed opponents. The Jayhawks scored
73.5 points per game (+11.8 scoring mar-
gin), averaged 67 offensive possessions per
game and shot 47 percent from the field.
Robinson was the only certain first
round NBA draft pick on a team that had
zero McDonald’s All-Americans.
These numbers pale in comparison
to those generated by the previous three
Final Four teams. The Roy Williams-
coached 2002 squad, which boasted four
McDonald’s All-Americans and three
future lottery picks, led the nation in scor-
ing (90.9 points per game), held a +16.2
average scoring margin and had 79 offen-
sive possessions per game. The players shot
51 percent from the field.
The 2003 national runners-up flaunted
similar numbers: 83 points per game, a
+15.8 average scoring margin, 74 posses-
sions per game and a 50 percent shooting
The national championship team from
2008 was probably the most dominant. It
included five McDonald’s All-Americans
on its roster and seven future draft picks.
That team averaged 80.5 points per game
and smothered opponents by an average of
19 points per game and shot 51 percent.
Since 2002, Kansas has more total
wins, NCAA Touranment victories and
30-win seasons than any program in col-
lege basketball. Of those seven groups that
surpassed the 30-win plateau, the most
memorable team may have been the least
Indeed, what made the 2012 Jayhawks
unforgettable was their ability to win — not
with talent, speed and finesse — but with
toughness and togetherness. Sure, their
offensive numbers aren’t nearly as impres-
sive. With the exception of Robinson, the
highlight reel may not have been as packed.
Nevertheless, the players continued
Kansas basketball’s all too familiar trend:
they won games.
They just did it in their own way.
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2012 basketball team had distinct, winning ﬂavor
By Sam Kovzan
APRIL 9, 2012
Thomas Robinson declares for NBA Draft
Junior forward Thomas Robinson answers questions about his decision to declare for the NBA Draft.
In five years, Thomas Robinson’s jersey
will hang at the top of Allen Fieldhouse due
to his first team All-American status. Until
then, Robinson’s future no longer rests with
In a press conference at Allen Fieldhouse,
with his younger sister Jayla to his right
and coach Bill Self to his left, Robinson
said he will bypass his senior season at the
University and declare for the NBA Draft.
“I’ve been up all night trying to come up
with a thank you note or something to show
my appreciation, but I couldn’t get any-
thing,” Robinson said. “I think it’s beyond
words what this program meant to me.”
The announcement was no surprise to
anyone, as coach Self said he’s known this
decision was coming from Robinson since
To say it’s been a highly publicized three
years at Kansas for Robinson would be an
On January 21, 2011, Robinson received
a phone call from Jayla, who told him that
his mother, Lisa Robinson, died of a heart
attack. Both Thomas and Jayla had just
lost their grandmother and grandfather the
Robinson still played the following day
against Texas at Allen Fieldhouse, where the
Jayhawks suffered a 74-63 loss that ended
their 69-game home winning streak.
But the events that followed Robinson’s
tragedy are what made him a legend at
Kansas. After playing just 14.6 minutes per
game in the 2010-2011 season, Robinson
transformed into a Player of the Year final-
ist, averaging 31.7 minutes per game while
scoring 17.7 points and rebounding 11.7
missed shots per game.
“He’s a guy that’s probably as loved as
anybody that’s played here in a long, long
time,” Self said.
Current Tulsa coach and former Kansas
assistant Danny Manning even stood in
the back of the room as Robinson made his
announcement. Manning worked with him
for the past three years, helping Robinson
become a likely top five draft pick.
DraftExpress.com currently has Robinson
as the fourth overall pick in the 2012 NBA
Draft, and nbadraft.net has Robinson slated
second. Even with the high projections,
Robinson gave a pitch to NBA teams who
may be interested in him.
“I’m going to be a workhorse,” Robinson
said. “I’m going to do what everybody else is
not going to want to do.”
And while his playing days at Kansas
may be over, Robinson said he does plan to
pursue a college degree.
“That’s something that my mother would
want me to get,” Robinson said.
For now, Robinson will live in the gym.
The player who developed so much in his
time at Kansas will have to continue devel-
oping and working hard to succeed at the
While Robinson’s mind is currently
zeroed in on basketball, he will probably
never forget his three years in Lawrence.
And what he said he’ll miss most is being
“Wanting to walk around campus,”
Robinson said. “Walking around with that
feeling, it almost feels like everybody loves
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