LAWRENCE, KS - JANUARY 04: Jeff Withey #5, Tyshawn Taylor #10, Thomas Robinson #0 and Travis Rutherford #24 of the Kansas Jayhawks celebrate after scoring during the game against the Kansas State Wildcats on January 4, 2012 at Allen Fieldhouse in Lawrence, Kansas. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

Kansas Jayhawks Overcome 'More Talented' Baylor Bears To Earn Impressive Win

While expectations might have been lower coming into the season outside of Lawrence, last night proved that nothing has changed in terms of the expectations of those wearing a Jayhawk uniform.

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Kansas Jayhawks 'Could Make Run To Final Four' Behind Thomas Robinson, Tyshawn Taylor

All season long, the Kansas Jayhawks men’s basketball team has dealt with doubts as to whether they could really succeed in the ways that Jayhawks teams of the past have. They graduated the Morris twins and lost several other role players from the previous season, and they lacked the incoming star power of guys like Ben McLemore or Jamari Traylor — who will be eligible next season. This was believed to be an in between year in which the Jayhawks were vulnerable to lose the Big 12 title for the first time in eight seasons.

Yet at least one writer believes the Jayhawks are talented enough to make the Final Four behind the massive talents of their main two players — Tyshawn Taylor and Thomas Robinson.

Jeff Goodman writes of CBS Sports writes, “If this Kansas team stays healthy, Thomas Robinson and Jeff Withey remain out of foul trouble and Bill Self’s club gets a decent draw in the NCAA tournament, the Jayhawks could make a run to the Final Four. It sounds nuts, but these guys have a stud in Thomas Robinson — and Tyshawn Taylor is starting to look like the Tyshawn Taylor we all thought we’d see on a consistent basis. I’m not overly concerned with his abundance of turnovers; he needs to make plays for the Jayhawks, so they will continue to be higher than most. The key for KU may be the continued emergence of 7-footer Jeff Withey and consistency from guys like Travis Releford and Elijah Johnson.”

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Kansas Jayhawks Overcome 'More Talented' Baylor Bears To Earn Impressive Win

The Kansas Jayhawks have a lot to be proud of based on last night’s thrashing of the Baylor Bears at Allen Fieldhouse in a 92-74 win that stunned many. Baylor was considered the better overall team and had yet to lose on the season. KU faced many questions and had already lost three times, including once to Davidson. Instead, the team made a statement behind Tyshawn Taylor’s 28 points.

David Roth of the Wall Street Journal said that Kansas didn’t necessarily prove they had more talent, but instead that they were the better team. In the end, that’s exactly what matters most.

“What made the win all the more impressive was that, for once, the Jayhawks were not necessarily the deepest or most talented team on the court,” writes Roth. “While KU forward Thomas Robinson is looked at as one of the best players in college hoops, Baylor’s overall talent level—and two likely lottery picks in Perry Jones III and Quincy Miller—was superior. The encouraging thing, at least for Jayhawks fans, was that Kansas seemed by far the superior and more cohesive team, and very much a squad that could win the Big 12.”

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Kansas Makes A Statement In Win Over Baylor

More than once during last night's broadcast ESPN's Dick Vitale made the statement that the Big 12 title still runs through Kansas. In what turned into a two hour commercial for all things Kansas basketball, the broadcast team gushed over the environment at Allen Fieldhouse, the success of Bill Self and this years team which made a statement in last night's monster win over Baylor.

For Kansas the win was probably expected. After all the Jayhawks were favored heading into this no. 3 vs no. 7 matchup. But what made this impressive was the manner in which Kansas dismantled a Baylor team that sat undefeated and was viewed by many as a Big 12 frontrunner.

The game answered questions about the Kansas rotation and perceived lack of depth. The win provided a launching pad for the increasingly confident Tyshawn Taylor and Thomas Robinson. All said and done it's pretty clear that while Kansas lost a lot from last year's Big 12 championship team, they still have a lot of talent and Bill Self is still on the sideline.

For Baylor's part they obviously get a second chance. Winning in Allen Fieldhouse is a tall order and Kansas returns the favor later this year with a trip to Waco. That game will almost without question have a very different look and feel to it than this one.

That of course brings about a major point here, this was just one game and it was a Kansas home game. Bill Self and Kansas have been virtually unbeatable in Lawrence during his time. Games like last night's win over Baylor provide the Jayhawks with an advantage, but it will be what they can accomplish on the road that might ultimately turn this season into an eighth straight title run.

Games at Baylor, at Missouri, at Kansas State and at Iowa State all still remain. One might even circle this Saturday's contest in Austin as a potential let down moment for a Jayhawk team that came out firing on all cylinders in this one. Every one of the above mentioned games has a chance to spell a loss for Kansas. This is where the full round robin of the Big 12 comes into play and makes things very interesting.

For now though, Kansas sits on top of the Big 12 standings. The Jayhawks were as impressive as they have been all year and it's pretty clear that a challenging non-conference schedule has served it's purpose. Tyshawn Taylor, Thomas Robinson, Jeff Withey, Travis Releford and Elijah Johnson are not going to be intimidated and while they might not have faced the same expectations coming into the season compared to past teams, they certainly don't seem ready and willing to cede that point.

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Tyshawn Taylor Helps Kansas Jayhawks Make Statement Against Baylor Bears

If you ask Tyshawn Taylor, the Kansas Jayhawks point guard believes that observers saw what they needed to see last night in Kansas’ 92-74 win over the Baylor Bears. All season long, questions had persisted about the Jayhawks and what they were capable of — just how good were they compared to other Big 12 powers and national title contenders? Were they coasting on their reputation? Were they deep enough to win the big game? The answer has now been given.

Taylor, who just won the Big 12 player of the week award last week in a tie with Baylor’s Perry Jones III, led the Jayhawks with 28 points on 10 of 14 shooting. He also shot 4 of 6 from three point range.

“We made a statement tonight,” Taylor said after the game. “I’m not saying people were sleeping on us, but people didn’t know what to expect from this team. They didn’t really know what we had or what we could do. The last few games, we showed them that we can be the best team in this conference if we play the way we’ve been playing.”

The Baylor Bears are now 17-1 on the season and should remain in the top 10 nationally after the loss. The Jayhawks move to 15-3 on the season.

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Baylor Bears 'May Be Greatest Test' For Kansas Jayhawks At Home In 2011-12 Season

The Baylor Bears roll into Allen Fieldhouse tonight not only as one of the best teams in the Big 12 but as one of the greatest in the nation. Currently the Bears are No. 4 in the country and are one of the few unbeaten teams left. Clearly a lot is on the line for Bill Self and the Kansas Jayhawks if they hope to stave off a new challenger and claim their eighth straight Big 12 conference title. If so, Self should be considered a frontrunner for the coach of the year in the conference.

“This may be the greatest test for Kansas at Allen Fieldhouse all season,” write Kory Carpenter and Max Rothman from the Daily Kansan. “The Bears have never been this athletic, skilled or deep. The Jayhawks haven’t lost yet in Big 12 play, but head into Big Monday off three consecutive mediocre first halves against Oklahoma, Texas Tech and Iowa State. Junior forward Thomas Robinson gets his chance to prove that he’s the best big man in the conference, perhaps the country. The hunt for the Big 12 crown is on, and it heats up in the fieldhouse among a bevy of NBA talents.”

This is definitely the best overall match-up yet in Big 12 conference play. It’s too early to say it will derail the hopes of one team or another for a Big 12 title, but it will show just how real each team is and will position things for the rest of the year.

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