Feb 23, 2012, 12:29 AM EDT
Word has been getting around that there are now not only two, but three guarantees in life: death, taxes, and the newest addition, Kansas winning the Big 12 title.
Fate took a step in that direction on Wednesday night, as the No. 4 Jayhawks avoided a loss in an important trap game, outlasting Texas A&M on the road, 66-58, in College Station, Texas.
Guard Elijah Johnson, who has been streaky for Bill Self’s team so far this year, had 15 points in the first 10 minutes of the first half and finished with 21, picking up for a less-than-stellar offensive night from star Thomas Robinson.
After trailing by as many as 21 points in the second half, Texas A&M clawed to within four points with under a minute to play, helped along by a Jayhawk scoring drought of nearly seven minutes down the stretch.
But the key is that Kansas won. On the road and with a Saturday matchup against No. 3 Missouri looming on the horizon, the Jayhawks did what the Tigers were unable to do on Tuesday night: get a victory.
And the manner in which they did it has some lasting implications.
Looking at the box score, it seems A&M was able to limit Thomas Robinson, the heart of the Kansas attack. In part, they were successful, but the defensive holes left by the focus on Robinson made the difference.
Billy Kennedy dared someone else to beat his Aggies, and they did.
Robinson still finished with a double-double of 10 points and 13 rebounds, but the double- and triple-teams that welcomed him on the block freed up opportunities on the perimeter.
That is what makes Kansas so dangerous in the Big 12 and heading into March.
If Elijah Johnson has hit his stride, Tyshawn Taylor can limit his turnovers, and Big 12 blocks leader Jeff Withey keeps playing like a legitimate second option in the paint, Kansas could be headed for its eighth-straight conference title and a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament.
One night after Kansas State showed how size can disrupt Missouri’s offensive flow, Kansas outrebounded A&M by 11, had a balanced attack with four scorers in double figures, and was able to win without an All-American-type game from Robinson.
Now the spotlight shifts to Saturday’s matchup, which should decide the Big 12 regular season title.
In the first meeting between these two teams, Kansas was in control, up eight with just over two minutes left, before four costly turnovers and nine huge points from Missouri guard Marcus Denmon allowed the Tigers to escape at home.
Two key things have changed since that game.
Tyshawn Taylor has controlled the ball better since that six-turnover outing against Mizzou, averaging a modest three turnovers per game in his last five.
Jeff Withey has emerged in a big way, including a three-game stretch where he averaged 20 points and 12 rebounds. That has pushed his zero-point, four-rebound performance against Missouri far out of mind.
And one more thing: Saturday’s matchup will be in Lawrence, Kan., in an arena that gives legitimate life to the notion of homecourt advantage.
Not to say Missouri doesn’t have a shot.
The Tigers shoot an impressive percentage from the field, work well in transition, and have one of the best Sixth Men in the country coming off their bench in Michael Dixon.
But, man, isn’t Kansas coming together nicely? Someone may have to pry the Big 12 title from their hands.
May 23, 2013, 6:20 PM EDT
With four departures (Butler, Charlotte, Temple and Xavier) and one arrival (George Mason), the Atlantic 10 Conference will have 13 members for the 2013-14 academic year with Davidson joining in 2014. Those changes have brought about another for the conference: beginning next season, all members will play in the Atlantic 10 tournament at the Barclays…
May 23, 2013, 5:26 PM EDT
While much of this past season was spent lamenting the changing of the Big East, another result of conference realignment was the improvement of the Atlantic Coast Conference’s basketball product. Sure Duke and North Carolina managed to carry their share of the load in the years following the move from nine to 12 schools, but…
May 23, 2013, 2:45 PM EDT
Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski made it official on Thursday afternoon: he’ll be coaching Team USA basketball through at least the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. That’s been known for almost a week now. The interesting bit of news that came out of his press conference on Thursday afternoon had nothing to do with…
May 23, 2013, 1:56 PM EDT
I’m not sure there is a coach in the country that is better at developing players in his program than Bill Self at Kansas. Over the years, the best players that have come through Lawrence during his tenure have been moderately recruited — i.e. somewhere around the top 40 or top 50 of most lists…
May 23, 2013, 1:05 PM EDT
Cody Larson’s basketball career never got off the ground in Florida. After redshirting as a freshman, Larson was involved in a bizarre incident along with a team manager and Erik Murphy where he tried to break into a car after sneaking into a bar after closing time to inquire about a lost wallet. After being…
May 23, 2013, 12:02 PM EDT
It’s late May, it’s Thursday, and you don’t want to be paying attention at work when it’s nice out. So take 10 minutes and watch some dunks.
May 23, 2013, 11:13 AM EDT
Vanderbilt has made a change to their coaching staff, as Kevin Stallings went out and plucked Yanni Hufnagel off of Tommy Amaker’s staff at Harvard. “I couldn’t be more excited to join Coach Stallings and the rest of his outstanding staff here at Vanderbilt,” said Hufnagel. “Coach Stallings is not only recognized as one of…
May 23, 2013, 10:33 AM EDT
Michigan has no plans to part ways with Adidas at any point in the near future, according to a report from MLive.com. There had been some speculation in the last month that the Wolverines would end their contract with the apparel company because of the way that Adidas had handled a worker’s rights issue at…
May 22, 2013, 10:04 PM EDT
As a recruiting class that has been hailed by some as the best in the history of college basketball, Kentucky’s incoming freshmen will receive a lot of attention throughout the 2013-14 campaign. And with the skills that players such as Julius Randle, Aaron and Andrew Harrison, Dakari Johnson and James Young possess a number of…
May 22, 2013, 8:29 PM EDT
A third player with eligibility remaining will not return to the BYU program next season, as it was reported that 6-8 forward Agustin Ambrosino will not be a member of the basketball program in 2013-14. Ambrosino, who played an average of 6.2 minutes in 31 games last season, joins Raul Delgado (transferring to Metro State)…
May 22, 2013, 7:07 PM EDT
One week ago UMKC announced the addition of a fourth player to the program, as 6-10 forward/center Isaac Kreuer will return to the Kansas City metropolitan area after spending last year at the Impact Basketball Academy in Las Vegas. According to the Kansas City Star, first-year head coach Kareem Richardson has filled out his coaching…
May 22, 2013, 5:55 PM EDT
With the loss of four institutions the Colonial Athletic Association has some work to do on the realignment front. Apparently the league has found a new member, as it was reported by the Wilmington Star-News that Elon will officially join the CAA on Thursday. Elon has announced a press conference for 2:00 p.m. EST Thursday…
May 22, 2013, 4:44 PM EDT
On Tuesday, the University of Washington announced plans for an alumni basketball game to be held on June 23. Returning for the game will be former Husky stars such as Brandon Roy, Nate Robinson and Jon Brockman among many. Festivities will begin at 1:00 p.m., with there also being three-point and slam dunk competitions for…
May 22, 2013, 3:10 PM EDT
Will Yeguete just cannot get healthy. The Florida forward missed the final nine games of his sophomore season with a broken foot and then had to sit out much of February after arthroscopic surgery on his right knee as a junior. He returned to play the final six games of the season. Yeguete underwent more…
May 22, 2013, 2:04 PM EDT
On Monday afternoon, former Memphis big man Tarik Black announced that he would transferring to Kansas where he’ll team up with Andrew Wiggins, Wayne Selden and Joel Embiid to give Bill Self the nation’s best non-Kentucky recruiting class and a shot at a national title. Black, who will be eligible immediately, may never end up…
May 22, 2013, 1:37 PM EDT
USA Basketball has released a list of 24 players that will be attending training camp in Colorado Springs from June 14th-19th to try and earn a spot on Team USA for the U19 championships, which take place in Prague from June 27th-July 7th. While there is some solid talent on that roster, it’s not necessarily…
May 22, 2013, 1:11 PM EDT
It’s all-but official now: Mike Krzyzewski will be returning to coach Team USA in the 2014 World Championships in Madrid and the 2016 Olympics in Rio De Janeiro. That’s according to a report from Pete Thamel of SI, who reported over the weekend that Coach K was strongly considering returning to head up the stars…
May 22, 2013, 12:34 PM EDT
On Wednesday afternoon, five-star small forward Theo Pinson officially announced his intentions to stay in-state and attend North Carolina. The Greensboro, NC, native picked the Tar Heels over Indiana, Louisville, Georgetown and Duke. A 6-foot-6 athlete on the wing, Pinson is known for his ability to get up and down the floor and finish around…
May 22, 2013, 11:52 AM EDT
Back in March, former San Diego Torero Brandon Johnson, the school’s all-time leader in points and assists, was sentenced to six months in federal prison for his role in a point-shaving scheme during the 2009-2010 season back in March. Johnson was lucky; the state wanted to give him a year. He’ll begin serving his sentence…
May 22, 2013, 10:38 AM EDT
The last that we had heard about the AAC tournament, Mohegan Sun was planning on cobbling together an offer to get bring the ‘old Big East’ to Connecticut to play out their league championship. That does not look like it’s going to end up happening, however. According to a report from the Memphis Commercial-Appeal’s Kyle…
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