Back in the good graces of his coach, Tyshawn Taylor finds himself back in the starting lineup for Kansas.
The sophomore guard has experienced a checkered
season, which began with his role in a campus fight between the
basketball and football teams. Taylor suffered a dislocated thumb in
that incident, then wrote Facebook posts questioning his role on the
team and broaching the possibility of a transfer.
Obviously, all the transgressions upset coach Bill Self, who reduced the minutes Taylor was playing in an effort to cause
him to recommit himself. The ploy apparently worked. Taylor longs to be
a starter and looked good in his return to the lineup, scoring 17
points on 6-for-7 shooting as Kansas belted Colorado 94-74 on Feb. 20.
"For us to be the best we can be, he has to be one
of our best players," Self said. "He"s got a different gear than
anybody else, and you"ve got to have your best players playing their
Taylor is most adept at breaking down defenses,
especially off the dribble, as the quickest player on the Kansas squad.
He not only can score off penetration, but can also make the Jayhawks
deadly if he kicks the ball to open shooters such as Sherron Collins,
Xavier Henry, Brady Morningstar and Tyrel Reed.
If Taylor can follow up on the start he enjoyed
against Colorado, and continues to improve, the Jayhawks will be even
more formidable. As it is, they"re threatening to join the 2001-02
Kansas squad as the only teams to ever go undefeated in the Big 12.
Ranked No. 1, Kansas climbed to 26-1 overall and
12-0 in the Big 12 with the Colorado win. The Jayhawks shot 54.7
percent for the game and placed five scorers in double figures.
--With an 11-0 start in the Big 12, Kansas needs
just one more win to clinch at least a share of the conference title.
It would be the sixth straight crown for Kansas, the longest streak by
a team from a power (BCS) conference since UCLA claimed 13 straight
championships in the Pac-8/Pac-10 from 1967-79. The conference title
will be the 53rd for the Jayhawks, though the only other time they
captured six straight was from 1922-27 in the Missouri Valley.
--The 26-1 start for Kansas is its best since
1996-97, the first season for the Big 12, when the Jayhawks started
34-1 but lost in the NCAA Regional semifinals against Arizona.
ON THE SPOT: After a lengthy funk that
incorporated most of the Big 12 season, G Xavier Henry thawed out and
led Kansas in scoring against Texas A&M and Colorado. He hit
three 3-pointers in the first five minutes against the Buffaloes and
actually outscored Colorado 9-7. The threat Henry provides as a
stand-up shooter along the arc makes the lefty difficult to account
when the ball is kicked out of the post.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "I think (the Colorado win) is as
good as we"ve been having multiple guys on (target)." -- Kansas coach
STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
SEASON RECAP: Except for a nonconference loss at
Tennessee, Kansas has found a way to win, relying on a variety of
offensive threats. What is often overlooked, however, is the stout
defense the Jayhawks play. They are the only team in the Big 12 holding
opponents to below 40 percent (.386) shooting in conference play. Their
66.7-point allowance in Big 12 play is also tops in the league.
PLAYER ROTATION: Usual Starters -- F Marcus Morris, C Cole Aldrich, G Tyshawn Taylor, G Xavier Henry, G Sherron
Collins. Key Subs -- G Brady Morningstar, F Markieff Morris, G Tyrel
Kansas 73, Iowa State 59.
Kansas 59, Texas A&M 54.
Kansas 94, Colorado 74..
vs. Oklahoma, Monday, Feb. 22.
at Oklahoma State, Saturday, Feb. 27.
vs. Kansas State, Wednesday, March 3.
at Missouri, Saturday, March 6.
at Big 12 Tournament, March 10-13.
IN FOCUS: The quest for an undefeated run through
the Big 12 continues with a visit from Oklahoma, which stands .500 and
could miss G Willie Warren, who is suffering from an ankle injury.
Oklahoma State has won three straight and is coming off a victory
against nationally-ranked Baylor. G James Anderson is the Big 12"s
--C Cole Aldrich set the Kansas single-season
record for blocked shots in the win against Texas A&M, then
padded the mark to 103 with five rejections against Colorado. Aldrich
recorded a double-double against the Buffs with 17 points and 10
--G Sherron Collins scored in double digits in 12
of the past 16 games after netting 13 points against Colorado. Since
the overtime win at Kansas State, Collins is 24 of 75 (.320).
--G Brady Morningstar has 23 assists against five
turnovers over the last seven games. He played 17 minutes off the bench
against Colorado after being replaced in the starting lineup by G
Tyshawn Taylor's on again, off again relationship with the KU starting line-up is on again. Man, is…