Funks Cast Aside?

KU's Xavier Henry (AP Photo/Orlin Wagner)

Tyshawn Taylor and Xavier Henry appear to be getting their second wind as conference play winds down. More, inside...

GETTING INSIDE

   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 best."

   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.



NOTES, QUOTES

   --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 Bill Self.



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 Reed.

   GAME REVIEW:

   Kansas 73, Iowa State 59.

   Kansas 59, Texas A&M 54.

   Kansas 94, Colorado 74..

   GAME PREVIEW:

   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 leading scorer.

   ROSTER REPORT:

   --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 rebounds.

   --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.

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