Robinson, Jayhawks charge past Sooners

LAWRENCE, Kan. – On the strength of 20 points and 17 rebounds from junior Thomas Robinson, the No. 8 Kansas Jayhawks rode a monster second half Wednesday night at Allen Fieldhouse to a blowout victory over Oklahoma, setting the stage for Saturday's mega-showdown with No. 4 Missouri.

In the wake of his team's 84-62 victory over Oklahoma on Wednesday night, Kansas power forward Thomas Robinson said Head Coach Bill Self had been riding him a bit in the past week.

He's been clamoring for the All-American candidate to be more aggressive, to return to the style of play that thrust him to the forefront of the discussion for National Player of the Year in the eyes of many.

"Coach just told me that I'm not playing like the player I'm capable of being," Robinson said. "He's just been stressing that all week, complaining to me about why I'm not being aggressive anymore. I just wanted to be aggressive at the jump tonight."

And, for the record, Self didn't disagree with the assessment of his attitude.

"I think that would be a fair statement," he said, smiling as he leaned into the microphone during the post-game presser. "To me, Thomas hasn't been himself for three games maybe. But he was tonight. He was so positive and into it."

Was he ever. After scoring the opening basket of the game on a baseline 15-footer, the 6-foot-8, 240-pound junior went on to score 20 points and grab 17 rebounds - the bulk of which came during a dynamite second-half surge.

Holding to just a 34-31 advantage at the half, the Jayhawks exploded out of intermission with a quick 6-0 run and kept their foot on the gas pedal the whole way, pushing the advantage to as many as 29 points before the final buzzer sounded.

Though Robinson was the catalyst, he was far from the only contributor. Senior point guard Tyshawn Taylor continued his string of excellent games, scoring a game-high 21 points, dishing out six assists and committing just three turnovers - none of which came in the second half.

Junior center Jeff Withey got into the act as well, scoring 15 of his own and going a perfect 7-for-7 from the free throw line, though he did grab just two rebounds.

"He's getting a lot better offensively," Self said. "He's gotta rebound though. Gosh, he gets two rebounds, he's seven-feet tall. So he's gotta do a much better job there, but he's got such a nice touch on the ball."

Kansas made a concerted effort to pump the ball inside in the second half, after settling for too many guarded three-point looks over the top of the Oklahoma zone in the first. The Jayhawks shot just 3-of-12 from beyond the arc in the first half, and 39.3-percent from the floor. In the second, that field goal percentage jumped to 71.4.

Consequently, the Sooners' shooting percentage dropped like a stone, from 46.2-percent in the first to 37.5-percent in the second, thanks to a noticeable increase in effort and energy on the defensive end from Self's squad.

Taylor knows the offense may not always be pretty, but they've got confidence in their ability to stymie the opposition.

"I think we're capable of containing, if not stopping, slowing down the other team," he said. "I think if we do that and rebound the ball, we can beat anybody."

The effort appeared to please Self, as Kansas prepares for a monster test in Columbia, Mo. against hated rival - and No. 4-ranked - Missouri.

"I'm leaving here more excited about our team than I was before the game started," he said. "I don't think the last couple of weeks we've been that good. We're going to have to be better than what we were tonight to have success Saturday, but our guys will certainly be ready to play."


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