In recent years, the Kansas Jayhawks have made a habit of opening Big 12 Tournament play sluggishly, before - typically - finding a way to grind out a win.
There wasn't much grinding necessary in Thursday's blowout quarterfinal victory over Texas A&M. Instead, the lack of energy reared its ugly head Friday night at the Sprint Center in Kansas City, Mo., as the Jayhawks fell to the Baylor Bears, 81-72.
"We let them get comfortable early, which isn't a good sign when you're playing a really talented team," Head Coach Bill Self said.
The Bears came out of the gets fired up and shooting hot, hitting 44.8-percent of their field goals in the half including 5-of-12 from three-point range.
Perry Jones III, the ultra-talented Baylor big man who has a tendency to drift in and out of games, showed why his potential is so tantalizing, dropping 10 points before intermission. And as he has been all season long, junior point guard Pierre Jackson was a force in multiple facets of the game, scoring seven points and dropping five assists to just two turnovers.
Kansas junior Thomas Robinson - the Big 12 Player of the Year and a National Player of the Year frontrunner - was held to just five points and one rebound, fighting foul trouble in the first 20 minutes.
"Let's call it like it is," Self said. "(Jeff) Withey and (Kevin) Young were our two best big guys in the first half. We just had so many bad possessions. Certainly the foul situation was the biggest reason why he came out."
Baylor entered the locker room with an eight point lead, and kicked off the second half with more of the same, after Jackson splashed a three on the first possession. The lead grew to as many as fourteen, before the Jayhawks began to chip away.
Slowly but surely, the lead shrunk. Taylor and Robinson woke up offensively, and Kansas turned up the heat on the defensive end.
"We started playing how we play," Taylor said. "We started moving the ball, we started defending a little bit, they were taking tough shots and we were making shots."
The dagger to the heart of the comeback came from an unlikely source, however, in Bears guard Brady Heslip. The undersized shooting guard drilled a three-pointer with 2:06 remaining, and another with 1:18 left, and that was all she wrote.
"They beat us," Self said. "Don't make any mistake about that. They beat us. The thing that was most disappointing to me is that we played a style that is just good enough to get your butt beat."
"Regardless of the situation, it's like a tennis match," he added. "You have to win certain points. And we didn't win key points down the stretch."
Now, Kansas awaits Selection Sunday and their slot in the NCAA Tournament.