Taylor's Return Pays Off In Rout

Tyshawn Taylor's on again, off again relationship with the KU starting line-up is on again. Man, is it on.

Jayhawks coach Bill Self's announcement that Taylor would be inserted back into the Kansas starting line-up against Colorado Saturday was unusual in and of itself. Self rarely talks about line-up changes. It also gave fans and media time to build up some suspense. Which Taylor would Self get: the uber-talented athlete who makes plays you simply can't coach, or the player who's mind wanders when he doesn't feel engaged and leaves you shaking your head?

Taylor responded with his best game of the season: 17 points on 6-of-7 shooting, 1-of-1 from behind the arc, 4-of-4 from the charity stripe, three rebounds, six assists against just three turnovers, a block and two steals in 24 minutes. The Jayhawks rolled the Buffaloes, 94-74.

"This is what I've been wantin': I wanna be a starter. So I've been workin' hard these last couple of days in practice the last couple of days. I've been practicin' really good, actually, so it wasn't a surprise."

Taylor said that Self's announcement last week added a little pressure to step up and perform, but once the ball went up, it was all about playing ball.

"I was kinda nervous at first; it felt kinda new to me again, but I just came out there and was tryin' to be aggressive and find my teammates and things like that. When I was doin' that, my shot started to come and they started to find me. It was just playin' and bein' aggressive."

He didn't feel any pressure, though, to validate his coach's decision.

"I didn't really think about how he was feelin'," Taylor said. "I just wanted to play."

Had he been thinking about his coach, Taylor probably would have guessed that Self was pretty pleased. He'd have been right. The whole reason he named Taylor a starter was to get his team off to a more aggressive, attacking start.

"I wanted to give us a quicker start with a little bit more 'oomph'," the coach said, "to get us some speed, just some energy. I don't know necessarily if it's gonna get us off to a faster start, but I thought we should really get after people better."

Taylor's the fastest player on the KU team, but all the speed in the world doesn't do the Jayhawks any good when it's sitting on the bench. Self said Taylor is crucial to KU's success.

Self said, "For us to be as good as we can be, Tyshawn's gotta play because he can make plays you just can't coach. He'll just go make a play."

Taylor's game – along with outstanding play from teammates Xavier Henry (24 points), Sherron Collins (13) and Cole Aldrich (17 points and 11 rebounds) – helped KU to their best home performance since January 25th,, when they took a 50-30 lead into the locker room against Missouri. Self wanted to see that change against Colorado.

"(The team) talked about that before (the same): come out and enjoy your home court. I thought we played with pretty good energy."

Much of the credit for KU's more energetic, attacking approach to Saturday's game goes to Taylor, as can some of the credit for a few gray hairs on the coach's head.

"It's been fairly well documented that Tyshawn has had a little bit of a roller coaster year," Self said in one of the understatements of the season. "I think his head's right, and I think part of getting his head right was to do what we did. He sees it the same way we do, and I think that he's one of those guys that will perform better as a starter."

Not surprisingly, no one's more on board with that decision than #10 himself.

"This is what I've been wantin'," Taylor said. "I've been wantin' to be a starter."

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