Kansas flexes it’s muscles against Baylor zone
Kansas Jayhawks met up in Waco Wednesday evening to face off against a very talented Baylor Bears group which was ranked #6 going into the contest. Baylor, Kansas and Missouri all sit atop the Big 12 in a three way tie, each looking to take control of the regular season race and claim the title for them selves.
The Bears came into the night by storm with the recent memory of an earlier season embarrassment handed to them by this Kansas squad in Lawrence. Baylor controlled the tip and landed a tough upper jab to extend an early seven point lead.
Kansas would then answer with several perfectly timed jabs to tie the game at seven. Baylor answered with a stunning inside game to extend the lead back to 7 with four to play in the half.
Baylor’s zone defense was causing many problems for Kansas in the first half and with 3 minutes to go before the break coach Self decided to make a change. They decided to move Robinson towards the center of the zone. This allowed more spacing and more room to the lane for our slashing guards. What it did was open up Jeff Withey. And oh did he take advantage. When the double team came to Robinson, Withey was often wide open and when he wasn’t open he began to make plays anyways.
Withey was the key to Kansas turning this tough road game around. After the offensive adjustment was made Kansas went into the break with a 3 point lead and Withey was on his way to having a career night with 17 first half points.
The second half looked much like the end of the first, finding Robinson in the middle of the zone, he waited to draw the double and then a nice pass to Withey or back out to a wide open guard. The Baylor Bears simply didn’t have an answer to the adjustment and on a night where much of the focus was on Robinson, Jeff Withey stepped up with a monster night. His 27 points led the Jayhawks to a 14 point win and knocked Baylor out of the 3 way tie for first place in the conference.
It was a solid night for the entire Kansas program from the coaching staff making early adjustments to the players who executed the plan. It is hard to tell if it is possible to build momentum with one single game nearing tournament time, but after watching Kansas on this night it seems they are doing just that. This Baylor squad is very talented and to go in and beat them on their home court is a very difficult thing to do. After all, Kansas and Mizzou are the only squads to beat Baylor all season.
With Withey playing well as of late, Robinson solid as a rock, Taylor continuing to score the three while limiting turnovers, and the Jayhawk bench filling in the gaps, this team may be ready to start a late season run which may just take them deep into the NCAA tournament. The main question is when Kansas needs someone to step up, who is that going to be? On this night it was 7 feet of Jeff Withey.