Published March 09, 2012
KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Tyshawn Taylor bemoaned the way No. 3 Kansas started the game. He railed against the way the Jayhawks rebounded, got back on defense and guarded Baylor's best shooters.
He did such a comprehensive job of diagnosing their ills that coach Bill Self simply agreed.
There wasn't much left to say.
Taylor led the Jayhawks on a big second-half charge, but Baylor sharpshooter Brady Heslip knocked down a pair of 3-pointers when it mattered the most, helping the No. 12 Bears to an 81-72 victory and into the Big 12 tournament title game.
"We didn't get the stops we needed tonight," Taylor said. "We left a shooter a couple times and he made some big shots. When the game is that close in that situation, we can't leave the best shooter on the court, and we did that."
Thomas Robinson finished with 15 points and nine rebounds for Kansas (26-6). Elijah Johnson added 15 points but was 1 of 6 from beyond the arc, while Jeff Withey added 11 points.
"They beat us. Make no mistake about that," Kansas coach Bill Self said. "The thing that was most disappointing to me is we played a style that is just good enough to get your butt beat.
"Average energy, we let them pass wherever they want to, we never dictated defensively, crappy traps on the post, not paying attention to the scouting report."
OK, so maybe Taylor didn't cover ALL the Jayhawks' problems.
A lot of them had to do with Baylor.
Perry Jones III kept his hot hand going with 18 points. Quincy Miller added 13 points and eight rebounds while battling Robinson in the post, and Pierre Jackson showed why he was one of the league's top newcomers when he chipped in 11 points and seven assists.
The last time the Jayhawks lost to Baylor was in the quarterfinals of the 2009 conference tournament, when they were also the top seed. Now they'll spend the rest of the weekend waiting for their seeding in the NCAA tournament, where many expected them to receive a No. 1 spot.
The Bears (27-6), who lost to Missouri in their only previous Big 12 title game, will play the fifth-ranked Tigers for the championship on Saturday night.
"This was a night we grew up," said Baylor coach Scott Drew, whose team denied many Big 12 fans a potentially tantalizing matchup between rivals Kansas and Missouri for the title.
No team from Texas has ever won the Big 12 tournament.
Baylor will get another chance.
"I don't think we played particularly well in any facet, and Baylor shot the ball great from deep and they made their free throws," Self said. "We let them get comfortable early, which isn't a good sign when you're playing a talented team."
Baylor took a 15-8 in the opening minutes and, with the exception of a couple flurries by the Jayhawks, managed to hold the advantage all the way to halftime.
Jones looked as if he never left the Sprint Center after his epic 31-point outing against Kansas State in the quarterfinals. He had 10 points and five boards by halftime, once going way up for an alley-oop jam off a pass from Jackson that seemed headed for the cheap seats.
The Jayhawks trailed 43-35 when the teams hit the locker room, and they were fortunate it was that close. Robinson, the Big 12 player of the year, was held to five points and a single rebound in 13 minutes, forced to spend the final five on the bench because of foul trouble.
The Bears kept building on the lead in the second half, going ahead 53-40 on Quincy Acy's basket with 16:32 left. Little did they know it would be their last one for a while.
Taylor started the Jayhawks on an 18-3 push with an easy basket, and after Acy blew a dunk on the other end, Robinson scored underneath. Kansas started to get into transition, and Taylor eventually rattled in another 3 to get the Jayhawks within one with 12:52 to go.
The senior guard shrugged his shoulders on his way back to defense, the Sprint Center coming alive with the crowd heavily favoring the school about a 30-minute drive from Kansas City.
Withey's three-point play and a basket by Robinson gave Kansas a 58-56 lead, its first since midway through the first half, but it wound up being short-lived.
Baylor scored the next nine points, four of them coming on Jones' first buckets of the second half, and still led 65-60 on a pair of foul shots by Walton with 6:08 left.
Taylor and Robinson managed to get to the foul line for Kansas, but Heslip's 3-pointer with 2:03 left gave Baylor a 70-64 advantage, and his next 3 with 1:12 go made it 73-66.
Time ran on out before Kansas could make another run.
"It came down to everything: us not rebounding the game, us not defending from the beginning, us not doing a lot of things we should have done," Taylor said.