The deafening noise might not have impacted his ability to showcase his NBA game, but Baylor University big man Perry Jones III admitted after Monday’s 92-74 loss to No. 7 Kansas University that the Allen Fieldhouse crowd played a huge role in the outcome.
“It was loud,” said Jones, who finished with 18 points to lead Baylor. “It was the loudest place we’ve played in, and their fans really got into the game. We tried our best to stay together as a team and not let the noise affect us.”
Known for providing the Jayhawks (15-3 overall, 5-0 in Big 12) with one of the best homecourt advantages in college basketball, the fieldhouse fans took things to a new level Monday. With the excitement of ESPN’s Big Monday broadcast injecting energy into the seats and that surge spilling over to the players on the court, the Bears found themselves in a tough spot from the four-minute mark of the first half to the end of the game. Leading 29-26 one minute, Baylor found itself trailing by double digits the next. Baylor coach Scott Drew said the crowd had a lot to do with that.
“Because of the noise, we had trouble communicating what we were doing,” he said.
That showed on both ends of the floor, as Baylor (17-1, 4-1) trailed, 39-29, at the half and by as many as 20 — 75-55 — in the second half.
In racing to a 17-0 start to the season, the Bears had become known for all of the star power they put on the floor and their incredible athleticism and length. While some of that showed up Monday night, the Jayhawks had an answer — most notably junior forward Thomas Robinson, who scored eight of KU’s first 10 points and finished with 27.
“He’s an All-American,” Jones said. “He played like he’s supposed to play, and he played like an upperclassman. He’s a tough guy who delivered for his team.”
Senior point guard Tyshawn Taylor backed Robinson’s big night with one of his own, and, for the second straight game, appeared to be the difference.
“He’s gotten better each and every year,” Drew said of Taylor. “I know when he got in the league, he was an outstanding defender, and his offensive game has gotten better each year. He always has the toughness and the leadership.”
According to Drew, Taylor’s best traits rubbed off on the entire Kansas team during Monday’s drubbing.
“Early on, they were good,” Drew said of the Jayhawks. “But now they are even better, and I think the nation saw how tough they are.”
Asked what he hoped his team learned from its first loss of the season, Drew pointed to the lessons it learned having a positive impact on the conference race.
“That’s the great thing about the Big 12,” he said. “That’s the great thing about playing everybody twice. It’s one game. If you let it affect you and affect the next game, then you’ve got no chance of being successful. They defended home court. They did what they were supposed to do, win your home games, and give them credit for doing that.”
The Bears and Jayhawks will play Round 2 of the series on Feb. 8 in Waco, Texas.
“The great thing is, you play everyone twice,” he said. “So you have a chance to play better the next time.”