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Saturday, March 31, 2012

FINALLY: KU, Ohio State healthy, ready for rematch

Kansas guard Tyshawn Taylor scans around the Superdome as the Jayhawks take the court for practice on Friday, March 30, 2012.

Kansas guard Tyshawn Taylor scans around the Superdome as the Jayhawks take the court for practice on Friday, March 30, 2012.

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— Tyshawn Taylor had trouble concentrating fully on basketball back on Dec. 10 — the afternoon of the Kansas-Ohio State game in Allen Fieldhouse.

Taylor, KU’s 6-foot-3 senior point guard, scored just nine points with 13 assists and seven turnovers in a 78-67 victory over the previously undefeated Buckeyes. He had a date with the knee surgeon scheduled just 15 hours after tipoff.

“I’m not using my knee as an excuse, but I know I am not going to be in a brace tomorrow,” said Taylor, 100 percent healthy heading into a Final Four semifinal contest between KU (31-6) and the Buckeyes (31-7) at 7:49 p.m. today in the Superdome.

“I won’t be worrying about my knee, worrying about making certain cuts or plants or landing on it, getting hit. I won’t be worrying about any of that, what I was worrying about in that game. That’s out the window.

“Everybody’s talking about Jared (Sullinger, OSU’s All-American who missed the first meeting with back spasms), but we also didn’t have a Jeff Withey playing like he is now,” Taylor added.

Seven-foot KU center Withey had just two points, two boards and two blocks in 21 minutes that game.

“We didn’t have Thomas Robinson (21 points off 7-of-9 shooting and seven rebounds) having the same game as he has now. There’s a lot of things so different with both teams because it was so long ago. We’ve come a long way — their players and ours,” Taylor said.

The fact Taylor was playing at less than full strength — he had successful right-knee arthroscopic surgery at 6 a.m., Sunday, Dec. 11, and didn’t miss a game, by the way — has not received as much attention as Sullinger’s not playing.

“I don’t know if I was 75 percent or 80 percent,” Taylor said. “I was able to play 32, 33 minutes (35), and that’s all that matters.”

Taylor’s 13 assists versus the Buckeyes rank as his career high. His point-guard opponent today — 6-2 sophomore Aaron Craft — had 11 points off 4-of-11 shooting, with six assists, three turnovers and five rebounds in 38 minutes.

“I mean, as many questions as I’ve answered about how good he is on defense, he must be,” Taylor said with a smile, referring to Craft. “He’ll make the game challenging, but I won’t change the things I do.”

Taylor averages 16.7 points a game with 174 assists and 128 turnovers to Craft’s 8.8 points, 178 assists and 82 turnovers. Taylor acknowledges he’d like to see one part of his game improve: his outside shooting.

He’s 3-for-37 overall from three-point land in 13 NCAA Tournament games. He’s 0-for-17 in his career in domed stadiums, 0-for-11 in domes this year and 0-for-17 overall in the 2012 NCAAs.

“I’ve not heard much about that this week. I’ve answered a few questions about it,” Taylor said of his dome woes. “Good thing I am not a Conner (Teahan), that I have to make threes for people to know I’m out there. I have to do other things to be effective. I am not a three-point specialist. It doesn’t upset my game that much. I shoot a lot of them (57-of-148 for 38.5 percent). I’ve not been making that many. I can still be effective in other ways defensively and offensively. I’m going to shoot them if I’m open. If I miss, I’m not going to hang my head. I’ll shoot the next one, too. That’s how it’s got to be.”

The Taylor-Craft match-up has received a lot of pre-game hype, as well as the 6-9 sophomore Sullinger versus 6-10 Robinson and 7-foot Withey.

“It’ll be me and Thomas on him off and on,” Withey said. “He’s definitely a great player, and it’ll be fun playing against him.”

Sullinger averages 17.6 points and 9.1 boards a game; Robinson 17.7 points and 11.8 boards; Withey 9.2 points, 6.2 boards with 129 blocks to Sullinger’s 36.

“I was disappointed, but it didn’t really bother me that much,” Robinson said of not being able to go against Sullinger in Allen. The two became friends last summer at various national camps. “I wanted to go against him. He’s a great player, but I knew I would get my chance Saturday (in Final Four).”

Sullinger has called Robinson national player of the year.

“He’s a real cool guy off the court,” Robinson said. “Like I’ve said, everybody has their opinion. I agree with him.”

Of Sullinger, KU coach Bill Self said: “He’s as good a low-post scorer as there is in the country. We caught a huge break when he didn’t play the first time. He’s a terrific player. They are not the same team that we played because they improved a lot. I don’t think we’re the same team because we’ve gotten better. That first game seems like two seasons ago. I don’t know if it will have any impact on what happens tomorrow.”

The Buckeyes have other threats, including Deshaun Thomas, a 6-7 sophomore who scored 19 points off 7-14 shooting vs. KU in December, and William Buford, a 6-8 senior who scored 21 off 8-for-23 shooting. OSU hit just 38.7 percent of its shots versus KU (5-of-17 on threes) on a day the Jayhawks cashed 58.3 percent, including 9-of-17 from three. Kevin Young had a big day off the bench for KU with 14 points off 6-of-8 shooting. Elijah Johnson had 15 points (5-of-7 on threes) and Travis Releford 10.

“If we are going to win this game,” Taylor said, “we have to stop them from scoring. They can score one-through-five on the court. They can all score. We must be locked in defensively. Offensively, we have to run our stuff. Our stuff works. It’s been proven it works. I think we match up pretty evenly with them. It’s about players making plays in a game like this.”

The winner will advance to Monday’s 8 p.m. final against either Kentucky or Louisville, who tangle at 5:09 p.m. today.

Comments

Jeremy Caudle 2 years ago

We were not supposed to be NC State. Were not supposed to be beat UNC. Were not supposed to be beat Ohio St...and we aren't supposed to beat UK either...give me a break. Any team can lose on any given day. UK and their one and done nba transfers can go screw themselves! Rock Chalk Monday night!

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Alohahawk 2 years ago

Geez, Lueze. After KU won, I switched to ESPN Sports Center. Bilas, Vitale, and Hubert Davis were gushing at length (10 - 15 minutes straight) about Kenstinky and how well they played against Louisville. Not a word about KU's win.

Then, they switched to the post game interviews with Self, JW, EJ and TRele, and the comments were sooo much more enlightening. And while some of questions asked were ludicrous, the comments were very candid. I mean, what do you say when asked what your thoughts were when you made 4 of 4 freethrows late. Or when you block someone's shot. These post game interview sessions usually are just tearjerkers.

After they showed highlights of each game, the talking heads went back to gushing superlatives on Kenstinky. For another 10 straight minutes. Guess Monday's game doesn't need to be played.

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Alohahawk 2 years ago

Geez, Lueze. After KU won, I switched to ESPN Sports Center. Bilas, Vitale, and Hubert Davis were gushing at length (10 - 15 minutes straight) about Kenstinky and how well they played against Louisville. Not a word about KU's win.

Then, they switched to the post game interviews with Self, JW, EJ and TRele, and the comments were sooo much more enlightening. And while some of questions asked were ludicrous, the comments were very candid. I mean, what do you say when asked what your thoughts were when you made 4 of 4 freethrows late. Or when you block someone's shot. These post game interview sessions usually are just tearjerkers.

After they showed highlights of each game, the talking heads went back to gushing superlatives on Kenstinky. For another 10 straight minutes. Guess Monday's game doesn't need to be played.

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phoggyjay 2 years ago

That was just awesome, next up Kentucky. Rock Chalk Jayhawk!

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Bill Jacobson 2 years ago

If we push the ball in transition and pound the ball down low we win by 10. If we slow down, try to move the ball and take 20-15 foot jumpshoots we loose by 15.

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FLJHK 2 years ago

Seems virtually no one on the national stage is giving KU much of a chance. The last time I remember KU being so overlooked this deep in a tourney was in 1988. That one turned out pretty well. Actually a lot of things about this year's team remind me of that year - player-of-the- year type, an experienced point guard who emerged in excellence late in the season.

Go Jayhawks!

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Dan Pawlowski 2 years ago

Thomas Robinson was robbed. Davis won the Wooden award. Go to ESPN and add your displeasure to the comments. I did.

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Dan Harris 2 years ago

Keys for the game 1. Shoot at least 38% from treyland while holding OSU to 30 or less 2. Shoot 70% or better from the free throw line. 3. Limit OSU offensive rebounds 4. Stay out of foul trouble 5. Play loose and run run run them into Lake Pontchartrain(sp?)

KU 84-OSU 71

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Tony Bandle 2 years ago

Really nothing new, innovative or inspired to add, but since I posted game day for Detroit, Purdue, North Carolina State and North Carolina and we won, I didn't want to live the rest of my life thinking I jinxed the Jayhawks, by not posting.

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Kent Richardson 2 years ago

We bumped (amped) up to our B game against N Cacalukey. Our trend this season is to be very good for several games when we get to the B.

The A will come with the 3 bump when we can bury them we go on those 20 to 5 runs.

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ParisHawk 2 years ago

Looking at all the articles in the national Internet media, I read so often "with all the hype about Thomas Robinson, etc."...

but I don't see any articles about Thomas Robinson! Where is all this hype people are referencing?

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ajhk 2 years ago

I just heard ESPN commentators asking Matta about the ELE movement (everybody loves everyone) that their team started. Were they trying to make fun of our FOE, or a blatant, unimaginative cheesy version of a copy?

Anyone see Scott Drew in his tortured self-conscious, fake smile pose for the camera? What a car salesman of a coach. I loved his analysis of how they finally beat Kansas. He said his kids were just too young the first games and over time they got better, better than the Kansas team. ...and that was it! really!? What a DBag

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akgjenkintown 2 years ago

UK fans outnumber the rest of us in NO by a large margin. It seems a far gone conclusion by the "experts" that OSU and UK will meet in the finals and UK will win going away. I ran into Fran Fraschilla and Charles Barkley yesterday and told each to give KU a little love on the TV. The expectations for KU are low and with Davis being name the POY, Haith the COY, and the pundits pointing out KU only beat OSU because they were not at full strength (still hear about Marshell's absence in the elite 8) the Jayhawks have many to prove wrong. Bring home a win tonight and lets start the speculation all over again. Rock Chalk!

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rockchalkxii 2 years ago

Bruce Weber is KState's new coach.

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Kye Clark 2 years ago

Has anyone in the media (other than Matt Tait) picked KU to win? Sometimes I wonder if it's a pack mentality, and once so many people pick OSU to win everyone just starts to assume that's the way it should be, and they don't want to stray from the pack with an opinion of their own.

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Kye Clark 2 years ago

Has anyone in the media (other than Matt Tait) picked KU to win? Sometimes I wonder if it's a pack mentality, and once so many people pick OSU to win everyone just starts to assume that's the way it should be, and they don't want to stray from the pack with an opinion of their own.

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JD Roth 2 years ago

Clinkscale and Petro pick Ohio State, show them how it is Jayhawks!!

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Kye Clark 2 years ago

Nothing really to say that hasn't already been said. Possible keys to the game: match-ups, foul trouble, turnovers, rebounding, outside shooting. Looking at those, pretty much the same could be said of every game. Not saying that this is just any other game, but I don't think there's anything especially novel about.

My prediction: KU by 7.

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jchawkfan 2 years ago

Quick question, will we be wearing white or blue tonight? Need to know what shorts to put on.

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Martin Rosenblum 2 years ago

Let me be the first to say it

Can't go to Jared tonight. He'll be shut down!

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Martin Rosenblum 2 years ago

Sullinger is not Anthony Davis. Sullinger is not Thomas Robinson. Sullinger wasn't a unanimous, concensous All American or POY. He is a great player. He's not even Greg Oden, who was the last OSU phenom. Let's respect him, but don't let his status become mythical.

I see foul trouble in the first half in the post. Wesley and KY better be prepared for productive minutes. They are our neutralizers regarding assisting the effort to get strong big men in foul trouble so we can bring TRob and Withey back from the bench.

Don't worry though, we got this thing!

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Steve Gantz 2 years ago

Waking up on final four Saturday and knowing the Jayhawks are playing never gets old.

Hearing that the winning mega million ticket was sold to someone in NE Kansas means probably a Jayhawk fan won makes it better, This is a Jayhawks day!

Hearing the Game Day crew all pick OhowIHateOhioSt makes me more confident, we'll be playing with a chip on our shoulder. I imagine the same thing happened in 08 when we played UNC.

It's gonna be a great day!

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jayhawkinATL 2 years ago

I have a question: are there different AP voters for the all-American teams and POY?

Since TRob was the only unanimous AP all-American, it would make sense that he would have been AP's POY. Just does NOT compute!

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KansasComet 2 years ago

Kansas can beat Ohio State, as long as we stick to the game plan and crash the boards. I love the mindset of this team. Survive and advance! Go Jayhawks!

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Steve Brown 2 years ago

One of the best outcomes would be to beat Buckeyes by more points with Sully than we did at home without him.

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nuleafjhawk 2 years ago

Forget (well, you know) about Sullinger.

Craft is key to their game. Shut him down and we're playing on Monday.

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KansasComet 2 years ago

Tyshawn, I am glad you are not a Conner too! Be yourself and have a great game! Conner, be yourself and have a great game as well. Play your role and everything will be fine. Kansas appears to be focused and ready to go, just like all the members on this board. Elijah, do what you do, punish them when they leave you open. Jeff, Travis, and Naadir, play your game and the rest will take care of itself. Thomas, time you show once again, you are the man! Let's go Jayhawks!!!

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Edward Daub 2 years ago

The definition of a Buckeye? A worthless nut or a useless nut, take your pick. Lets go Hawks!

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jaybate 2 years ago

Tomorrow's Forensics Today"

•Tyshawn crushed Craft. • EJ sliced through Smith. • Travis broke Buford. • Superman reduced DeShaun to DeShizz. • Jeff swatted Sullinger seven times. • KU cut off Craft's head and the Lo-hio State body died. • Next.

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ParisHawk 2 years ago

"as many questions as I’ve answered about how good he is on defense, he must be".

Gary, did Tyshawn say it just that way or did you tighten it up? That's like something an Elmore Leonard character would say.

You're getting some good quotes this week...

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Hank Cross 2 years ago

Want to get drunk 5 minutes into tomorrow's game? Take a shot everytime they mention Sullinger didn't play in the Dec. game. Won't make a difference this time. KU is going to win this.

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jayhawker_97 2 years ago

one thing for sure this Kansas team has: guts! they're so determined, that itself is enough to intimidate any opponents. TT is a warrior. he'll lead us to championship. TRob will carry us on his back, Withey will protect our legacy, EJ will be our star, while others provide eminent support.

go Jayhawk!

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Priest Fontaine 2 years ago

Buford is listed at 6'6" on Ohio States site. 6'5" on some other sites like ESPN, etc. This article lists him at 6'8". Guess he grew a few inches this past week?

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juke4jay 2 years ago

Go Hawks! Play your game fellows, and we'll see you in the championship game. What a great season, Rock Chalk!

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KUWorldTraveler 2 years ago

I gotta say. I love where Tyshawn's mind is at right now -- self-aware and confident. I think he's going to play the best game of his career.

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Ralster Jayhawk 2 years ago

Both teams may be healthy now, but Lo-hioSt might be pretty sick after the game...things will be upside-down (as in up-chuck) after they get another dose of hi-lo...

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