LAWRENCE, Kan. — Tyshawn Taylor has been a lightning rod during his career at Kansas. He makes big shots and is beloved; he makes careless turnovers and is loathed. He was feeling nothing but love on Saturday. The senior guard scored 22 of his career-high 28 points after halftime, leading the No. 10 Jayhawks on a game-changing run that resulted in an 82-73 victory over Iowa State.
“Tyshawn is a little different. When you guys tell him he’s really good, that’s when I probably tell him he’s taking too many shots,” coach Bill Self said. “He is a scrutinized player, but he’s also the point guard at Kansas, and that goes with the territory.” Too often Taylor hasn’t lived up to those who came before him, guys like Kirk Hinrich and Mario Chalmers, and that’s drawn the ire of one of the most passionate fan bases in college basketball. They were squarely on his side against the Cyclones, though. Taylor hit three 3-pointers and dished out six assists, leading the Jayhawks (14-3, 4-0 Big 12) on a 17-2 run midway through the second half. It was part of a larger 30-9 burst by the defending conference champions that carried them to their seventh consecutive victory. “I felt the love, man. I felt the love. The Fieldhouse was going crazy, the bench was going crazy. It was a good feeling,” Taylor said. “I made some shots that counted.”
Jeff Withey added 13 points, 11 rebounds and seven blocked shots, and Thomas Robinson 11 points and 14 rebounds for his 12th double-double of the season. Elijah Johnson also had 12 points.
The Jayhawks, who haven’t lost to Iowa State since February 2005, will carry plenty of momentum into a marquee showdown Monday night with undefeated and fourth-ranked Baylor, which romped to a 106-65 win over Oklahoma State earlier Saturday. “It’s going to be a good game,” Taylor said with a smile.
Royce White had 18 points and 17 rebounds to lead the Cyclones (12-5, 2-2), who played ninth-ranked Missouri down to the wire earlier in the week and gave the Jayhawks similar fits. At least, for most of the game. Chris Allen added 17 points, Melvin Ejim had 12 and Scott Christopherson 10 for the Cyclones, who shot 9 of 28 (32 percent) from the 3-point line and just 16 of 25 (64 percent) from the foul line. “It’s frustrating, but you look at the positives and say: If Missouri is No. 9 and Kansas is No. 10, then we might be 11, 12,” White said. “That’s the positive that we’re going to take from it.”
The Cyclones stuck to their scouting report at the start. White hit his first 3-point attempt of the season, and Ejim added another 3 moments later as a team known for the long ball built a 17-7 lead over the first 5 minutes. Kansas went on a run of its own to close within 18-16, but the Cyclones extended the lead back to 27-18. They took their largest lead of the half at 39-28 when Christopherson hit a 3-pointer and Allen a pair of free throws with 4:43 remaining, quieting the crowd inside Allen Fieldhouse. The Jayhawks went on a late run to get within 43-40 at the break, but Iowa State scored the first nine points of the second half as Kansas missed four consecutive free throws. “My halftime talk was good,” Self said drily. “We went in down three and came out down 12.” That’s when Taylor and the Jayhawks went on their game-turning run. Withey started it with a basket that got the crowd stirring, and Johnson added another basket to trim the lead to 52-45 with 14:43 left. Taylor got in the act with a basket of his own, the first of three consecutive field goals that he scored for the Jayhawks. “He was amazing,” Robinson said. “He put the team on his back and he did what we expected. He played great during that stretch of us coming back. He hit some big shots for us.”
The Cyclones still led 59-53 with 11:50 remaining when Withey converted a three-point play, the start of the 17-2 run. Taylor added a 3-pointer to draw the Jayhawks even, and back-to-back baskets by Kevin Young and Withey gave them their first lead since it was 7-6 with 17:29 left in the first half. By the time Withey scored off a feed from Johnson and Taylor knocked down another basket, the Kansas lead had swelled to 70-61 and Iowa State coach Fred Hoiberg was begging for a timeout. It managed to settle the Cyclones a bit. They closed within 72-70 with 6:35 remaining on consecutive baskets by Ejim, but Young and Taylor answered and Iowa State never threatened again. “We talked a lot about that the last two days. If you come into this building and have that kind of drought, and you let it bother you and effect you, it’s hard to win,” said Hoiberg, who had some of his best — and worst — games as a player at Iowa State against the Jayhawks. “I’ve been seeing those runs in here for years,” he said. “It’s a very tough place to play.”