Tyshawn Taylor. The senior point man for the Jayhawks has been on a Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde trajectory since he came to Lawrence as a freshman. His stats look good on paper this year, averaging 16.7 points and 4.7 assists while shooting nearly 50 percent from the floor and almost 40 percent from deep. But Taylor has also had his fair share of moments when his concentration seems to lack, and it’s reflected in his performance. He’s struggled in big games, too, going 3-for-13 from the floor in the early loss to Kentucky, committing 11 turnovers in a loss to Duke, and shooting 4-for-11 with five turnovers in defeat against Davidson. The Jayhawks need Taylor to play a strong second banana to Robinson if they want to advance. So who will show up? The 22 points (10-for-19), six rebounds, five assists, five steals Tyshawn from the win over UNC, or the six points (2-for-14), five turnovers Tyshawn from the narrow Sweet 16 victory over NC State?
If he plays well, look out…
For the Jayhawks, this could be either Elijah Johnson or Jeff Withey. Johnson has been the most reliable third option for Kansas of late, averaging exactly 10 points a game for the season. He’s come up big in the tourney, dropping double-digit point totals in all four games thus far, including a big 18-point outburst in the 63-60 win over Purdue. Withey will be key on the interior for Rock Chalk nation. If the 7-footer can duplicate his performance in the UNC game (15 points, eight boards, three blocks) against Ohio State’s Sullinger and Deshaun Thomas, Kansas’ title game prospects will look much brighter.
How things will shake out…
The 11-point December victory over Ohio State is rendered pretty moot at this point, especially when the Buckeyes were without their leading scorer and rebounder. I would expect OSU to use their frontcourt depth to attack the Jayhawk big men and try to put Thomas Robinson on the bench. The Jayhawks will need to counter with strong guard play from Taylor, Johnson and Travis Releford, while doing their best to funnel Robinson the ball on offense and keep him out of harm’s way on the other end. Beyond that, the Jayhawks match up well with the Louisville Cardinals and not-so-much with the Kentucky Wildcats (although no one does). Ultimately, the output from Robinson and Taylor will determine how far this team goes, regardless of who they are going up against. When those two are on their game, the Jayhawks can take down anyone.
What is the key for Kansas this weekend?
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