February 23, 2012
KU takes control
It wasn't the smoothest victory of the year but No. 5 Kansas (23-5; 13-2) hit the road and conquered again Texas A&M (13-14; 4-11) Wednesday night, 66-58.
Kansas and stars Thomas Robinson and Tyshawn Taylor combined for 22 points as No. 5 KU held off a late run by the Aggies for their 23rd victory of the year and a clear-cut lead on Missouri for the Big 12 crown.
The Jayhawks took a 10-point halftime lead and expanded it to 20-plus in the second half before A&M went on a scoring spree to bring the game back within striking distance.
Over an almost five minute span late in the second half, A&M went on a 16-2 run against questionable lineups for Kansas. Whether it was because head coach Bill Self was trying to send a message or it was because of reasonably legitimate foul trouble, KU went the majority of the second half playing with an assortment of players, particularly when the game became close and the starting five seemed to never be on the court together.
A&M's Khris Middleton led the charge for the Aggies, hitting shots from both inside and out, eventually finishing with 23 points on the night.
The Aggies attacked Kansas and seemed to be much more in-tune on the offensive end, taking advantage of Kansas' lazy man-to-man defense and lack-luster rebounding effort for a significant stretch of time in the second half.
In the end, Kansas was able to prevail behind a stellar performance from junior guard Elijah Johnson who scored 21 points, 18 of which came in the first half.
Johnson has struggled for much of the conference season but was able to come out of his offensive slump Wednesday night in what could turn out to be the biggest road win of the year for Kansas, just days before the biggest home game of the year against rival Missouri in Allen Fieldhouse.
Thomas Robinson, front-runner for national player of the year finished with another double-double (10 points, 13 rebounds), but fouled out towards the end of the game after receiving a technical foul when battling for a loose ball.
It appeared A&M had a chance to take control of the game and pull off a huge upset win, but after inserting Tyshawn Taylor back into the game, the senior guard led his team to an important road win over a Texas A&M team with plenty of talent.
Kansas coach Bill Self will have plenty to gripe about in the days leading up to Saturday's colossal battle in the rematch of the Border Showdown, but at the end of the day, the Jayhawks won a tough game on the road and control their own destiny when it comes to bringing home yet another conference title.
Saturday's game has lost maybe a little of its luster after Mizzou fell at home to Kansas State, but the energy still thrives on campus in Lawrence, Kan., in preparation for the 3 p.m. tip this weekend.
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