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Moments That Popped: KU women top BYU to advance at Big 12 tourney

Highlights and memorable moments from the Jayhawks’ 24-point Big 12 tourney win

5 min read
KU guard S'Mya Nichols fights her way to the rim past the BYU defense during the Jayhawks' opening-round win over the Cougars at the Big 12 tournament at T-Mobile Center in Kansas City, Missouri on Friday night. [Chance Parker photo]

Kansas City, Missouri — After a slow start, the 7th-seeded Kansas women's basketball team advanced to the quarterfinals of the Big 12 tournament with a 77-53 win over No. 10 seed BYU on Friday night at T-Mobile Center.

The win marked the ninth victory in 10 games for the surging Jayhawks, who improved to 19-11 overall. It also was the third win over Big 12 newcomer BYU this season.

KU outscored BYU 42-20 in Friday's second half.


Zakiyah Franklin led the Jayhawks with 20 points on 8-of-11 shooting. Franklin used her elite handles and lightning quick moves to get to the rim all night long.

All five KU starters scored in double figures in this one, providing Kansas with the kind of balanced attack that makes them awfully hard to guard.

Next up, the Jayhawks will take on 2nd-seeded Texas at 5:30 p.m. Saturday night in the quarterfinals. Texas beat KU by 35 points earlier this season in Austin, but this is a much different Kansas team than the one the Longhorns saw that night in the heart of Texas.

Here’s a look back at some of the highlights and memorable moments from the Jayhawks’ impressive, 24-point Big 12 tourney win that undoubtedly solidified their spot in the NCAA Tournament, if it wasn't already locked up by now.

All the Jayhawks can do from here is help themselves in terms of their seed while extending the season of some of the most memorable seniors to ever play for the program.


• Twin gets going early: Taiyanna Jackson had a modest game by her standards, finishing with 12 points and 7 rebounds in 29 minutes. But the fact that she got a handful of those right away was important, because it put the Cougars on their heels early and reminded them what type of player they were facing in Jackson. Jackson had a monster game against BYU in KU's home win but battled foul trouble and made a smaller impact in the Jayhawks' win in Provo, Utah. In this one, she did all she needed but also didn't overextend herself or force anything. Here's how odd Friday's game was, KU's blocks queen did not have a block all night.

• The S’Mya spin: You’ve seen it a few times this season, but it just keeps getting better and better and better. Early in the fourth quarter of Friday’s win, S’Mya Nichols hit BYU with a hard drive to her left and a spin back to the middle between two defenders as she approached the basket. As if that wasn’t enough, her momentum carried her through the paint and she finished the play with a layup on the other side of the rim. Nichols finished with 13 points, 5 assists and 3 steals, with 7 of her points coming at the free throw line. She also finished with 4 of KU's 7 turnovers, meaning there's still a much better game for her out there as the Jayhawks play on.

• Holly on the glass: KU’s all-time 3-point leader made a couple of key outside shots in this one, with both of them coming at key moments. But her work on the glass as a rebounder was just as important in the win. Earlier this season, Nichols pointed out that Kersgieter is one of the team’s better rebounders and the stats illustrate that. In this one, she finished with 4 boards but nearly every one was of the physical, max-effort variety. That’s the kind of effort you need from your leaders and upperclassmen at this time of the season and, as she embarks upon her last postseason ride, it’s clear that Kersgieter is willing to give that and more to extend her KU career as long as she can.

• First-half ending/second-half start: A 10-0 run late in the first half gave the Jayhawks a 2-point lead at the break. There was a lot to like about that run. It featured scoring from multiple players and also carried with it a sense of urgency from the Jayhawks, who, in some ways, had been sleepwalking through a lot of the first half. That momentum carried into the start of the third quarter, as the Jayhawks opened the quarter with a 17-5 run to push their lead to 8 (44-36) midway through the quarter. That push proved to be huge in Kansas gaining the kind of separation it needed to hold off a talented and feisty BYU Cougars team.

• Nice crowd at T-Mobile: This year marks the first time that the Big 12 women’s tournament is played at T-Mobile Center, where the men will host theirs next week. And, for an early-round game on a Friday night, the crowd for this one was pretty solid. No official attendance figure was provided, but the lower section on both sides of the court was pretty full throughout the game. The number of fans in the stands only figures to go up from here as the tournament moves on.


• Twin limps to the locker room: Jackson went to the locker room midway through the first quarter after being called for her first foul. She appeared to have a little limp as she walked off the floor. After about 10 minutes, she returned to the bench — jogging back from the locker room — and checked back into the game immediately. Clearly, she was OK to go back out there, but it’s still not exactly what you want to see nor anything the Jayhawks want to see linger.

• 1st-half 3-point D: BYU led for a lot of the first half and most of the second quarter, in large part because the Cougars found a way to knock down outside shots early in the game. After KU opened with a 5-0 lead, the Cougars stormed back to take an early lead after making three 3-pointers in their first five baskets. The numbers leveled off and BYU finished the game just 6-of-18 from the 3-point line after knocking in 3 of 4 in the first quarter alone. But KU left open shooters a few too many times and won’t want to do that moving forward.   

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