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Kansas has a new blocks queen

Senior center Taiyanna Jackson sets KU's career blocks record with 9-swat night in home win over Houston

5 min read
Kansas senior Taiyanna Jackson now sits alone on top of the Jayhawks' single-season and career blocks lists. [Chance Parker photo]

Kansas center Taiyanna Jackson achieved a career milestone for the ages on Thursday night, blocking nine shots to move into first place on KU’s career blocks list in a 69-52 win over Houston.

The super-senior from East Chicago, Indiana is not one to count her stats, so she had no idea that she recorded the magic rejection until she reached the bench and heard from teammate Zakiyah Franklin.

That was even after the Allen Fieldhouse public address announcer shared the news with the crowd, drawing a huge roar from the 3,090 fans in attendance.

“I barely heard it,” she told R1S1 Sports of the announcement. “I was just walking to the bench and all I heard was ‘block record’ and I didn’t really know until Zakiyah said it.”

After that?

“I was like, ‘WTF? Did I really do that? I really just came here and broke a blocks record that hadn’t been touched in years,” she recalled of her first thoughts on the bench. “It’s just cool and I was happy to do it while being coached by coach Brandon.

She continued: “I shocked myself. I knew I had a lot of blocks, but I don’t count them. The feeling is unexplainable because I never would’ve thought that I would come here and be able to break something like that. I’m just happy.”

Jackson’s record-setting block on Thursday night came on a jump shot by Houston guard N’Yah Boyd at the free throw line.

When she got it, with her right hand off the right hand of Boyd, you could hear some fans in the crowd scream with excitement. Jackson might not be one to keep track of her numbers, but these people knew.

The fact that it came on a night when the Jayhawks also took their turn at celebrating National Girls and Women In Sports Day, which was Wednesday, made it even more special for Jackson, who has always tried to lead with a smile and personality that’s true to who she is.

“We had a lot of women here tonight and a lot of little girls here, too,” she said while smiling. “To be able to do that in front of them was cool.”

KU center Taiyanna Jackson meets with the ESPN+ TV crew to talk about her record-setting night after the Jayhawks' 69-52 win over Houston. [R1S1 Sports photo]

Here’s the funny part about Jackson reaching the record, which also came with 25 points and 15 rebounds on 11-of-15 shooting. For a little more than 2 minutes before she got block No. 9 on the night and No. 270 in her KU career, she kept looking to the bench, hoping her coaches would take her out with the game already in hand.

“I didn’t even know I was one away from a triple-double,” she said. “I was looking at the bench, they were looking at me and they told me that I was one away from a triple-double and that’s why they hadn’t taken me out yet.”

Jackson didn’t quite get the triple-double. But she got the record. She now owns the single game (9), the single season (105) and career blocks (270) records, tying or passing former KU great Lisa Tate on all three lists.

Jackson said she was fueled on Thursday by the fact that several Houston players were chirping at her after Houston center Peyton McFarland block one of her shots.

“I told her after that, ‘I’m blocking everything now. Sorry in advance,’” Jackson explained.

Last summer, Jackson talked with R1S1 Sports about going after the record. Not only did she want to break Tate’s career mark, she also wanted to break her own single-season mark from last season.

With just six conference games and whatever postseason action lies ahead in front of her, she might not top 105 this season. Then again, if she stacks a few more nine-block games on her resumé, it’s not out of the realm of possibilities.

None of that matters to Jackson, though. All she wants to do is keep winning — the Jayhawks improved to 13-10 overall, 6-6 in Big 12 play and now have won three in a row — and keep having fun. The rest, she believes, will take care of itself.

This much she knows for sure, though; every block she gets the rest of the way will merely add to her career record, making it more difficult — if not impossible — for someone to come along and break her marks.

That’s the way Tate sees it.

“I’m happy for her,” she told R1S1 Sports last summer while predicting Jackson would take her down. “I think it’ll be a minute before somebody breaks hers. It meant a lot to have those. I bleed crimson and blue and for me to hold a record for that long and for someone to come along and break it, that’s really cool to me.”

It’s also cool to Jackson, and she said her big night — and the others before it during this hot stretch for the Jayhawks — has been the product of this team having fun again and finding its rhythm.

As for where that career block record she now owns goes from here, Jackson needed just one word to describe her thoughts on that.

“Up,” she said. “It goes up, OK. We have more games left and we still can accomplish a lot of the goals we set in the beginning of the season. We have a break, we have the momentum we need. I’m just excited. I really want to get back out there and play Saturday.”

KU is off this Saturday and will return to action next Wednesday at Allen Fieldhouse, when Cincinnati comes to town and Kansas goes for its fourth consecutive win.

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