Kansas senior Taiyanna Jackson has delivered plenty of big games during her three seasons as a Jayhawk.
None of them were as big as the 27 points and 19 rebounds she just dropped on Baylor in KU’s upset win over the 4th-ranked team in the country on Wednesday night at Allen Fieldhouse.
For one, never before had Jackson’s points plus rebounds equaled such a high number. Forty-six. Her next highest total prior to that came in last season’s WNIT title game against Columbia when she recorded 38, with 17 points and 21 rebounds.
She reached 35 and 28 combined points and rebounds earlier this season and recorded 28 or more combined points and rebounds in 22 of 36 games last season. But never before had she reached the 40 mark.
Beyond that, this was Baylor. Not Columbia. And that alone made this the biggest game of Jackson’s career to date.
Everyone in a Kansas uniform played great, but Jackson’s monster line led the way for KU’s first win over the mighty Bears since 2014 and was just the program’s third win all-time against a top-5 opponent.
In four previous tries against Baylor — all losses — Jackson scored just 26 points combined while averaging just eight rebounds a game and never reaching double-digits on the glass.
In addition to that, the senior center they call “Twin” scored her 1,000th career point in the victory, making her the third Kansas player this season to reach the 1,000-point milestone and the fifth player on the current KU roster with more than 1,000 career points.
“Outstanding,” was the word KU coach Brandon Schnedier used to describe Jackson’s latest game.
“Incredible” and “phenomenal” were the words Baylor head coach Nicki Collen chose.
“We just didn’t have an answer,” Collen said. “There’s often times opportunity to say we can’t guard her but she can’t guard us (either). And we didn’t expose that matchup the way we have the last two years. You could argue that that matchup has been even in the last two years, or we’ve won that matchup. And we clearly did not tonight. I thought she was phenomenal from the start and she stayed out of foul trouble, which was huge for Kansas and for her.”
That last point was crucial and the senior center’s foul trouble has been part of the issue for both Jackson and the Jayhawks this season.
She has been hit with four or more fouls in nine of the 14 games she has played in, including two of the three Big 12 Conference games leading up to Wednesday’s victory.
Her Big 12 numbers had suffered as a result, with Jackson averaging 8.7 points and 8.7 rebounds in losses to West Virginia, Iowa State and Texas Tech prior to Wednesday night.
While those numbers aren’t awful, they’re also not what’s expected. What she did against Baylor is closer to where the bar has been set for Jackson.
“Nineteen rebounds is a lot,” Schneider said after the win. “But, to be quite honest, we know that that’s what she’s capable of. I thought she affected the game on both ends. She was a defensive presence and we were able to play through her some, offensively.”
Added Collen: “We didn’t get a body on her soon enough and when she gets to use her length around the rim, we’re gonna have a hard time.”
Collen said Jackson’s ability to score in a variety of ways, including 9 of 13 makes at the free throw line, along with her presence as a true rim protector, go-to scorer and offensive rebounder a
“She makes it tough,” Collen said.
Added Schneider: “Probably the thing I’m most proud of is how she shot free throws.”
Jackson entered the game shooting 40.4% at the free throw line and knocked down 69% of her charity tries in the upset win.
“It feels so good,” Jackson said after the game, both of Wednesday’s win and cracking the 1,000-point milestone. “But I really couldn’t do it without my teammates. They put me in the best position to score.”
“We honestly just needed this. We needed this momentum. We finally showed what we can do as a team. And now we just have to keep going – learn from this and stick together and take it to the next game.”
Next up, KU (8-7, 1-3) plays host to Oklahoma State (10-5, 3-1) at 6:30 p.m. Saturday night at Allen Fieldhouse.
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