Marcus Morris scored 16 of his 20 points in the second half, Markieff Morris added 13 points and eight rebounds and Elijah Johnson escaped from the side of a milk carton to score 11 points in his first action of the season in a 33-point Kansas win over a gritty North Texas Mean Green squad at Allen Field House.
In case you're wondering how they got the name, NFL Hall of Famer "Mean" Joe Greene is a North Texas alum.
The Jayhawks started the game by making eight of their first 10 shots and jumping out to a 21-8 lead at the 12:08 mark. Tyshawn Taylor picked up a "very silly, ridiculous second foul" four minutes later, and the Jayhawk offense went stale. They made just four of their last 15 shots to finish the half to take a 36-27 lead into the locker room.
North Texas shot just 37.5% in the first period but made enough shots to stay within arms' length.
"The first six minutes were great and the first 10 minutes of the second half were great," KU coach Bill Self said, "but there were some minutes that weren't very good."
Self told the team that they needed more body and ball movement in the second half.
"The frustrating thing for me was, the ball really stuck the first half probably more so than it has anytime this year, and that was the biggest message, that we got to get the ball moving."
"He just said, 'Turn it up,'" Marcus Morris said when asked what his coach said at the intermission to get the Jayhawks going.
Turn it up, they did. Using four steals by Brady Morningstar (who also dished 10 assists against just one turnover and scored seven points), the Kansas offense got going. The Jayhawks shot a much-improved 69% in the second half and took just 12 minutes to match their 37-point first-half output. They shot 59% for the game, including 60% from behind the three-point line (nine of 15).
Johnson, who sat the first two games of the season for unspecific off-court irresponsibilities, injected a shot of energy after Taylor picked up what his second foul. Self said he liked what he saw in Johnson's 2010-11 debut.
"Elijah played well," the coach said. "He did a good job. Elijah was a bright spot tonight "
Johnson said it was nice to be back on the floor.
"(My) dunk felt good, everything felt good, but it felt better when I tried to pass that ball to T-Rob (Thomas Robinson) to try to dunk it," Johnson said.
Johnson's play and the news that Josh Selby has been cleared by the NCAA hands Self a very nice backcourt problem.
He now has Selby, the #1-rated recruit in the 2010 class; Tyshawn Taylor, who has matured before fans' very eyes and added nine points and six assists with one turnover Friday night; Johnson and two other proven guards in Morningstar and Tyrel Reed (seven points, two assists).
"We've got issues like everyone else; our team isn't near what it could be and should be. But Elijah could be a big part of our success. Of course, Josh is obviously a talented kid that should make us better, as well."
"I feel better about this team now than I have all year," Self admitted.
Selby's first game will be December 18 when Kansas takes on the University of Southern California.
More immediately, KU will host Texas A&M-Corpus Christi Islanders Tuesday night. Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m. If you can't be in the friendly confines, you can watch it on the Jayhawk Network.