X and McMorris Step Up in KU Blitz of Oakland

Sherron Collins and Cole Aldrich — KU's two preseason All-Americans — combined to score just 13 points against Oakland Wednesday night in Allen Fieldhouse.

No problem.

KU still won, 89-59.

The Jayhawks wouldn't have managed that last year when Cole Aldrich and Sherron Collins carried much of the scoring burden. But this is a new season for Kansas and more weapons for this deep and talented team.

Buoyed by 19 points each by fab freshman Xavier Henry and rising sophomore Marcus Morris (he also added 11 rebounds to go with his career-high points), the Jayhawks coasted to a blowout victory.

Other than some "soft" defensive rebounding the first half, KU coach Bill Self was pleased with his team's effort. The Jayhawks limited OU to 33.3 percent from the field while shooting 50 percent themselves and committing just six turnovers. KU, meanwhile, scored 20 points off of 13 Oakland turnovers and outscored the Golden Grizzlies 13-2 on fast-break points.

"I thought we played really well," Self said. "It was a non-emotional, slow-paced game and I'm shocked we were able to score 89 points. We executed really well in the first half. We didn't shoot the ball unbelievably well but we had some great offensive possessions considering how they guarded ball screens, which was different than anybody else. We only worked on that a day or two so we did some good things."

Oakland (2-3) managed to stay with No. 1 Kansas (4-0) early. KU was up just 10-8 with 12:57 remaining in the first half before pushing that lead to 21-14. Still, OU coach Greg Kampe felt great about his team's ball-controlled game at that time.

But not for long.

KU went on a 16-5 run to put this game away near the end of the first half. Included in that run were two alley-oop dunks by Henry and a three-pointer each from Morris and Collins.

"We had a freshman (guard Ledrick Eackles) make a big mistake," Kampe said. "We were controlling the tempo and keeping it slow. We felt that if we could rebound and not give up transition baskets that we could play with them. That was happening and we weren't even making shots. Then we get a rebound and the freshman flies up the court with the ball and throws it cross court to Larry Wright, who shoots it. He misses, they come down and dunk and then dunk again and all of a sudden they are up 29-14.

"All that work we (did) is gone because we made a mistake. It is a learning experience and that is why you play these games, but that was really hurtful."

OU began the second half outscoring KU 6-2 to cut into the Jayhawks' 37-22 halftime lead before Self called a 30-second timeout. Kansas regrouped and went on a 12-2 run to lead 51-30 with 13:48 left in the game.

That was about enough basketball for the hungry KU fans looking forward to Thanksgiving. Some of the Allen Fieldhouse crowd began leaving for the exits with just over 10 minutes remaining.

Junior guard Tyrel Reed was Kansas' other player in double figures with 11 points, while Collins added nine and Elijah Johnson and Markieff Morris scored eight each. Collins scored all nine of his points and dished out six of his seven assists in the first half. He became sick at halftime and threw up.

"I thought Sherron was great the first half," Self said. "Sherron totally controlled the game for us the first half."

Self said Collins hasn't been 100 percent since getting kneed about three weeks ago.

"But he's not gimping around and he has never complained once," Self said. "His attitude's been unbelievable."

Self said the same about Aldrich's attitude. The 6-11 center had a rough night shooting just 2 of 10 from the field for four points, his lowest total since going scoreless against Memphis in the 2008 national championship game. Aldrich scored just seven points in his last game against Central Arkansas.

"I'm sure that he's frustrated," Self said, "but he's as good a kid as there is and he's so happy when the team does well. He's not going to dwell on (his tough game)."

Reed said Aldrich isn't 100 percent.

"I know he has been battling the flu and all that good jazz," Reed said. "He has a good attitude all the time. Most people can't even tell he's sick because he has such a good attitude. He'll get through it."

And Collins, too, will get through his injury. Self said he was a key reason why KU cruised to the victory.

"I would have never thought our three returning leading scorers would score 19 points (sophomore guard Tyshawn Taylor scored six of those 19), and we'd win by 30," Self said. "But in large part, the reason we did was because Sherron understands we got to bring those young kids along."

"Young kids" like Henry and Marcus Morris

"We had some other guys step up for us," Self said. "There was no question, (Morris was) the best basketball player on the floor tonight."

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