X Scores 31: Jayhawks Win, 90-65

The #1-ranked Kansas Jayhawks rode another record-breaking performance by freshman pheenom Xavier Henry in an otherwise sluggish 90-65 win over the LaSalle University Explorers Saturday afternoon in Kansas City's Sprint Center.

Xavier Henry broke his own freshman scoring record and led all scorers with 31 points. He was joined on double figures by Cole Aldrich with 19, Markieff Morris with 12 and Tyshawn Taylor with 10 off the bench.

Henry's assessment of his performance was typically self-effacing.

"I was a'ight," Henry said. "I played with the team and did what (KU coach Bill Self) told me to do, so I just had to come out and be aggressive."

"(Henry) was good. He was really good," Self said. "X just scored so easy. Getting 31 points on 15 shots is pretty good, especially for a freshman. He didn't take bad looks and he shared the ball. I think he played great."

It was a good thing, too. KU found a way to score 90, even though they were outrebounded, 22-17, in the first half and all-American Sherron Collins made just one of his 12 shots on the afternoon.

The game started at 1 p.m. but had the feel of a 7 a.m. start. Neither team showed any energy until the midpoint of the first half when KU led, 21-19. KU coach Bill Self spent the under-12 media timeout preaching his mantra.

"(Self) just got us in the huddle, told us to play tough, rebound the ball and play defense, when we get on offense, just run our stuff," Henry said. "When we did that, they couldn't stop us."

"I thought we played pretty well from that point," Self agreed.

After the timeout, LaSalle made a free throw to make it a one-point game, 21-20. In short order, however, KU went on a 13-2 run over the next five-and-a-half minutes. The run came thanks to threes by guard Sherron Collins and Tyshawn Taylor, five points by Cole Aldrich and two free throws by guard Xavier Henry.

Kansas finished the half by outscoring LaSalle, 20-5, and taking a 42-27 lead into the locker room.

The Jayhawks grew the lead to 18, 59-41, at the 12:38 mark of the second period but the Explorers wouldn't go away. They went on a 6-2 mini-run of their own to cut the Kansas lead to 14, 61-47, with 9:50 left.

Xavier Henry scored on a transition lay-up a minute later to get the lead back to 16. On the next possession, Henry made a good hustle play to intercept a pass on the wing and got the ball to Tyshawn Taylor in the middle of the floor. Taylor went strong to the basket but dropped the ball back over his shoulder for a trailing Markieff Morris for a dunk. LaSalle never got closer than 14 the rest of the way.

Morris said, "I called (Taylor's) name. I didn't think he was gonna pass it back, but I just called him and he just turned around and dropped it back to me."

The partisan Sprint Center crowd went nuts, and Taylor said something to Morris after the play. What 'd he say, Keiff?

Morris smiled. "He said, (singing the SportsCenter theme) 'Duh-nuh-nuh, nuh-nuh-nuh."

The last nine minutes of an otherwise-ho hum game was the Xavier Henry Show. Henry scored 21 points in the second half, many of them on one-on-one drives to the basket on which he either made the basket or got fouled.

Henry showed a side of his game that Kansas fans haven't seen much in his short career: taking a defender off the dribble and using his strength to get to the basket.

"Coach was just like, 'Take 'im,' so I just kept going to the hole and kept scoring easy layups," he said.

Self liked what he saw out of his sensational freshman and wants to see more of it, but he also appreciates where Henry is coming from.

"I think he's been so conscious of trying to do what we want him to do that it's probably taken away some aggressiveness as far as putting the ball down and attacking the rim. Today he looked a lot more comfortable," the coach said.

Morris recorded another double-double, adding 12 rebounds to his 12 points. Brother Marcus Morris and Aldrich had six boards each. Taylor responded well off the bench again with six assists and no turnovers to go with 10 points.

KU has the week off for final exams and won't see action again until next Sunday when John Beilein and his Michigan Wolverines visit The Phog for a noon tip-off.

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