McMorris Taking No Prisoners

Kansas forward Marcus Morris has taken his game to another level in Big 12 play, and people are taking notice. More, inside....

GETTING INSIDE
   Sophomore forward Marcus Morris has scored 19, 20 and 22 points in the past three games and might be coming off his best effort as a Jayhawk. So said coach Bill Self.
   Morris will need to be at that same level -- and bring his top defensive game -- when the third-ranked Jayhawks (17-1, 3-0 Big 12) play at Iowa State on Saturday. Certainly, Morris can't forget last season's trip to Ames, as Iowa State forward Craig Brackins put up a stunning line of 42 points and 14 rebounds.
   The Jayhawks still won, as they did in the rematch in Lawrence. Morris and frontcourt mate Cole Aldrich "held" Brackins to a smaller double-double of 20 points and 11 rebounds in the second game.
   At the time, Morris said he had learned from the first game to the second about how to limit Brackins' touches inside. We'll see how much Morris has learned from the second game to the third game.
   For sure, Morris' offense is coming around, as he has hit 22 of 29 shots in the past three games (all in conference), including eight of 11 in Wednesday's hard-fought, 81-75 home win against Baylor.
   "Marcus Morris was unbelievable," Self said. "He's more mature. He's too honest when he talks to the media. He says he has to play harder, so the perception is that he doesn't play hard. There's a difference between playing hard every possession and competing every possession. He's getting to the point where he's learning how to compete better. ...
   "Marcus is playing at a level that we all thought he could play at and certainly hope he can keep it up."
   KANSAS 81, BAYLOR 75: Sherron Collins was superb for the Jayhawks, solving Baylor's 2-3 zone with penetration and deep shooting. He scored 28 points, hitting five of nine shots from 3-point range, and had four assists with no turnovers in 38 minutes. Collins hit a driving layup with 2:39 to go to break a 67-67 tie. He sank a 3-pointer with 1:13 left and then pulled down a rebound of Baylor's 3-point miss.
   Kansas had gone 91 games without allowing a team to shoot 50 percent, but the Bears made 52.1 percent (25 of 48). Baylor guard LaceDarius Dunn was the counterpoint to Collins, scoring 27 points and making five of eight from behind the arc.

NOTES, QUOTES
   --After his team was never even competitive against Kansas on Jan. 16, Texas Tech coach Pat Knight called the Jayhawks "special" and was relieved the Red Raiders wouldn't draw a rematch, at least not during regular-season play.
   When told of the assessment, Kansas coach Bill Self held off before authorizing the label. Even though the Jayhawks improved to 15-1, they're not a special team yet, at least not by the standards that have made Kansas an elite program nationally.
   Self even recalled the 2008 national championship team and compared one intangible.
   "That team enjoyed making other people look bad and this team doesn't really treasure that," Self said. "But we're a lot younger, too."
   In spite of the 15-1 record, questions abound, even among veterans.
   Such as, why can't senior point guard Sherron Collins, a street-tough player if there ever was one, influence this team to go for the throat?
   Or why isn't junior center Cole Aldrich playing more aggressively and getting off the ground the way he once did?
   Or why is sophomore guard Tyshawn Taylor confused about his role at the outset of conference play?
   But then, that's the way it is sometimes with Kansas. The team is overanalyzed to the point the 89-63 drubbing of Texas Tech raised questions, simply because the Jayhawks failed to expand much on a 24-point halftime lead, causing Self to question their killer instinct.
   Despite all the issues, Kansas has the ingredients to be a special team. For some of the overmatched clubs in the Big 12, like Texas Tech, the Jayhawks are already at that point.
   --By holding Texas Tech to 32.8 percent shooting, including 20 percent in the first half, Kansas limited an opponent to worse than 40 percent for the 13th time in 17 games. The 89-63 romp marked the 10th win by a margin of 25 or more points.
   --Kansas dominated the glass against Texas Tech, gaining a 48-37 advantage. That included 19 offensive rebounds the Jayhawks converted into 20 second-chance points while also netting 34 points in the paint.
   ON THE SPOT: One of the questions posed after the win over Baylor was if Kansas relies too much on G Sherron Collins, especially in crunch time. Collins has scored at least 22 points in four of the past five games. With a deep and versatile roster, the Jayhawks have loads of options, and they need to make sure the other players don't spend too much time just watching Collins late in games. But as Cole Aldrich said: "That is the thing that comes with his territory -- when you're the leader of the team, you have to do that. Sherron is the point guard, the leader, the general of our team -- we look to him to make big shots, but he loves it. He enjoys being in that position."
   QUOTE TO NOTE: "We traded baskets (against Texas Tech) and that sickens me from a competitive standpoint. We forced 14 turnovers in the first half and only two in the second half. It was a bad defensive performance (in the second half), but still we played well enough to win." -- Kansas coach Bill Self.

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