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
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
"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
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.
--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
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.
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."
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.
McMorris Taking No Prisoners
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