Big Run Boosts Hawks Past Huskers

Defense, an energizing Allen Field House crowd and a huge second-half spurt lifted #1-ranked Kansas (22-1 overall, 8-0 Big 12) out of a four-point hole and up to a 19-point lead and the Jayhawks hung for a 75-64 win over the determined Nebraska Cornhuskers (13-10, 1-7).

Marcus Morris continued to play unconscious, collecting yet another double-double (20 and 11) scoring. Five of his rebounds were on the offensive end of the floor.

Sherron Collins had 17 points on 5-of-11 shooting (4-of-6 from behind the arc) and six assists against just three turnovers. They were the only two in double figures.

Xavier Henry and Markieff Morris had nine points each. Cole Aldrich had eight points, six rebounds and four blocked shots.

Kansas got off to a 20-13 lead in the first eight minutes of the game, shooting 70 percent from the field in the process.

Foul trouble among KU's bigs kept the Bugeaters in it in the first half, however. Markieff Morris came off the bench and took all of 1:11 to commit three personal fouls and go right back. Cole Aldrich earned a seat for the rest of the period when he committed his second foul with 13:51 left.

"The first half, I don't think we're going to look good against anyone with Cole and Markieff combine for no points and no rebounds in seven minutes," Jayhawks head coach Bill Self said.

"Our ball screen defense was terrible in the first half," Self continued, "But I thought Nebraska played really well."

Reserve Jeff Withey filled in admirably on the low blocks for Kansas and allowed KU to take a 37-33 lead into the locker room.

"I thought Jeff played great. He bailed us out, really," KU coach Bill Self said. Withey had four points, six rebounds and two blocks in just nine minutes of play.

The first half wasn't totally devoid of excitement, though. Kansas coach Bill Self threw a clot with just 19 seconds left when Xavier Henry committed a turnover while a Nebraska Cornhusker encouraged him to lay down on the floor awhile. Henry sustained a small cut on his temple in the scrum. Self wanted a foul; the officials didn't see it that way. On the next dead ball, Self was several feet out on the court, performing an informal and very vocal evaluation of the officiating crew's performance.

Nebraska started the second half on a 10-2 run to take a 43-39 lead. Bill Self had seen enough and called a 30-second time out to regroup. And by "regroup," I mean "punch Nebraska in the mouth."

Sherron Collins made a long three on a set play out of the timeout. That kicked off a backbreaking 28-5 run over the next 10 minutes. Kansas moved the ball better, made more shots and played perhaps the most stifling defense of the entire season. The coach even had to agree.

"(For that span) We played great. We played for 10 minutes about as well as we have at any point," Self said.

"The crowd always has something to do with (big runs). That was probably 50 percent. The other part of it was, we just woke up. We just realized that they'd come to fight. We just came back and played our ball," Collin said.

Once KU had a 67-48 lead, however, the lack of a killer instinct showed up again. Nebraska outscored the Jayhawks 16-8 over the last five minutes of the game, which didn't seem over until Sherron Collins made two free throws with 44 seconds left to put KU up 11 or, perhaps more importantly, four possessions.

Self was annoyed that, once again, his team couldn't sweep the leg and finish the Huskers.

He said, "We had 'em down 19, and two bad plays in a row led to six points. We kinda played to the score there late."

Collins said that he and his teammates are responsible for that.

"It's us. It ain't got nothin' to do with Coach. It's something we gotta do, as players," Collins said.

Kansas gutted out their third straight tough win, and life doesn't get any easier: they will travel to Austin to take on Texas (19-4, 5-3) on Big Monday. The #9-ranked Fighting Bovines will be understandably crotchety, having lost of a woefully underachieving Oklahoma team Saturday afternoon, 80-71, in Norman.

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