A Fresh Start

Bill Self admits his No. 1 Jayhawks have been a tired team lately. KU, indeed, has labored the last two weeks in such victories over Colorado, Nebraska, Iowa State and Texas A&M. To help remedy the situation and "for us to play fresh and play with great energy ... to start the game," the KU head coach is inserting a familiar face back in the starting lineup.

That's 6-3 sophomore guard Tyshawn Taylor, who hasn't started since KU's road victory at Texas Tech on Jan. 16.

Taylor will replace junior guard Brady Morningstar.

"I think Brady can handle it either way just fine, but we need a little bit more speed and more oomph starting the game, and hopefully Tyshawn can help deliver on that," Self said.

Self added that starting Taylor is definitely no knock on Morningstar, who has played well, according to the head man.

"I love coaching him and he's been great for us," Self said of Morningstar. "I just think we got to get more out of Tyshawn moving forward, for us to have a chance to do what we want to do.

"He's got to become one of the premier players on our team. Doing this with him, I'm hoping will get to that point, and I know it's not going to hurt Brady. This is what we're going to do, at least short-term wise to see if that works a little bit better."

Self said Taylor adds a whole new dimension to the Jayhawks.

"Tyshawn is a guy that makes plays you can't coach, "Self said. "He's a difference maker from a speed standpoint and that kind of stuff. We really need to focus on getting him playing at the level he can play at, and I think he's well on his way of doing that.

"... He's trying real hard. When he hasn't played well, it certainly hasn't been because he's not totally into it and with us. ... I thought our team was its best the last two games (against Texas A&M and Iowa State) when Tyshawn was in the game."

Taylor, who started the second half against the Aggies Monday night in place of Morningstar, scored four points with two assists and one steal in 22 minutes versus A&M, and recorded seven points, four assists and one steal in 18 minutes against the Cyclones.

He's averaging 6.8 points and 3.2 assists in 22.3 minutes per game, while shooting 43.9 percent from the field and 33.3 percent from three-point range. Last year, Taylor averaged 9.7 points and 3.0 assists in 26.5 minutes per game, while making 50.6 percent of his field goal attempts (56 percent in Big 12 play) and 36.4 percent from beyond the arc.

The New Jersey native, who has started 15 of 26 games this season compared to 33 of 35 contests last year, is ready for his new, yet familiar role in the starting five.

"I feel like it's always good to start, but I think I've been playing well coming off the bench," Taylor said. "This is something coach wanted to do. I'm happy. I just want to make the best of the opportunity."

He said that his demotion to the bench a month ago "was definitely a motivation factor just to see how much he (Self) could get out of me coming off the bench. .... I don't think it's that big a deal (starting). I think it's more who finishes."

Taylor said his role will be the same as it's been the last month coming off the pine.

"To bring energy, pressure the ball, just to be aggressive," he said.

Junior center Cole Aldrich welcomes the contributions of both Taylor and Morningstar.

"I think it's good," Aldrich said of Taylor back as a starter. "I like Brady in the starting lineup, too, just anybody that gives us the best chance of winning. Brady and Tyshawn will totally agree, just going out there and playing. That's what it's all about, not if you're starting or you're coming off the bench, but as long as you're playing and you're out there helping us win."

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