No. 2 Kansas 77, Missouri 56

Chasing a loose ball, Marcus Morris collided with Marcus Denmon

and fell backward. His head hit a courtside table with an audible

thud, causing a quiet hush to come over the rowdy Missouri

fans.

Morris lay on the court for several minutes, then gingerly

walked to locker room amid respectful applause. He returned to

finish up a double-double, and the second-ranked Jayhawks went on

to beat rival Missouri 77-56 on Saturday.

“I’ve been around him for a while and that’s probably the

safest place he can get hit and not get hurt,” Kansas coach Bill

Self said.

Self can joke now. Morris is fine, his team won and the Jayhawks

appear to be headed for a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament.

Kansas (29-2, 15-1 Big 12) responded to Missouri’s initial

flurry with a 16-0 run to lead by 16 in the first half, then put

together a 20-4 spurt after Morris’ injury to beat Missouri for the

eighth time in nine games. The Jayhawks shot 52 percent after a

shaky start and will head into next week’s Big 12 tournament one

victory from joining Kentucky and North Carolina in the 2,000-win

club.

Morris had 12 points and 10 rebounds, Tyshawn Taylor scored all

of his 13 points in the second half to go with six assists and five

rebounds, and Sherron Collins added 12 points to help Kansas build

its case as the No. 1 overall seed in the NCAA tournament.

“I think the last few games we’ve been playing really well and

now it’s time to see who really steps up and what we can do as a

team,” Taylor said. “If we can continue to play how we’ve been

playing as a team, the chips will fall into place.”

Missouri (22-9, 10-6) struggled with Kansas’ depth and size

inside for the second time this season. Playing without Justin

Safford (knee), who had a career-high 19 points against the

Jayhawks in January, the Tigers gave up 42 in the paint and were

outrebounded 45-28 in their final home game.

Missouri also had a rare unproductive day from its bench (eight

points), hit 3 of 22 from 3-point range and had too many lulls in a

game of spurts. Kim English had 16 points to lead the defending Big

12 tournament champions.

“It was one of those games where you can’t have too much go

wrong and we had some opportunities and just couldn’t cash in on

them,” Missouri coach Mike Anderson said. “It’s nothing against

our guys. We just couldn’t put it all together.”

The Jayhawks wrapped up their sixth straight Big 12

regular-season title with an emotional win over rival Kansas State

on Wednesday night in Collins’ final game at Allen Fieldhouse.

That left the Jayhawks with two days to get ready for another

rival.

Kansas manhandled Missouri their last meeting, holding the

Tigers to 27 percent shooting and grabbing a 56-28 rebounding

advantage in an 84-65 rout.

Back at home, where they were 16-1 this season, the Tigers

seemed ready for Kansas.

Riding the emotion of Senior Day – J.T. Tiller, Zaire Taylor and

Keith Ramsey were honored before the game – Missouri swarmed the

Jayhawks early, getting them to force up shots against pressure and

breaking out for easy baskets.

The euphoria didn’t last long.

Working the ball inside, Kansas got six straight points from

Markieff Morris, then seven straight from Marcus. The inside

success opened up the outside and the Jayhawks started making shots

from everywhere.

Collins put the finishing touches on the 16-0 half-closing run,

scoring the final eight points to put the Jayhawks up 40-24.

“Guys probably got tired,” said Ramsey, who had eight points

and six rebounds in his final home game. “They’re a good team and

we knew they were going to make a run. Just not a 16-point

run.”

Missouri still had some fight, using its defense to create

turnovers and easy shots to open with a 16-4 run, pulling within

44-40 on Tiller’s three-point play on a hard drive.

It got worse for Kansas seconds later when Marcus Morris slammed

his head on the table.

But the Jayhawks rallied after seeing their teammate go down,

reeling off the second big run that included consecutive 3-pointers

by Tyrel Reed. By the time Morris returned with just over 5 minutes

left, Kansas was well in control and looking toward bigger

goals.

“I’ve been pleased that our guys haven’t gotten ecstatic,”

Self said. “We’ve had a couple of big road wins where there’s a

little bit of celebrating in the locker room, but for the most part

they’ve had a pretty mature approach. Hopefully, we’ve got another

gear we can get it in because now’s the time we need it.”