Morris brothers carry Kansas to blowout
In a victory that might nudge Kansas from No. 2 to No. 1, twin brothers came within one basket of twin stats.
Marcus Morris had 16 points and 11 rebounds as the Jayhawks piled up a big early lead and cruised past Iowa State 89-66 on Saturday, just hours after No. 1 Ohio State lost. The 6-foot-9 Markieff Morris, one inch taller and 7 minutes older, had 14 points and 11 rebounds for his Big 12-leading ninth double-double.
Coupled with the previously unbeaten Buckeyes' 71-67 loss to No. 13 Wisconsin, the win could put the Jayhawks (24-1, 9-1 Big 12) atop the AP poll for the first time this season.
''I want to be No. 1,'' Marcus Morris said. ''I want to have that chip on our shoulder every time we go out. I want to be the one that gets everybody's best shot because I believe we can take it.''
The Jayhawks are no stranger to No. 1. They held the top spot for 14 weeks in the regular season last year. So far this season, their only loss was a 74-63 setback against then-No. 10 Texas on Jan. 22 that ended their school-record home court winning streak at 69.
''I think last year we took (being No. 1) for granted,'' said Tyshawn Taylor, who had 14 points and six assists in Kansas' 12th straight victory over Iowa State. ''We came out and thought we were going to win every game.''
The Cyclones, the Big 12's leading 3-point shooters, went 14 of 32 from beyond the arc, including six straight at one point, but couldn't recover from a 23-4 run that enabled the Jayhawks to take a 45-26 halftime lead.
Since squeaking past Colorado 82-78 on Jan. 25, the Jayhawks have won every game by at least 17 points. Against the Cyclones (14-11, 1-9) they shot 52 percent, had 24 assists and only nine turnovers, and committed just seven fouls. As a result, Iowa State went to the line only twice.
''I think we moved the ball pretty well and shared it,'' Kansas coach Bill Self said. ''We've been like this the last six games. We've really shared the ball pretty well the last six games.''
Scott Christopherson had 16 points and Melvin Ejim added 13 for the Cyclones.
''That's the best team we've played so far, by far,'' Christopherson said. ''We haven't played Ohio State. We haven't played some other teams. In my opinion, I think there's four or five teams that are probably ahead of everybody else, and I think Kansas is one of those.''
Jamie Vanderbeken had seven points in just 10 minutes for Iowa State but went out with a severely sprained left ankle.
''It's a tough blow, obviously, for us, as thin as we are, to have one of our key guys go down early in the game,'' coach Fred Hoiberg said. ''It makes it tough. I thought he was one of the few battling out there early.''
Cyclones trainer Victor Miller said he was unsure when Vanderbeken might be back.
''To the best of my knowledge it's not a break, but we're going to keep him in the boot just in case,'' he said.
The game was decided with Kansas' big run in the first half. After Vanderbeken canned a 3-pointer, Taylor hit a 3 for Kansas and ignited the 23-4 spree against the outmanned Cyclones, who have lost nine of 10 after starting 14-2 in Hoiberg's first season.
After Taylor's 3-pointer, the third straight for the Jayhawks, Mario Little stole a pass and Markieff Morris converted for two points on the other end. A moment later, Markieff hit a 3-pointer, then Little scored to make it 20-10.
Brady Morningstar stole a pass and drove in for a Kansas basket, then on Iowa State's next possession, Tyrel Reed stole the ball and fed Marcus Morris, who was fouled and hit one free throw.
Marcus' soft jumper put Kansas on top 25-12, then Markieff blocked an Iowa State shot and Elijah Johnson drove in for a bucket, got fouled and made the free throw for a 30-12 lead.
Christopherson's first 3-pointer gave him at least one in 27 straight games, tying the Iowa State record set by Mike Taylor from 2006-07.
''I think it's something that maybe when I'm done playing, I'll look back and say, `That was cool,''' he said. ''Right now, we just got beat by 25 or 30 points, so who really cares?''
Morningstar, shooting 3 of 4 from beyond the arc, had 13 points. Jake Anderson and Diante Garrett each had 12 points for Iowa State. Kansas, which came in leading the nation in shooting at 52.4 percent, finished just below that number. The taller Jayhawks outrebounded Iowa State 43-31.