Think before you speak: Morris twins and No. 2 Kansas silence critics
By Kip Reiserer
January 19, 2011
Marcus and Markieff Morris combined for 44 points in front of a national audience in Kansas' 85-65 win over Baylor on Monday night.
After squeaking by Nebraska at home this past weekend, the forums and media started filling up with nonsense about, "Which game will Kansas drop?" Many said it would be Monday night's showdown in Waco against the Baylor Bears. Needless to say, they predicted wrong.
On a night where NBA scouts packed the Ferrell Center, Marcus Morris led the Jayhawks with 25 points on 10-of-14 shooting and Markieff followed with 19 points on 7-of-8 shooting. Freshman Josh Selby dropped 12 points and Tyrel Reed finished with 11. Mario Little also had a quiet 10 points.
Baylor's infamous zone defense was supposed to shut down the Kansas offense due to the inability of the Jayhawks to work in the ball inside. It's true that Kansas had struggled against the zone in previous games against Michigan and Iowa State. But you shouldn't forget who coaches the Kansas Jayhawks.
Bill Self, one of the best coaches in college basketball, found a way to make sure the Morris twins weren't shut down. Self has put a lot of trust in the Morris twins, who have more than proved that they can shoot from distance, to step back over 3-point line and drain uncontested shots.
Baylor had no answer for Kansas defensively as the Morris twins scored 18 straight points for the Jayhawks towards the end of the first half. The Bears were stunned towards and you could tell by the look on their faces that they had completely underestimated the strength and endurance of Kansas.
Baylor head coach Scott Drew said it best when ESPN reporter Holly Rowe interviewed him before going into the locker room at halftime. "I think Kansas got ticked off when the nation called them the worst 17-0 team and they are taking it out on us, " Drew said.
They say you shouldn't listen to the media and read the blogs, but Kansas and the Morris twins turned the criticism into a positive thing.
"I feel like nobody gives us credit. I feel those games that were close this year, people really thought we were supposed to lose those games. There was a lot of talk how we'd come down here and lose," Marcus added. "We keep those things to ourselves. We're a big family team. I love my guys. We go out and play hard every night."
And play hard they did. Even when Baylor tried to make runs to cut into the Kansas lead, another Jayhawk was always there to keep Baylor down. Whether it was Tyrel Reed draining a 3-pointer or Josh Selby coming up with a steal and getting transition buckets, the Jayhawks wouldn't allow Baylor to come back.
Not only could the KU starters destroy the zone, but every man who came off of the bench could as well. The Jayhawks shot 71 percent on 23-of-29 from the field in the first half, Kansas' best first half shooting percentage in the Bill Self era and the best for the Jayhawks since the 1990-1991 season.
Baylor slowed KU down a bit at the start of the second half, but the Jayhawks adjusted to hit a season high 65 percent on 35-for-56 shooting from the field for the night.
"That was by far as well as we've played in a half," Self said. "In the second half (during which BU cut the gap to 12), when they went with that little 3/4 zone press, we were content to get it across instead of attacking."
So what does this tell us?
Kansas is not going to blow out every team it plays. It's simply not going to happen. But KU has won every close game it has played, right? And that's all that matter when it comes to the win column. If you look back on the 2007-2008 national championship season, do you think to yourself, "Man, I wonder how much they won every game by?"
A win is a win no matter if it's by one point or 50. Is Kansas bound to lose? Sure, KU could lose a game or two. But before you boldly predict a Kansas loss, make sure you're certain. Because criticism to the Jayhawks is fuel to the fire.