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January 17, 2011
Kansas crushes Baylor
Many predicted No. 2 Kansas (18-0; 3-0) to lose its first game of the year Monday night when they took on a struggling Baylor Bears (12-5; 2-2). The Jayhawks weren't impressive in a close win over Nebraska, and Baylor was juiced for the biggest home game of the season, but in the first half Marcus Morris and Markieff Morris combined for 28 points and Kansas would go on to dominate in an 85-65 win.
It wasn't as though Kansas played a team with equal talent and certainly nowhere equal depth as a whole, but Baylor was expected to come out and play its best game of the season.
Baylor played well, hitting 48-percent from the field for the game, but Kansas was just that much better.
The Jayhawks, led by Marcus Morris' 25 points, opened up a big first half lead after hitting 79-percent of their shots in the first half and 62-percent for the game.
It's as focused as KU has been all year, getting double digits from five players, including 19 from Markieff Morris, 12 points from freshman Josh Selby, 11 from Tyrel Reed, and 10 off the bench from Mario Little.
Once again, however, it was the Morris twins who put on a show. Kansas moved the ball with precision against the Baylor zone, and the Morris bros., were all over the glass on the few missed shots, particularly in the second half, and when they took their turn, both hit from everywhere on the court.
After Tyrel Reed dribbled towards the middle of the court, Markieff Morris flared to the corner for a three, and on another possession, Baylor freshman Perry Jones mistakenly left Marcus Morris alone on the wing for a three.
Jones led Baylor with 20 points, most of which coming on dunks and from the free throw line. His athleticism is undeniable and although he is still somewhat raw against similar talent, Jones is a clear lottery pick whenever he chooses to leave school.
In attendance, 35 NBA scouts witnessed three big men who will, at some point either this year or next, be first round draft picks, and arguable four if you throw in sophomore forward Thomas Robinson, who has showed plenty of flashes of his own greatness this season.
In the second half, after Baylor was able to cut the lead to 13, Kansas went on another run to push the lead back out to 18 before taking over for good, hovering around a 20-point spread.
Baylor's defense was much better in the second half, forcing Kansas into sloppy offensive possessions while Self used various lineups due to slight foul trouble, but mainly to rest the twins, who had played the majority of the game.
Freshman Josh Selby, coming off a terrible performance against Nebraska, finished nicely for the Jayhawks, canning two three's, as well as making several nice baskets after taking it strong to the hoop.
Perhaps the biggest key to KU's success was the stellar defensive performance from junior guard Tyshawn Taylor, who for most of the game, was called upon to slow down the conference's top scorer, LaceDarius Dunn. At 22 points per game, Dunn is a scary shooter who can light it up in a hurry.
Taylor, along with fellow guards Selby, Elijah Johnson, Reed, and Brady Morningstar, made it difficult for Dunn to get any clear looks at the basket. He would finish with 13 points on just 3-of-9 from the floor, and six of his 13 from the free throw line.
Aside from Perry Jones, wing Anthony Jones was a key player in Baylor's second half resurgence, hitting all three of his outside shot attempts and recording 17 points in all.
Next up for Kansas is a Saturday tilt with Texas in Lawrence, Kan.
A win for the Jayhawks would help put a stranglehold on the Big 12 lead, as Texas A&M, who plays Texas on Wednesday, also must travel to Lawrence to take on Kansas.