Chicago — Kentucky's beefy 6-foot-11 junior center Randolph Morris was whistled for his third foul two minutes into the second half, and it was as if a roadblock vanished.
"I think our players probably sensed we've got a golden opportunity," Kansas University coach Bill Self said. "Now we've got to make the most of it."
Morris headed to the bench with 17:57 left in KU's 88-76 victory over UK on Sunday in the United Center.
KU freshman guard Sherron Collins called it "a green-light thing" when Morris' big body was parked on the bench.
The lane became clearer, which led to drives that resulted in dishes to the outside for a bevy of made three-pointers and mid-range jumpers.
For KU's offensive gameplan, it was the perfect storm.
In the more than five minutes that evaporated while Morris was on the bench, KU outscored UK, 15-4.
With considerably less obstruction, sophomore Julian Wright scored six points inside, and fellow sophomore Brandon Rush hit two of his six threes via kickouts, thanks to dribble-drive penetration from the Jayhawks' guards.
"We felt like we could get in the paint a little more," Wright said. "Also, just guys stepping up and making shots, we got our transition going pretty well. I think that was a big key for us."
After Morris returned, UK junior guard Ramel Bradley had to plop on the bench with foul issues of his own. It kept Kentucky from cutting away much a six-point halftime deficit.
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"I thought that was real key because we made some big plays with those guys on the bench," Self said. "And next thing you know, when they get back in the game, they're down double figures instead of it being a one- or two-possession game."
Morris' final numbers still looked decent.
He scored a game-high 22 points and had eight rebounds, but it was a quiet 22 points. He scored just four field goals, two of them coming in the first 79 seconds, and was forced to earn it the hard way, converting 14 of 16 free throws.
While sending Morris to the line on six occasions in the second half worked in breaking up Kentucky's offensive strategy, it was unintentional.
And it's not a plan of attack the Jayhawks want to repeat again.
"Coach is still a little disappointed because we put him on the (free-throw) line too much," Wright said. "We did want to make him earn it, but still we want to be a little smarter with our defense and make him shoot over our length rather than foul."
2006-07 March 18 KU-UK Hoops
- Bill Self talks outside of the KU locker room after advancing his team to the Sweet 16 for the first time since 2004
- Brandon Rush talks after going 6-of-7 from three-point range
- Darnell Jackson talks about advancing to the tournament's second weekend for the first time in his career
- Julian Wright talks following his big 21-point afternoon against Kentucky
- Mario Chalmers talks about KU's big second half in pulling away from UK
- Sasha Kaun talks about KU's big men going toe-to-toe with UK's Randolph Morris
- Sherron Collins talks after going 2-0 in three days in front of friends and family
- THREE-MENDOUS! (03-19-07)
- Self, Jayhawks familiar with SIU (03-19-07)
- KU impresses UK's Smith (03-19-07)
- Kansas basketball notebook (03-19-07)
- KU took over as Morris sat (03-19-07)
- California, here we come (03-19-07)
- Game draws diverse crowd, some from KU's past (03-19-07)
- KU fans go the distance for their team (03-19-07)
- Keegan: KU sophs living up to billing (03-19-07)
- 6Sports video: Kansas pulls away with 2nd half run (03-18-07)
- 6Sports video: Super soph's lead the way in KU's victory (03-18-07)
- 6Sports video: Jayhawk alums watch in support (03-18-07)
- 6Sports video: KU headed west for Sweet 16 (03-18-07)
- 6Sports video: Traveling fans proud of 'Hawks' performance (03-18-07)
- 6Sports video: Faithful fans keep hopes of a KU championship (03-18-07)
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