Archive for Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Making merry

Kansas pulls away, ensures jolly break

Kansas guard Sherron Collins roars after knocking down a bucket late in the second half to increase the Jayhawks' lead against California, Tuesday, Dec. 22, 2009 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas guard Sherron Collins roars after knocking down a bucket late in the second half to increase the Jayhawks' lead against California, Tuesday, Dec. 22, 2009 at Allen Fieldhouse.

December 23, 2009


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KU vs. California

Five Jayhawks scored in double figures in KU's victory over California Tuesday, Dec. 22, 2009 at Allen Fieldhouse.

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Kansas University basketball coach Bill Self had a message for the 200 or so fans who lined the northwest tunnel of Allen Fieldhouse seeking autographs a half hour after Tuesday night’s 84-69 victory over California.

“Merry Christmas, everybody,” Self bellowed.

“Merry Christmas, coach,” came the reply from the throng, guaranteed a happy holiday thanks to a strong second half in which No. 1-ranked KU outscored Cal, 44-30, in busting open a tense one-point game.

The Golden Bears (6-4), who entered as preseason favorites to win the Pac-10 Conference, looked like Grinches in disguise in opening leads of 7-2, 14-8 and 26-21.

“I think it is the first time,” senior guard Sherron Collins said, asked if the Jayhawks (11-0) felt pressure as the country’s top-ranked team for the first time all year.

“Especially getting down early in the game. It was one of those thoughts, ‘Somebody’s got to get going, or it’ll be a long night playing these guys.’”

The combination of Brady Morningstar and Markieff Morris was responsible for six straight points in turning a 49-48 lead into a seven-point advantage with 13:43 to play.

Morningstar lobbed a pass to Morris over the Cal defense, which the power forward caught, then went up and flushed for a dunk. He then fired a bullet pass, which Morris corralled and dropped in the hoop Morningstar then hit a jumper, forcing Cal coach Mike Montgomery to call a timeout.

“That’s Brady being Brady,” Collins said of Morningstar, who had seven points and seven assists against two turnovers and also helped hold Cal’s Patrick Christopher (21 points) to 1-of-4 three-point shooting the second half. “Coach told us to get it to the big men, and Brady did that.”

Cal, which trailed, 57-49, after Xavier Henry hit a shot off a pass from Morningstar, lagged just 60-56 and 68-63 with 7:29 to play.

That’s when another combo, Tyshawn Taylor and Marcus Morris, came through.

Taylor found Morris for back-to-back layups, and Collins hit a huge three to open a 75-63 advantage at 4:51. Those two hoops keyed a 16-4 run that gave KU an 84-67 lead in the final minute.

“We never doubt. We weren’t going to lose,” Morningstar said.

It seems the Jayhawks, who had all five starters hit for double digits in points, were fired up after No. 2-ranked Texas closed the gap a bit on No. 1 KU in the AP poll last week.

“We just want to win, point-blank,” said Collins, who led KU with 17 points. “A lot of people were saying we’re not worthy of being No. 1. We’re supposed to lose or they’ve got us losing. We took it in. We took it personal. We wanted to show everybody we’re No. 1.”

Taylor, who had 13 points, seven assists and one turnover, also felt snubbed by the pollsters.

“I guess there could be a couple different No. 1 teams,” he said, “but they gave it to us, and I don’t think they should take it away from us until we lose. I felt this was a game we had to come out and make a statement, ‘Listen, we’re No. 1 for a reason,’ so that’s what we did.”

The Jayhawks played well enough to go home for the holidays feeling great about themselves.

“That was great basketball in the second half,” Self said. “This was by far the best we’ve executed offensively when it mattered, and it doesn’t hurt when you shoot the heck out of the ball (55 percent, 73.1 the second half).”

Self said a key was the play of Morningstar.

“Not good, great,” he said of Morningstar’s performance. “He showed up, and his stats were great. He plays 21 minutes and has seven points on four shots. He has seven assists, two steals and did the best job on Christopher hands down.”

Self said the win will prove valuable down the line.

“They could win the Pac-10,” Self said of the Bears. “I thought Cal played great.”

The Jayhawks are now free to hit the road for Christmas. Next practice is Saturday night. Next game is Tuesday versus Belmont in an 8 p.m. tipoff in Allen.

“It’ll make for a great trip tomorrow,” Chicago native Collins stated.


davidsmom 8 years, 5 months ago

I think the "Texas is #1" mentality won't go away until the Jayhawks start playing well and having big wins on the road, not just at home. It's easier for anybody to win at home. Go, Jayhawks!

Christine Pennewell Davis 8 years, 5 months ago

hope they all have a good break and enjoy the hilidays. Cole hope you get home in time to see grandma.

Christine Pennewell Davis 8 years, 5 months ago

hey did not have glasses on, could not find, plus was still asleep you know me always got to mess something up when posting:)

Christine Pennewell Davis 8 years, 5 months ago

PS consumer still took a couple min. to figure out what you meant. gonna be a long day at this rate.

Jim Williamson 8 years, 5 months ago

Texas has a ton of talent, but they're not a very good team yet. They have a lot of stuff to straighten out. And don't point to North Cackalacky, either. They're in the same boat and, for some reason, left their defense in Chapel Hill.

hesshawk 8 years, 5 months ago

I didn't get to see or hear the 1st half, but the 2nd half was a great half of BB. Don't want to rain on the parade, but does it seem sometimes they turn the switch on and off ? Absolutely can't do that any more. I hope I'm just seeing things that aren't there.

Rock Chalk

jonas_opines 8 years, 5 months ago

"I think the “Texas is #1” mentality won't go away until the Jayhawks start playing well and having big wins on the road, not just at home."

It might not. I've watched both teams multiple times so far this year and as far as I'm concerned, a mouse could starve on the difference in depth and talent between the two programs. We have more perimeter scoring, they have Damian James.

I think we'll lose to them in Austin, and probably K-State in Bramlage.

1029 8 years, 5 months ago

Texas has James. That's about it. I'd take KU's depth any day. I've only watched a few Texas games all the way through, but I haven't been that impressed at all.

You can't say Texas should be #1 just because they've had the opportunity to play NC and Michigan St. So what? They weren't overly impressive against either team. They definitely weren't that impressive against Pitt when they played at the Sprint Center last month. A lousy Pitt team hung with them the whole game until self-destructing midway throught the second half.

It's possible that KU might lose to them in Austin (my money's still on KU though), but it will probably be like '06, '07, '08 come Big 12 tournament time. Texas will always be second-best as long as they're in the same conference as KU.

Armen Kurdian 8 years, 5 months ago

I don't buy into the "KU hasn't played anybody" mentality. Memphis, UCLA, Michigan, & Cal are not pushovers. And say what you want about Radford & LaSalle, but they did win their conferences last year and did play in the tourney. Looking forward to Knoxville...

Mike Cohen 8 years, 5 months ago

Let Texas have the #1 ranking. Let them deal with all the BS and distractions that come with it. Then when we beat them and take it back, there will be no doubt which team is more deserving.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 8 years, 5 months ago

I think they'll show dramatic improvement over the next several games. Self has been trying to sort through this very deep lineup, while dealing with suspensions, injuries, illness and getting up to speed several key players new to his system.

He appears to be settling into a 9-man rotation, which will get 90% of the playing time-- Aldrich, the twins and Robinson up front, and Collins, Taylor, Reid and Morningstar at guard, with Henry playing guard/small forward.

Withey, CJ Henry and Johnson will probably see a fair amount of playing time, but probably no more that 5-6 minutes each a game.

Henry and Collins will probably be neck and neck as far as the leading scorer, but probably not much more than 16 points a game. The entire starting lineup might average in double figures.

Right now, I think it's a tossup between KU and Texas, but I think KU as more potential.

Jeff Kilgore 8 years, 5 months ago

California shot well, played well, were quick to the ball, challenged loose balls, stood up to the intense pressure, held off numerous rallies, but finally didn't have enough to win. Perhaps they won't win the Pac-10, but they look like an NCAA tourney team to me. I thought that it was a great game!

The Texas question? It's a good thing, not a distraction. Being rated highly come with greatness. Let the excitement build! It's good to have so many Big XII teams playing well this year. Hopefully, we're both undefeated in February, though that's probably a stretch.

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