Kansas Seals Outright Big 12 Title With 70-66 Win Over Missouri
March 5, 2011
COLUMBIA, Mo. – A powerful inside combination of Marcus Morris, Thomas Robinson and Markieff Morris propelled the University of Kansas men’s basketball team to a 70-66 win over the Missouri Tigers, Saturday, at Mizzou Arena.
The win sealed Kansas’ fourth-straight outright Big 12 regular season title with a 14-2 conference mark. Missouri fell to 22-9 overall and 8-8 in the league. The KU win gave the Jayhawks an overall record of 29-2 and snapped a 17-game home winning streak for the Tigers.
Kansas turned the ball over a season-high 24 times, but it was more than overcome by the Jayhawks’ strong inside play combined with atrocious Tiger three-point shooting. Kansas’ big men combined for 46 points and out-rebounded Missouri 49-29, while the Tigers settled for 3-of-23 shooting from long range.
Sloppy and careless play with the basketball was really the theme from the opening buzzer. Kansas controlled the tip but only after the ball was batted around with players from both teams diving for possession. Markieff Morris finally gathered it for KU only to see his shot blocked by Matt Pressey of Missouri.
After Pressey’s brother Phil wildly missed a three-point attempt off the glass, Markieff then launched a pass intended for twin Marcus that nearly sailed over backboard. Markieff, however, was able to track down the loose ball and get it back to his brother who converted a traditional three-point play.
Kansas got its lead up to 7-0 on an alley-oop from Marcus Morris to Elijah Johnson and another Johnson bucket in transition off a steal to force the first timeout from the Tigers with 17:17 on the clock.
After starting 0-4 from the field with two turnovers, Missouri finally got on the board at 16:16 on a bucket from Laurence Bowers.
Missouri looked to push the tempo and found some success at the free throw line as Kansas picked up five early fouls. The Tigers converted 6-of-7 free throws to narrow the KU lead and then took their first lead of 12-11 on a jumper from Kim English at the 12:11 mark. Kansas was forced to take its first timeout as head coach Bill Self wanted to talk to his team about the seven turnovers already committed.
Although Missouri was playing the game it wanted – creating Jayhawk turnovers and forcing the tempo offensively – Kansas was mostly keeping its composure mentally. At 9:09, Markieff Morris reclaimed the lead for KU on another traditional three-point play.
Despite all the physical mistakes (KU committed 14 turnovers in the half) the Jayhawks were able to extend their lead to as many as 10 points in the period when they led 30-20 with 4:02 left. Missouri ended the half on an 11-2 run as Bowers tipped in a last second shot and the teams headed to the locker room to regroup with KU leading 32-31.
Marcus Morris and Bowers were the top scorers in the period with 10 each. Kansas shot 46 percent in the half compared to just 29 percent for MU. Missouri made just one of 10 three-point shots while the Jayhawks were just 1-of-5. The Jayhawks were outscored at the free-throw line 14-5.
Mizzou’s Bowers hit the first bucket of the second half to excite the crowd and give the Tigers a brief lead. The Jayhawks continued to remain calm and immediately retook the lead on a bucket from Marcus Morris. It was a lead KU would never lose again.
While Kansas pounded the ball to big men Thomas Robinson, Marcus Morris and Markieff Morris, the Tigers seemed content to keep shooting threes – most of which they missed.
Halfway through the second half, MU had made just one of 16 attempted three pointers and put the Jayhawks in the double bonus, which was more than making up for Kansas’ excessive turnovers. Kansas’ lead swelled to 11 at the 8:26 point with the Jayhawks up 50-39 after a Marcus Morris lay up.
Missouri tried to close the gap but never could. In the final minutes, Missouri’s Marcus Denman hit a three to cut it four. The mostly-gold arena was at a frenzy anticipating the Tigers would make the full comeback.
Self called for a timeout with 1:16 left. After some instructions, Kansas came out and, after mostly abandoning the three-point shot for most of the game, got one from long range from Tyrel Reed to boost the lead back to seven.
From there it was desperation time for Missouri as Kansas won the game 70-66. The win sealed Kansas’ fourth-straight outright Big 12 title.
Kansas’ inside line up of Robinson and the Morris twins combined for 46 points and 31 rebounds with 27 points and 19 rebounds of that production coming during the second half.
Marcus Morris took top scoring honors with 21 points to go with 13 boards for his sixth double-double of the season. Robinson also had a double-double with 15 points and 13 rebounds.
For Missouri, Bowers led in scoring with 22 followed by Denmon with 19.
The win was KU’s fifth-straight over Missouri.
Kansas ends the regular season 29-2 heading into next week’s Big 12 Championship at Kansas City’s Sprint Center. The Jayhawks will have the No. 1 seed and will face the winner of the 8/9 game on Thursday. Check kuathletics.com for updates.