Morris Leads Kansas To Big 12 Tournament Title

March 13, 2010

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Marcus Morris scored 18 points to lead Kansas to its fourth Big 12 Tournament Championship in the last five years as the Jayhawks defeated Kansas State 72-64 Saturday. Kansas claimed both the regular season title and the tournament championship this season.

KU has won seven Big 12 Championship titles and 11 postseason league tournament championships. Previous Big 12 tournament titles by KU include three straight victories against Texas from 2006-08 and the first three championships conducted by the Big 12 from 1997-99.

The No. 1 Jayhawks improved to 32-2 on the year, while Kansas State dropped to 26-7. KU recorded its fifth straight victory, as well as its 18th win in the last 19 games. The Jayhawks also recorded their 41st win in their last 43 meetings with their instate rivals, including wins in all three matchups this season.

After a tight first half, Morris scored the first four points of the second half to give KU a 35-27 advantage, the biggest margin of the game at that point. Kansas State cut the lead to 40-38, but a 9-3 KU run put the Jayhawks up 49-41 with 10:44 remaining.

A Collins runner in the lane and a Tyrel Reed layup off a steal put KU up 64-52 with five minutes left in the game. KSU got back within six points with just more than two minutes remaining and had an opportunity to cut it to three, but Jamar Samuels’ three-point attempt was off the mark and a turn around jumper by Marcus Morris at the other end had KU up 70-62. KU held on from there.

Four Jayhawks scored in double figures. Morris not only had a game-high 18 points, but pulled down a game-high tying eight rebounds. Reed added 15 points, making three of four shots from the field, including two of two three-pointers to go along with seven of nine from the free throw line. Sherron Collins scored 12 points and handed out seven assists, while Cole Aldrich scored 10 points and matched Morris with eight rebounds.

KU used a large advantage at the free throw line, making 24 of 31 charity attempts, while Kansas State was just eight of 14 and did not attempt a free throw in the first half. The Jayhawks shot 44 percent from the field, including 52 percent in the decisive second half.

Kansas took a 31-27 advantage into halftime. Kansas State missed its first 12 shots from the field before a Wally Judge tip in at the 14:43 mark got the Wildcats on the board. However, the Wildcats weren’t hurt by that and trailed just 5-2 at that point.

KU never led by more than five points in the first 20 minutes. Kansas State tied the game at eight on a Curtis Kelly tip-in and then moments later took the lead on a Denis Clemente three-pointer to make it 11-8.

KU’s Tyrel Reed responded with a three pointer to tie the game at 11. The teams stayed with three points of each other until a short 4-0 run put KU up 25-20 late in the period.

Marcus Morris scored eight of KU’s first 17 points before Collins took over most of the scoring load towards the end of the half and in fact the senior guard scored KU’s last four points before the break.

Kansas will find out its seeding for the NCAA Tournament on Sunday when the pairings are announced on CBS at 5 p.m.