Morris Twins Lead Jayhawks To Sweet 16 In 73-59 Kansas Basketball Victory Against Illinois

March 20, 2011

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TULSA, Okla. – Twins Markieff and Marcus Morris combined for 26 of Kansas’ first 33 second-half points to lead the number-one seeded Jayhawks to a 73-59 victory against No. 9 Illinois Sunday night.

The Jayhawks dominated the second half turning a four-point halftime advantage into a 14-point victory by outscoring Illinois 40-30 in the final 20 minutes, including closing the game on a 17-8 run.

The win sent the Jayhawks to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament for the fourth time in the last five years, eighth time in the last 11 seasons and 27th time overall. The Jayhawks will meet Richmond in San Antonio, Texas, Friday at 6:27 p.m. (Central). The game will be televised on TBS.

The Jayhawks improved to 34-2 on the season, while winning their 10th straight game. The victory also gave KU a 131-16 four-year record for the best four-year mark in school history. Illinois ended its season at 20-14.

Markieff Morris finished the night with 24 points on 10 of 13 shooting, while his brother Marcus added 17 points on six of 13 shooting. Both brothers grabbed 12 rebounds. Tyshawn Taylor added 13 points for the winners.

Illinois was paced by Mike Davis, who led a trio of double-figure scorers for the Illini with 17 points.

Unlike its slow start against Boston Friday, Kansas came out of the gate quickly Sunday night. The Jayhawks hit seven of their first 10 shots, including three of five three-pointers to take an 18-6 lead four minutes into the contest.

Markieff Morris and Tyrel Reed drilled three-pointers on consecutive possessions and Taylor and Marcus Morris had dunks in part of KU’s 14-1 run which put the Jayhawks up 18-6.

As hot as KU started the game, the Jayhawks quickly cooled off making just three of their next 11 attempts as Illinois pulled within 28-25 with less than four minutes left in the half.

Brady Morningstar responded with a reverse layup as the Jayhawks scored five of the game’s next seven points and took a 33-29 lead into the lockerroom after the Illini added the final basket of the half.

Markieff Morris finished the first half with 10 points and five rebounds, while Taylor had seven points on three of three shooting from the field. The Jayhawks finished the half shooting 54 percent from the field, while holding Illinois to 39 percent. Davis led Illinois with 11 points at the break.

The Morris twins dominated the beginning of the second half, combining for the Jayhawks’ first 10 points after the break. Leading 43-37, Kansas went 4:40 without scoring a point, but only allowed two Illinois points in that time span. When Morningstar’s three-pointer broke the drought, KU led 46-39 with 12:10 left in the game.

The Jayhawks appeared to be taking control of the contest as Marcus Morris scored the game’s next five points and KU led 51-42 with nine and one-half minutes remaining. However, Illinois bounced right back with four straight points to pull within 51-46.

Kansas would extend its lead to 10 points at 56-46, but Illinois got back within 56-51 minutes later. That is when Markieff Morris scored eight of the next 10 points in part of a 10-0 run which put the Jayhawks up 66-51 with 2:30 left.

The game was particularly sweet for Kansas head coach Bill Self, who served in the same capacity at Illinois from 2001-03 before taking over the Jayhawks program.