Jayhawk Insider: The Difference Maker
By Dayton Hammes
LAWRENCE, Kan. – Kansas needed someone to step up offensively when KU’s leading-scorer Dedric Lawson got into foul trouble early on against Texas and an unexpected Jayhawk arose to the occasion.
Sophomore guard Marcus Garrett stepped up to the challenge, filling the offensive void that came with Lawson’s absence in the first half. Garrett posted a career-best 20 points (8-of-11, 3-of-4) with 17 coming in the first half alone.
The Dallas, Texas native has time and time again proven himself on the defensive end, but entering Monday night shooting 34.2 percent from the field and 18.2 percent from the 3-point line this season, Kansas fans got an unexpected surprise when Garrett connected on three-straight 3-pointers in the opening 10 minutes against the Longhorns.
“You know, for him to come out shooting the ball as well as he shot, I think coming into this game he was 18 percent from three … but he made us pay early with those three threes,” said Texas head coach Shaka Smart. “I thought throughout (the game) he was really aggressive, attacking off of the bounce, playing really good defense. He was a huge difference maker.”
Garrett credits his confidence on the offensive end to his teammates, Lawson and Charlie Moore.
“Sometimes when we play pickup or one-on-one, we know he’s (Garrett) capable of making shots and he’s just got to keep shooting the ball,” Lawson said.
Garrett’s strong offensive performance Monday night can be credited to that encouragement from his teammates to keep shooting the ball.
“Every time we go home, they’re letting me know to not let those missed shots affect me and just keep shooting,” Garrett said. “The only way the ball will go in is if you keep shooting.”
Garrett saw the ball go in numerous times in the first half and helped to get the Jayhawks rolling.
“He played great and carried us the first half,” Lawson said. “When I was in foul trouble, he and Lagerald (Vick) both made shots that got us off to a good start and it kept us rolling the whole game.”
When Garrett’s offense slowed in the second half, he stepped up defensively, making key plays that would halt the Longhorn run and ultimately lead to the Kansas win.
Garrett forced a jump ball with just under two minutes to play that led to a Vick 3-pointer to put Kansas up by five.
“That was a smart play by Marcus,” Lawson said. “His defensive instincts kicked in and took over. When (Dylan) Osetkowski went baseline, he had nowhere to go. Coach (Self) had told us (it was out jump ball) and it was a smart play by him.”
Whether it’s making gritty plays on the defensive end or filling an offensive void, Garrett is willing to be the difference maker and do whatever it takes to help the Jayhawks win.
Kansas hits to road to take on West Virginia, Saturday, Jan. 19 at 1 p.m. (Central). The game will be televised on ESPN. Kansas is 10-4 all-time against West Virginia with all 14 matchups in the Big 12 era. The Mountaineers hold a 4-2 edge over the Jayhawks in Morgantown meetings but Kansas did win at WVU Coliseum, 81-70, last season, ending a WVU three-game home winning streak in the series.
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