Held to three points and zero rebounds in Monday night’s 84-68 loss to the unranked Wildcats, Morris bounced back Saturday with 26 points and 15 rebounds in an 89-63 victory over a Colorado program the Jayhawks have dominated for decades.
It was a career-high in points for the elder (by 7 minutes) of the Morris twins and tied his career high in rebounds. In 29 minutes, the 6-10 junior also had two steals, two assists and two blocks as the Jayhawks (25-2, 10-2 Big 12) beat Colorado in Allen Fieldhouse for the the 28th straight time.
Morris’ eight offensive rebounds were the most by a Kansas player in a conference game in seven years.
“I think us as a team had something to prove,” he said. “It was embarrassing losing to K-State. We don’t want to do that again. We’ve just got to get better and I guess it starts with me.”
Brady Morningstar hit his first four 3-pointers to help the Jayhawks get off to a flying start in their last regular-season meeting before Colorado (16-11, 5-7) heads off for the Pac-10.
Kansas coach Bill Self said his team, particularly Markieff, was grim and intense in practice all week.
“We were a mad team. And I thought we were an embarrassed team,” Self said. “There’s nothing embarrassing in college basketball about losing a game. What’s embarrassing is the way we lost it and how we didn’t rally around one another. I think our guys saw some things that happened in that particular game that they were totally embarrassed about.”
Playing Kansas twice a year may be what the Buffs miss least about the Big 12. All time, they are 39-121 against the Jayhawks, including a 5-52 record in Allen Fieldhouse. Altogether, they’ve lost 44 of their last 45 to Kansas.
The last time Colorado won in Lawrence, their coach, Tad Boyle, was a sophomore on Larry Brown’s Jayhawk team in 1983.
“This is a special place for basketball,” Boyle said. “We certainly don’t relish going through days like this and getting your teeth smashed in everywhere you look. But you want the opportunity to play against the best and coach against the best, and that’s what you get when you come to Allen Fieldhouse. We won’t have that in the future, and that’s too bad. But we’ve got some other pretty special venues to go to. The Pac-12 will be a new challenge for us.”
Alec Burks had 15 points for the Buffs, Cory Higgins had 14 and Marcus Relphorde 12.
With Morris leading the way, the Jayhawks outrebounded the shorter Buffaloes 41-29.
Colorado, which has lost seven of eight after a seven-game winning streak, including a two-game sweep of Kansas State, mounted one effort to get back in the game early in the second half, when Higgins had four points in an 11-2 run that sliced the lead to 57-44.
Josh Selby’s bucket finally halted the spree, then Higgins’ 10-foot jumper got the lead to 60-48, before Markieff Morris rebounded Marcus’ miss and completed a three-point play. Marcus hit two more buckets for Kansas, then Tyrel Reed and Tyshawn Taylor connected on back-to-back 3s, building the margin to 76-57.
“We closed out and rebounded and played defense as hard as we could,” Burks said. “But they kept making shots.”
Marcus Morris and Morningstar each had 16 points. Reed had 13 points and Taylor 10. The Jayhawks, who came in leading the nation with a 52.1 shooting percentage, hit 52.4 from the floor and were 11 for 22 from the 3-point arc.
The Buffs dropped to 0-15 all-time against top-ranked teams, including 0-7 when playing a No. 1 Kansas over the years.
“When you come to a place like this, you see that Saturday basketball games in Lawrence feel like a football game anywhere else you go, and that’s pretty special,” Boyle said.