November 26, 2010

Kansas dominates Ohio

The No. 6-ranked Kansas Jayhawks (5-0; 0-0), led by Marcus Morris's 26 points on 11-of-14 shooting, opened up their play in Las Vegas, Nev., with a resounding victory over Ohio (1-4; 0-0), 98-41. The game bordered on getting out of hand with physical play and plenty of talking between the two teams. KU now focuses their attention to a Saturday match up with Arizona, set for 7:30 p.m., in Sin City.

Ohio could definitely be considered Kansas' toughest competition to date but their athleticism and team speed was simply too much.

Once again, Marcus Morris put on a show in front of roughly 3,000 fans traveling from across the nation to support their team over Thanksgiving weekend. Morris scored 26 points in nearly every way possible. His ability to score from everywhere on the court has made him one of the toughest match ups in college basketball. Ohio didn't have anyone that could defend him.

Travis Releford hit his first three 3-point attempts and was a big offensive spark for the Jayhawks on the night, finishing with 11 points. Despite the effort, head coach Bill Self wasn't overly pleased with his teams' performance, particularly when it came to ball movement.

"Well he made shots in the first half but unfortunately fell in love with it," said Self after the game. "The ball stuck and that was the weakest performance for a big blowout win that I've seen. They missed shots but Travis played really well early on and made some key three's for us to give us some distance but the ball stuck in everyone's hands and I'm not real happy with how the ball moved at all."

Kansas went up 43-18 with under a minute left after Elijah Johnson hit one of two free throws after an intentional and flagrant foul on Ohio, sending the 6-foot-4 guard, who is making his homecoming this weekend, to the floor during what was a wide-open dunk attempt.

Johnson would later hit the floor again after a blind screen in the backcourt caught him in the lower back, forcing him to head out and receive some stretching. Self said after the game that he thought Johnson played well in his homecoming.

"I thought he did fine," he said. "He did get hit hard on that screen, and it was a legal screen, but he got his world rocked pretty good but I thought he did fine and Elijah has shot the ball well for us this year."

After the game Elijah spoke about the play where he was brought down to the ground when he thought he had a breakaway dunk.

"I didn't think too much of it," Johnson said. "I think everyone who saw it probably thought it was a bigger deal than I did, but you saw me get up and I didn't really have too many words for it [the play]. I chose to play and you have to deal with this type of stuff."

"Every time something like that happens we think about Sherron [Collins] because he used to get us so fired up when somebody would do something like, so it was just get us jacked up. That's what Marcus [Morris] did for us tonight, he said, "from now on, just don't let your man score on you." That's what we did."

At that point, the game began to border on dirty and it felt as if a fight could break out at any moment. It appeared to get KU sped up with adrenaline and although the game was in control on the scoreboard, Bill Self inserted reserve Jordan Juenemann and used 7-footer Jeff Withey for big minutes.

"I'll be honest, that wasn't a very physical game with big guys laying on each other and hitting each other but there were a couple of hard fouls but that wasn't physical. I think our guys acted chippy and that's definitely sign of immaturity but hopefully we can grow up and not let things like that bother us," Self added.

Markieff Morris and Travis Releford added 13 and 11 points respectively, helping Kansas hit 57-percent of its shots.

Defensively, the Jayhawks kept the pressure on throughout, holding Ohio to 23-percent shooting and 0-of-19 from behind the arc. Guard D.J. Cooper finished with 16 for the Bobcats, but scored most of those points towards the end of the game when he was forced to create his own shot against the KU defense.

When asked if Self would continue to use an open rotation of players, he indicated that the time to bring it down to eight or nine is now.

"No I think starting tomorrow night we'll start pairing them down. Jeff Withey has given us some good minutes and I thought he looked good in their tonight. He's our best low post defender by triple. I think he could get in there and play a lot of minutes."

"I think we can play 11, but I don't think we can play 11 a lot of minutes. It's going t be a situation where the ninth, tenth, eleventh guy may only get five or seven minutes depending on the situation."

Up next is Arizona, who is playing the final game of the night against Santa Clara. The Wildcats will by far serve as the toughest test for Kansas so far this season.

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