Kansas overcomes turnovers, cold-shooting Missouri to capture Big 12 championship
Sunday, March 6, 2011
COLUMBIA (AP) — No. 2 Kansas wrapped up its seventh straight Big 12 title with defense and dominant play inside. Ball-handling, well, that needs some work.
Marcus Morris and Thomas Robinson had double-doubles and the Jayhawks (29-2, 14-2 Big 12) overcame a season-worst 24 turnovers to spoil No. 22 Missouri’s unbeaten home season with a 70-66 victory Saturday.
Marcus and Markieff Morris both had five turnovers and guard Brady Morningstar had four.
“I thought we played dumb,” said guard Tyrel Reed, who had three turnovers but made a key 3-pointer with just over a minute to play. “I thought we turned it over a lot.
“But I thought we defended all right and found a way.”
Robinson had 15 points and 13 rebounds, returning to form less than a month after arthroscopic surgery on the right knee he injured against Missouri at home. Marcus Morris had 21 points and 10 rebounds for Kansas, which has won 14 of the last 17 in a lopsided border series.
The Jayhawks have won 10-of-11 overall heading into the conference tournament, rising from two games back in the conference race when Texas faded.
“I’m really proud of our guys because three weeks ago we had no chance,” coach Bill Self said. “Certainly what these guys have done is pretty remarkable.
“You don’t get banners hung for that in Allen Fieldhouse, but it’s a pretty cool deal and certainly, hopefully will springboard us into a good postseason.”
Missouri (22-9, 8-8) shot a season-worst 29.3 percent on Senior Day and was 3-for-23 from 3-point range, including many hurried attempts and several air balls. The Tigers have lost three in a row heading into the postseason and were 1-7 on the road in conference play.
“When you shoot 29 percent, you should be getting smoked, really,” coach Mike Anderson said.
Laurence Bowers had 22 points, 10 rebounds and five steals off the bench for Missouri, which entered 17-0 with an average winning margin of 22.5 points at the Mizzou Arena, but flubbed its shot for a second unbeaten home record in three seasons. The border rivalry drew a sellout crowd that was unusually raucous until Kansas began to pull away midway through the second half, then perked up again for a late rally that fell short.
“I thought we played with a lot of energy and did some good things,” Bowers said. “But we also couldn’t make a shot. We didn’t capitalize on their turnovers.”
Robinson earned his third double-double of the season, after totaling 10 points and 16 rebounds his first three games back after the Feb. 11 surgery. Kansas outrebounded Missouri 49-29, including 16 on the offensive end, and Marcus Morris was even more impressed with Robinson’s bounceback game after scanning the box score.
“Fifteen and 13 in 17 minutes, that’s unheard of,” Morris said. “If we can get that play out of him the rest of the year, we’ll be tough to beat.”
Kansas led 63-48 with just over four minutes to go before Missouri made it interesting with an 11-0 run to cut the deficit to four. Marcus Denmon had seven of his 17 points in that stretch, including a four-point play on a layup and two free throws after Marcus Morris was whistled for a flagrant foul with 2:40 to go.
Reed’s 3-pointer put Kansas back up by seven with 1:03 to go and he was also 3-for-4 at the line at the finish.
“We’ve been there before, we’ve been in positions where teams made a run, and we didn’t panic,” Reed said. “Guys took care of the ball better at the end and we made some free throws, made a few shots.”
Missouri center Ricardo Ratliffe had four points and three rebounds in 19 minutes and fouled out with 6:49 to go and Kansas up by 11. Matt Pressey got his first start in seven games in place of Kim English and neither did much, Pressey going scoreless in 11 minutes and English going 1-for-5 for a combined 3-for-20 the last three games.
Anderson, normally upbeat at his postgame news conferences, criticized Ratliffe’s play.
“We’ll figure something out or we’ll get somebody else out there,” Anderson said. “We need him to play. Bowers is playing at a high level right now and he needs some help.”
Kansas had committed 14 turnovers by the break, more than its season average of 12.7, and led 32-31 after a surprisingly low-scoring half for two teams that average in the 80s.