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Saturday, July 5, 2014

Journey ends for Reed, Morningstar

BY BOB LUTZ
The Wichita Eagle

The script has gone to re-write.

The original had Kansans Tyrel Reed and Brady Morningstar, both seniors, playing in a Final Four in their final season as Jayhawks. That’s how it was supposed to be.

But it’s not happening. VCU spoiled the plan with a 71-61 win over KU in the Southwest Regional championship game Sunday at the Alamodome.

It was a sudden end to the careers of a couple of Kansas natives who, by any gauge, over-achieved as Jayhawks.

Yet on the biggest stage, with a trip to Houston on the line, they were a combined 2 of 16 from the field and 1 of 10 from three-point range. How strange is it that both Reed and Morningstar had the worst shooting nights of their season the same game? In the biggest game?

“It’s one of those games,’’ /said/ Reed, a 6-foot-4 guard from Burlington who some thought had over-reached when he signed at Kansas. He proved he didn’t.

Morningstar was a red-shirt his first season out of Lawrence Free-State. Many doubted whether he could play at the highest level. Like Reed, Morningstar showed he could.

That neither of them performed near their best against VCU was a blow for both.

“You gotta give credit to VCU, they had an incredible game,’’ Morningstar said. “I wish them luck next weekend.

“As a team, we didn’t perform as well as we could have and as well as we should have and that’s why we’re going home.’’

Kansas was 2 of 21 from the three-point line, a reflection of just how poorly Reed and Morningstar shot. They ranked as two of the best three long-range shooters in the Big 12 this season and made steady improvement throughout their careers. Reed started all 38 KU games this season; Morningstar 25.

“I don’t think we’ve ever shot that bad from the three-point line or from the field,’’ Reed said. “We had good looks, I thought. We got some open shots down low, too, but the ball wouldn’t fall in. I don’t think we ever lost confidence that we were going to make shots. And we kept shooting them, they just didn’t go in.’’

Morningstar, KU’s best perimeter defender, did have a good game in that area. He limited VCU’s Bradford /Burgess/ burgess to only five shots and nine points. Reed spent much of the game defending Rams guard Ed Nixon and limited him to three points on 1-of-6 shooting.

Offensively, though, the pair of Kansans playing for Kansas never got it going. Several of Reed’s shots, especially, looked good before just missing.

“Credit to VCU,’’ Reed said. “Our shots weren’t falling, but when your shots aren’t falling you have to defend and have something to fall back on. We didn’t do the best job in the first half and dug ourselves a hole. But I’m proud of the team and the way we fought back and just never quit and never gave up. We just came up short.’’

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