Kansas Jayhawks fight past California 78-63

BERKELEY, Calif. -- After their first road game of the season, a 78-63 victory over California, one thing is clear about the Kansas Jayhawks: They sure know how to bring a dead arena to life.

KU, leading by 17 points early in the second half Wednesday night, interrupted episode two of the Josh Selby Show and restored what was starting to look like Golden Bear road-kill with a string of boneheaded plays.

Marcus Morris was ejected for a flagrant foul, and Haas Pavilion started to rock again. Both benches nearly cleared as Cal guard Jorge Gutierrez and KU forward Thomas Robinson battled on the floor for a loose ball. Both players got up, postured as if they wanted to fight and were called for technical fouls. During all of that mayhem, Cal ran off 13 points in a row, and the Jayhawks suddenly looked like they had walked into the wrong bear cave.

So, this 11-0 KU team is not a mature one. KU coach Bill Self admitted afterward that he already knew that. But these Jayhawks have a natural way of responding once challenged, and they showed that again on Wednesday night.

"Let's call it barking up the wrong tree," Robinson said unapologetically.

No. 3 Kansas answered the Bears' run with ferocity, finally matching Cal's effort on the glass. KU ended the 13-0 run with a Robinson rebound and put-back, which turned into a three-point play. Markieff Morris tapped in a miss. Robinson grabbed a loose-ball rebound, poised himself and went up for a one-handed dunk.

"It got chippy, but then that's when we played our best, too," Self said. "That was good. Our guys competed hard down the stretch."

The Jayhawks' athleticism won out over their head-scratching decisions -- after trailing all game in rebounding margin, KU finished with a 40-39 lead -- and all appears well as KU gets a week off for the holiday.

Playing the majority of second half to make up for the absence of his brother, Markieff led the Jayhawks with a double-double: 21 points and 10 rebounds. Selby and KU guard Tyrel Reed each added 18 points with Reed tallying a career-high.

Self said weeks ago that Selby was about to become the story, and, before the momentary interruption, he was once again. First, there was the question of just how good Selby can be by the end of his first college basketball season. And then, if he reaches his individual potential, how much better can he make the group of players that started the season unbeaten and ranked No. 3 without him?

On Wednesday, Self once again did not start Selby. But this time, Self put Selby into the game at the 17:29 mark. Selby knocked down his first shot, a three-pointer, at the 13:49 mark. At 11:46, he made another, that time fading away, giving KU an 18-11 lead. Selby's most impressive shot came when he stopped in transition, stepped back and swished a fade-away mid-range jumper. For the night, Selby made all three of his threes and is now 8 for 11 in two games.

"Josh played very well," Self said. "He made shots early. He's gonna get better. He missed a lot of floaters and stuff like that he usually makes. He needs to be out there."

Self said there was a great chance Selby would make his first start on Dec. 29 against Texas-Arlington.

After Marcus Morris' ejection, it was unclear whether he would be forced to miss the next game. Self said his understanding was that Morris threw an elbow above the shoulder of Cal forward Harper Kamp but that Morris would not have to sit a game because of the incident.

"If they said he had to sit, that'd be OK with me, too," said Self, who did not hide his disappointment in his players' antics.

Morris wasn't alone in losing his cool. Robinson was called for an intentional foul in the first half, and Brady Morningstar was called for a technical foul late in the second for knocking the ball out of an opponent's hand.

"As a team we've gotta be smarter," Reed said. "We gotta keep our cool, just be mature about it."

Related stories from Wichita Eagle