Bob Lutz

Bob Lutz: These '40 Minutes' belong to KU

LAWRENCE — Missouri did what Missouri does. The Tigers gave Kansas a feel-good moment Monday night at Allen Fieldhouse. Many of them, in fact.

Missouri's slogan shouldn't be "The Fastest 40 Minutes in Basketball." It should be: "Just Good Enough to Keep You Buying Tickets.''

Kansas did anything it wanted to do offensively, which is usually the case when you score over 100 points. The Jayhawks zoomed past 100 and beat Missouri 103-86 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Don't get me wrong, Missouri has players. The Tigers were impressive offensively, especially in the first half when they pretty much matched KU basket for basket.

But college basketball is a 40-minute game, as Missouri's slogan says, and Kansas wore down the Tigers with power, speed and precision.

It was a party. Points for everybody.

Kansas shot almost 61 percent and made 11 of 19 three pointers. Occasionally, there was a Missouri player somewhere close when a shot went up, but not often.

Mario Little and Travis Releford came off the bench to combine for 27 points and 11-of-14 shooting and made all five three-pointers they took. That's Little and Releford, not Manning and Chamberlain.

The most points those two had combined to score in a game was 22 earlier this season against Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, a game that was over before the ushers arrived.

The Morris twins, Marcus and Markieff, were a combined 13 of 17 from the floor and combined for 38 points and 15 rebounds.

Thomas Robinson dunked like Blake Griffin. Twice.

Tyrel Reed and Brady Morningstar did what seniors do. Morningstar played 38 minutes and had a team-high seven assists.

It was such a good game for the KU stat sheet that I half expected Jayhawks coach Bill Self to put on a uniform and insert himself into the game, just for the fun of getting such open shots.

The sellout crowd had a great time after Missouri's initial surge — the Tigers led by as many as six points early on — faded.

A team as offensively talented as Missouri, whose quick guards are a challenge for anyone, should not be below .500 in the Big 12, yet Monday's loss dropped the Tigers to 4-5. All of those defeats have come on the road, where the Tigers really wish those fast 40 minutes went a lot faster.

In the five road losses, Missouri is giving up an average of 86 points. In four home wins, the Tigers allow 63.7 points. That disparity must be maddening to Mizzou coach Mike Anderson.

"I don't know if anyone could say there was a lot of defense played,'' Anderson said. "But there was a lot of scoring.''

But enough about the disappointment of Missouri. One could write volumes on that subject, write until their fingers bled.

Kansas was good. To win, it was important the Jayhawks pound Missouri on the backboards and they did, with a 38-21 edge. The Jayhawks bailed out some questionable shots by guard Tyshawn Taylor with offensive rebounds and put-backs.

If there was a point of concern, it was in the play of Taylor. He had one of his so-so nights against Missouri. After playing exceptionally well during a 90-66 win over Kansas State on Jan. 29, Taylor has struggled in three straight games. He did score 13 points against Missouri, but needed 14 shots — five or six of which he should never have taken — to get them.

Self is trying to build some depth at the point guard position by bringing sophomore Elijah Johnson along. But Johnson is fighting his own battle with inconsistency and didn't look at all comfortable in Monday's fast-paced game.

The Jayhawks aren't missing prize freshman guard Josh Selby, who sat out his second game in a row with a foot injury. Selby had been playing his best basketball of the season, averaging 14.3 points in the three previous games and making 17 of 32 shots.

Self, like all coaches, likes to find something to be displeased about in every game, and he didn't have a problem Monday.

He didn't like his team's defense. He was appalled by Missouri's 51.7 percent shooting. And he didn't think KU did a very good job of pounding the ball inside in the first half, relying too much on perimeter shots.

But he sure liked watching the Jayhawks ring up points the way they did. He was thrilled that the first three players off the bench — Little, Releford and Robinson — made 14 of 17 shots. When three reserves combine for 36 points and 15 rebounds, chances are it's been a good night.

Missouri's "Fastest 40 Minutes in Basketball" sounds good. And the Tigers are a fun team to watch. As fun as a 4-5 team can be, I guess.

But I'll take Kansas. Good ol' slogan-less Kansas.

  Comments