Originally published February 22, 2009 at 12:00a.m., updated February 22, 2009 at 09:02a.m.
Though Markieff Morris’ putback was one of the highlights in Kansas University’s 70-53 basketball victory over Nebraska, the freshman still criticized his effort afterward.
“I could have dunked it way better than I did. It kind of slipped out of my hand at the end,” Morris said. “It got to my fingertips. I could have caught it way higher than I did, but as long as I finish it … ”
The stickback was just part of a confidence-building day for the 6-foot-9 forward, who contributed one of his most complete performances as a Jayhawk.
Morris finished with six points, nine rebounds, three blocks and an assist with no turnovers.
“He hasn’t been bad, but he’s been a little stale and hasn’t had a game where he impacted it as much as he did today,” KU coach Bill Self said. “Other than Sherron (Collins), I thought he was the best player in the game today from an activity standpoint.”
Markieff had averaged only 9.3 minutes in his last four games before playing 19 minutes Saturday — his most minutes since logging 19 against Baylor on Feb. 2.
His three blocks also tied a career high.
Markieff received extra playing time because his brother, Marcus, battled foul trouble all game.
“(Coach) asked me if I could be our high-energy man,” Markieff said. “When I come off the bench, I just try to give as much energy as I can, try to go after every ball.”
Markieff stayed positive even as his brother started to break out in the last few games.
Marcus averaged 11.5 points, five rebounds and 28.5 minutes in KU’s victories over Kansas State and Iowa State.
“I was just happy for him. He was playing really well, and I was just waiting to get my turn,” Markieff said. “Whenever coach put me in, I was just going to try to mimic (Marcus) and do what he does when he’s in the game.”
As for the stickback dunk, Markieff said he anticipated the play before it happened.
“I just saw his eyes get big,” Collins said of Markieff.
When Quintrell Thomas went up for his shot, Markieff said he predicted it would be too strong, as Thomas was being guarded closely by a Nebraska defender.
Markieff ended up guessing right.
“It’s a good feeling to finish one — to get one like that, anyway, over the top of everyone,” Markieff said. “Hopefully, I get some more.”
Self, who previously has told reporters that the Morris twins had more leaping ability than they had shown in games, seemed pleased that he had been proven right.
“He showed off his athletic ability there for a play,” Self said. “Now everybody’s seen it, so everybody can write about him being capable as opposed to me just telling him all the time.”