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On a day when two of his starters (Sherron Collins and Tyshawn Taylor) combined for just 13 points while playing an average of 19 minutes each, Kansas University coach Bill Self sure was glad to have Brady Morningstar and Tyrel Reed on his bench.
“You look out there today, and if you were going to pick out who our five best players are, it wouldn’t probably be all the starters, which I think is a positive thing,” Self said. “It means you have depth.”
Nine Jayhawks played more than 10 minutes during Saturday’s 89-63 steamrolling of Texas Tech, with seven playing between 20 and 26 minutes each. Morningstar and Reed provided the bulk of the production from KU’s depth, combining for 13 points, eight rebounds, seven assists and five steals.
At times, the two junior guards played so ferociously and with so much energy that it might have been difficult to tell them apart. In the first half alone, Morningstar and Reed combined for five of Kansas’ nine steals. That stat is made even more impressive considering that, as a team, Kansas has had more than five steals total just once in the past four contests. In addition, KU entered Saturday averaging 8.8 steals per game for the season.
“I thought Brady and Tyrel just played hard,” Self said. “I thought they were everywhere. Of course, they made some plays they shouldn’t have made. Usually they do a better job of taking care of the ball. But I thought their energy was great the first half.”
As solid as their stat lines were — Reed (in 20 minutes) finished 2-of-4 shooting with five points, two rebounds, three assists and three steals, while Morningstar (23 minutes) made two of five shots for eight points and added six rebounds, four assists and two steals — the two reserve guards were more interested in explaining what they did wrong than celebrating what went right.
“We played pretty good in the first half,” Morningstar said. “We had some stupid turnovers. I know I threw some stupid passes, and Tyrel can attest to that, too. I think we had six (turnovers) together, which is not very good at all.”
Added Reed: “I thought we came out and competed and were active. We forced a lot of turnovers in the first half (14). We didn’t do a whole lot with them. We had quite a few turnovers in transition, and that’s not what we do usually.”
Several of those give-aways came during a two- or three-minute stretch during the first half when the two teams went up and down the court rapidly without hoisting a shot. That’s when a handful of their steals came, too, which helped Self overlook the mistakes.
“When guys are out there competing, I can live with whatever,” Self said.