Marcus Morris posted 28 points and seven rebounds, leading the Kansas men's basketball team to a 92-62 victory over Washburn in its first exhibition game Tuesday night at Allen Fieldhouse.
Marcus Morris didn’t approach Washburn University enforcer Virgil Philistin in a menacing way.
Instead, Morris, Kansas University’s junior forward who scored 28 points and grabbed seven rebounds in Tuesday’s 92-62 home exhibition victory over the Ichabods, matter-of-factly asked the 6-foot-3 senior what he was thinking when Philistin bear-hugged and intentionally fouled Morris on a breakaway dunk attempt late in the first half.
“I told the guy after he pulled me down, ‘You could have let me go.’ I was not upset. I was just like, ‘It’s an exhibition game. You could have let me do a little highlight,’’’ said Morris, who was backed by the Allen Fieldhouse fans who booed Philistin each time he touched the ball the rest of the game.
“He said, ‘Man, coach woulda ran us for the rest of our lives (if he let Morris slam).’ I understood because coach (Bill) Self probably would do the same thing.
“We’ve got the ‘no dunk rule’ here. We can’t let anybody dunk on us like that. They must have the no dunk rule, too.”
Because of the fact vicious dunks can change momentum in games, the Jayhawks are instructed not to allow the opposition to put down violent slams, especially on the road.
“Not to hurt anybody,” Morris said, “just to make sure they don’t dunk the ball.”
First-team preseason All-Big 12 pick Morris lived up to his hype Tuesday, hitting eight of 10 shots and 11 of 11 free throws in just 22 minutes. Had the game counted in the standings, he’d have surpassed his career high of 26 points against Lehigh in last year’s NCAA Tournament.
“I wish it was a real game so I could have had a career high,” said Morris, who credited his teammates for finding him in spots where he could score. KU had 21 assists against 12 turnovers. “My brother (Markieff, three assists, 12 points, eight rebounds) was passing it to me, Tyshawn (Taylor, three assists, 12 points), everybody.”
Morris drew praise from coach Bill Self.
“Marcus is versatile,” Self said of the 6-foot-9, 235-pounder. “He can play anywhere offensively. He’s going to get to where he can guard anybody defensively. He’s a talented kid. He has really worked hard. To me, it looks like the game is in slow-motion about as well as anybody that we’ve coached.”
Self was not as upbeat about a KU defense that allowed 23 field goals in 46 tries for 50 percent. KU hit 46.7 percent of its shots and just four of 19 threes.
“You can’t win shooting the ball like that, but looking at it from a philosophical standpoint, you can’t give up 50 percent shooting. That’s happened one time, maybe, in this building in the last three years, and our guys don’t get that yet,” Self said. “There was no pride defensively in the last 10 minutes. We’re going to get better. I thought we shared the ball. Obviously, Marcus (Morris) is talented. Getting Markieff healthy (coming off hernia surgery) and back out there is going to help us. Of course, we need Withey (Jeff, broken bone in his foot, still at least a week away) out there.
“One thing that was very, very evident to me is that Thomas (Robinson) and Mario (Little) are too little to play behind in the post. They (Bods) scored at will in the post. Either we need to get Withey out there or those guys need to defend better, or it’s going to be a hard time playing them as many minutes. Overall, we did some good things, but I wasn’t extremely happy because we didn’t guard.”
He wasn’t finished discussing the D.
“I was very disappointed in some of our defense, especially the second team when they came in late. That was poor, poor defense, and we have to get in better shape, too,” he said.
The Jayhawks did seem to make the extra pass on offense on a night 10 players scored.
“We’re pretty unselfish. We are not, yet, a good passing team. We take guys out of shots. We don’t lead guys into layups,” Self said. “Tonight, on two different plays, our point guard that was in the game gave the ball up in transition so that he could be the finisher. You can’t play that way. You can’t put the ball in Mario Little’s hand and say, ‘You go make the play.’ Those are the kinds of things that we can get better at. Right now, offensively we are not a really good passing team, but we had some great possessions. Our two best passers are obviously Markieff and Marcus. Those guys play big-to-big as well as anybody in the country probably will.”
The Jayhawks will meet Emporia State at 7 p.m. Tuesday in Allen Fieldhouse.