KU freshman Marcus Garrett emerging as more complete player late in season


Kansas guard Marcus Garrett (0) gets in for a bucket against Texas guard Jase Febres (13) during the second half on Monday, Feb. 26, 2018 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas guard Marcus Garrett (0) gets in for a bucket against Texas guard Jase Febres (13) during the second half on Monday, Feb. 26, 2018 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

Easily lost in the farewell performances inside Allen Fieldhouse by seniors Devonte’ Graham and Svi Mykhailiuk, as well as the always wide-reaching shadow of center Udoka Azubuike, a freshman backup played as important a role as any of his Kansas teammates in the second half of Monday’s win over Texas.

Head coach Bill Self turned to Marcus Garrett off the bench even before the first post-halftime timeout, and the first-year guard out of Dallas immediately made an impact, setting himself up for an 11-point, 4-rebound, 3-assist showing.

On his first offensive possession of the second half, Garrett, who went scoreless in nine first-half minutes, went right to work, upon catching a pass from Graham in the right corner.

When Texas big man Jericho Sims closed out poorly, Garrett drove past him, forcing help. That left the largest man in the building, Azubuike, uncovered for a jam off a Garrett assist.

Only a few possessions had gone by before Azubuike returned the favor.

Texas finally figured out defending KU’s 7-foot sophomore one-on-one in the post was a lost cause. So the Longhorns tried double-teaming Azubuike on the left block.

Once Garrett’s man left him, he wisely positioned himself right under the basket. UT’s weak-side defender on the play, Kerwin Roach II, hesitated to leave Graham open on the opposite wing,and when Roach didn’t slide over to cover Garrett, the freshman put in a layup with zero resistance.

The basket, the freshman’s first of the night, answered a Jacob Young 3-pointer that had just narrowed the Texas deficit to 6 points. With Garrett’s timely lay-in, UT never got any closer.

Because Texas played a pair of big men, Dylan Osetkowski and Sims, much of the night, the Jayhawks knew they could find mismatches on the perimeter versus either.

A 6-foot-9 freshman, Sims got turned around on one sequence, losing sight of Garrett while stepping into the paint as a help defender.

When Lagerald Vick kicked the ball out to Garrett, Sims didn’t know the 6-5 KU freshman had relocated, and Garrett breezed past him to scoop in a layup.

Desperate for some sort of defensive solution for the Jayhawks, Texas at times implemented a 2-3 zone. When the Longhorns took that route, placing Garrett in the middle of the floor, at the free-throw line, proved to be a useful countermeasure.

The Sims-Osetkowski combo got exposed defensively within the zone when Garrett flashed to the open space above the foul line, forcing Osetkowski to step toward him. Before Sims figured out what was coming, Garrett lobbed an entry pass toward the backboard.

Predictably, Azubuike finished an alley-oop with a two-handed slam.

One quality of Garrett’s that makes him so valuable, even at this early stage of his career, is his defense. Not only does the freshman grasp his responsibilities in various situations, he often forces turnovers with his anticipation.

His second of three steals in the game materialized while guarding Roach on the perimeter. The Texas guard showed the ball while pivoting to face up, and Garrett just took it out of his hands, Kawhi Leonard style.

The KU freshman took off in the other direction for what instantly became a four-on-one fast break.

Garrett looked like a veteran leading the transition attack, swinging the ball over to Mykhailiuk on the opposite side just in time to make Roach react, allowing Garrett to receive a pass right back from Mykhailiuk for an uncontested layup.

Not always the most sure-shooting guard, Garrett (10 for 36 on 3-pointers) even knocked down his lone attempt from behind the arc to cap his 4-for-7 night from the floor.

Texas had just whittled KU’s lead to 8 with 3:39 to go, prompting Self to call timeout. The Jayhawks worked their half-court offense until Graham found a driving angle to create. The point guard spotted his freshman teammate open in the left corner and, without hesitation, Garrett stroked a 3-pointer to push the lead back to double digits.

In the past 10 games, Garrett hasn’t shot 3-pointers often, but he has connected on 5 of 9 attempts.

Garrett’s 11 points were his most since scoring a season- and career-high 13 versus Texas Southern in November, and his team-best 3 steals made him the KU leader in that category for the seventh time during his freshman season.

At the end of a night that shined the spotlight on KU’s seniors, Self identified Garrett and Azubuike as the two best Jayhawks against Texas.

“I thought defensively he was about as good as we had,” Self said of Garrett. “He had three steals, and that’s something we don’t do very well. I was really happy for him. Made a big three when they got it to single figures.”

Garrett isn’t suddenly going to become a consistent double-digit scorer for Kansas, but he operates with increasing confidence the deeper the Jayhawks get into this season. When your role players become more competent, the on-court product is bound to benefit.

Already a proficient defender, Garrett continues to progress as a driver, passer and finisher, while showing signs his shooting might be coming along, as well. With the postseason just around the corner, a player once ignored by opposing defenses now possesses the ability to stimulate the Kansas offense.

This might not be the last time this year we see Garrett emerge from the background to key a Kansas victory.

More news and notes from Kansas vs. Texas

By the Numbers: Kansas 80, Texas 70.

By the Numbers: Kansas 80, Texas 70.


Suzi Marshall 9 months, 2 weeks ago

I was hoping we could get Silvio 20 minutes.

Kent Richardson 9 months, 2 weeks ago

If TU Sims is just 6'9" I am surprised and its not his hair. He has to be 6'11".

I agree with Joe Ross that we need to get Silvio up to speed. He played some last night but TU was never really out if it and Bill was not going to lose the chance to lock down the outright title, at home, by staying with him too long. Maybe at OSU and we rest some starters reasonably. Even then it looks like he is not going to get "there" this year.

Once again it's just gotta be Vick who steps up. Maybe if Mitch, Marcus and Silvio can contribute 20 and 9 every night we can let Lagerald off the hook.

As imperfect as we are, we do have a whole lot of company across the spectrum this year. A top seed is almost locked up and in a regional with a 4 seed, like Arizona, who has more issues than we do, in a sweet 16 game and we are in an elite eight game with a UNC or WSU type opponent.

Dave Miller 9 months, 2 weeks ago

Nice coverage of Garrett's contributions. Someone tell Coach Self it was the Crimson uniforms. lol

Craig Jackson 9 months, 2 weeks ago

Love the embedded videos! Nice touch. Unlike the touch shown by young Marcus at the line. Some of his side spinning ricochets challenge the basic tenets of physics!

Len Shaffer 9 months, 2 weeks ago

I'm really excited to see how much he can improve by next season, but you're right about his FT issues -- at this point he's not a whole lot better than Silvio. That's definitely a concern if we need him in a close game in the tournament.

Steve Zimmerman 9 months, 2 weeks ago

Great moves by Garrett. I'm really happy to see his progress on offense. I know he's solid defensively already. I really think he can add double scoring punch from this point on. He has hop, quickness, dribble skills, as I said many times. Combined with court awareness where the teammates are, he'll contribute more than just D. Great coverage, as always!

Mike Nicco 9 months, 2 weeks ago

What a special night! I hope some day to get this much enjoyment from watching our football team and their seniors have these kind of careers and successes.

Tim Orel 9 months, 2 weeks ago

I'd be happy with 14 straight Big 12 championships from the football team.

Pius Waldman 9 months, 2 weeks ago

An interesting side note. Billy Preston reviews after months no answer. Has anyone else noticed the Michigan State Bridges was declared ineligible for minor benefit and NCAA cleared him in less than 24 hours. I don't know who to blame but Preston certainly got a raw deal.

Dirk Medema 9 months, 2 weeks ago

Weren't some people writing off his offensive ability all together?

Glad he's a competitor with great role models and leaders.

On the pass underneath from DOk, Garrett also deserves a lot of credit just for controlling the pass and getting a shot up. It wasn't an easy pass (credit to Dok) and was a very challenging catch.

On the break, gotta love how quickly Svi gave the pass back to Garrett. There were a number of those touch passes last night. Amazingly quick.

Dirk Medema 9 months, 2 weeks ago

Even if Malik and/or LaGerald comes back next year, and with other older players or elite players arriving, I can easily see Marcus being the leader of the team next year.

Him and Mitch.

Phil Leister 9 months, 2 weeks ago

There's no excuse for a basketball player of Marcus' caliber to be a 50% free throw shooter. That needs to get figured out quickly.

Jonathan Allison 9 months, 2 weeks ago

I think that it will correct itself when he starts shooting more than one or two a game.

Dillon Davis 9 months, 2 weeks ago

Really eager to see what Self does with all the guards next year. Feel like Agbaji will be a good redshirt candidate. Cunliffe will need to transfer again. But I see Moore, Dotson, Grimes, and Vick/Newman all getting more PT than Garrett.

Andrew Foster 9 months, 2 weeks ago

Marcus' defense put's him light years ahead of incoming freshman who whether we like it or not will take time to adapt to the college game. Most of the incoming talent doesn't appear to have one and done label... Maybe I'm wrong.

That being said, he consistently does what coaches ask of him and has shown a lot of maturity in accepting his role.

Favorite play by MG was last Saturday drive and dunk at critiacal time against Texas Tech.

BTW, noting wrong with having depth on the roster and being able to rollout 9 or 10 players capable of delivering productive minutes....

Dirk Medema 9 months, 2 weeks ago

Sam has lots of time to develop and there's no guarantee any of the incoming players will assimilate better than him.

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