Why Marcus Morris and Tyshawn Taylor could thrive against Miami (Ohio)
Jesse Newell: Welcome back to the GameDay Cram Session, as Kansas is taking on Miami (Ohio) in Allen Fieldhouse.
Tom, KU is getting ready to play another slow-it-down team in the RedHawks. Which Jayhawks would you say are in most need of a bounceback effort defensively after the UT Arlington game?
Tom Keegan: Josh Selby, Brady Morningstar, Tyrel Reed and Elijah Johnson. Each has to do a better job of keeping his man in front of him.
JN: Probably not a good thing when, at this point in the season, you're saying almost every KU guard needs to step it up defensively. But you're right — UT Arlington's guards were able to get to the lane consistently with the shot clock running down last game. It didn't cost the Jayhawks against the Mavericks, but it could hurt them if they don't get the issue resolved by Big 12 play.
One player who did defend well against UTA, though, was Travis Releford. What impressed you about Releford's performance on Wednesday?
TK: He's so active. Watch his feet. They're always doing the right thing. Offensively, he's doing a better job of taking what's there for him instead of trying to make something happen when the right call is to run the offense and let the ball movement make something happen. When he checks into the game, he's all-out every second he's on the floor.
JN: This game against Miami (Ohio) should give Releford the opportunity to show he deserves more minutes. Because of the RedHawks' extremely slow pace, KU will need guys in that will defend hard for the whole shot clock, and you'd have to think that out of anyone on his team, KU coach Bill Self might be most happy with Releford's defense right now.
All right, Tom, what's your prediction for this game?
TK: Kansas 82, Miami of Ohio 57. RedHawks can't hang with Kansas inside.
JN: I'll say it's a little more low scoring, and that KU wins by 18. The Jayhawks seem to have hit a mid-season funk and haven't been consistent enough on either end to sustain big leads early in the game. Having said that, KU still will win easily and should dominate the glass against a RedHawks team that has been outrebounded by an average of 9.6 boards over its last three games.
OK, Tom, who's your Hawk to Rock?
TK: Marcus Morris.
He hasn't played All-American caliber basketball in quite a while and he'll be eager to show he's still that level a star after going through a rough stretch.
JN: This looks like a game where Tyshawn Taylor could thrive.
Miami is careless with the basketball offensively and also is in the bottom 10 nationally in forcing turnovers.
If Taylor stays within himself, we could easily see a seven-assist, one-turnover, four-steal kind of game out of him.
Keep in mind that in the three games since Selby entered the lineup, Taylor has averaged 2.6 assists and four turnovers per game. In the nine games before that, he averaged 6.3 assists and three turnovers per game.
Tracking the picks
Predictions tally (through 12 games)
Tom: 11-1 record, 157 points off (13.1 points off/game)
Jesse: 12-0 record, 179 points off (14.9 points off/game)
Hawk to Rock
Longwood: Tyrel Reed (6th in Keegan ratings)
Valparaiso: Marcus Morris (1st)
North Texas: Tyrel Reed (6th)
Texas A&M-CC: Marcus Morris (5th)
Ohio: Markieff Morris (3rd)
Arizona: Marcus Morris (1st)
UCLA: Tyshawn Taylor (1st)
Memphis: Markieff Morris (4th)
Colorado State: Tyshawn Taylor (2nd)
USC: Tyrel Reed (6th)
Cal: Marcus Morris (6th)
UT Arlington: Tyrel Reed (8th)
Average Hawk to Rock: 4.1st in Keegan ratings
Longwood: Markieff Morris (1st in Keegan ratings)
Valparaiso: Brady Morningstar (8th)
North Texas: Tyrel Reed (6th)
Texas A&M-CC: Thomas Robinson (2nd)
Ohio: Tyshawn Taylor (4th)
Arizona: Brady Morningstar (8th)
UCLA: Markieff Morris (6th)
Memphis: Thomas Robinson (1st)
Colorado State: Markieff Morris (1st)
USC: Thomas Robinson (2nd)
Cal: Markieff Morris (2nd)
UT Arlington: Brady Morningstar (10th)
Average Hawk to Rock: 4.3rd in Keegan ratings