Kansas Passes - Barely - First Real Test

Xavier Henry (AP Photo/Orlin Wagner)

Look for a wolverine in any book about wildlife. You're going to find a picture of a mean little furry critter with lot of sharp, pointy teeth and a really bad attitude.

You''ll read descriptions like, "The wolverine has a reputation for ferocity and strength out of proportion to its size," and, "The wolverine has the documented ability to kill prey many times its size."

An early-rising Allen Field House crowd learned all they wanted about wolverines Saturday as Kansas
defeated a Michigan team that just wouldn't go away, 75-64. Marcus Morris had a career game with 23 points and 10 rebounds. Sherron Collins added 19 points but committed six turnovers against a testy Michigan zone. Xavier Henry finished with 15 points.

The capacity crowd saw the top-ranked Jayhawks at both ends of the basketball spectrum in a 10-minute first-half stretch. The same Kansas team that beat Michigan's man-to-man defense to go on a 20-6 run to build a 41-20 lead with 3:41 left in the first half also let Michigan keep the game within reach before halftime with a 9-0 run thanks to a Wolverine switch to a pressuring 1-3-1 zone defense that resulted in multiple turnovers and a 9-0 Michigan run to finish the half. The Jayhawks led, 42-31, at the intermission.

"They went 1-3-1. Tyrel (Reed) made a bad play in that stretch and Sherron made three really bad plays. We had three time outs to talk about it. That was about as poor as a team can play in that stretch, plus (Michigan) made some plays. Going in up 11 was disappointing to us because we'd worked to hard to get up 21."

"We had a good first half until the last three minutes," Henry said. "In that span, everybody was working, everybody was clicking together. We were throwing it down low, we could get fast-break points and we were just working the zone. That's what got us the lead in the first half."

Kansas coach Bill Self's halftime message was simple.

"He just said get to get back to our game. We just got a little ahead of ourselves and lost sight of what we were doing the last three minutes of the half," Morris recalled.

If Michigan's zone looked particularly problematic, even for a Kansas team than knew their opponent was going to play a lot of zone, it was.

"We went over the 1-3-1 but we didn't know the (Michigan) wings were gonna play that high and jump the passes," Morris said. "They went out real high."

The zone kept the Wolverines within reach throughout the second half but they failed to cash in on multiple opportunities to cut the Kansas lead to single digits. Even with 3:29 left in the game, the Jayhawks lead was just 11, but the Wolverines couldn't mount a serious threat.

"Xavier didn't shoot it great, and Sherron didn't shoot it great, and we didn't have a low post presence – at least offensively – so that was the biggest thing. We still had some good possessions, but we didn't finish like we should."

Self said he was pleased to get a win, but it's not just about wins and losses. He said it's about getting better. This game, he said, should serve as a lesson for his team.

"We wasted an opportunity in the second half to get better. I'm happy we won, but I'm not overly thrilled (at how we played). We did some things well, but we did some things very poorly, as well. We'll look to correct those things. We're still a long way from where we need to be."

Game notes
  • This win makes KU 10-0 for the third time in the Bill Self era (14-0 in 2004-05; 20-0 on 2007-08).
  • This is the first time Kansas has ever beaten Michigan. KU is now 1-5 against the Maize and Blue.
  • KU extends the nation's longest home court winning streak to 48 games.
  • Bill Self is now 179-40 as KU head coach.
  • KU is 7-0 in Allen Field House this season and 640-106 all-time.
  • Kansas is 102-7 in Allen Field House under Bill Self.
  • Kansas is 20 wins away from win #2,000.
  • The Jayhawks held Michigan to just 35.8 percent shooting – the 84th straight opponent to shoot less than 50 percent against KU.
  • Marcus Morris' double-double is his fourth of his career. He also shot 8-of-8 from the charity stripe. His eight free throws are the most by a Jayhawk this season.
  • Cole Aldrich pulled down 11 rebounds to tie Kenny Gregory for 22nd all-time in the KU rebounding list. It is also the fifth time he's been in double figures in rebounding this season.
  • Aldrich scored just five points, all off free throws. The last time Aldrich went without a field goal in a game was against Memphis in the 2008 national championship game (April 7), but he also didn't attempt any. The last time he didn't make a field goal with at least one attempt was against Kansas State, March 1, 2008.

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