Lawrence, KS — Three Jayhawks came within one rebound of a double-double as Kansas basketball defeated its in-state rival Kansas State, 90-66, in the 271st Sunflower Showdown Saturday evening.
Junior Markieff Morris led the Jayhawks with 20 points and nine rebounds, while sophomore Thomas Robinson added 17 points and nine boards in his first game back since the death of his mother, Lisa. Junior Marcus Morris contributed 10 points while also tying for the team lead with nine rebounds. Junior Tyshawn Taylor and freshman Josh Selby rounded out KU’s double-digit scorers with 13 and 12 points, respectively.
Kansas improved to 20-1 with the victory, reaching 20 wins for the 22nd season. KU also improved to 5-1 in Big 12 play. Kansas State dropped to 14-8, including 2-5 in conference play.
Senior Jacob Pullen led Kansas State with 21 points, while sophomore Rodney McGruder had 15 points and a team-high six rebounds for the Wildcats. Junior Jamar Samuels chipped in 10 points for KSU.
After Kansas led 37-20 at the intermission, the Jayhawks made their first eight field goals of the second half and maintained a comfortable double-digit margin the rest of the game. At the 10-minute mark, the Jayhawks led by 19, 62-43. KU then scored 10 unanswered points in the next three minutes to stretch its lead to 29 points. The run included a three-point play by Markieff Morris and an emphatic put-back slam dunk by Robinson.
A 15-foot jumper by senior Mario Little and a three-pointer by Selby on back-to-back possessions gave Kansas its largest lead of the game, 81-49, a 32-point cushion with 4:08 remaining. A three-pointer by junior Jordan Juenemann with 19 seconds left gave Kansas its 90-66 victory.
Kansas finished the game shooting 61.8 percent from the field, including 5-for-10 from three-point range. Conversely, KU held the Wildcats to a 32.8 field goal percentage, which included a 7-for-22 mark from distance. Kansas also had 20 assists compared to KSU’s eight and outscored the Wildcats in the paint by a margin of 48-20.
At halftime, KU honored former Jayhawk Wayne Simien by retiring his No. 23 jersey in the rafters. A native of Leavenworth, Kan., Simien was the 2005 Big 12 Player of the Year and a Consensus First-Team All-American while at Kansas. He also helped lead KU to two Final Four appearances and an Elite Eight during his career.
Prior to tip-off, the crowd noise reached an Allen Fieldhouse-record level of 118.9 decibels. Kansas then proceeded to open the game with a 15-2 run in the first 6:04, including the contest’s first seven points. Markieff Morris led the charge with five points and six rebounds in the Jayhawks’ initial surge.
With 3:42 remaining in the first half, KU used an 8-0 run in the next two minutes to grab its largest lead of the opening frame, 37-17, with 1:14 left. A three-point play by sophomore Juevol Myles with 13 seconds remaining made the halftime score 37-20 in favor of the Jayhawks.
KU made 50.0 percent of its shots from the field in the first half while holding the Wildcats to only 19.4 percent, its best defensive percentage against a Big 12 opponent for one half since holding Colorado to 17.9 percent in the first half of its game on Jan. 25, 2004. KU also was 3-for-5 (60.0 percent) from three-point range whereas Kansas State was 1-for-12 (8.3 percent). Markieff Morris led the Jayhawks with nine points and eight rebounds at the break.