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January 5, 2011

KU looking to make it 68 straight at home

Despite being one of the last remaining undefeated Division I teams, Kansas coach Bill Self is still tinkering with his lineup.

He has seemingly found one to get the most out of Marcus Morris and twin brother Markieff Morris.

Self might again decide to have the twins come off the bench as the third-ranked Jayhawks try to extend the nation's longest home court winning streak to 68 games Wednesday night against UMKC.

Marcus averages a team-best 15.5 points and Markieff is third at 13.6, but some uneven play has irritated Self.

He decided to have the junior forwards come off the bench Sunday against Miami of Ohio, and they responded. Markieff led the Jayhawks (13-0) with 20 points on 9-of-11 shooting and had 10 rebounds, while Marcus finished with 18 points and made 7 of 11 from the field in an 83-56 win.

"He (Self) said he liked the way we came off the bench with a lot of intensity," Marcus said.

Self hopes the two can continue to play with that kind of mentality.

"I think they are both going to get there," Self said. "I see such a high ceiling for those kids, that anything less than that is frustrating to me. They see as maybe I'm hard on them because what's wrong with getting 13 (points) and eight (rebounds)? What's wrong with getting 15 and nine?

"Well it's only wrong if you should have got 22 and 13. They are leaders and they just need to play that way to know their teammates will follow the example they set."

Self started Josh Selby for the second straight game Sunday, and the star freshman guard bounced back from a 1-for-9 shooting performance in last Wednesday's 82-57 win over Texas-Arlington. Selby finished with 18 points and made 7 of 12 shots - 4 of 5 from 3-point range - as the Jayhawks shot 57.4 percent.

Kansas is first in the nation in shooting at 53.5 percent, one of the top scoring teams at 84.5 points per game and has won 67 straight at Allen Fieldhouse since a 69-66 loss to then-No. 10 Texas A&M on Feb. 3, 2007.

None of that bodes well for UMKC (8-6), which has been outscored by an average of 19.4 points in losing its last five road games.

The Kangaroos have also been outscored by an average of 22.1 points in dropping all 10 contests against ranked opponents since the 1996-97 season. They lost 80-64 on Dec. 23 to then-No. 11 Kansas State, which was playing without its top two scorers because of suspensions.

Kansas has been ranked in winning each of the first five meetings in this series.

These teams haven't met since the Jayhawks' 71-56 victory in the 2008-09 season opener. Markieff Morris, then a freshman, came off the bench and finished with seven points and 15 rebounds.

UMKC has also played well at home, but its seven-game home winning streak was snapped with a 91-71 loss to South Dakota State on Thursday. Spencer Johnson had 19 points for the Kangaroos, who were outscored 55-32 after halftime.

Johnson is averaging 15.3 points in his last four games after combining for three in his previous two contests.



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