- David Ubben, College Football
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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- After the buzzer blared, Kansas forward Marcus Morris turned to the Texas bench and soundly shushed them. A TV camera that quickly approached him on the court received the same treatment.
Morris and the Jayhawks had sent a clear message with their 85-73 win: Kansas is the King of the Big 12. For all the talk that preceded Saturday’s game, there was nothing left to say.
“Since the loss, we’ve been talking about that we really wanted another shot at them, because a lot of people have been saying that they were the best team in the Big 12,” Morris said. “It just happened in a perfect way for us to get them in the Big 12 Championship and for all the marbles.”
“The loss” came on Jan. 22, one of just two for Kansas on the season. With Saturday night's win, the Jayhawks improved to 32-2, sent Texas to 27-7, and wrapped up a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament next week.
“We’ve been so excited to get out there and play against them and show everybody. I’m not saying the first game was a fluke, but we wasn’t at full strength,” Morris said. “Today we were playing our best and we were at full strength and we showed everybody.”
Morris’ twin brother Markieff Morris talked a little trash with the Longhorns after Friday’s semifinal win over Colorado. He told them that ever since the January loss, Kansas has wanted a rematch on Saturday.
Kansas fans serenaded the twins, both juniors, late in the game and and again as they cut down the nets at the Sprint Center: “One more year!”
The Jayhawks danced on the podium while waiting for the trophy -- not worried about draft decisions or yet-to-be-drawn NCAA tournament opponents. Instead they celebrated an accomplishment few elsewhere could duplicate: It took two tries to get past Kansas State and Texas, but Kansas beat every team it has played this season.
“We’re a good team. We can beat anybody. There’s no doubt in my mind,” Texas coach Rick Barnes said. “We’re capable on any given night to beat anybody.”
That’s the difference between the Big 12’s No. 1 and No. 2 teams. Texas can do it. Kansas does it.
On Saturday, it did it with a new starting point guard, Tyshawn Taylor, who fell out of the starting lineup after a suspension late in the regular season. He came off the bench in the Jayhawks’ semifinal win over Colorado, but returned to start on Saturday. He said he played his best back-to-back games of the season and he finished with a team-high 20 points.
“Tonight he was fabulous,” Kansas coach Bill Self said. “He played like a point guard should play. He initiated. He finished when he needed to.”
He was also on the floor for 38 minutes, running a Kansas offense that looked nearly unstoppable. The Jayhawks finished the night with six players who had double-digit scores.
“When one guy is playing that well, he needs to be in there, and Tyshawn just put so much pressure on their defense by being able to drive it and get to the paint,” Self said. “He helped himself score by getting there, but he also created for others and put pressure on them for the entire 40 minutes for the most part.”
Kansas wanted another shot at the only team that held bragging rights over them to end the regular season. They got it. The win also ended the Longhorns’ chance at their first Big 12 tournament title in program history -- falling to 0-6 all-time on this stage.
Kansas, meanwhile, launched a three-week campaign at a national title with one last Big 12 game that played out exactly like they spent the last month and a half imagining it would.
“If we play like that every game,” Marcus Morris said, “it’s definitely going to be hard to stop us.”