TULSA, Okla. (AP) — Marcus and Markieff Morris finally had their chance to put the memory of Northern Iowa to rest on the court.
The Kansas twins hope they did that once and for all by combining for 31 points in a 72-53 win over Boston University on Friday night.
The win was the first NCAA tournament game for the top-seeded Jayhawks since being sent home by Northern Iowa in the second round last season. They had been reminded of that stunning loss in countless ways since, even earlier this week when Kansas coach Bill Self had stories of that defeat left in each of their lockers.
“I took it down out of my locker,” Marcus Morris said. “I didn’t want to read it. It was just things we’ve been reminded of for so long. Watching ESPN highlights, it was on every day. I’m just tired of seeing it.
“We know what we need to do to stop it from happening and move on.”
The top-seeded Jayhawks (33-2) appeared to still be feeling some of the aftereffects of last season’s loss in the first half, shooting just 42 percent and clinging to a 33-29 halftime lead. The Morris twins were a combined 5 of 15 in the half, and Kansas had all it could handle from the Terriers.
Boston (21-14) entered the game on an 11-game winning streak and played like it in its first tournament appearance since 2002 by going toe-to-toe with the Jayhawks in the first half. Leading scorer John Holland was the catalyst for the America East Conference champion Terriers, who led midway through the half and appeared to have a chance at becoming the first No. 16 seed in tournament history to take down a No. 1 seed.
Holland scored 15 of his 19 points in the half, finishing 6-of-10 shooting and hitting 3-of-5 3-pointers. The senior scored eight of Boston’s first 10 points, and his step-back jumper pulled the Terriers within 25-24 late in the half.
“It was a real great experience,” Holland said. “What can I say? I mean, I’ll never forget it. The whole game, just being out there, playing. Kansas is a great team.
“I know we played as hard as we could.”
The fast start didn’t carry over after halftime for Holland, who missed his first eight shots and finished 1 of 9.
The Jayhawks, meanwhile, finally started to find their groove after halftime. They opened on a 10-3 run to go up 43-32, with the Morris twins scoring eight during the spurt. The duo continued to control the game inside after that, finishing the second half a combined 7-of-8 shooting after the difficult first half.
Ahead 47-41, Josh Selby scored on a break. Brady Morningstar, Tyshawn Taylor and Markieff Morris then each hit 3-pointers on Kansas’ next three possessions to put the Jayhawks in control and up 58-43.
“I knew it was coming,” Boston coach Patrick Chambers said. “I watched a lot of film of them and have watched coach Self for many, many years. That’s what they do. They score in bunches.”
Overall, Kansas shot 62 percent in the second half and 51 percent for the game.
“We played tight in the first half,” Self said. “Second half, I thought we loosened up a little bit offensively, but we really guarded them the second half and kind of wore them down a little bit.”
The Jayhawks led by six at halftime in their tournament opener against Lehigh last year before going on to a 16-point win. They followed a similar script against the Terriers on Friday night.
Of course, Kansas’ real issues last season came in the next round when it lost to Northern Iowa. The Jayhawks will have the chance to atone when they face the Illinois on Sunday, with a berth in the round of 16 on the line.
Self doesn’t mind the talk of the past, as long as Kansas understands how to avoid repeating it.
“The thing about it is when you talk about the past, and it’s not positive, you bring in negative thoughts,” Self said. “I don’t want that. I don’t care if they read that stuff. I don’t care.
“I just want them in the back of their mind, which I know they feel, is why would this happen?”
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