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Hot streak for Kansas hits new peak in romp of Missouri

Ryan Greene
The Dagger

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The downside to Kansas's 103-86 slicing of rival Missouri on Monday night is that some people might remember it all too well.

The Jayhawks were as close to perfect as a team can expect to be on the offensive end, and just about anything they do moving forward runs the risk of being compared to this performance.

It looks eye-popping on the surface alone, as the nation's second-ranked club shot 60.7 percent from the floor and was 11 of 19 from 3-point range. The Jayhawks compiled a shade under a 2:1 assist-to-turnover ratio, and were incredibly efficient in their execution, with only four of those 103 points coming via the fast break.

Quick, accurate and sharp ball movement in the half-court led to open shots from everywhere, and every one of them seemed to fall.

The only notable offensive blemish Kansas had on the night was an 18-of-28 showing at the free-throw line.

Oh well. There's not much difference between scoring 103 and 108 points in only 40 minutes.

But it's a closer look at some of the individual efforts that shows just how well Bill Self's machine is running right now.

It goes far beyond the Morris twins, who combined to turn in a ho-hum 38-point, 15-rebound night.

• Junior point guard Tyshawn Taylor was not wild and out of control, which he has a tendency to be at the wrong times. He was the only KU player to have what you'd consider a poor shooting night (4 of 14), but had only two turnovers in 35 minutes, which Self will take any night from him.

• In his second game replacing the injured Josh Selby in the starting lineup, senior Brady Morningstar had eight points, seven assists and no turnovers in a game-high 38 minutes. This came after scoring a career-high 19 points on Saturday at Nebraska. The fact that Selby didn't play — but probably will again soon — was a mere afterthought.

• Also helping absorb the blow from the brief loss of Selby are senior swingman Mario Little and sophomore guard Travis Releford. Little scored a career-best 17 points against Mizzou, including a 3-of-3 night from beyond the arc. Releford is just rounding back into form after an ankle sprain, tallied 10 points on 4-of-5 shooting in 16 minutes.

Monday's shellacking was simply the peak of a wild run that Kansas has enjoyed since suffering its lone loss of the season to Texas on Jan. 22.

The Jayhawks aren't necessarily stifling opponents on the defensive end, which Self always prefers, but are instead overwhelming them with offense.

In the five games since the setback, KU is out-scoring opponents by an average margin of 16.8 points, hasn't shot worse than 50.9 percent and is a combined 47 of 97 from the outside.

They're also finishing opponents off much more emphatically after letting a handful of big leads vanish in the second half several times earlier this season.

The chances of them keeping it at least near the recent mean look good, too, with five upcoming games against unranked opponents before finishing the regular season at home against No. 22 Texas A&M and on the road in the rematch with No. 19 Mizzou.

They've simply looked like a different team since the Texas loss, which came roughly 12 hours after sophomore forward Thomas Robinson's mother passed.

On the Friday night before that game, after the news was delivered to Robinson by his younger sister, the team was with him in his on-campus apartment into the wee hours of the morning. That next week, they traveled to the funeral in Washington, D.C., to be by his side.

During the current run, it's had the look like a closer team.

It's showing on paper, too.

Ryan Greene covers UNLV and the Mountain West Conference for the Las Vegas Sun. Read his Rebels coverage and follow him on Twitter.

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