While senior point guard Sherron Collins is the heart of the Kansas team, providing both scoring and leadership, sophomore Marcus Morris is proving he also can be counted on in those areas.
Collins and Morris look to help the third-ranked Jayhawks remain undefeated in Big 12 play and win their ninth straight over Iowa State on Saturday at Hilton Coliseum.
Collins, named to the AP’s preseason All-America team, helped lead Kansas (17-1, 3-0) to a national title in 2008 and carried the team down the stretch in Wednesday’s 81-75 win over No. 25 Baylor.
The game was tied at 67-all with just under 3 minutes left before Collins put an end to the upset bid, scoring eight of the Jayhawks’ final 14 points. He finished with 28 points, the fourth time in five games he scored at least 22.
“Sherron is a competitive dude,” coach Bill Self said. “He’s the best guard in the country, in our opinion. He does whatever it takes to give us the best chance to win every night.”
Morris also came up strong down the stretch Wednesday, making all four free throw attempts in the final 1:49. The 6-foot-8 forward finished with 22 points on 8-of-11 shooting for the Jayhawks, the only undefeated team in the Big 12.
Morris is averaging 20.3 points and 7.7 rebounds while shooting 75.9 percent (22 for 29) in the three conference games.
“Marcus is playing at a level that we all thought he could play at and certainly hope he can keep it up,” Self said.
Morris’ next chance will come against an Iowa State team that has lost eight straight to the Jayhawks since a 63-61 overtime win Feb. 19, 2005, when Kansas was ranked No. 2.
Collins averaged 24.0 points in the two meetings last season to help Kansas overcome a scoring barrage from forward Craig Brackins.
In Iowa State’s 82-67 home loss last Jan. 24, Brackins finished with 42 points—the fourth-best single-game performance in school history. He had 20 points and 11 rebounds in a 72-55 defeat at Kansas a few weeks later.
Brackins had 14 points and 10 boards for the Cyclones (12-6, 1-2) in Wednesday’s 78-71 loss at Texas Tech.
That was Iowa State’s first game without starting guard and third-leading scorer Lucca Staiger, who announced Tuesday he was going back to Germany to pursue professional opportunities. Staiger, a junior, averaged 9.4 points.
“Obviously, it was a difficult day and a half, so in that regard I’m proud of our guys that we didn’t quit,” coach Greg McDermott said.
In Staiger’s absence, Marquis Gilstrap stepped up with another impressive performance.
Gilstrap scored 19 points and had 12 rebounds for his third double-double in as many conference games. The 6-foot-6 forward is averaging 18.0 points and 12.3 rebounds in the Big 12.
This will be Iowa State’s third top-5 opponent in the last three weeks following an 86-65 loss to then-No. 5 Duke at the United Center on Jan. 6 and a 90-83 defeat to top-ranked Texas on Jan. 13.
The Cyclones have lost 16 straight against ranked opponents since a 72-60 win over then-No. 12 Iowa on Dec. 9, 2005.
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