The fact that No. 6 ranked Kansas defeated Valparaiso on Monday night should come as no surprise. In fact, most expected the Jayhawks to emerge victorious, and run their home court winning streak to 61 games. However, minutes after Kansas dominated Valparaiso, 79-44, Bill Self said the final margin of victory was unexpected.
"Yea, I didn't expect that at all," said Self. "Valpo is good. You know, they're picked second in their league and that's no shame at all, because the team that's picked first played for the national championship last year. Homer's got a good team.
"They didn't play as well tonight," he added. "They missed a lot of bunnies and everything. You watch, they're going to have a real good year."
Monday night's matchup between Kansas and Valparaiso, which Self expected to be a close contest, was decided early on in the contest. The Jayhawks scored nine of their first 10 points from behind the arc, connecting on three of their first four shots from downtown.
Senior guard Tyrel Reed scored eight points, including two 3-pointers, and Mario Little added seven in a 27-10 first-half run that put the Jayhawks firmly in control. Overall, Reed was 3-of-8 from behind the arc, 2-of-2 from the free-throw line and scored 11 points in 29 minutes of action.
While Reed connected on three of KU's seven three-pointers, Monday night belonged Marcus and Markieff Morris. Marcus, the 6-foot-9, 235-pound forward from Philadelphia, Pa., was unstoppable against the Crusaders.
In 30 minutes of action, Marcus connected on 10-of-12 field goals, 1-of-2 shots from behind the arc, 1-of-2 free-throws, scored a game-high 22 points and pulled down 12 rebounds. He also dished out four dimes and was credited with one steal.
After a slow start to the first half, Markieff, the 6-foot-10, 245-pound center finished with 12 points and 13 rebounds. He was 4-of-9 from the field, 1-of-3 from behind the arc and 3-of-3 from the free-throw line.
Self, without question, was impressed with the play of the Morris twins following their performance against Valparaiso.
"They're good," said Self when asked about the Morris twins. "If you can get them not to foul, and play more than two minutes in the first half, they're good, they are good players. They do a little bit of everything.
"The game's still a little slow motion for them for the most part," he added. "We made some bad plays defensively, but we did guard better."
Sophomore big man Thomas Robinson, who finished the game with eight points on 4-of-6 shooting, grabbed 10 rebounds and swatted three shots. After somewhat of a slow start to his career, Robinson has emerged as one of KU's top frontcourt players early on in the season.
After two regular season games, Thomas is averaging 12 points and 8.5 rebounds per game.
"I thought Thomas was good," said Self. "I thought he played better tonight than he did the other night. He went after the ball with two hands. There were two loose balls in the first half that he had no business getting, but he just went and took it.
"I thought Thomas played good," he added.
Tyshawn Taylor, in running the point, had another successful outing against Valparaiso. In 30 minutes of action, Taylor dished out 5 assists and had just one turnover. Offensively, he scored eight points on 2-of-8 shooting from the field, 1-of-3 shooting from behind the arc and 3-of-4 from the free-throw line.
In all, Kansas connected on 53.4 percent of its field goals, 33.3 percent of its shots from behind the arc and 71.4 percent of its free throws. The Jayhawks outrebounded the Crusaders, 47-33, blocked nine shots and finished with five steals.
Defensively, Kansas limited Valparaiso to just 27.4 percent shooting from the field and 10.5 percent from behind the arc. The Crusaders, on Monday night, hit just 2-of-19 shots from downtown.
Offensively, Self was pleased with KU's zone offense.
"The middle was open, we got the ball in the middle but didn't take advantage of it," said Self. "I thought what happened was the foul situation. I played Tyrel (Reed), Marcus (Morris), and Tyshawn (Taylor) too many minutes in the first half. Therefore, our zone offense was good early.
"We were really moving, and then we were real stagnant," he added. "We had guys resting on offense, and that wasn't very good. All in all, we got good looks and executed fairly well. We turned it over carelessly, like this team is going to do. We did some good things, and we were better on the boards in the second half."