Immediately following No. 7 ranked KU's 113-75 season opening victory over Longwood, Tyshawn Taylor found himself surrounded by a group of reporters. Not surprisingly, the 6-foot-3, 185-pound guard from Hoboken, N.J., was all smiles following his performance. Taylor, against the Lancers, scored 17 points, dished out 10 dimes and had three steals in 28 minutes of action.
"I think it just came from the defensive pressure," said Taylor when talking about his overall performance against Longwood. "I got a lot of easy shots and fast break points, Markieff Morris had a bunch of steals (4) and I was just in the right place at the right time.
"Yea, I had a few dunks," he added with a smile. "Like I said, Kieff and the big guys are good at playing defense, so I was just in the right place at the right time."
The outcome of Friday night's season opener couldn't have played out any better for Taylor. Coming off a season in which he struggled to play at a high level consistently, Taylor was clearly one of the best players to take the court against Longwood.
In 28 minutes of action, Taylor scored 17 points on 7-of-11 shooting from the field. He was 1-of-2 from behind the arc, 2-of-2 from the free-throw line, dished out 10 dimes and had three steals. Taylor was also credited with six turnovers, but when it mattered most, he was at his best.
Minutes after the game, Taylor said it was important to get off to a fast start, which is exactly what took place on Friday night.
"It does," said Taylor when asked if it felt good to get off to a fast start. "It definitely does, but we've got to work on some things and get better defensively, but it's good to start off like this."
Offensively, Kansas was unstoppable against Longwood. In all, five players, Marcus Morris (18), Tyshawn Taylor (17), Thomas Robinson (16), Markieff Morris (14) and Tyrel Reed (11) scored in double-figures for the Jayhawks. As a team, Kansas dished out 28 dimes to just 12 turnovers and had 15 steals.
The Jayhawks connected on 43-of-69 (62%) field goals, 8-of-19 (42%) shots from behind the arc and 19-of-27 (70%) free throws. Kansas outrebounded Longwood, 39-29, and limited the Lancers to just 45 percent shooting from the field and 36 percent from downtown.
There were plenty of highlights to go around in KU's season opening victory. Markieff Morris, the 6-foot-10, 245-pound center from Philadelphia, Pa., aside from scoring 14 points on 5-of-8 shooting from the field and 4-of-7 from the free-throw line, pulled down 15 rebounds. He was also credited with four steals against the Lancers.
In scoring a team high 18 points, Marcus Morris connected on 7-of-10 field goals, 2-of-3 shots from behind the arc and 2-of-2 free throws. Tyshawn Taylor dished out 10 dimes and had a number of dunks that brought the Allen Fieldhouse crowd to its feet.
Thomas Robinson, in scoring 16 points, hit 5-of-8 field goals, 6-of-7 free throws and pulled down seven rebounds in 19 minutes of action. While Tyrel Reed was just 2-of-7 from behind the arc, he connected on 4-of-9 field goals overall, grabbed three rebounds and finished with two assists and no turnovers.
Four other players, Jeff Withey (8), Brady Morningstar (8), Travis Releford (7) and Royce Woolridge were within striking distance of scoring in double-figures.
Withey provided Kansas with a huge spark off the bench. In just 12 minutes of action, he scored eight points on 4-of-4 shooting from the field and grabbed three rebounds. Withey matched a career-high with eight points. He also tallied eight points at Iowa State last season on January 23. Withey also set career-bests in steals (two) and assists (two) and matched his career-high with four field goals.
Markieff Morris collected his second-career double-double, while Tyshawn Taylor had his first career double-double. Taylor's 17 points were one away from matching his season high from last year (18 vs. Tennessee Tech), while his 10 assists were one shy of his career-high (11 vs. Jackson State in 2008).
Markieff Morris' 15 rebounds matched a career-high (15 vs. UMKC on November 16, 2008). He also set career-highs in assists (five) and steals (four).
Thomas Robinson tallied a career-best 16 points, which included a career-high six from the free-throw line. This was Robinson's first game in double-figures since scoring 10 points against Radford on December 9 of last year.
There were a lot of firsts on Friday night, and overall, Kansas head coach Bill Self was pleased with the fast start.
"Our starters did a great job," said Self after the game. "We got out to a 13-2 (lead) or something like that at the first time out. We made a couple of subs and our bench didn't play well in that first stretch. We traded baskets and I think they got within six or eight (points) and then we finished the half great.
"Tyshawn (Taylor) dominated the first half," he added. "Markieff (Morris) was good. Marcus was pretty good. Tyrel (Reed) didn't make shots. He got some good looks. We shared the ball and did some nice things. In the second half it became brother-in-law ball. 'I'll let you score if you promise not to touch me and let me score.' We did score a lot of points and it was good to see the ball go in the hole."
Defensively, the Jayhawks aren't anywhere near close to what Self expects from his team. Kansas allowed Longwood to convert 11 shots from behind the arc, including eight in the second half. In scoring 75 points, the Lancers shot 52 percent from the field, hitting 19-of-36 field goals.
"75 points is too much for a team to come into your house and score," said Marcus Morris. "We gave them more pressure on the perimeter which leads to quick shots. Then we have faster leak-outs. Ty (Tyshawn Taylor) got a couple of dunks off of Markieff's steals. Markieff had some real good outlet passes.
"I think it'll work all year," he added. "It was still disappointing to have a team get 75 points. You don't want a team to come into your home and score 75 points, especially the first game of the year. 115 points looks good on paper, but 75 is kind of upsetting."
With a short week to prepare, Kansas will now turn its attention to Valparaiso. The Jayhawks will play host to the Crusaders on Monday night at 7:00.
"They will play a lot of the same zone that Baylor plays and really extend out," said Self. "Making shots will become a premium. Their big guys can all shoot threes. This is not coach speak; they are very good. They are picked second in their league behind Butler and everyone knows what a great league that is.
"They returned all four starters and almost a fifth from their team last year," he added. "They've added some nice pieces and they went on a foreign trip. They share the ball well, so we're going to have to play much better defensively."