Morris brothers, Jayhawks dominate Cyclones inside

Guard Diante Garrett loses the ball to Markieff Morris during the Iowa State vs. Kansas game on Wednesday, Jan. 12 at Hilton Coliseum. Garrett contributed 27 points to the Cyclones, who lost 84-79 to the Jayhawks.

Jake Lovett

ISU forward Jamie Vanderbeken said the Kansas front line may be the best in the nation.

After its performance Wednesday night, that will be hard to argue.

No. 3 Kansas dominated nearly every facet of the inside game against Iowa State, out-rebounding the Cyclones 47-34 and outscoring them in the paint 42-26. Highlighted by the play of the Morris brothers — Marcus and Markieff — the unbeaten Jayhawks pounded the ball inside every chance they had, making the difference in the Jayhawks’ 84-79 win.

“I thought we battled them, but they just outmuscled us with those two guys,” said ISU coach Fred Hoiberg after his team’s second-consecutive loss in Big 12 play.

The Morrises combined to score 50 of Kansas’ points and came down with 24 rebounds.

The smaller of the twins, Marcus — listed at 6-foot-9-inch — stole the show, going 11-of-15 from the floor, 11-of-14 from the free throw line for 33 points. He also had 13 rebounds.

Not only did the twins from Philadelphia dominate the paint, they also dominated the free throw line, taking a combined 25 shots from the stripe.

“They’re beasts. They’re big-time basketball players,” Hoiberg said. “They’ve made huge strides. They can shoot, they’re physical, they get to the line, and they’ve really done a good job on their post moves.”

Hoiberg said he wanted his team to limit the Jayhawks’ “easy shots,” but the thin ISU front line struggled to keep up inside.

The Jayhawks pulled down 13 offensive rebounds, leading to 17 second-chance points.

“It was the most physical game of the year, by far,” Vanderbeken said, who went for 19 points and eight rebounds of his own in the losing effort. “But that’s the Big 12 for you, it’s going to be a battle down low.”

Vanderbeken has struggled with foul trouble for much of the season, but managed to stay away from contact in the post area for much of the game after picking up two early on.

Other Cyclones, though, were not as lucky, as Jordan Railey and Calvin Godfrey picked up seven fouls in limited minutes inside, before picking up three more trying to extend the game late.

“It’s hard because those guys are good offensively and defensively, but you’ve just got to stick to your principles,” Vanderbeken said. “I stayed out of foul trouble in this one, but there were a couple times I probably let a ball go that I shouldn’t have.”

The Cyclone foul trouble led to Kansas shooting 31 free throws. The Jayhawks were successful on just 61 percent of those, but the Cyclones only got six tries from the line until the waning minutes of the game.

“Their emphasis is to go inside, to throw the ball to those two guys,” Hoiberg said. “They punch it in, they seal you down there. We didn’t want to give them any easy baskets.”