Thursday, December 23, 2010
Kansas loses some composure, beats Cal
By Diamond Leung
BERKELEY, Calif. -- The nasty pileup on the floor featured two players who didn't like each other, some apparent extracurricular elbowing and tempers flaring.
Cal's Jorge Gutierrez was literally dragged away by a teammate and restrained by his coach after a loose ball situation resulted in the feisty Bears guard getting tangled up with Kansas forward Thomas Robinson for a second time.
And out of the scrum, there was Josh Selby trying to calm his teammate down with a bear hug.
"To make sure he keeps his composure," explained Selby, Kansas' freshman sensation.
The Jayhawks ultimately prevailed 78-63 on Thursday at Haas Pavilion in their first true road game of the season to improve to 11-0. In a chippy game that saw KU's leading scorer Marcus Morris get ejected, three technical fouls and Robinson's intentional foul, they learned that there is plenty of room to grow.
"If you're competing, you beat 'em on the scoreboard, not by getting the last word in," Kansas coach Bill Self said. "We have to mature. We don't have a mature team, and we have known that from the beginning. They are competitive, though."
Kansas got big performances off the bench from Markieff Morris, who had a career-high 21 points and 10 rebounds, along with 18 points from Selby, who was masterful with his first-half shooting in only the second game of his career.
Tensions ran high Wednesday night between Kansas and Cal.
But the attention was soon focused on two teams that couldn't keep their hands off each other. Robinson got whistled for an intentional foul on Gutierrez in the first half, and it went from there.
Marcus Morris was ejected with 17:23 left for a flagrant foul of Harper Kamp, with Self agreeing afterward that Morris "got what he deserved." About a minute later, it was Gutierrez and Robinson going at it again and getting called for double technical fouls. Kamp and coach Mike Montgomery pulled Gutierrez out of the pile.
"You have to love Jorge," Montgomery said. "He's the greatest. But he's a stubborn son of a gun. And if you attack him, he's going to come back at you. It's just his nature. It's what makes him so good."
Said Robinson: "It's a physical game. I don't really remember what happened. I went after the ball. He went after the ball."
The incidents only served to fire up Cal, and the Bears were able to whittle a 17-point deficit down to three. But the technical on Gutierrez was also a fourth personal foul, and Kansas was able pull away behind Markieff Morris' dominance inside and Tyrel Reed's career highs of 18 points and seven rebounds.
Self said there's "a great chance" Selby would make his first career start once the Jayhawks return to action next week. The freshman has had the hot hand since coming off an NCAA suspension to sink USC with a game-winning 3-pointer. Against Cal, he finished 6-of-13 from the floor, making three from beyond the arc and also contributing four assists while playing good defense.
"He is a guy that can score when we don't really have a good offense," Self said.
So while Self used words like "disappointed" and "ridiculous" to describe some of his team's antics (Brady Morningstar was later assessed a technical for knocking the ball out of Gary Franklin's hands after a called timeout), the Jayhawks also had plenty of fun wearing their road blues and going at it in front of 11,250.
Kansas fans showered their team with chants and booed Gutierrez on his home court. They got to see Selby light it up and provide a glimpse of what's to come.
Yes, the Jayhawks still have to incorporate their star and have been shaky at times this season even with Selby in uniform.
"We got to be smarter," Reed said. " We've got to keep our cool and be mature about it."
But thus far, Kansas has come out on top in every challenge it has faced and gotten the last laugh.