Horns lose in Big 12 finals

Will Anderson

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Much was made of the words that Markieff Morris said to the Longhorns on Friday.

All that will go down in the record books is the performance Markieff and his twin Marcus put together on Saturday.

“We had to back our talk up,” Markieff said. “We kept the energy the whole game.”

After some reported trash talking, the duo scored KU’s first four baskets — all in the paint — and accounted for over 50 percent of their team’s first-half rebounds. Marcus finished with 17 points and Markieff with 14 as Kansas won its eighth Big 12 tournament championship 85-73.

“I think that today we were playing our best and we were at full strength and we showed everybody,” Marcus said.

Both were named to the media’s all-tournament team, with Marcus garnering overall MVP honors.

Kansas (32-2, 14-2 Big 12) now seems like a lock for a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament; the official selection will occur Sunday at 5 p.m. Texas (27-7, 13-3) will go dancing but it’s seeding fate is uncertain.

With Texas staging a desperate comeback late in Friday’s game, the Morris brothers provided a fatal blow. With just under two minutes to play, Texas closed the gap to 10 off a pair of Jordan Hamilton free throws and was heading back on defense.

Kansas’ Tyshawn Taylor advanced the ball up the court before passing to Marcus at the top of the key. Marcus jab-stepped left, then rolled right. With head down, it looked like he was about to drive — until he hit Markieff on a perfect lob pass, and the slightly taller brother finished the alley-oop with a one-handed, basket-shaking dunk

For the most part, the Morris brothers had their way on offense as Texas’ starting forwards sat with foul trouble. Tristan Thompson, who started the game defending Marcus, and Gary Johnson — who started on Markieff — both had a pair of bookings by halftime.

Thompson, another all-tournament performer, accumulated four fouls in only 21 minutes, his fewest since Dec. 18. Meanwhile, Johnson went 1-of-9 from the field and the team’s reserve forwards couldn’t stop the twins.

“When they’re on the court, that’s their team,” Johnson said. “Everything goes through the Morris twins.”

With all of the attention on Marcus and Markieff, KU’s Taylor had his best game of the tournament with a team-high 20 points to go with five assists.

“They helped me out,” Taylor said. “I was being aggressive and I was getting in there and things were falling for me.”

Texas fell behind early as Kansas scored 48 points in the first half. Jordan Hamilton, who finished with a game-high 21 points, tried to get his team back into it after the break with some accurate long-range shooting. But in the end, the Jayhawks’ seven 3-pointers and 38-18 advantage in the paint proved too much.

“They’re the most consistent team from start to finish,” Barnes said.