LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — Brady Morningstar’s shooting touch is back, and the timing couldn’t be better for second-ranked Kansas.
Morningstar scored a season-high 19 points and made five of the Jayhawks’ season-best 13 3-pointers in an 86-66 victory over Nebraska on Saturday.
The fifth-year senior’s best performance came on a day Josh Selby, KU’s most accurate 3-point shooter, had to sit out with an injured right foot and two days before the Jayhawks host No. 14 Missouri.
“Brady hasn’t made shots until the last couple games, but he was fabulous tonight,” Kansas coach Bill Self said. “Not having Josh, we needed someone to step up and be a threat.”
Morningstar wasn’t the only one. Markieff Morris made a career-high three 3s and Tyrel Reed added three more as the Jayhawks beat Nebraska for the 17th time in a row and handed the Cornhuskers their first loss in 15 home games.
Morris had 17 points, Marcus Morris added 16 and Reed 14 for Kansas (22-1, 7-1 Big 12).
Morningstar shot 24 percent on 3s through 19 games, but he broke out of his slump with a 4-for-7 outing against Colorado on Jan. 25. He’s now 11 for his last 18 (61 percent) after going 5 of 7 against the Huskers.
“I missed so many, but once I start making a few, they’ll come in bunches,” Morningstar said. “It feels good. I’m not jolly about myself because I’m supposed to knock down shots. I guess you could say I’m just back to normal.”
Brandon Richardson scored 16 points, Toney McCray had 11 and Caleb Walker and Lance Jeter 10 apiece for the Huskers (15-7, 3-5).
“We played our hearts out, and I thought we played good defense,” said Jeter, who had a season-high 10 assists. “They just could not miss.”
The Devaney Sports Center’s first sellout crowd since 2008 began thinning when the Jayhawks started to wear down the Huskers. Kansas called timeout with 10:07 left, after the Huskers had pulled to 60-54. The Jayhawks then went on a 15-3 run to seal it.
“We could have played them 10 times, and if they played as well as they did today, we would have a hard time beating them,” Nebraska coach Doc Sadler said.
Nebraska was held to three field goals after the timeout, with two coming in the final 2 minutes after the game was out of reach.
“Offensively, that’s as good as we can execute,” Self said. “Of course, it helps when you make shots. We had some guys step up. Brady, and Tyrel you expect to make shots. But when your center (Markieff Morris) steps out and goes 3 for 3, that’s not bad defense. That’s just a guy making a play.
“To score 80 points on a Doc-coached team in their building... them and Texas are the best two defensive teams in the league that I’ve seen so far.”
Self described Selby’s injury as a “stress reaction” on his right foot. It wasn’t known whether Selby would be available for Monday’s game against Missouri. Self said doctors didn’t believe Selby would be out more than a few days.
“If he were to roll his ankle it could become a stress-type fracture. We didn’t want to chance it,” Self said.
Nebraska came in confident after giving the Jayhawks a scare in Lawrence on Jan. 15. The Huskers had 10-point leads twice in the second half and missed a tying 3-pointer at the buzzer in a 63-60 loss.
Self said that game was good preparation for Saturday.
“They were by far the superior team in our building,” Self said. “There wasn’t fear (of Nebraska). There was a respect standpoint that they could beat us if we didn’t give a great effort.”
Kansas was in control throughout in the teams’ final regular-season meeting as members of the Big 12. The Huskers head to the Big Ten next season.
The Jayhawks made 10 or more 3-pointers in a game for the third time this season. They shot 54.2 percent on 3s, and more than half their 25 total field goals came from long range.
But they weren’t able to finish off the Huskers until the last 5 minutes.
McCray hit a 3-pointer and Jeter scored to make it a six-point game midway through the second half.
Tyshawn Taylor drove the baseline for a basket and Markieff Morris hit his third 3 to start the decisive run for the Jayhawks.
The Huskers gave the 13,602 fans plenty to cheer in the first half.
Nebraska trailed 32-30 after Diaz cut through the lane and converted Jeter’s bounce pass into an easy layup.
But Morningstar and Reed hit 3s during a 10-2 run that gave the Jayhawks a double-digit lead. Kansas was up 42-34 at the half, though the Huskers might have been closer had they not missed three layups.
Kansas beat the Huskers for the 26th time in 27 meetings since 1999. Kansas was 31-3 against the Huskers since the Big 12 started play in 1996, and the Jayhawks lead the overall series 170-71.
“Last time in Lincoln, and I love playing here,” Morningstar said. “You won’t be coming back, so it’s good to get a last win here.”
BIG 12 CONFERENCE BASKETBALL
At Lincoln, Neb
No. 2 KANSAS 86, NEBRASKA 66
Mark. Morris 6-6 2-3 17, Marc. Morris 5-7 5-9 16, Taylor 2-8 2-2 6, Morningstar 5-7 4-5 19, Reed 4-8 3-4 14, Robinson 1-2 6-8 8, Withey 0-0 0-0 0, Johnson 1-4 0-0 2, Little 1-2 1-2 4, Releford 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 25-45 23-33 86.
Ubel 2-4 2-3 7, Almeida 0-4 0-0 0, Richardson 5-9 4-4 16, Walker 3-7 3-4 10, Jeter 3-8 4-4 10, McCray 4-11 0-0 11, Niemann 0-1 0-0 0, Gallegos 2-5 0-2 4, Diaz 4-7 0-0 8, Beranek 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 23-56 13-17 66.
Halftime—Kansas 42-34. Three-point goals—Kansas 13-24 (Morningstar 5-7, Mark. Morris 3-3, Reed 3-6, Little 1-1, Marc. Morris 1-3, Taylor 0-1, Releford 0-1, Johnson 0-2), Nebraska 7-20 (McCray 3-7, Richardson 2-4, Ubel 1-2, Walker 1-3, Jeter 0-1, Niemann 0-1, Gallegos 0-2). Fouled out—Ubel. Rebounds—Kansas 33 (Marc. Morris 7), Nebraska 30 (Ubel, Walker 5). Assists—Kansas 16 (Morningstar 6), Nebraska 13 (Jeter 10). Total fouls—Kansas 16, Nebraska 24. Technicals—Marc. Morris, Diaz. A—13,602.