NEW YORK -- Bill Self sounded like a coach whose team had just won a game with a less-than-perfect outing.
"We've got a fun team, but we're wild, we've got to harness some of that," Self said after No. 4 Kansas beat Memphis (No. 14 ESPN/USA Today, No. 13 AP) 81-68 on Tuesday night in the Jimmy V Classic at Madison Square Garden.
The Jayhawks (8-0) had a tough first half with the ball turning it over 12 times, more than their season average of 11.9 for a game.
"I don't think we did a great job against pressure, anybody," Self said, indicating that seven players had at least one turnover in the game and three players had at least four. "I think we'll get better."
Markieff Morris had 16 points and his twin brother Marcus added 14 for the Jayhawks. Tyshawn Taylor had 13 points and Thomas Robinson added 10 points and 10 rebounds for Kansas, which had lost in both of its previous appearances in the event that raises money for the V Foundation, a cancer research project that has raised over $100 million.
Will Barton scored 16 points to lead the Tigers (7-1), who are 1-2 in the Jimmy V and who have lost four straight against Kansas, including the 2008 national championship game when John Calipari was coaching Memphis.
"Coach Self is as underrated as any coach in the country," second-year Memphis coach Josh Pastner said. "I don't think he gets enough credit. It's his offensive efficiency -- it was off the charts tonight -- but his offensive efficiency is really good."
Kansas wasn't efficient at all in the first half with the turnover trouble.
"Late in the first we had nothing going and didn't play very smart," Self said. "The whole team was ridiculously careless tonight. It was the first time they faced pressure."
The Jayhawks opened the second half on an 11-4 run to take a 48-39 lead with 16:08 to play.
Suddenly the turnovers stopped and the Jayhawks started defending hard on the perimeter, stopping the Memphis guards from driving.
The Tigers missed 16 of their first 23 shots in the second half and Kansas took advantage of the poor shooting, taking a 67-54 lead on a jumper by Marcus Morris with 6:19 left. Memphis didn't get closer than 10 points the rest of the way with Kansas' biggest lead coming on a 3-pointer by Brady Morningstar that made it 74-59 with 3:33 to play.
"We missed a lot of short shots and had it deep in the paint, we just have to score it, just put it in the basket," Pastner said, "That affected our defense and that was the difference for Kansas. Their [Kansas] turnovers and missed shots did not affect their defense."
Marcus Morris had eight rebounds and Markieff grabbed seven for the Jayhawks, who finished with a 44-31 advantage on the boards.
Chris Crawford had 15 points, 12 in the first half when he was 4 of 6 from the field. The Jayhawks didn't give many open looks in the second half and he made one of four shots in the final 20 minutes.
The Jayhawks, who took off right after the game for a charter flight home, shot 57.1 percent for the game (32 for 56), just above the Jayhawks' percentage entering the game (56.9).
The Jayhawks finished with 22 turnovers, seven above their previous high this season. Memphis had 14 steals and turned those miscues into 29 points.
- Karl Hess
- Mike Kitts
- Ray Natali