Kansas Wins Las Vegas Invitational; Welcomes UCLA to Lawrence On Thursday

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Kansas Wins Las Vegas Invitational; Welcomes UCLA to Lawrence On Thursday
Ethan Miller/Getty Images
G Tyshawn Taylor (10) and F Marcus Morris celebrate against Arizona.

When you're the Kansas Jayhawks, there's never a time to relax.  Such is life when you're the fourth ranked team in the country and play one of the toughest non-conference schedules in the NCAA.

First, a look back on a very successful weekend.

After beating Ohio by 57 just a night earlier, KU avenged a 2008 loss to Arizona on Saturday, outlasting the Wildcats and star Derrick Williams 87-79.  

Just several minutes in, it appeared the Jayhawks were on their way to another route. With 11:21 left in the first half, KU led 31-15 on the strength of strong interior play from the Morris brothers and hot three point shooting.  However, the offense stalled when Marcus and Markieff were forced to the bench with foul trouble, and Kansas took just a five point lead into the half at 44-39.

After a see-saw second half that saw UA take a four point lead with 10 minutes remaining, Kansas put the Wildcats away.  Arizona F Derrick Williams (27 points, 9-of-15 shooting) kept his team in it as best he could, but picked up his fifth foul with several minutes remaining, rendering his team offensively inept.  KU took advantage, outscoring the opposition 31-19 down the stretch and cruising to a solid 87-79 victory.

Despite foul trouble, Marcus and Markieff Morris continued their stellar play, totaling 31 points and 12 rebounds between them.  Thomas Robinson (14 points) and Travis Releford (10 points, four rebounds, two steals) sparked a big effort from the KU bench, and starting guards Tyshawn Taylor and Tyrel Reed joined them in double figures.

Ethan Miller/Getty Images
Marcus Morris received plenty of hardware last week, leading KU to a 3-0 record.

Marcus Morris was named the Tournament MVP, while brother Markieff and Releford joined him on the All-Tournament Team.  For his efforts from November 22-28, Marcus was also named Big XII Player of the Week.

After a weekend that ended with a trophy presentation and individual accolades, its time to get back to work for the Jayhawks.

UCLA comes to town with a 3-2 record, having lost consecutive games to 12th ranked Villanova and most recently to underdog Virginia Commonwealth.  Still, the Bruins boast a bevy of talented players, headlined by sophomore forwards Reeves Nelson and Tyler Honeycutt.  Very different players, the two offer a combination of power, toughness, athleticism and versatility that is unrivaled by most front courts.  

Though these aren't the Bruins of the three-straight Final Four years, UCLA is without a doubt the stiffest home test the Jayhawks have faced to date.  Despite that, expect the longest home winning streak in the country to continue as KU gets a win over UCLA on Thursday.

Check back tomorrow for a positional breakdown of the Jayhawks and Bruins.

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