LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) - Elijah Johnson got a chance Monday night to show he can play point guard for No. 3 Kansas because two teammates slipped up.
First, Tyshawn Taylor was suspended earlier in the day for violating team rules, leaving the position wide open. Then, heralded freshman Josh Selby, coach Bill Self's first choice to run the point, left the little orthotic device he wears in his left shoe at home.
So Self gave Johnson the nod, and the little-used sophomore responded with a head-turning 15 points, three assists and solid defense in a 92-65 romp over Oklahoma State.
``It was a good decision because I thought Elijah played great,' Self said. ``Hopefully, this will be a confidence boost for him. I'm not going to make any brash statements on who is going to be our starter for the rest of the year. But the ball's definitely in his court.'
Marcus Morris had 27 points for the Jayhawks (26-2, 11-2 Big 12), who hit eight of their first 10 shots and pulled away from the outmanned Cowboys with an 18-2 spree that produced a 52-28 halftime bulge.
Marshall Moses, who spent Saturday night in the hospital, had 27 points for Oklahoma State (16-11, 4-9), 13 above his season average. He scored 16 in the first half, but the Cowboys never got closer than 19 after halftime.
Taylor, a 6-foot-3 junior who has struggled at times to replace Sherron Collins at the point, was suspended indefinitely Monday for violating unspecified team rules. Self declined to say what rule was broken. But he hinted that someone else might have Taylor's job when he gets back.
``I am disappointed. I like him and all that,' Self said. ``But it's time for somebody else to get an opportunity.'
Johnson was 4 for 4 from behind the 3-point arc. He also had three assists while alternating with other guards bringing the ball up the floor as the Jayhawks shot 56 percent in a sizzling first half and 54 percent for the game.
``I think I did well,' Johnson said. ``Some stuff I can still improve on. I threw the ball away two times.'
Perhaps just as impressive was his defense. He held Keiton Page to eight points on 2-for-11 shooting.
``We haven't had good point guard defensive play consistently like I think we could,' Self said. ``And this was by far, in recent memory, the best job that anybody's done as far as being sound on a guy. I thought he played really smart.'
Markieff Morris, who had a career-high 26 points in the previous game against Colorado, had 15 points and seven rebounds for the Jayhawks, whose loss to Kansas State last Monday dropped them from No. 1 to No. 3 in this week's Associated Press poll.
During the decisive stretch in the early going, the Cowboys went more than 6 minutes without a field goal. Moses' fadeaway jumper at the 11:49 mark made it 24-19, then Johnson hit a jumper and the Jayhawks were off and running to their 15th straight victory over Oklahoma State in Allen Fieldhouse.
Marcus Morris hit his second straight 3-pointer, then Page, hounded by Johnson, turned the ball over and Marcus Morris made a basket.
Thomas Robinson, who got a big hand when he came into the game after missing three outings with a knee injury, got a bucket and then Selby fed Marcus Morris, who blew right past a flat-footed Cowboys defender and slammed the ball home for a 35-19 lead.
Moses, a 6-7 senior, was 8 for 11 from the floor and made 10 of 13 free throws. He played only a few minutes Saturday against Texas A&M before heading for the hospital.
``That word makes it sound worse than it was,' Moses said. ``I was just really dehydrated. The doctor told me I had some kind of virus, just a cold or something which makes it hard for me to breathe. I knew I was sick going into the A&M game, but I didn't know I was dehydrated.'
He said he still has a cough and a headache but during the game felt ``way better than I felt two days ago.'
Kansas outrebounded the Cowboys 38-25 and made 20 of 27 foul shots.
In the second half, Moses' two free throws sliced the lead to 74-55 before Johnson answered with a 3-pointer and ignited another Jayhawks push that quickly built the lead to 83-58 on another 3 by Johnson.
Reger Dowell had 10 points for Oklahoma State.
``They're the best offensive team I've seen, no question,' Oklahoma State coach Travis Ford said. ``I don't think there's any question you can talk about them as one of the best teams, easily. It doesn't take a genius to figure that one out.'
The Associated Press News Service
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