LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) - If Thomas Robinson keeps playing like this, he might work his way into the starting lineup whether somebody else is in trouble or not.
The 6-foot-9 sophomore cracked the lineup for the first time Wednesday night while leading scorer Marcus Morris sat on the bench and responded with a career-high 20 points and 10 rebounds, helping a sluggish No. 3 Kansas beat Texas-Arlington 82-57.
``Thomas is without question our best post guy right now,' said coach Bill Self, displeased with the overall effort even though the Jayhawks (12-0) ran their school-record home court winning streak to 66 games.
``We had a really good day yesterday (in practice), and as good a day as yesterday was, tonight was probably worse than yesterday was good,' Self said. ``We didn't play very well at all. Didn't play very tough. Didn't guard very well at times.'
Marcus Morris, who got ejected from the previous game for throwing an elbow and has been Kansas' leading scorer all year, came off the bench to score 13 points while his twin brother, Markieff, had 14.
Bo Ingram led Texas-Arlington (5-5) with 20 points, including four 3-pointers. The Mavericks of the Southland Conference came in as 33-point underdogs and had never beaten a ranked opponent. They were 3-50 against teams from the Big 12, but trailed by only 12 points early in the second half.
``I'll just keep doing what coach says right now and let this play out,' said Robinson. ``I take my hat off to them. They're a good team. But at the same time, we didn't execute our offense. We didn't hit shots. We definitely have to get better, but they played us close.'
The Mavericks tried to slow the pace and frequently scored in the final seconds of their possession.
``We knew Kansas was a good team, so we just slowed it down, and thankfully it worked out for us,' said Ingram.
While the Jayhawks looked sluggish after two-a-day practices during the Christmas break, Texas-Arlington dove for loose balls, fought for rebounds and for the first 25 minutes or so frequently outhustled Kansas down the court.
Kansas, one of eight unbeaten Div. I teams starting the week, led only 58-46 about midway through the second half and called time out after LaMarcus Reed II and Darius Richardson scored.
Then Marcus Morris, who came off the bench at the 11:51 mark of the first half, ignited a 14-2 run with a free throw and dunk. Markieff Morris capped the spurt with a big dunk for a 72-48 lead.
For the rest of the night, it was all Kansas.
``Kansas is unbelievable,' said Texas-Arlington coach Scott Cross. ``I admire the way they play basketball.'
Travis Releford had a 3-pointer for a 69-48 lead at the 6:10 mark, Markieff Morris pulled down an offensive rebound and got a put-back and then made a free throw.
Robinson, a 6-foot-9 sophomore who hadn't started all year, scored Kansas' first seven points of the second half after Ingram's bucket sliced the lead to 36-30.
The Mavericks, trying to avoid their first winless December since 1959, went on an early 11-2 run and silenced the sellout crowd at Allen Fieldhouse which expected a wire-to-wire rout. When Ingram made a 3-pointer from the wing, the visitors suddenly had a 14-11 lead.
After Robinson missed two free throws, the Cavaliers went up 16-11 on a dunk by Reed.
It was 18-13 when Marcus Morris' bucket was followed by Elijah Johnson's 3-pointer and the Jayhawks were off on a 15-2 spree. Marcus Morris ended the run with a 3-pointer from the corner at the 5:12 mark.
``It was not a good game for us tonight, I don't think,' said Self.
Freshman guard Josh Selby, who had come off the bench and scored 39 points in his first two collegiate games, also got a start and was only 1 for 9 from the floor. Elijah Johnson started at point guard for Tyshawn Taylor, who had missed several practices because of trouble traveling back from his New Jersey home.
``The thing that really concerns me is who is our best players?' Self said. ``I have no idea. It's different night to night.'
The Associated Press News Service
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