Illinois hit with double trouble.
A fake funeral thrown by Illinois coach Bruce Weber eight years ago took the headlines before the game before the Morris twins buried the Illini in the NCAA Tournament Sunday at the BOK Center.
Kansas junior power forwards Markieff Morris and Marcus Morris produced a double-double in the same game for the fifth time this season to lead the top-seeded Jayhawks to a 73-59 victory over No. 9 Illinois. While the Illini may have earned a little respect by clawing back from a 12-point deficit in the first half to remain within four midway through the second half, Kansas' version of double trouble carried the Jayhawks to the Sweet 16.
"I joked yesterday that all I ever watch is them doing lob dunks,'' Weber said. "They got rolling and got some early and got some late, and it just gave them too many easy opportunities.''
Illinois ended the season at 20-14.
Down 18-6 early in the first half, Illinois clawed back into the game with some guts and toughness missing for much of the season, and the final impression left by a group of four seniors was they were clsoer to the college game's upper crust than some expected. The Illini entered as an 8 1/2-poiunt underdog, and Illinois has never beaten a No. 1 seed in NCAA play.
"Any time it comes to an end, it's disappointing,'' Weber said. "In the last month, we got it back together and played pretty good basketball. We faced a team that's special.''
From here, Illinois faces a transition next season with a lineup that will rely upon a touted recruiting class.Weber was unable to win the first meeting against Kansas since Bill Self left Illinois to coach the Jayhawks in 2003.
Team Morris combined to score 14 of their team's 16 points as Kansas broke open a 46-42 game to lead 62-51 with 3 minutres 41 seconds left. From there, it was all done except for the Rock Chalk Jayhawk. The Big 12 champ, Kansas (34-2) advanced to the Southwest Region semifinals to meet No. 12 Richmond Friday in San Antonio.
Markieff Morris had 24 points and 12 rebounds while Marcus Morris finished with 17 points and 12 rebounds.
"They're good, and we need them to perform like that,'' Self said. "Certainly, we have an advantage over a lot of teams because they're so versatile. We did a good job of getting them the ball in the second half.
"It was a typical Big Ten game. There were few possessions, and you have to grind it out.''
Self also credited the defense by Elijah Johnson and Tyshawn Taylor on Illinois guard Demetri McCamey, who scored six points on 2-for-9 shooting and also had seven assists.
"We kept saying, 'Hang in there,' '' Weber said. "He needed one of those bombs to go in and make him feel good and make a run down the stretch.''
Mike Davis had 17 points and seven rebounds while D.J. Richardson came off the bench to score 15 points, and center Mike Tisdale had 13 points and 11 rebounds.
The Illini played without freshman forward Jereme Richmond for the second straight game because of a violation of team rules, and he likely would have helped Illinois against the imposing Kansas front line.
A maligned senior class avoided an 0-for-NCAA career by scoring the program's first NCAA Tournament win since 2006 by rolling past UNLV Friday, and the Illini showed some guts and toughness against the Jayhawks,
"The seniors played as hard as we could,'' Davis said. "Whether the fans don't like us or not, we love them.''
Illinois took a step in the right direction here in T-town by pounding UNLV and former Illini coach Lon Kruger Friday. A team ranked No. 13 to start the season before slumping through the second half of the Big Ten, Illinois played better in the final weeks of the regular season.
Following a disheartening loss to Michigan that shattered the confidence of the fan base, Illinois put together one of its best games of the season while shooting 59.6 percent and handling the pressure from UNLV's defense. The Illini rolled to a 25-point lead in the second half, providing another glimpse of the team Illini folks wanted to see all season.
Yet Richmond's drama put a negative spin on the weekend, especially when the talk heads toward next season. Expected to be one of the leaders -- if not the leading producer -- Richmond didn't play in either game this weekend in what is essentially his second suspension of the season. The Illini have a six-man recruiting class, which includes transfer point guard Sam Maniscalco from Bradley, and the Illini face a transition next season.
Illinois report cardFront court -- C The Illini scored, but Mike Tisdale and Mike Davis had no answers for the Morris twins. Double trouble put up double doubles on the Illini and carried the Jayhawks in the second half. Back court -- C- Illinois needed more from Demetri McCamey. The Illini lost for the first time this season when he had seven assists or more. Bench -- B D.J. Richardson played his way out of a slump in the NCAA Tournament, and it likely will propel him into the offseason. Overall -- B- The Illini played hard and played with some toughness, but they didn't have enough muscle to stick with top-seeded Kansas.