LAWRENCE, Kan. — Las Vegas product Elijah Johnson got a chance to show he can play point guard for No. 3 Kansas because two teammates slipped up.
First, Tyshawn Taylor was suspended earlier Monday 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 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.
Johnson played at Cheyenne High School.
“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 made eight of their first 10 shots and pulled away from the outmanned Cowboys (16-11, 4-9) with an 18-2 spree that produced a 52-28 halftime lead.
Taylor, a 6-foot-3-inch junior who has struggled at times to replace Sherron Collins at the point, was suspended indefinitely for violating team rules that Self declined to specify. 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 shot 4-for-4 from behind the 3-point arc. He alternated with other guards bringing the ball upcourt 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. Johnson 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 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.
Marshall Moses, who spent Saturday night in a hospital because of dehydration, had 27 points for Oklahoma State (16-11, 4-9), 13 above his average. He scored 16 in the first half, but the Cowboys never got closer than 19 after that.
■ No. 17 Syracuse 69, No. 15 Villanova 64 — At Philadelphia, Scoop Jardine and Rick Jackson combined for 38 points and the Orange (23-6, 10-6 Big East) held off the Wildcats (21-7, 9-6) on the road.
Jardine had 20 points and six assists, while Jackson had 18 points, five rebounds and four blocks.
The win was the sixth this season over a ranked team for Syracuse, tying it with No. 5 Texas for the most in the nation.
Corey Stokes returned from missing three games because of a turf toe injury to lead Villanova with 24 points.