For The Associated Press
LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) -Brady Morningstar's soul mate in football would be the cornerback, the guy out there on a lonely island chasing the other team's most dangerous receiver.
Game after game, Kansas coach Bill Self sends Morningstar out to the perimeter to guard the opponent's best shooter. Usually, he does well. A couple of times he has been embarrassed.
How far the No. 11 Jayhawks go in defense of their NCAA championship will depend in no small part on whether their sophomore defensive specialist measures up to tougher and tougher challenges every tournament round.
``I would say Brady has become the glue stabilizer guy,'' said Self, who was named Big 12 coach of the year this week. ``He's our best perimeter defender hands down.''
The son of Roger Morningstar, a starter on Kansas' 1974 Final Four team, has had many good games and been a key factor in the Jayhawks' unexpected charge to a fifth straight Big 12 regular-season title.
n at Texas Tech to clinch their title outright, the Jayhawks got blown out by 19 points. One reason was the 35 scored by Tech's Alan Voskuil while he was mostly being guarded by Morningstar.
``It upset me quite a bit,'' Morningstar said. ``I take a lot of pride in not letting my man score, and I feel like I let the team down in that aspect to let him get off to a good start.''
The loss meant Kansas had to beat Texas in the regular-season finale or share the championship with Oklahoma. The Longhorns' best perimeter shooter is A.J. Abrams and the question was: Who would guard him?
Morningstar raised his hand and asked for the job. Self gave it to him.
When the final buzzer sounded, Abrams had 10 points on 2-for-11 shooting and made only one of six 3-point attempts. And the Jayhawks had a 10-point victory.
In the entire second half, as Kansas staged a comeback from a big first-half deficit, Abrams was 0-for-7 from the floor. He had four points from the free throw line, which were the only points Texas scored in the final 4:49.
``To me, the player of the game for us was Brady Morningstar, without question,'' Self said.
The 6-foot-3 Morningstar also contributes on offense. Against the Longhorns, he had nine points, four rebounds, four assists and a steal - all above his season averages.
ttle things. All guys play an important role, but certainly none play a more important role for doing things behind the scenes and getting our team to look pretty good than Brady.''
That's the way Morningstar sees it, too.
``In order for this team to be as successful as we want to be, I need to be on top of my game defensively first and let the offense come from the other guys,'' he said.
One of Morningstar's biggest fans is Sherron Collins, the Jayhawks' All-Big 12 point guard.
``He goes out and guards the best player on the perimeter mostly every game and it takes so much off us,'' he said.
At 23, Morningstar is one of the oldest sophomores in the country. He had a redshirt year and went to a prep academy out of high school, which delayed his entry into college another year.
``Except for some players that have entered the military or some type of (church) mission, he's about the oldest sophomore in the country,'' Self said. ``His parents want us to redshirt him one more time to try to get a sixth or seventh year out of him. He's probably going to be the oldest guy I've ever coached.''

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