No. 4 Kansas plays its final game of the Jayhawk Invitational when it hosts Pac-10 power Arizona Sunday in Allen Fieldhouse. Kansas is 4-0 for the for the second time under head coach Bill Self and is coming off an 87-46 win against Northern Arizona on Nov. 21. Arizona is 3-1 on the season following its 88-64 win against Adams State on Nov. 21. The Wildcats will be playing their fourth game in the eight days. This is a battle of marquee programs as Arizona ranks first in active consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances with 23, while Kansas is next at 18.
Big 12/Pac-10 Hardwood Series
The Arizona at Kansas game is part of the Big 12/Pac-10 Hardwood Series that begins in the 2007-08 season. The two conferences have agreed to play a four-year men's basketball series of 12 annual games between the two leagues that runs through 2010. The 2008 series will be return games of the matchups from 2007. All 12 contests in 2007 will be televised nationally by either FSN or the ESPN family of networks. A majority of the games will be played the week after Thanksgiving.
2007 Big 12/Pac-10 Hardwood Series Schedule
Nov. 25 - Arizona at KANSAS
Nov. 29 - Oregon at Kansas State; Oklahoma at USC
Dec. 1 - Washington at Oklahoma State; Missouri at California
Dec. 2 - Arizona State at Nebraska; Stanford at Colorado; Texas A&M at Arizona; Texas at UCLA
Dec. 22 - Texas Tech vs. Stanford (Dallas)
Kansas is 4-0 on the season and has won 18 of its last 19 games dating back to last season. The fourth-ranked Jayahwks are coming off an 87-46 win against Northern Arizona and are outscoring opponents 92.8 to 61.5 (+31.3 scoring margin). KU is using solid defense as it forces an average of 21 turnovers a game. With leading scorer Sherron Collins (16 ppg in two contests) out with a foot injury, sophomore forward Darrell Arthur is KU's active leading scorer with 13.8 points per game. Arthur also leads Kansas with 6.8 rebounds per game and is second on the team with seven blocked shots. Senior forward Darnell Jackson is KU's sixth man and is next in scoring with 12.5 ppg and rebounding at 5.8 boards per outing. He averages three offensive rebounds per contest. Junior guard Mario Chalmers is scoring 12 points per contest and he leads the team in steals with 10 and with eight three-point field goals made. Seniors Russell Robinson, Sasha Kaun and Rodrick Stewart round out the starters. Robinson has a 9.5 scoring average, while Kaun is 13-for-15 (86.7 percent) from the floor with his 8.8 ppg. He leads the team in field goal percentage and with eight blocked shots. Stewart is shooting 68.8 percent (11-16) from the field as he averages seven points per game. Junior Brandon Rush (6.5 ppg) has returned from ACL surgery in June to play in KU's last two contests. Two freshmen - Tyrel Reed and Cole Aldrich - have also played significant minutes. Reed (6.8 ppg) leads KU in three-point field goal percentage at 63.6 (7-11), while Aldrich is a big man who averages 11.3 minutes per game and is scoring four points per outing.
Arizona brings a two-game winning streak to Allen Fieldhouse and is 3-1 on the season. The Wildcats opened 2007-08 ranked 17th, yet dropped out of the rankings following a 75-72 loss to Virginia on Nov. 17. The Wildcats have four players averaging double figures led by freshman guard Jerryd Bayless at 18.3 points per game. Sophomore forwards Chase Budinger (16.5 ppg) and Jordan Hill (13.3 ppg) are next in scoring followed by senior guard Jawann McClellan at 10.8 ppg. Budinger and Bayless are tied for the team lead in rebounding with 4.8 per game and three-point field goals with eight. Bayless averages six assists per game. Arizona returns 10 letterwinners, including two starters (Budinger and Hill), from last season's 20-11 team which placed third in the Pac-10 with an 11-7 record. The Wildcats advanced to the NCAA Tournament and lost to Purdue in the opening round, 72-63.
Kansas leads the heated series with Arizona 6-3, but the Wildcats have won two of the last three meetings. This series dates back to 1979 and five of the nine matchups have been at neutral sites, including three NCAA Tournament clashes. Five of the nine meetings have come in three calendar years. Kansas defeated Arizona 83-80 on March 22, 1996, in the NCAA Tournament West Regional semifinal in Denver. The following year, Arizona returned the favor with an 85-82 win in the Sweet 16 of the Southeast Regional on March 21, 1997, in Birmingham, Ala., en route to its NCAA Championship. The next fall, KU defeated UA, 90-87, in the Great Eight in Chicago on Dec. 2, 1997. In 2003, Kansas lost to Arizona 91-74 on Jan. 23, in Allen Fieldhouse yet later that season defeated the Wildcats 78-75 in the NCAA West Regional Finals to advance to the Final Four. Expect a close game, as five of the nine meetings have been decided by eight points or less and four of those have been three-point nail biters. Arizona won the last meeting, 61-49, in the first round of the Maui Invitational in Hawaii, during the 2005-06 season.
Kansas will play host to Florida Atlantic on Wednesday, Nov. 28, at 7 p.m. The Owls are coached by former KU great Rex Walters. From there the Jayhawks will hit the road for the first time this season when they play at USC on Dec. 2. That contest will start at 1 p.m. and be televised on FSN.
Jayhawk Invitational Schedule
at Kansas 85, UMKC 62
at Northern Arizona 78, Adams State 65
at UMKC 79, Washburn 75
at Arizona 76, Northern Arizona 69
at Kansas 92, Washburn
at Northern Arizona 77, UMKC 62
at Arizona 81, UMKC 62
at Kansas 87, Northern Arizona 46
at Arizona 88, Adams State 64
Arizona at Kansas