No. 4 Kansas plays its first road game against its first ranked team of the 2007-08 season when it travels to No. 22/24 USC Sunday. The game will air at 1 p.m. (Central) and be televised on Fox Sports Net. The game tips at 11 a.m. (Pacific), so it's the first morning contest for KU as well. The Jayhawks are 6-0 on the season following their 87-49 win against Florida Atlantic on Wednesday. After losing its season opener to Mercer, USC has won six straight including a 66-55 win against Big 12 foe Oklahoma on Thursday in the Big 12/Pac-10 Hardwood Series. The Trojans are 6-1 on the season.
Kansas is 6-0 on the season with solid defense and a balanced attack being two of the main keys to its success. KU has forced 21.3 turnovers per game and has allowed 61.2 points. In six games, four different Jayhawks have led KU in scoring, five in rebounding and seven in steals. Sophomore forward Darrell Arthur leads the team in scoring and rebounding with 14.5 points and 5.8 rebounds per game. He is second on the team with 11 blocked shots. Junior guard Mario Chalmers is next in scoring at 12.2 points and his 32 assists and 13 steals lead the team. Junior Brandon Rush has played in four of KU's six games and is scoring 11.8 points per game. He is tied for second on the team with eight three-pointers made. Senior forward Darnell Jackson is having his best season to date with an 11.2 scoring average and 5.3 rebound average. He is making 63.4 percent from the field. Senior center Sasha Kaun has started five games and leads the team with a 79.2 shooting percentage to compliment his eight points per game and 4.5 rebound average. Seniors Rodrick Stewart (7.3 ppg, 27 assists) and Russell Robinson (7.2 ppg, 26 assists) are solid starters for the Jayhawks. KU holds a +27.8 scoring margin and +8.8 turnover margin on the season.
Sunday will be USC's third home game of the season. Included in USC's six-game winning streak are victories at South Carolina (85-75), against No. 19 Southern Illinois (70-45) and against Oklahoma (66-55). The victory against OU was the first in the new Galen Center for the Trojans. USC has used outstanding defense as it has held its last four opponents to 55 or fewer points. The Trojans won the Anaheim Classic over the Thanksgiving holiday. At 6-1, the last time USC had a better start was when the 2000-01 Trojans opened the year 8-0. USC is young, starting three sophomores and two freshmen. Freshman guard O.J. Mayo leads the team in scoring with 21.3 points per game, in three-point field goals with 20 and in steals with 12. He is second on the team with 4.9 rebounds per game. Freshman forward Davon Jefferson is next in scoring at 13.8 points per game and he averages 4.8 rebounds per contest. Sophomore guard Daniel Hackett averages 11.3 points per contest and he leads USC with 30 assists. Sophomore guard Dwight Lewis contributes 10.7 points per contest as a starter. Sophomore forward Taj Gibson leads the team with a 8.4 rebound average and with 15 blocked shots. He is scoring 10.3 points per game. USC has nine players averaging 10 or more minutes per game and is scoring 70.4 points to its opponents' 60.1.
The Kansas-USC Series
Kansas has won the last four meetings with USC and leads the series 8-5. The series dates back to 1935 with KU winning the first three meetings. USC then claimed five of the next six match-ups from 1958 to 1978. The teams last met in a home-and-home series in 1997 and 1998. KU won 74-69 in Los Angeles in 1997 and 107-78 the following year in Allen Fieldhouse. This will mark the 13th time in the 14-game series this game has been played in the month of December. Last season, five Jayhawks scored in double figures as KU defeated USC 72-62 in Allen Fieldhouse on Dec. 4. Mario Chalmers and Brandon Rush led Kansas with 13 points each, while Sherron Collins and Darnell Jackson added 11 each. Julian Wright scored 10. Jackson paced KU with nine rebounds, while Russell Robinson dished out eight assists and Chalmers had six steals in the game.
Kansas returns home to play Eastern Washington on Wednesday, Dec. 5. Tip from Allen Fieldhouse will be at 7 p.m. The Jayhawks will then host DePaul on Saturday, Dec. 8 at 1 p.m. Following final exams, KU will then face Ohio in the Sprint Center in Kansas City, Mo., on Dec. 15 at 4 p.m.