(3) Kansas (10-0) vs. Georgia Tech (4-4)
By TOM CASTRO, STATS Senior Editor
Kansas is unbeaten, and now the Jayhawks have star Brandon Rush back in the starting lineup.
Third-ranked Kansas looks to keeps its run of good fortune going Tuesday night when it travels to Georgia Tech looking to improve to 11-0 on the season.
The Jayhawks have gotten off to yet another overpowering start, improving to 10-0 for the 11th time in school history with an 88-51 rout of Ohio on Saturday. While most of Kansas' victories during this season's non-conference schedule have been lopsided, this one held a little more significance because Rush, the All-Big 12 guard, made his first start of 2007-08.
Kept out of the NBA draft by knee surgery, the 6-foot-6 junior went 4-of-11 from the field and finished with 13 points.
"I was motivated," said Rush, who made his first three 3-pointers to help Mario Chalmers spark a 19-0 run in the opening minutes.
Kansas hadn't been having trouble without Rush so far, but with their leading scorer from each of the last two seasons returning, the Jayhawks had their preferred starting lineup on the floor to begin a game for the first time this season.
"We've got everybody back and everybody is healthy," Rush said. "We are starting to play good basketball right now."
Another Kansas player that's healthy again is dynamic guard Sherron Collins, who made his second appearance after missing six games while healing a stress fracture in his foot. He had only six points, but four Jayhawks scored in double figures, led by Chalmers with 17.
Kansas, which outrebounded Ohio 46-27, has one loss since Feb. 3 - a 68-55 defeat to UCLA in the West Regional final of the NCAA tournament. The Jayhawks have won 24 of their last 25 games and seven straight on the road, although they're just 3-3 in their last six non-conference road contests.
This will be only the sixth meeting between Kansas and Georgia Tech, but the last two were far from forgettable. The Yellow Jackets knocked off the Jayhawks 79-71 in overtime in an NCAA regional final March 28, 2004, on their way to the national championship game.
Kansas earned a measure of revenge the following season, beating Georgia Tech 70-68 in overtime on Jan. 1, 2005. The Jayhawks lead the series 4-1.
This season has been a struggle for the Yellow Jackets (4-4), who haven't played since avoiding what would have been an embarrassing loss Dec. 5 with a 72-67 victory at city rival Georgia State. Lewis Clinch scored 22 points and Zack Peacock added 17 for Georgia Tech, which has suffered defeats to UNC-Greensboro and Winthrop and averted a third consecutive loss overall.
"Clinch and Peacock stepped up and made some big plays down the stretch," coach Paul Hewitt said. "Coming into this environment, you know they're excited, their fans are excited and they're really going to come after you. I'm glad we got the win. Can we play better? Should we play better? Sure. But it's a long season. This is another step forward."
The Yellow Jackets trailed the Panthers 40-32 after going nearly 5 minutes without a point to start the second half, but Clinch's jumper with 6:02 remaining capped a 13-5 run that gave Georgia Tech its first lead of the second half, 58-56.
Contributing to the Yellow Jackets' problems is a schedule that hasn't had them play at Alexander Memorial Coliseum since their season opener Nov. 9 - a 38-day gap between home games that's Georgia Tech's longest since the 1986-87 season. The victory over Georgia State capped a three-game road stretch, which followed a three-game stretch at neutral sites.