Kansas' Elijah Johnson looks to drive around Texas Tech's Josh Gray during an NCAA college basketball game in Lubbock, Texas, Saturday, Jan. 12, 2013. (AP Photo/Lubbock Avalanche-Journal,Stephen Spillman)
ON THE ROAD AGAIN
No. 4/4 Kansas (15-1, 3-0) makes its second Big 12 road trip of the 2013 season when it plays at Texas (8-8, 0-3) on Saturday, Jan. 19, at 1 p.m. on CBS. Kansas is taking a 14-game winning streak to the Frank Erwin Center in Austin, Texas. The Longhorns are looking to snap a three-game losing streak.
Kansas and Texas are the two winningest programs in the 16-plus year history of the Big 12 Conference. Kansas is first in the conference in wins with a 220-41 record in Big 12 regular-season games. Texas is next at 176-85. Including the league postseason championship, Kansas is tops at 251-49, while Texas is second at 197-101.
Kansas, ranked No. 4 in both the Jan. 14 polls, is 15-1 (3-0 Big 12) on the season after defeating Baylor 61-44 on ESPN's Big Monday, Jan. 14. Kansas' 14-game winning streak ties for the fourth longest during the Bill Self era. In his 10th season at Kansas, Self holds a 284-54 record for an 84.0 winning percentage. Overall, Self is nearing his 500th career victory with a 491-159 record in his 20th season as a head coach. Kansas averages 76.8 points per game and is giving up 59.3 for a Big 12-leading +17.4 scoring margin. KU is outrebounding foes 39.2 to 33.4 and averages 7.3 steals, while also leading the conference in field goal percentage at 48.9, three-point field goal percentage at 36.8 and blocked shots at 8.1.
Kansas starts four seniors, including three fifth-year seniors, and one freshman. Named to the Sporting News Mid-Season All-American team Jan. 15, redshirt freshman guard Ben McLemore leads the team in scoring at 16.4 points per game, which leads all Big 12 freshmen and ranks second overall in the conference. The Jan. 14 Big 12 Player of the Week. McLemore leads KU with 30 three-pointers made and is second on the team with 21 steals. Senior center Jeff Withey leads Kansas in rebounding (8.2 rpg) and blocked shots at 4.7 bpg, which ranks second nationally. A Wooden Award Mid-Season Top 25 along with McLemore, Withey is second in the Big 12 lead with six double-doubles on the season and is scoring 13.1 points per outing. Senior guard Travis Releford leads the Big 12 in free throw percentage at 88.5 percent and overall has shot 80 percent or better in eight of his last 13 outings, including a 4-for-5 effort at Texas Tech (1/12). In his last 13 games, Releford is shooting 71.0 percent from the field. The Nov. 26 Big 12 Player of the Week, Releford is scoring 13.0 points per game and leads KU with a 62.1 field goal percentage. Senior guard Elijah Johnson has a team-high 83 assists which included a career-high 10 dimes in recording his first career double-double (12 points) against Iowa State (1/9). Johnson is second on the team with 25 three-pointers made to complement his 9.9 scoring average. Senior forward Kevin Young rounds out the KU starters; he is scoring 7.7 points per game and is second on the team with 7.1 rebounds per outing. Young has double-doubles in two of his last four games and led KU in scoring with 14 points on 7-of-9 shooting at Texas Tech. Other KU regulars include freshman forward Perry Ellis (5.3 ppg, 3.8 rpg), sophomore guard Naadir Tharpe (5.1 ppg, 2.6 apg), redshirt freshman forward Jamari Traylor (2.6 ppg, 2.9 rpg) and freshman guard Andrew White III (3.3 ppg).
Located in Austin, Texas, with an enrollment of 52,213, Texas is 8-8 on the season and 0-3 in Big 12 play. Texas is coached by Rick Barnes who is 350-145 in his 15th season at UT. The Longhorns did not have a midweek game and fell at Iowa State 82-62 in its last outing on Jan. 12. UT is 7-1 at home this season and averages 64.1 points and gives up 61.4 for a +2.7 scoring margin. For most of the season, Texas and Kansas have ranked 1-2 nationally in field goal percentage defense. Kansas currently leads the nation with a 34.2 field goal percentage defense, while Texas is second at 34.3. Texas does lead the nation in three-point field goal percentage defense at 24.8 percent and is second in the Big 12 in rebounding at 40.5 and blocked shot at 5.7, behind KU's 8.1 blocks per game.
Sophomore guard Sheldon McClellan leads Texas with a 14.3 scoring average and an 80.6 free throw percentage. McClellan's 19 three-pointers are second highest on the team behind sophomore guard Julien Lewis' 24. Lewis scores 11.8 points per game and is second on the team with 18 steals in 2012-13. Freshman guard Javan Felix leads the Big 12 with 6.3 assists per game. He scores 9.4 points per contest and also leads UT with 25 steals this season. Sophomore forward Jonathan Holmes averages a team-best 7.8 rebounds per game which is sixth in the Big 12. Holmes scores 8.0 points per game. Freshman forward Ioannis Papapetrou averages 6.8 points and 4.4 points, while freshman center Cameron Ridley leads the team with 31 blocked shots, scores 5.2 ppg and is second on the team with a 5.3 rebound average. Other UT regulars include freshman forward Connor Lammert (3.4 ppg, 4.2 rpg), freshman guard Demarcus Holland (3.1 ppg), and freshman forward/center Prince Ibeh (1.8 ppg, 22 blocked shots).
Year-in and year-out, the Kansas-Texas battles are some of the best in the Big 12 and nationally in a series that dates back to 1938. Kansas leads 20-7 and has won six of the last seven meetings. These two teams have met in four of the last six Phillips 66 Big 12 Championship title games with KU claiming all four match-ups: 80-68 in Dallas in 2006, 88-84 in overtime in Oklahoma City in 2007, 84-74 in Kansas City in 2008 and 85-73 in Kansas City in 2011. The series is tied at 5-5 in games played in Austin, including a 4-4 record in the Erwin Center. Texas is 3-2 against Kansas in the last five meetings in Austin. Since the inception of the Big 12, Kansas holds a 16-6 record against Texas with a 12-5 mark in regular-season play and 4-1 record in the Big 12 Championship.
Student Section of the Year Voting Now Open; KU Looks to Repeat
Kansas claimed the inaugural Naismith Student Section of the Year Award in 2012, that title is once again up for grabs and the athletics department is turning to the fans to defend the title. By visiting www.facebook.com/ILoveCollegeHoops, Kansas fans can vote once per day for the KU student section as the top student section in college basketball. The Naismith Student Section of the Year Award is dedicated to celebrating fans that love college hoops and provide support to their college basketball team with devotion and passion. The Naismith Student Section of the Year Award will be determined through two rounds of public votes, combined with a scoring of finalists by the Naismith Awards Board of Selectors. Complete details on the selection process can be found at facebook.com/ilovecollegehoops. The winning student section gets bragging rights, while the winning school will receive $10,000 to be used in its general scholarship fund.
KANSAS TEAM NOTABLES
--Kansas leads the NCAA in field goal percentage defense at 34.2 percent, just 1/1,000th ahead of KU's next opponent, Texas, at 34.3 percent. Kansas is second in NCAA Division I and first in the Big 12 in blocked shots at 8.1 per game and also leads the conference in scoring margin (+17.4), field goal percentage (48.9) and three-point field goal percentage (36.8). The Jayhawks also rank in the top four of the Big 12 in scoring (second, 76.8), free throw percentage (third, 74.3), rebound margin (third, +5.9), assist-to-turnover ratio (second, 1.3) and made three-pointers (third, 6.1).
--Over the last eight contests, KU is averaging a 19.9-point scoring margin over its opponents.
--The Jayhawks have held a double-digit lead in all but one contest this season, with the exception coming in their 67-64 loss to Michigan State on Nov. 13 when they held a seven-point lead.
--Out of its 16 games, Kansas has held 10 of its opponents under 60 points.
--KU has outrebounded 13 of 16 opponents this season including eight of its last nine foes. KU has had four games with 10-plus rebounds over its opponent.
--Kansas has outshot all but one opponent in 2012-13. Only Michigan State outshot KU this year (52.1 to 50.0 percent). Additionally, KU has shot 50 percent or better in eight games this season, including seven of the last nine contests.
--Eleven of Kansas’ 15 wins have been by 13 or more points.
--Kansas has held a 40-plus point lead in four different games this season.
--Kansas had four players score in double figures in nine of the last 11 games, including five against Iowa State (1/9). Eight different players have made that happen: Ellis, Johnson, McLemore, Releford, Tharpe, White, Withey and Young.
MCLEMORE SPORTING NEWS MID-SEASON ALL-AMERICAN
Kansas redshirt freshman Ben McLemore was named to the Sporting News Mid-Season All-America First Team it was announced Jan. 15. McLemore is joined on the first team by Oklahoma State freshman Marcus Smart, Michigan sophomore Trey Burke, Creighton junior Doug McDermott and Duke senior Mason Plumlee.
KANSAS SHOOTING STILL IMPRESSIVE
Kansas has shot 50 percent or better from the field in seven of its last 10 games and leads the Big 12 in field goal percentage at 48.9 percent. Included was a season-high 63.0 percent effort against American (12/29) and a 60 percent game versus Oregon State (11/30). Individually, senior guard Travis Releford is 66-for-93 (71.0 percent) from the field in his last 13 games and 29-for-40 (72.5 percent) in his last seven contests. Also in his last four outings, Releford is 9-for-16 (56.3 percent) from three-point range. Redshirt freshman guard Ben McLemore has shot 50 percent or better from three-point range in six of his last eight games, including a 6-for-6 effort against Iowa State (1/9). Senior center Jeff Withey has shot 50 percent or better in 12 of 16 games this season, including eight games at 60 percent or higher. Senior forward Kevin Young is 27-for-45 (60.0 percent) in his last seven games which included a 7-for-9 performance at Texas Tech Saturday (1/12).
KANSAS AND THE BIG 12 WEEKLY HONORS
Kansas redshirt freshman guard Ben McLemore was named the Phillips 66 Big 12 Men’s Basketball Player of the Week Jan. 14. McLemore averaged 21.5 points and 3.5 rebounds as Kansas won its first two games in Big 12 play with a 97-89 overtime win over Iowa State and a 60-46 victory at Texas Tech. Included was a 33-point effort against Iowa State, which is the most points scored in the Big 12 this season.
The Big 12 Player of the Week honor was McLemore’s first of the 2012-13 season. He was also named Big 12 Rookie of the Week on Dec. 24. McLemore becomes the first Big 12 freshman this season to earn the player honor and the first to win both player and rookie accolades in 2012-13.
Historically, McLemore becomes only the second Jayhawk in the 17-year history of the Big 12 to have earned Big 12 Player and Rookie of the Week in the same season. Mario Chalmers also accomplished the feat during the 2005-06 season. Other eventual Big 12 Player(s) of the Year who accomplished both include Kevin Durant (Texas) during the 2006-07 season and Michael Beasley (Kansas State) during the 2007-08 season.
McLemore becomes the third different Jayhawk to be named Big 12 Player of the Week this season. He joins KU seniors Travis Releford (Nov. 26) and Jeff Withey (Dec. 3). This is the second-straight season Kansas has had three different players earn the weekly honor. Last year, KU had four different players named Big 12 Player of the Week - Releford, Withey, Thomas Robinson and Tyshawn Taylor - which was a Big 12 first for one season.
IN THE POLLS
Kansas moved up to No. 4 in both the Associated Press poll and the USA Today Coaches' poll released Jan. 14. Dating back to the final three polls of the 2008-09 season, this marks the 68th-straight poll in which the Jayhawks have been ranked in the AP poll, including 58 times in the Top 10. In the coaches' poll, Kansas has been ranked in each of the last 73 polls, including 60 times in the Top 10.
Here are some block party notables for Kansas All-American candidate Jeff Withey:
--The 2012 Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year, Withey set the KU and Big 12 single-game record with 12 blocked shots versus San Jose State (11/26).
--Withey leads the Big 12 and is second nationally with 4.7 blocked shots per game. KU's record for single-season blocked shot average is 3.6 set by Withey in 2012.
--Withey's 75 blocks in 2012-13 are more than seven Big 12 teams this season and rank 12th on the KU single-season list. He is one blocked shot from entering the top 10 and six from the top eight.
--Withey ranks fifth on the KU career blocked shots list with 240. He is 18 blocked shots from the KU career record of 258 held by Greg Ostertag (1992-95).
--For his career, Withey has had 10 games with seven or more blocked shots, including three in 2012-13.
--Withey broke the NCAA Tournament record for blocked shots with 31 in the 2012 event.
--Withey broke the Kansas and Big 12 single-season blocked shots record with 140 last year (3.6 per game). He became only the second Jayhawk to pass 100 blocked shots for a single season (125, Cole Aldrich in 2009-10).
Kansas guard Ben McLemore leads the Big 12 freshman class with a 16.4 scoring average, which is second overall in the conference. KU's leading scorer as well, McLemore has five games with 20 points or more this season, including a 33-point effort against Iowa State (1/9) in the Big 12 opener.
Kansas freshman record-wise, McLemore's:
...16.4 ppg would surpass the KU freshman record of 14.6 ppg held by by Danny Manning in 1985.
...5.4 rebound average would rank 10th on the KU freshman list.
...30 three-pointers made in 2012-13 are tied for 11th on the KU freshman list.
...43.5 three-point field goal percentage is fifth on the KU freshman list.
McLemore's 33 points against Iowa State (1/9):
--Were the most by a Jayhawk since Marcus Morris tallied 33 points against Iowa State on Jan. 12, 2011.
--Are the most points scored in a game this season in the Big 12 Conference for all players.
--Were the most by a Kansas freshman since Danny Manning scored 35 points against Oklahoma State on March 2, 1985.
--Consisted of him connecting on 6-of-6 three-point field goal attempts, marking the best three-point field goal percentage since Rex Walters went 6-for-6 from beyond the arc against Ball State in 2003.
--Included him making 7-for-7 free throws, the most free throws without a miss since Tyshawn Taylor went 8-for-8 from the charity stripe against Texas on March 3 of last season.
Kansas will continue league play on the road at Kansas State on Tuesday, Jan. 22, at 7 p.m. on the Big 12 Television Network. The Jayhawks return home Saturday, Jan. 26 against Oklahoma at 3 p.m. on ESPN and then play their second of four ESPN Big Monday's at West Virginia on Jan. 28 at 8 p.m. (Central).