KANSAS HEADS TO THE LONE STAR STATE
No. 6/7 Kansas (16-4, 7-0) hits the road to take on No. 25 Texas (16-4, 5-2) Saturday, Feb. 1, on ESPN, at 3 p.m.. The KU-UT game will be the first of two-straight games in the state of Texas for the Jayhawks as they will play at Baylor on Feb. 4. At 7-0, Kansas is the lone undefeated team in the 2014 Big 12 race. At 5-2, Texas is a half-game behind Oklahoma (6-2) and in third place in the league standings. Texas will be the ninth ranked team Kansas will have faced in 2013-14. The Jayhawks have defeated their last five ranked opponents and are 6-2 versus AP top 25 teams this season.
Since the Big 12 began in 1996-97, Kansas is 74-16 (82.2 percent) against conference teams from the state of Texas, including 26-12 (68.4 percent) in those games played in the Lone Star State. Under Bill Self, KU is 48-14 (77.4 percent) versus the Big 12 Texans (Baylor, TCU, Texas, Texas Tech and Texas A&M) since 2003-04 and 16-9 (64.0 percent) when those meetings are played in Texas.
Kansas averages 80.2 points per game and has a +10.4 scoring margin. KU has outrebounded 17 of 20 opponents, including six of seven Big 12 contests, and holds a +7.5 rebound margin after its 38-28 rebound advantage versus Iowa State. KU boasts a league-best 51.0 field goal percentage, which checks in among the top-three in the country, and has shot 50 percent or better in each of its last four games and six of its last seven contests. In all, KU has outshot 18 of its 20 opponents in 2013-14. Kansas also ranks in the top four in the Big 12 in scoring offense (fourth at 80.2), scoring margin (third at +10.4), rebounding (fourth at 38.3), rebound margin (second at +7.4), assists (second at 16.0) and blocked shots (second at 6.2).
Coming off a career-high 29 points versus Iowa State (1/29), freshman G Andrew Wiggins leads Kansas with a 16.5 scoring average, the best among Big 12 freshmen and eighth overall in the conference. Wiggins' 29 against ISU surpassed his previous high of 27 points at TCU, the game prior on Jan. 25. He is 64-of-75 (85.3 percent) from the free throw line in his last 12 games. He has made 26 threes this season, and is tied for the team lead with 18 steals. Wiggins' 6.1 rebound average is third on the team and 16th in the conference. Sophomore F Perry Ellis is next in scoring at 13.3 points per game, good for 15th in the league. Ellis had his sixth 20-point game of the season with 20 versus Iowa State (1/29). His 6.8 rebound average is second on the team and 12th in the Big 12. He pulled down a career-high 14 rebounds at TCU (1/25). Ellis is second in the league in field goal percentage at 54.9 percent. Freshman C Joel Embiid has a team-high 54 blocked shots, including a KU and Big 12 freshman-record eight versus Oklahoma State (1/18). A two-time Big 12 Newcomer of the Week and the Wayman Tisdale National Freshman of the Week (1/21), Embiid's 2.7 blocked shots per game average is second in the conference. Embiid is tied with Wiggins for the team lead in steals with 18, while his 7.6 rebounds per game are a team best and rank sixth in the conference. Embiid is shooting 65.9 percent from the field, which would lead the Big 12 had he made 5.0 per game. He is averaging 11.4 points per game and has five double-doubles after his 14 points and 11 rebounds against Iowa State (1/29). Freshman G Wayne Selden, Jr., earned National Freshman of the Week accolades by multiple outlets after averaging 22 points in KU's first two league games. He is averaging 12.9 points in Big 12 play and 10.0 in all games. His 25 three-pointers are third most on the team and his 53 assists are second. Junior G Naadir Tharpe is coming off his first career double-double with 12 points and 12 assist versus Iowa State (1/29). Tharpe has earned Big 12 and Oscar Robertson National Player of the Week accolades (1/21) and is scoring 9.2 points per game. His 5.4 assists rank third in the Big 12 and his 2.8 assist-to-turnover ratio is second.
Freshman G Frank Mason averages 6.7 points per game and is third on the team with 48 assists. Sophomore F Jamari Traylor leads KU with a 71.1 field goal percentage and is averaging 4.1 points and 3.5 rebounds per contest. Other contributors off the bench include senior F Tarik Black (3.6 ppg, 2.4 rpg), freshman G Brannen Greene (2.5 ppg), freshman G Conner Frankamp (1.8 ppg) and redshirt freshman F Landen Lucas (1.8 ppg).
Located in Austin, Texas, with an enrollment of 52,076, Texas won 10 of its first 11 games to start the season and is 16-4 and 5-2 in Big 12 play. The Longhorns are coached by Rick Barnes who is 374-159 in his 16th season at UT and 576-293 in his 27th season overall. Texas averages 77.6 points per game and has a +7.0 scoring margin. UT leads the Big 12 with 41.7 rebounds per game and has a +6.8 rebound margin. Texas also leads the conference in blocked shots with 6.5 per game, just ahead of Kansas' 6.2. The Longhorns are second in the Big 12 in field goal percentage defense at 39.7 percent and average 28.5 free throw attempts per game.
Texas is deep, as the Longhorns have 10 players who average 10 or more minutes per game. Junior F Jonathan Holmes leads the team with a 12.9 scoring average. His 7.4 rebound average is second on the team and tied for seventh in the Big 12. He has 25 blocked shots this season. Sophomore G Javan Felix is next in scoring at 12.2 points and he leads UT with 29 three-pointers made this season. Felix is second on the team with 60 assists and tied for second with 21 steals along with freshman G Isaiah Taylor. Taylor has a team-high 84 free throws made and 73 assists while he scores 11.7 points per game. Sophomore C Cameron Ridley leads UT, and is fourth in the Big 12, with 7.8 rebounds per game. His 2.4 blocked shots are third in the Big 12 and he scores 11.2 points per game. Sophomore G Demarcus Holland (8.6 ppg, 5.0 rpg) rounds out the UT starters. Sophomore F Connor Lammert (5.5 ppg, 4.8 rpg), freshman G Damarcus Croaker (5.0 ppg, 21 three-pointers), sophomore C Prince Ibeh (4.6 ppg, 3.5 rpg, 39 blocked shots), freshman G Kendal Yancy (4.0 ppg) and freshman G Martez Walker (2.9 ppg) round out the Texas regulars.
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 22-7 and has won five straight and eight of the last nine meetings starting at the 2008 Big 12 Championship title game. These two teams have met in four of the last seven 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. Kansas holds a 6-5 edge over Texas in games played in Austin with all 11 meetings at the Erwin Center. On Jan. 22, 2011, UT ended KU's 69-game home-court winning streak, its lone win in Lawrence. Since the inception of the Big 12, Kansas holds an 18-6 record against Texas with a 14-5 mark in regular-season play and 4-1 record in the Big 12 Championship. Kansas head coach Bill Self is 12-7 all-time against Texas, including 12-5 while at KU. Texas head coach Rick Barnes is 6-16 all-time versus Kansas.
Kansas is 13-1 when shooting 50 percent or better in the game and has eclipsed the 50 percent field goal percentage in each of its last four games and six of seven Big 12 games.
In 13 of KU's 16 victories, the Jayhawks have scored at least 80 points.
Kansas' back-to-back 90-point efforts at TCU (91-60) and versus Iowa State (92-81) are the first back-to-back 90-point games for KU this season and first since last season (108-96 at Iowa State on Feb. 25, 2013, and 91-65 vs. West Virginia on March 2).
KU has outrebounded 17 of its 20 opponents this season, including six of seven Big 12 contests. KU has 10 games with a +10 rebound advantage after its 38-28 advantage against Iowa State (1/29). Kansas' +17 margin at Iowa State (1/13) was a season best and its +16 at TCU (1/25) is tied for second. KU has a +10 rebound advantage in seven of its last 11 contests.
KU has held all but one opponent (Duke, 51.7) under 50 percent shooting this season.
Junior G Naadir Tharpe is shooting 70.4 percent (19-for-27) from the field in his last five games, including 10-for-15 (66.7 percent) from three-point range.
Tharpe has an assist-to-turnover ratio of 3.3:1 (39-to-12) over the first seven games of conference play.
After going 8-for-12 (66.7 percent) against Iowa State (1/29), sophomore F Perry Ellis has shot 60 percent or better in 11 games this season and the Jayhawks are 11-0 in those contests.
Freshman C Joel Embiid has 45 blocked shots in his last 14 games including a KU and Big 12-tying freshman eight against Oklahoma State (1/18). Embiid now has 54 blocks on the season, moving him into a tie with Darrell Arthur for second on the all-time freshman blocks list at Kansas, trailing only Eric Chenowith (62, 1998).
Freshman G Andrew Wiggins' 56 points in his last two outings mark the most by a Jayhawk in a two-game span since Tyshawn Taylor also scored 56 versus Iowa State (28, 1/14/12) and Baylor (28, 1/16/12).
Wiggins scored a career-high 29 points vs. Iowa State (1/29) on 10-of-16 shooting for 62.5 percent which came after his 27 points at TCU (1/25) on 8-of-13 (61.5 percent). He has five games of shooting 60 percent or better this season.
Wiggins was 5-for-6 from the line against Iowa State (1/29) and has made 80 percent or better from the free throw line in each of his last three games, four Big 12 contests and nine total.
Freshman G Frank Mason has shot 50 percent or better in six of his last eight games.
Sophomore F Jamari Traylor is 7-for-9 from the field and 7-for-9 from the line in his last four games, which included a career-high nine points against Oklahoma State (1/18). Traylor is 21-for-27 (77.8 percent) from the field in his last 13 games. He had six rebounds in two of his last three games (vs. ISU and vs. BU) and has pulled down five or more rebounds in eight games this season.
Freshman G Wayne Selden, Jr., has made at least one three-pointer in 13 of his last 14 games. He is 13-for-14 from the free throw line in his last five outings.
Senior F Tarik Black is 8-for-12 (66.7 percent) from the field in his last four games. He has missed the last two due to an ankle injury.
Freshman G Brannen Greene has 17 points in his last four games (2.5 ppg for the season).
Kansas starts three freshmen, a sophomore and a junior with an average age of 19.4 years old. Frequently, Kansas will have four freshmen in the game at the same time. At TCU (1/25), and occasionally, there will be five frosh on the floor for the Jayhawks. In Kansas' win at TCU, Jayhawk freshmen accounted for 75 of KU's 91 points (82.4 percent). For the season, the KU freshmen account for three of Kansas' top four scorers and 63.3 percent of the scoring, 54.3 percent of the rebounding and 65.9 percent of the blocked shots.
TURNING IT UP IN BIG 12 PLAY
The only undefeated team in the Big 12 at 7-0, Kansas has turned it up statistically in conference play and leads the league in seven stat categories.
Kansas' Conference Play Improvement (*leads the Big 12)
Big 12 All
Scoring 84.9* 80.2
Scoring Margin +12.1* +10.4
Rebound Margin +9.6* +7.5
FG Pct. 54.4* 51.0*
3FG Pct. 41.7* 36.1
Assists 16.4* 16.0
Blocked Shots 5.9* 6.2
FT Pct. 74.9 70.2
KANSAS VS. RANKED FOES UNDER BILL SELF
No. 25 Texas will be the ninth ranked team Kansas has faced in 2013-14. The Jayhawks are 6-2 against ranked foes this season and have defeated each of their last five top-25 opponents. Kansas has played 81 games against Associated Press-ranked opponents in the 10-plus seasons under head coach Bill Self. Under Self, KU is 53-28 (65.4 percent) against ranked competition. That percentage has an upward trend since the 2007-08 season as the Jayhawks are 39-16 (70.9 percent) versus ranked foes.
Kansas travels to Baylor on Tuesday, Feb. 4 at 6 p.m. on ESPN2. The Jayhawks return home to host West Virginia on Saturday, Feb. 8, at 3 p.m. on ESPN and play at Kansas State on their third of four ESPN Big Mondays on Feb. 10 at 8 p.m.