For the second-straight game, first place in the 2013 Big 12 race is on the line as No. 3/2 Kansas (17-1, 5-0 Big 12) returns to the friendly confines of Allen Fieldhouse to host Oklahoma (13-4, 4-1) on Saturday, Jan. 26, at 3 p.m. on ESPN. KU holds a one-game lead over Oklahoma, Baylor and Kansas State early in the league race. Both coaching staffs will be sporting sneakers with their suits in honor of the Coaches vs. Cancer program sponsored by the National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC). KU's 16-game winning streak is the longest in NCAA Division I and its 32-game home-court winning streak is the second longest nationally.
The Oklahoma contest will be the 800th all-time men's basketball regular-season contest in historic Allen Fieldhouse. KU is 692-107 in The Fieldhouse.
Kansas, ranked No. 3 by Associated Press and No. 2 in the USA Today Coaches' polls released Jan. 21, is 17-1 (5-0 Big 12) on the season after defeating in-state rival Kansas State 59-55 Tuesday in Manhattan, Kan., to take a one-game lead early in the Big 12 race. Kansas' 16-game winning streak is the nation's longest and is tied for the third longest during the head coach Bill Self era. In his 10th season at Kansas, Self holds a 286-54 record for an 84.1 winning percentage. Overall, Self is nearing his 500th career victory with a 493-159 record in his 20th season as a head coach. Kansas averages 75.1 points per game and is giving up 59.1 for a Big 12-leading +16.0 scoring margin. KU is outrebounding foes 38.8 to 32.8 and averages 7.3 steals, while also leading the conference in field goal percentage at 48.2, three-point field goal percentage at 36.2, field goal percentage defense at 34.8 and blocked shots at 7.7.
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 G Ben McLemore leads the team in scoring at 16.1 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 and two-time conference rookie of the week, McLemore leads KU with 33 three-pointers made and is second on the team with 23 steals. Senior C Jeff Withey leads Kansas in rebounding (8.3 rpg) after posting his seventh double-double of the season at Kansas State with 11 points and 10 rebounds. Withey leads the league in blocked shots at 4.3 bpg, which ranks third nationally. A Wooden Award Mid-Season Top 25 honoree along with McLemore, Withey is tied for second in the Big 12 with seven double-doubles on the season and is scoring 13.0 points per outing. Senior G Travis Releford leads the Big 12 in free throw percentage at 89.3 percent, just ahead of McLemore's 87.1 percent. The Nov. 26 Big 12 Player of the Week, Releford is shooting 70.4 percent from the field in his last nine games and is scoring 12.9 points per game. He leads KU with a 62.3 field goal percentage. Senior G Elijah Johnson has a team-high 89 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 26 three-pointers made to complement his 9.6 scoring average. Senior F Kevin Young rounds out the KU starters; he is scoring 7.4 points per game and is second on the team with 6.8 rebounds per outing. Young has two double-doubles this season. Other KU regulars include freshman F Perry Ellis (5.2 ppg, 3.9 rpg), sophomore G Naadir Tharpe (5.1 ppg, 2.4 apg), redshirt freshman F Jamari Traylor (2.3 ppg, 2.7 rpg) and freshman G Andrew White III (3.1 ppg).
Located in Norman, Okla., with an enrollment of 30,753, Oklahoma is 13-4 on the season and 4-2 in Big 12 play after its 73-67 win against Texas on Jan. 21. The Sooners are coached by Lon Kruger who is 28-20 in his second season at OU and 507-324 in his 27th season overall. Oklahoma is 7-1 at home, 3-2 on the road and 3-1 on neutral courts in 2012-13. OU averages 69.0 points per game and gives up 62.4 for a +6.6 scoring margin. The Sooners are outrebounding foes 37.5 to 34.6 per game and average 7.1 steals per contest. Oklahoma is third in the Big 12 in free throw percentage at 74.6 percent.
Oklahoma has a deep team as nine players average 15-plus minutes per game. Senior F Romero Osby leads OU in scoring at 14.5 points per game. He is also the team's top rebounder with a 6.5 average and has a team-high 15 blocked shots. Osby is making 82.0 percent of his free throws, which ranks fourth in the Big 12. Senior G Steven Pledger is also scoring in double figures at 11.0 points per game. He has a team-high 35 three-pointers and his 2.1 three-pointers per game are fifth in the league. Junior F Amath M'Baye is second on the team with a 5.6 rebounding average to complement his 10.2 points per game, which is just ahead of freshman G Buddy Hield's 9.4 scoring average. Hield leads OU with 21 steals and is making 85.2 percent from the free throw line. freshman G Je'lon Hornbeak is OU's fifth starter. He scores 5.7 points per contest and is tied with Pledger for second on the team with 19 steals. Off the bench, senior G Sam Grooms (2.7 ppg) leads the team with 45 assists in 2012-13. Other OU regulars include junior G Cameron Clark (6.0 ppg, 3.1 rpg, 86.4 free throw percentage), senior F Andrew Fitzgerald (5.6 ppg) and freshman G Isaiah Cousins (2.7 ppg).
This series between Kansas and Oklahoma dates back to 1920 when both schools were members of the Missouri Valley Intercollegiate Athletic Association and Kansas leads, 138-64. Since 2006, the Jayhawks have won nine-straight against the Sooners. Kansas is 69-16 against Oklahoma in games played in Lawrence and holds a 42-7 advantage in contests in Allen Fieldhouse. Kansas has won the last 11 meetings against OU in Allen Fieldhouse dating back to the 1994 season. Since the inception of the Big 12 Conference, Kansas is 17-4 against Oklahoma; 15-2 in regular-season play and 2-2 in the Big 12 Championship. Kansas head coach Bill Self is 10-3 all-time against Oklahoma, including 11-1 while at KU. Oklahoma head coach Lon Kruger is 5-12 versus Kansas, including 0-2 while at OU.
KANSAS TEAM NOTABLES
--Kansas is second in NCAA Division I and first in the Big 12 in blocked shots at 7.7 per game and also leads the conference in scoring margin (+16.0), field goal percentage (48.2), three-point field goal percentage (36.2) and field goal percentage defense (34.8). The Jayhawks also rank in the top four of the Big 12 in scoring (third, 75.1), free throw percentage (third, 74.2), three-pointers made (fourth, 5.8), rebounding (fourth, 38.8), rebound defense (second, 32.8), rebound margin (third, +6.0), assists (third, 15.7) and assist-to-turnover ratio (third, 1.2).
--The Jayhawks have held a double-digit lead in all but two contests this season, with the exceptions coming in their 67-64 loss to Michigan State on Nov. 13 when they held a seven-point lead and at Texas (1/19) when they led by five.
--Out of its 18 games, Kansas has held 13 of its opponents to 60 points or less, including each of its last four conference foes: 46 at Texas Tech, 44 vs. Baylor, 59 at Texas and 55 at Kansas State.
--KU has outrebounded 15 of 18 opponents this season including 11 of its last 12 foes. KU has had four games with 10-plus rebounds over its opponent.
--Kansas has outshot all but two opponents in 2012-13. Michigan State outshot KU (52.1 to 50.0 percent) and Texas outshot KU 44.6 to 39.2 percent. Additionally, KU has shot 50 percent or better in eight games this season, including seven of the last 11 contests.
--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 13 games, including five against Iowa State (1/9). Eight different players have made that happen: Ellis, Johnson, McLemore, Releford, Tharpe, White, Withey and Young.
Kansas has out shot all but two opponents in 2012-13 and has shot 50 percent or better from the field in eight games. The Jayhawks lead the Big 12 in field goal percentage at 48.2 percent and three-point field goal percentage at 36.2 percent. Individually, senior G Travis Releford is 75-for-107 (70.1 percent) from the field in his last 15 games and 38-for-54 (70.4 percent) in his last nine contests. Redshirt freshman G Ben McLemore has shot 50 percent or better from three-point range in eight of his last 10 games, including a 6-for-6 effort against Iowa State (1/9), a 2-for-3 game at Texas (1/19) and 1-for-2 night at Kansas State (1/22). Senior C Jeff Withey has shot 50 percent or better in 14 of 18 games this season, including eight games at 60 percent or higher. Withey was 4-for-6 (66.7 percent) at Texas and 3-for-6 at Kansas State. Senior F Kevin Young has six games of shooting 66.7 percent or better, including two in conference play: 7-of-9 at Texas Tech and 2-of-3 at Texas.
KANSAS TO RETIRE MARIO CHALMERS' JERSEY
Former KU basketball standout Mario Chalmers will have his No. 15 jersey retired at halftime of the ESPN College Gameday Texas at Kansas men's basketball game Saturday, Feb. 16, 2013. The Anchorage, Alaska, guard was the 2008 Final Four's Most Outstanding Player on Kansas' NCAA National Championship team, but is most widely known for his game-tying three-pointer in the title game in KU's 75-68 overtime win against Memphis. Chalmers was the 2007 co-Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year as a sophomore and an All-Big 12 Second Team selection during his junior year. He appeared on the league's all-conference teams all three seasons he was a Jayhawk, including every Big 12 All-Defensive squad. Besides his 2008 Final Four MOP, he was named to the Big 12 Championship All-Tournament team in 2007 and 2008, the second of which was bestowed on him after he scored a career-high 30 points against Texas in the title game. During Chalmers' three seasons at Kansas, the Jayhawks were 95-16 (85.6 percent) with three Big 12 regular-season titles, three Big 12 postseason championships, two NCAA Elite Eight appearances, one Final Four and one NCAA National Championship.
KANSAS AND THE BIG 12 WEEKLY HONORS
Kansas redshirt freshman G Ben McLemore was named the Phillips 66 Big 12 Men's Basketball Rookie of the Week (1/21) after averaging 16.5 points in KU wins against Baylor and at Texas. It was the second time McLemore has won the accolade this season. Last week, McLemore was named the conference's player of the Week.
Historically, McLemore is the first KU player since Josh Selby in 2010-11 to be named Big 12 Rookie of the Week twice in one season. Additionally, he became 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.
McLemore was 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) as honorees. 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. 3 in the Associated Press poll and No. 2 the USA Today Coaches' poll released Jan. 21. Dating back to the final three polls of the 2008-09 season, this marks the 69th-straight poll in which the Jayhawks have been ranked in the AP poll, including 59 times in the Top 10. In the coaches' poll, Kansas has been ranked in each of the last 74 polls, including 61 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 third nationally with 4.3 blocked shots per game. KU's record for single-season blocked shot average is 3.6 set by Withey in 2012.
--Withey's 78 blocks in 2012-13 are more than six Big 12 teams this season and rank tied for eighth (Eric Chenowith, 1999) on the KU single-season list.
--Withey ranks tied for third (Nick Collison, 2000-03) on the KU career blocked shots list with 243. He is 15 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 16.1 scoring average, which is second overall in the conference. He leads the Big 12 in three-point field goal percentage at 44.6 percent and is second in free throw percentage at 87.1, behind teammate Travis Releford's 89.3 percent. 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:
...16.1 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.
...33 three-pointers made in 2012-13 are 11th on the KU freshman list.
...44.6 three-point field goal percentage is fifth on the KU freshman list.
MCLEMORE SPORTING NEWS MID-SEASON ALL-AMERICAN
Kansas redshirt freshman G 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.