JAYHAWKS CLOSE OUT 2012 CALENDAR YEAR
Kansas closes out the 2012 calendar year when it plays host to American University on Dec. 29 in Allen Fieldhouse. The game will begin at 7 p.m. and will be televised on the Jayhawk IMG Television Network. The Jayhawks and Eagles are playing for the second time in men's basketball with the other matchup during KU's 1988 NCAA National Championship season. Kansas has won 28-straight games in Allen Fieldhouse, the second-longest winning streak in the nation behind Syracuse's 29.
Ranked No. 6 in both the Dec. 24 polls, Kansas is 10-1 on the season after its 74-66 win at then-No. 7 Ohio State on Dec. 22. Coached by Bill Self, who is in his 10th season at KU with a 279-54 record for an 83.8 winning percentage, Kansas averages 77.5 points per game and is giving up 59.2 for a Big 12-leading +18.3 scoring margin. KU is outrebounding foes 39.0 to 33.5 and averaging 7.4 steals, while also leading the conference in field goal percentage at 49.3 and blocked shots at 8.2 per game.
Redshirt freshman Ben McLemore leads the team in scoring at 16.5 points per game, which includes a 22-point effort at then-No. 7 Ohio State (12/22), which earned him Big 12 Rookie of the Week honors. His 16.5 ppg average is tops among Big 12 freshmen and second overall in the conference. He leads KU with 20 three-pointers made and is second on the team with 13 steals. Senior center Jeff Withey has posted back-to-back double-doubles for the third time in his career and leads Kansas in rebounding (8.3 rpg) and blocked shots at 5.0 bpg, which is second in the nation. Withey, the Dec. 3 Big 12 Player of the Week who has five double-doubles on the season, is scoring 14.1 points per outing. Senior guard Travis Releford leads KU in field-goal percentage at 59.3 percent and is scoring 12.8 points per game. The Nov. 26 Big 12 Player of the Week, Releford leads the Big 12 in free throw percentage at 87.5 percent and also leads Kansas in steals (16). A Bob Cousy Award nominee, senior guard Elijah Johnson has a team-high 55 assists and is second on the team with 16 three-pointers made to complement his 9.9 scoring average. Senior forward Kevin Young rounds out the KU starters; he is scoring 6.6 points per game and is second on the team with 7.0 rebounds per outing. Young has averaged 8.3 rebounds in his last four games, including a career-high-tying 10 at Ohio State. Other KU regulars include freshman forward Perry Ellis (5.6 ppg, 3.1 rpg), sophomore guard Naadir Tharpe (4.6 ppg, 2.4 assists), redshirt freshman forward Jamari Traylor (2.7 ppg, 2.9 rpg) and freshman guard Andrew White III (4.5 ppg).
ABOUT AMERICAN UNIVERSITY
Located in Washington, D.C., with an enrollment of 6,783, American University is 4-8 on the season after falling at D.C. rival No. 15/21 Georgetown, 65-48, on Dec. 22. The Eagles, members of the Patriot League, are coached by Jeff Jones who is 202-163 in his 13th season at American and 348-267 in his 21st season overall.
Looking to snap a three-game losing streak, American is 2-2 at home and 2-6 on the road in 2012-13. The Eagles average 55.1 points per game, shoot 41.2 percent from the field and 39.7 percent from three-point range, which averages out to 6.1 threes made per game.
Senior forward Stephen Lumpkins leads American with 15.0 scoring and 8.3 rebounding averages. Lumpkins makes 49.2 percent of his field goals and also leads the Eagles with 18 blocked shots and 10 steals this season. Senior guard Daniel Munoz is next in scoring at 10.4 points per game and leads American with 40 assists. He has made 17 threes this season. Sophomore guard John Schoof leads the squad with 24 three-pointers made to complement his 8.3 scoring average. Rounding out the American starters are junior center Tony Wroblicky and senior forward Mike Bersch. Wroblicky scores 6.8 points per game and is second on the team with a 4.5 rebound per game average, while Bersch averages 5.6 points per contest and is tied with Munoz for second on the team with 17 three-pointers. Senior guard Blake Jolivette saw his first action of the season against Hampton on Dec. 18 and is averaging 5.5 ppg in two games played in 2012-13. Other American regulars include freshman guard Marko Vasic (3.3 ppg), redshirt sophomore guard Austin Carroll (2.8 ppg, 2.7 rpg) and senior forward Daniel Fisher (2.2 ppg).
THE KU-AMERICAN SERIES
Kansas leads the all-time series with American 1-0 as the Jayhawks defeated the Eagles 90-69 on Jan. 6, 1988, in Allen Fieldhouse. Kansas improved to 10-3 on the season with the victory and would eventually win the NCAA National Championship. Kansas is 5-2 all-time against current membership of the Patriot League: 2-1 vs. Holy Cross, 1-0 vs. American, Colgate and Lehigh and 0-1 vs. Bucknell.
In the Polls
Kansas moved up to No. 6 in both the Associated Press poll and the USA Today Coaches' poll released Dec. 24. Dating back to the final three polls of the 2008-09 season, this marks the 65th-straight poll in which the Jayhawks have been ranked in the AP poll, including 55 times in the Top 10. In the coaches' poll, Kansas has been ranked in each of the last 70 polls, including 57 times in the Top 10.
Phillips 66 Big 12 Player(S)/RooKIE of the Week
With his 22-point effort at Ohio State (12/22), Kansas redshirt freshman Ben McLemore was named the Phillips 66 Big 12 Rookie of the Week on Dec. 24. It was the first conference weekly accolade for McLemore, who leads the Big 12 freshman class with a 16.5 ppg scoring average. KU seniors Jeff Withey and Travis Releford have each earned Phillips 66 Big 12 Player of the Week honors this season. The KU duo won the accolade in back-to-back weeks with Releford Nov. 26 and Withey Dec. 3. KU is one of two schools to have claimed the player of the week award twice this season. Last year, KU's NCAA national runner-up team was the first to have four different players from the same school win Big 12 Player of the Week honors in the same season
KANSAS TEAM NOTABLES
--Kansas is second in NCAA Division I and first in the Big 12 in blocked shots at 8.2 per game and also leads the conference in scoring margin (+19.3), field goal percentage (49.3) and scoring margin (+18.3). The Jayhawks also rank in the top four of the Big 12 in scoring (second, 77.5), three-point field goal percentage (second, 34.6), rebounding (second, 39.0), scoring defense (fourth, 59.2), field goal percentage defense (second, 34.7), free throw percentage (second, 73.7), rebound margin (third, +5.5), assists (second, 16.7), assist-to-turnover ratio (second, 1.3) and made three-pointers (fourth, 5.8).
--Kansas opened the Ohio State (12/22) game with a 9-6 lead, keeping the trend of fast starts this season. The Jayhawks are outscoring opponents 116-56 in the opening five minutes of their games this year.
--Over the last four contests, KU is averaging a 25.3-point scoring margin over its opponents.
--Kansas set a school record with 16 blocked shots against San Jose State (11/26).
--KU has outrebounded nine of 11 opponents this season including a season-best 46-26 advantage against Richmond (12/18).
--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 six games this season, including each of the last five games.
--Kansas has posted a first-half double-digit lead in seven of its last eight games.
--Eight of Kansas' 10 wins have been by 13 or more points.
--Kansas has held a 41-plus point lead in three different games this season.
--Kansas had four players score in double figures in each of the last six games. Six different players have made that happen: Johnson, McLemore, Releford, White, Withey and Young.
KANSAS SHOOTING THE BALL WELL LATELY
Kansas has shot 50 percent or better from the field in each of its last five games and leads the Big 12 in field goal percentage at 49.3 percent. Included was a 60 percent game in the 84-78 win against Oregon State (11/30) and a 59.0 percentage effort against Richmond (12/18). Individually, senior guard Travis Releford is shooting 77.8 percent (49-for-63) from the field in his last eight games, including 57.8 percent (11-for-19) from three-point range. Redshirt freshman guard Ben McLemore is making 58.4 percent of his three-pointers (14-for-24) in his last five games. Senior center Jeff Withey has shot 50 percent or better in nine of his last 10 games, including five games at 62.5 percent or higher. He was 7-for-9 against Richmond (12/18). Senior forward Kevin Young is 5-for-5 in his last two games and is making 66.7 percent of his shots (20-for-30) in his last five games.
Here are some block party notables for Kansas All-American candidate Jeff Withey:
--Withey set the KU and Big 12 single-game record with 12 blocked shots versus San Jose State (11/26).
--Withey is second in the nation with 5.0 blocked shots per game.
--Withey ranks fifth on the KU career blocked shots list with 220.
--For his career, Withey has had nine games with seven or more blocked shots.
--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).
MCLEMORE TOPS AMONG BIG 12 FRESHMEN
Kansas guard Ben McLemore leads the Big 12 freshman class with a 16.5 scoring average, which is second best overall in the conference. KU's leading scorer as well, McLemore has four games with 20 points or more this season: 22 at Ohio State (12/22), 24 vs. Colorado (12/8), 21 vs. Oregon State (11/30) and 25 vs. Chattanooga (11/15).
Kansas' single-season freshman average scoring record is 14.6 points by Danny Manning in 1985. McLemore's 5.7 rebounds would rank eighth on the KU freshman single-season list.
Kansas will welcome Temple to Allen Fieldhouse on Sunday, Jan. 6, at either 12:30 or 3:30 p.m. (Central) on CBS to close out non-conference play. Once the NFL playoffs television schedule is determined, tip time for the KU-Temple game will be announced. The Jayhawks, eight-time defending Big 12 Conference regular-season champions, will open league play when they host Iowa State on Wednesday, Jan. 9, at 6 p.m. on ESPNU.