Baylor's Gary Franklin (4) defends as Kansas' Naadir Tharpe (10) drives to basket for a shot attempt in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game, Tuesday, Feb. 4, 2014, in Waco, Texas. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)
Kansas (24-9, 14-4 Big 12) is the No. 2 seed in the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament South Regional as selected March 16. KU will take on No. 15-seeded Eastern Kentucky (24-9, 11-5) from the Ohio Valley Conference on Friday, March 21, at approximately 3:10 p.m. (Central) at the Scottrade Center in St. Louis, Mo. The game will be televised on TBS. Kansas will have open practice in the venue on Thursday, March 20, from 2:15-2:55 p.m.
Kansas is making its 43rd NCAA Tournament appearance, its 25th-consecutive trip to the tournament, the longest active streak in the nation. KU is a number two seed for the sixth time since seeding began in 1979. The Jayhawks were a two seed in 1990-93-96, 2002-12 and with the last time under head coach Bill Self in 2012 when KU advanced to its 14th Final Four and the NCAA championship game.
KU, which is ranked No. 10 in the latest Associated Press and USA Today Coaches polls, has won 10-straight Big 12 regular-season championships dating back to 2005 and six conference postseason championships under Self.
No. 10/10 Kansas won the Big 12 Conference regular-season outright on March 1 with a three-game lead and two league games remaining. The Jayhawks advanced to the semifinals of the 2014 Big 12 Championship at Sprint Center in Kansas City, Mo., before loing to eventual champion Iowa State, 94-83. KU averages 79.6 points per game and has a +9.2 scoring margin. KU has outrebounded 28 of 33 opponents, including 11 of its last 12 foes, and holds a Big-12 leading +7.3 rebound margin. KU also tops the conference, and ranks in the sixth nationally, with a 49.5 field goal percentage. In all, KU has outshot 25 of its 33 opponents in 2013-14.
In addition to leading the Big 12 in field goal percentage and rebound margin, KU also ranks in the top four in the Big 12 in scoring offense (fourth, 79.6), scoring margin (second, +9.2), rebounding (fourth, 38.1), assists (third, 15.1) and blocked shots (second, 5.7).
Freshman G Andrew Wiggins has averaged 31.0 points in his last three games, which includes a KU freshman-record 41 against West Virginia (3/8). He is Kansas’ leading scorer at 17.4 points per game, which leads the KU freshman class and is fifth overall in the conference. A Big 12 Championship All-Tournament Team selection, Wiggins leads KU with 43 three-pointers and 40 steals. A 2014 All-Big 12 First Team selection, Big 12 Freshman of the Year and Wooden Award final ballot honoree, Wiggins’ 6.0 rebound average is third on the team. Sophomore F Perry Ellis scored 30 points in the Big 12 semifinals against Iowa State (3/14). An All-Big 12 Third Team selection and two-time Big 12 Player of the Week, Ellis is KU’s second-leading scorer at 13.6 points per game. His 6.5 rebound average is second on the team, as are his 27 steals. On March 10, KU head coach Bill Self announced that freshman C Joel Embiid, KU’s third-leading scorer, would sit out the Big 12 Championship and likely the first weekend of the NCAA Tournament due to stress fracture in his lower back. The Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year, Embiid has broken the KU freshman record for blocked shots, currently at 72, and his 2.6 blocked shots per game are second in the league. Embiid leads KU with 8.1 rebounds per game and averages 11.2 points per game. Stepping in for Embiid in the starting role has been senior F Tarik Black who is averaging 8.5 points and 8.0 rebounds in his last four games. Black has posted averages of 4.9 ppg and 3.8 rpg in 2013-14. His 12 rebounds against Oklahoma State (3/13) were a season high and his 10 the following day against Iowa State (3/14) were his second-most in 2013-14. Black scored a season-high 19 points on 9-of-9 shooting against Texas Tech (3/5). Freshman G Wayne Selden, Jr., is scoring 10.2 points per game. Selden’s 42 three-pointers are tied for second on the team and his 81 assists are also second among his teammates. Junior G Naadir Tharpe had 16 assists in the Big 12 Championship with seven against Oklahoma State (3/13) and nine versus Iowa State (3/14). He averages 8.7 ppg and a team-best 5.2 assists this season. Tharpe is tied with Selden for second on the team with 42 three-pointers made in 2013-14.
Freshman G Frank Mason averages 5.7 points per game and is third on the team with 66 assists. Sophomore F Jamari Traylor leads KU with a 71.1 field goal percentage and is averaging 4.5 points and 3.8 rebounds per contest. Other contributors off the bench include freshman G Brannen Greene (2.4 ppg), freshman G Conner Frankamp (1.8 ppg) and redshirt freshman F Landen Lucas (1.5 ppg).
ABOUT EASTERN KENTUCKY
Located in Richmond, Ky., with an enrollment of 15,968, Eastern Kentucky won the 2014 Ohio Valley Conference Tournament. The Colonels (24-9, 11-5) are coached by Jeff Neubauer who is 167-121 in his ninth season as a head coach, all at EKU. Eastern Kentucky heads to the NCAAs on a seven-game win streak after it defeated OVC top-seed Belmont, 79-73, in the OVC title game, March 8. EKU is making its first trip to the NCAA Tournament since 2007 and its eighth appearance overall. Eastern Kentucky finished second in the Ohio Valley Eastern Division with an 11-5 league record. EKU averages 79.0 points per game and gives up 70.6 for a +8.4 scoring margin. The Colonels average 23.5 three-point attempts and make 9.2 shot from beyond the arc per contest. Their 303 three-pointers made this season are third-most in NCAA Division I. Eastern Kentucky ranks sixth nationally in steals with 8.8 per game and second in turnover margin at +6.3.
The Colonels have six seniors on the roster and are led by veteran duo Glenn Cosey and Corey Walden. Cosey, a senior guard, sets the tone with 18.8 points per game and leads the team with 110 three-pointers made and 139 assists. He is shooting 84.1 percent from the free throw line. Walden, a junior guard, is the 2014 OVC Defensive Player of the Year and scores 14.4 per contest. He leads EKU with 73 steals and is second on the team with 4.2 rebounds per game and 98 assists. Senior G Marcus Lewis scores 9.9 points per game and is second on the team with 53 steals and a 52.7 field goal percentage. Rounding out the EKU starters are senior G Tarius Johnson (9.5 ppg, 3.6 rpg) and junior F Eric Stutz (8.4 ppg). Stutz leads the team with 4.7 rebounds per game and 23 blocked shots. Senior G Orlando Williams is a top reserve who scores 9.6 points per game and is second on the team with 49 three-pointers made. Other contributors off the bench for EKU include junior G Timmy Knipp (3.6 ppg), freshman G Isaac McGlone (2.8 ppg) and senior F Jeff Johnson (1.8 ppg).
THE EASTERN KENTUCKY SERIES & TIES
Kansas won the only meeting with Eastern Kentucky, 79-65, on Dec. 5, 1970, in Allen Fieldhouse. The game was the second of the season for Kansas. KU All-American Bud Stallworth led the Jayhawks with 21 points, while Dave Robisch and Randy Canfield scored 15 points each. KU trailed 40-32 at half and outscored EKU 47-25 after intermission. KU went on to post a 27-3 record and advance to the Final Four in Houston. The 1970-71 Jayhawks were a perfect 14-0 in Big Eight Conference play, won the Big Eight Holiday Tournament and ended the year ranked No. 4 nationally.
Kansas 10th-year assistant coach Kurtis Townsend was an assistant coach at Eastern Kentucky for the 1997-98 season. The EKU position was his second assistant coaching stint in the college ranks as Townsend coached at California from 1994-97. From EKU he went on to be an assistant at Michigan (1999-2001), USC (2002-03) and Miami (Fla.) (2003-04) before coming to Kansas.
· According to NCAA.com, Kansas is the only team in this year’s NCAA Tournament with a perfect Academic Progress Rate (APR) and perfect graduation rate. KU has had a perfect APR each of the last seven years.
· Kansas has scored 80 or more points in eight of its last 11 games. The Jayhawks have six games of 90 or more points this season. In 18 of KU’s 24 victories, the Jayhawks scored at least 80 points. KU is 18-3 when scoring 80 points or more in 2013-14.
· After shooting 51.9 percent against Texas Tech (3/5), Kansas is 17-1 when shooting 50 percent or better in the game and has eclipsed the 50 percent field goal percentage in eight of its last 16 games.
· KU has outrebounded 28 of 33 opponents this season. KU has 15 games with a +10 rebound advantage, including 46-30 against Oklahoma State in the Big 12 quarterfinals (3/13).
· Kansas is 22-2 when leading at half this season, including 14-2 against Big 12 competition. KU led at Oklahoma State 26-25 (3/1) and 48-46 against Iowa State in the Big 12 Championship semifinals (3/14) for the only losses.
· KU has held all but three opponents under 50 percent shooting in 2013-14.
· Freshman G Andrew Wiggins has scored 93 points in his last three games. Included were a Kansas freshman-record 41 points at West Virginia (3/8), 30 points versus Oklahoma State (3/13) and 22 points against Iowa State (3/14). In his last three games, Wiggins is averaging 31.0 points on 50 percent shooting with 7.7 rebounds, 3.0 steals and 1.7 blocked shots per game.
· Wiggins has averaged 19.4 points in his last 15 contests. His 17.4 scoring average for the season would break the KU freshman record (15.9 ppg by Ben McLemore in 2013). Wiggins has 11 games of 20-plus points, including seven against Big 12 competition.
· Sophomore F Perry Ellis’ 30 points against Iowa State (3/14) were two shy of his career-high 32 set against TCU (2/15/14).
· In his last five games, Ellis is averaging 15.4 points with a 69.0 field goal percentage and 85.0 free throw percentage.
· After his 11-for-12 effort against Iowa State (3/14), Ellis has shot 60 percent or better in 14 games this season. The Jayhawks are 13-1 when Ellis shoots 60 percent or better this season.
· Senior F Tarik Black is 15-for-22 (68.2 percent) from the field in his last four games, since stepping back into the starting lineup. In that span his has averaged 8.5 points and 8.0 rebounds per game.
· Black’s 12 rebounds versus Oklahoma State (3/13) were a KU career high and his 10 boards the following day against Iowa State were his second-most as a Jayhawk.
· Sophomore F Jamari Traylor tied his career-high with nine rebounds against Oklahoma State in the Big 12 quarterfinals (3/13). Traylor also pulled down nine at Florida (12/10/13).
· In his last three games, Traylor is averaging 6.0 ppg and 6.0 rpg. He is averaging 4.5 ppg and 3.8 rpg for the season.
· Traylor missed only 10 shots in 18 conference games, going 33-for-43 (76.7 percent) in Big 12 play in 2013-14.
· Freshman G Wayne Selden, Jr.’s 14 points against Oklahoma State (3/13) in the Big 12 quarterfinals were his most in three games. Selden has 14 games with 10-plus points, including three of his last six outings. Selden has three 20-point efforts this season.
· Freshman C Joel Embiid has 72 blocked shots this year, which is the KU freshman record. He has blocked at least one shot in each of his last 22 games played.
· Embiid is 22-for-33 (66.7 percent) from the field in his last six games played but has missed the last four games due to a back injury.
KANSAS VS. THE NCAA TOURNAMENT FIELD
It is well documented Kansas had the toughest schedule in 2013-14 and there is more proof in the fact KU has faced 12 teams invited to play in the 2014 NCAA Tournament. The average seed of KU’s 12 NCAA Tournament opponents is 5.3 with no seed higher than a No. 9. In all, Kansas played 20 games against 12 teams in this year’s NCAA Tournament field with a 12-8 record: Baylor (2-0), Colorado (0-1), Duke (1-0), Florida (0-1), Iowa State (2-1), Kansas State (1-1), New Mexico (1-0), Oklahoma (2-0), Oklahoma State (2-1), San Diego State (0-1), Texas (1-1) and Villanova (0-1).
Kansas is the No. 2 seed for the sixth time since the NCAA Tournament started seeding in 1979: 1990-93-96-2003-12. This is the second time KU has been a No. 2 seed under Bill Self (2012). Kansas is 18-5 as a No. 2 seed, has won all five of its previous first-round games and has advanced to three Final Fours (1993, 2003 and 2012) in that seed line. KU’s 23 games played as a No. 2 only trails its 39 contests as a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament. KU has been a No. 1 seed 11 times which is followed by the six stints as the No. 2 seed.
KANSAS IN THE NCAA TOURNAMENT
· This year marks Kansas’ 43rd NCAA Tournament appearance.
· Kansas’ 25-straight NCAA Tournament appearances, from 1990-2014, is the nation’s longest active streak and ranks second-best all time. North Carolina had 27 straight from 1975-2001.
· Under head coach Bill Self, Kansas is 25-9 (73.5 percent) in the NCAA Tournament with seven Sweet 16s, five Elite Eights, two Final Fours, one NCAA National Championship and one NCAA runner-up finish.
· In the last 12 NCAA Tournaments, Kansas has a 34-11 (75.6 percent) record with one NCAA National Championship (2008), four Final Four (2002-03-08-12) and seven Elite Eight (2002-03-04-07-08-11-12) appearances.
· Kansas’ 43 NCAA Tournament appearances are fourth nationally behind only Kentucky (52), North Carolina (45) and UCLA (44).
· Kansas sports an all-time NCAA Tournament record of 95-41. The Jayhawks’ 95 wins are tied for fourth with UCLA and trail Kentucky (111), North Carolina (109) and Duke (99).
· The Jayhawks will play their 137th NCAA Tournament game on Friday. The Jayhawks’ 136 games in the event rank fourth all-time in NCAA history: Kentucky (157), North Carolina (151) and UCLA (141).
· KU’s NCAA Tournament winning percentage of 69.9 percent ranks sixth all-time for a minimum of 20 games played.
· Kansas coach Bill Self is making his 16th-consecutive appearance in the NCAA Tournament as a head coach, which is the sixth-best consecutive string in tourney history by a head coach: 23 Dean Smith (1975-97), 21 Roy Williams (1990-2009), 19 Mike Krzyzewski, (1996-2014), 17 Rick Barnes (1996-2012), 17 Tom Izzo (1998-2014) and 16 Bill Self (1999-2014). Self, Krzyzewski and Izzo are the only active streaks.
· KU is one of eight schools that has won at least three NCAA Championships. The Jayhawks won the NCAA crown in 1952, 1988 and 2008. The other schools are: UCLA (11), Kentucky (8), Indiana (5), North Carolina (5), Duke (4), Connecticut (3) and Louisville (3).
· Kansas has appeared in the Final Four 14 times, making KU one of just seven schools to reach the Final Four 10-plus times: North Carolina (18), UCLA (17), Duke (15), Kentucky (15), Ohio State (11) and Louisville (10).
· Kansas has won 12 games in the Final Four, which is tied for fifth best all-time: UCLA (25), Kentucky (19), Duke (15), North Carolina (15) and Indiana (12).
· Five different Jayhawks have been named NCAA Tournament Most Outstanding Player, including B.H. Born in 1953 and Wilt Chamberlain in 1957, who both won the award even though KU lost in the finals. Clyde Lovellette (1952) and Danny Manning (1988) also won the honor. Mario Chalmers won the Most Outstanding Player Award for the 2008 NCAA Tournament.
· Former Jayhawk player and coach Dick Harp is the only person to play in the Final Four and later coach his alma mater in the Final Four.
NCAA TOURNAMENT NOTABLES
· In 2007-08, Kansas became the fourth school to win a BCS game, and then play in the Final Four the same academic year. The 2007 KU football team won the FedEx Orange Bowl and the men’s basketball team captured the NCAA National Championship. Other schools to accomplish the feat include Ohio State (1999), Wisconsin (2000) and Florida (2007).
· In 1993, Kansas became the first school in NCAA history to make a Final Four appearance, a College World Series appearance and win a bowl game in the same year.
· Larry Brown is one of two coaches to take two different teams to the NCAA championship game (UCLA, 1980 and Kansas, 1988). Frank McGuire took St. John’s in 1952 and North Carolina in 1957. McGuire’s 1957 North Carolina team defeated Kansas for the championship in triple overtime.
· Brown is the only man to coach teams to the NCAA Championship (Kansas in 1988) and the NBA Championship (Detroit in 2004).
· When Phog Allen’s 1952 team won the NCAA title, Allen was 66 years old. That was the oldest age for the head coach of a championship team until Jim Calhoun (68) of Connecticut won in 2011. Allen became the fourth coach to win the NCAA National Championship at his alma mater, a feat that has been accomplished 14 times.
· Kansas won the NCAA Tournament in 1988 as a No. 6 seed. Jim Valvano’s 1983 N.C. State team also won the tournament as a No. 6 seed. Only one team has won the tournament with a lower seed - Villanova in 1985 as an eighth seed. In the 1990s, the lowest seed to win the tournament was the 1997 Arizona team, which captured the title as a No. 4 seed. The Wildcats upset Kansas, the top seed, in the Sweet 16.
KU IS THE CRADLE OF TOURNAMENT COACHING LEGENDS
With Danny Manning at Tulsa in 2014, 10 head coaches have advanced to the NCAA Tournament who have graduated from the University of Kansas. In fact, the 122 combined NCAA Tournament wins by those men are easily the most by graduates of any one school: Phog Allen (KU 1906, 10-3), Tad Boyle (KU 1985, 1-2), Tim Carter (KU 1979, 0-2), Frosty Cox (KU 1930, 2-4), Dick Harp (KU 1940, 4-2), Danny Manning (KU 1991, 0-0), Ralph Miller (KU 1942, 5-11), Adolph Rupp (KU 1922, 30-18), Dean Smith (KU 1953, 65-27) and Mark Turgeon (KU 1987, 5-5).
KANSAS IN ST. LOUIS FOR THE NCAA TOURNAMENT
The 2014 NCAA Tournament will be the fifth time in Kansas men’s basketball history the Jayhawks will have played in the event in St. Louis, Mo., and the first time in the Scottrade Center. KU is 7-1 all-time in NCAA Tournament contests in St. Louis with its last appearance in the 2012 Midwest Regional semifinals and finals at the Edward Jones Dome. St. Louis has been a good location for Kansas as the Jayhawks have advanced to the Final Four in three of the previous four visits to the city for the NCAA Tournament (1993, 2002 and 2012). The lone non-Final Four run was Bill Self’s first season at KU when the Jayhawks fell to Georgia Tech, 79-71 in overtime, in the St. Louis Regional final, i.e. the Elite Eight.
IN THE POLLS
Kansas is ranked No. 10 in the Associated Press in the poll released March 17. The Jayhawks were in the AP top 10 the first five polls of 2013-14 and 14 total in 2013-14. KU is No. 10 in the March 17 USA Today Coaches’ poll. In the Bill Self era, this is the 170th week Kansas has been ranked in the AP top 25, which includes 121 times in the top 10. KU has been ranked in each of the last 104 polls dating back to the 2008-09 season. In the coaches’ poll, Kansas has been ranked 197 times, including 145 in the top 10 in the Self era. KU has been listed in each of the last 108 coaches’ polls.
AFTER ONLY ONE SEASON
Last season, Ben McLemore broke the Kansas freshman scoring record, which was held for 28 years by KU legend Danny Manning, set in 1985. Manning scored 496 points, while McLemore became the first freshman in school history to surpass the 500-point barrier with 589 in 2012-13. This season, KU freshman G Andrew Wiggins’ 17.4 points per game is ahead of McLemore’s KU frosh-record average of 15.9 ppg and Wiggins’ 574 points rank second on the KU freshman list. Wiggins already owns the KU freshman record for free throw attempts (220) and free throws made (169).
A Kansas victory against Eastern Kentucky would advance the Jayhawks to play the winner of the (7) New Mexico-(10) Stanford contest on Sunday, March 23.