No. 3 Kansas Hits Road for Big 12 Opener at Nebraska Saturday on ESPN

Jan. 10, 2008

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Kansas at Nebraska

Three-time defending Big 12 championsh, Kansas (15-0) opens its league play at Nebraska Saturday at 8 p.m. (Central) on ESPN. KU has won seven of the 11 Big 12 titles. The Jayhawks tied Oklahoma in 2005, tied Texas in 2006 and won the 2007 championship outright. Kansas’ 50 conference titles are the most in NCAA Division I, one ahead of Kentucky’s 49. The Jayhawks have won 16 straight conference-openers with their last loss in a league-opener to Oklahoma on Jan. 8, 1991, as members of the Big Eight Conference. In that stretch, KU is 10-0 on the road and 6-0 at home. Nebraska is 11-2 on the season and brings a six-game winning streak into its Big 12 opener.

About Kansas

No. 3 Kansas’ 15-0 record marks the fifth-best start in school history and the best since the 1996-97 team opened the year with a school-best 22-0 record. KU averages 84 points per game and is giving up 58.6 for a Big 12-leading +25.4 scoring margin. The Jayhawks have shot 50 percent or better in 12 of 15 games and are outrebounding foes by nearly six boards per contest. Sophomore forward Darrell Arthur leads the team with a 13.7 scoring average. He also paces KU with 25 blocked shots and is second on the team with a 5.9 rebound average. Senior forward Darnell Jackson leads KU with 6.9 rebounds per game to go along with his 12.3 scoring average. He has pulled down eight or more rebounds in eight games this season, with seven of those in the last eight KU contests. Junior guard Mario Chalmers leads the Big 12 in steals with 3.1 per game. He is scoring 12 points per outing and leads the team with 27 three-pointers. He also has 67 assists on the year. Junior guard Brandon Rush is scoring 10.8 points per game, while sophomore guard Sherron Collins is at 10.1 following his team-high 18-point performance against Loyola (Jan. 8). A trio of seniors round out the KU regulars with center Sasha Kaun (8.1 ppg, team-best 72.9 field goal percentage), guard Russell Robinson (6.9 ppg, team-best 71 assists, 38 steals) and guard Rodrick Stewart (5.0 ppg). Freshmen center Cole Aldrich (3.3 ppg, 3.5 rpg) and guard Tyrel Reed (3.5 ppg) are also seeing playing time for the Jayhawks.

About Nebraska

In Nebraska’s current six-game winning streak, the Huskers have posted wins against Big East foe Rutgers and then-nationally ranked Oregon. NU is 11-0 at home, averages 72.4 points per game and is giving up 53.5 for a +18.9 scoring margin. The Huskers force an average of 18.1 turnovers per game and are outrebounding foes by 4.7 per contest. The Huskers lead the Big 12 in field goal percentage defense at 35.1 percent. Senior center Aleks Maric leads NU with a 16.2 scoring average – seventh in the Big 12 – and 8.4 rebounding average – fourth in the league. He also has a team-high 61.2 shooting percentage and 26 blocked shots. Junior guard Ade Dagunduro is the only other Husker to average double figures with 11.4 points per game. He is also pulling down 4.7 rebounds per outing. Sophomore guard Ryan Anderson scores 9.5 points per contest and he leads NU with 19 three pointers. He is second on the team with 5.5 rebounds per game. Freshman guard Cookie Miller is fifth in the Big 12 in assists with 4.46 per game and seventh in steals with 2.08 per game, both team bests. Junior guard Steve Harley (6.6 ppg), sophomore guard Jay-R Strowbridge (5.8 ppg), sophomore guard Sek Henry (5.0 ppg), junior forward Shang Pek (4.5 ppg) and junior guard Paul Velander (4.2 ppg) round out the Nebraska regulars.

The Series

This series dates back to 1900 and Kansas leads, 161-71, including a 59-44 mark in games played in Lincoln. Nebraska leads KU 16-15 when the teams meet in the Bob Devaney Sports Center, but KU has won the last three contests and seven of the last eight meetings in the venue dating back to 2000. Kansas has won eight straight and 17 of the last 18 meetings with Nebraska dating back to 1999. The last Nebraska victory in the series was 74-55 on Feb. 15, 2004, in Lincoln. The previous NU win was 64-59 on Feb. 10, 1999, in Lawrence. Kansas holds a 22-3 record against Nebraska since the inception of the Big 12 and has swept the season series nine times, including each of the last three seasons. Last year KU won both games with NU with a 76-56 win at Lincoln on ESPN’s Big Monday on Jan. 29. In that game, in which KU jumped out to a 43-8 lead, Brandon Rush led all scorers with 20 points and rebounders (eight), while Darrell Arthur added 12. In KU’s 92-39 win against Nebraska in Allen Fieldhouse on Feb. 17, Rush and Arthur scored 13 points each as KU outscored NU 56-17 in the second half. The 53-point margin win was the second-largest margin of victory in the series and the largest since Feb. 8, 1958, when Kansas beat Nebraska 102-46 in Lawrence. The 39 points by Nebraska were the fewest points scored by a KU Big 12 opponent since Oklahoma State also scored 39 on Feb. 13, 1967, a Kansas 52-39 victory.

Team Notables

–Kansas is 63-7 (90 percent) in its last 70 games. The Jayhawks are 15-0 on the season and have won 29 of their last 30 and 32 of their last 34 contests.

–Kansas’ bigs score 45 percent of KU’s points, while its guards score 55 percent. KU’s top two scorers are bigs and its next three are guards.

–KU has shot better than 50 percent in 12 of 15 games this season. Last year, KU shot better than 50 percent in 18 of 38 contests.

–KU has outshot 14 of 15 opponents this season.

–Kansas leads the Big 12 in scoring offense (84), scoring margin (+25.4), field goal percentage (52.1), blocked shots (6.67), assists (20), steals (11.4), turnover margin (+6.93) and assist-to-turnover ratio (1.52).

–The Jayhawks have held 14 of 15 opponents to under 50 percent shooting and 86 of its last 89 opponents. Ohio’s 28.3 field goal percentage on Dec. 15 was a season low for KU foes.

–Through 15 games, Kansas has had seven different leading scorers, six different players lead the team in rebounding and seven different in steals (this includes ties). KU has had six different leading scorers in the last seven games (Jackson and Arthur tied for the team high with 14 vs. Yale, Dec. 29).

–Four Jayhawks have scored 20-plus this season – Sherron Collins (22 vs. ULM), Darnell Jackson (21 vs. ULM, 20 vs. Yale, 25 at Boston College), Mario Chalmers (23 vs. UMKC, 20 at USC) and Darrell Arthur (20 vs. Arizona, 21 at Boston College).

–On the season, the Jayhawk bench has outscored its opponents 449-274 for a 29.9 to 18.3 (+11.6) advantage per game.

–Kansas is a combined 38-4 (90.5 percent) in football (12-1), men’s basketball (15-0) and women’s basketball (11-3).

Player Notables

–Senior Darnell Jackson (#32) just missed a double-double with 25 points and nine rebounds at Boston College (Jan. 5) and was named the co-Big 12 Player of the Week for his efforts. Against Loyola he did just missed another DD with nine points and nine rebounds. His BC game was his second straight and third 20-point effort of the season – (20 points vs. Yale, Dec. 29). The nine rebounds at BC and against Loyola marked the seventh time this season Jackson has pulled down eight or more boards. Jackson is 44-for-60 (73.3 percent) from the field in his last eight games. In that span, he is averaging 13.5 points. In his last nine games, he is averaging 7.9 rebounds. Jackson is eighth in rebounds at 6.9 rpg.

–Junior Mario Chalmers (#15) missed the Loyola game due to a strained groin which occurred during practice but is scheduled to play at Nebraska. Chalmers led Kansas in assists in each of his last two games and five times this season, including six at Boston College Jan. 5. He has recorded 28 steals (4.0 average) in the last seven games – four at BC – and has led KU in steals eight times this season. He has made two or more three-pointers in each of the last three games and in eight games this season. Chalmers leads the Big 12 in steals with 3.14 per game. He is third in assists at 4.79, second in assist-to-turnover ratio at 2.58 and tied for 10th in three-point field goals made at 1.93.

–Sophomore Darrell Arthur (#00) scored a season-high 22 points at Boston College (Jan. 5) for his second 20-point performance of the season (20 vs. Arizona Nov. 25). He has scored in double figures in all but one game this season, including 14 against Loyola. He has pulled down six or more rebounds in 10 games and has shot 50 percent or better in 10 of his last 13 outings, including a season-best 10-for-12 (83.3 percent) at BC. He has eight games with multi-blocks this season, including three against Loyola. Arthur is tied for 14th in the Big 12 in scoring with 13.7 points per game, 13th in rebounding at 5.9, fourth in blocked shots at 1.67 and sixth in field goal percentage at 53.8 percent.

–Senior Russell Robinson’s (#3) eight steals against Yale (Dec. 29) were one shy of the school record. He has 15 steals in his last four games and 38 on the season. His 206 career steals ties Kirk Hinrich for fifth most at KU. Against Ohio (Dec. 15), Robinson set a new career high with 11 assists. Robinson is fourth in the Big 12 in assists at 4.73, third in steals at 2.53 and sixth in assist-to-turnover ratio at 2.15.

–Junior Brandon Rush (#25) has scored in double digits in six of his last seven games and eight games this season, including 12 points at Boston College (Jan. 5). He has made at least one three pointer in 10 games. Rush is 10th on the career KU three-point field goals made list with 143. He played a season-high 36 minutes against Arizona (Nov. 25) and responded with 17 points and eight rebounds. Due to come back Dec. 1 from ACL surgery in June, Rush made his season debut Nov. 15 against Washburn.

–Senior Sasha Kaun (#24) has pulled down 13 rebounds in his last two games, including a season-high eight against Loyola. His 14 points against the Greyhounds were one shy of his season best. He leads KU in field goal percentage at 72.9 percent and has shot 66.7 percent or better in 12 of 15 games this year, including a 4-for-5 effort against Loyola. After starting the year 10-for-26 (38.5 percent) from the free throw line, Kaun is 25-for-37 (66.7 percent) in his last nine games. Kaun is tied for sixth in the Big 12 in blocked shots with 1.47 per game.

–Sophomore SHERRON COLLINS’ (#4) 18 points against Loyola were the most points since he scored 22 in the season opener against Louisiana-Monroe. The Loyola game was his third start of the season and he logged 28 minutes of action. He has seven assists, four steals and two turnovers in his last two games. He has made at least one three-pointer in seven of nine games played and has multiple treys in five games, including three against Loyola. Collins missed six games (games 3-8) due to injury.

–Freshman Cole Aldrich (#45) has pulled down five or more rebounds in five games this season, including six against Loyola. The sophomore guard has 15 rebounds in his last three games and averages 3.5 boards on the season. Aldrich has five games with multiple blocked shots, including two in each of KU’s last two games. He is tied for 12th in the Big 12 in blocked shots with a 1.0 average.

–Freshman Tyrel Reed’s (#14) eight points against Yale (Dec. 29) were the most in his previous five outings. Reed was perfect against the Bulldogs going 3-for-3 from the field, including 2-for-2 from three-point range. He had two points in two minutes at Boston College.

–Freshman Conner Teahan (#2) has scored five or more points in five games this season, including five against Loyola. He has scored 41 points in 44 minutes. He had five points in two minutes against Eastern Washington (Dec. 5). He is 11-for-17 (64.7 percent) from three-point range.

Up Next

Kansas returns to Allen Fieldhouse for its first of three ESPN/Big Monday appearances when they host Oklahoma on Jan. 14. Tip time for the OU contest is set for 8 p.m. The Jayhawks then travel to Border Showdown rival Missouri on Jan. 19. That game will tip at 7 p.m. from Columbia, Mo., and air on ESPNU.