No. 3 Kansas Opens Big 12 Play at Nebraska Wednesday in Men's Basketball

Jan. 12, 2010

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No. 3 Kansas (14-1) looks to rebound from its first loss of the season when it opens its 2010 Big 12 season at Nebraska (12-4, 0-1) Wednesday, Jan. 13, at 8 p.m. on ESPN2. The Jayhawks lost at then-No. 16/15 Tennessee 76-68 on Sunday. KU has won 18-straight conference openers dating back to the 1991-92 season. KU has won nine of the Big 12 Conference’s 13 regular-season titles and an NCAA Division I-leading 52 conference crowns. This will be Nebraska’s home conference opener as the Huskers lost at Texas A&M 64-53 on Saturday.

About Kansas

Kansas opens its Big 12 schedule in unfamiliar territory having lost its first game of the season at Tennessee on Sunday. The Jayhawks have won 18-straight conference openers with 11 of those on the road. Kansas averages 85.1 points per game and gives up 59.8 for a +25.3 scoring margin. The Jayhawks have shot 50 percent or better in six of their last eight games and have held all but three opponents – Radford, Cornell and Tennessee – to under 40 percent shooting in 2009-10. KU ranks in the top three of all but three Big 12 statistics and leads the conference in scoring margin, assists (18.6) and assist-to-turnover ratio (1.5). Freshman guard Xavier Henry leads the team with a 15.7 point scoring average. He has shot 50 percent or better in nine of 15 games this season and is making 49.1 percent of his shots from the field. Xavier is seventh in the Big 12 with his 47.1 three-point field goal percentage. Xavier leads KU with 33 threes and 26 steals. Senior guard Sherron Collins has scored 55 points in his last two games and is averaging 15.6 points on the season. He is second on the team with 30 three-pointers. Collins leads Kansas with 63 assists and is second in steals with 21. Junior center Cole Aldrich is coming off a season-high 18 rebounds at Tennessee. He has six double-doubles on the year and 28 for his career. Aldrich leads KU in rebounds with 10.5 per game and blocked shots at 3.7. His rebounds are third in the Big 12 and his blocked shots are second. Sophomore guard Tyshawn Taylor scores 7.3 points per game after his 13 at Tennessee. He is just behind Collins in assists with 60. Sophomore forward Marcus Morris is scoring 10.5 points per contest and has scored in double figures in four of his last six outings. Marcus’ twin, sophomore forward Markieff Morris, is coming off the bench to score 6.7 points per game. He is shooting 58.7 percent from the field and pulls down 5.4 rebounds per game, which is 20th in the Big 12. Junior guard Brady Morningstar returned to the lineup against Michigan (Dec. 19) and has 18 assists and four turnovers in 19.2 minutes per game. Morningstar has made one three-pointer in five of his six games played this season and is scoring 4.0 points per contest. Junior guard Tyrel Reed scores 4.4 points per outing and he has 17 three-pointers and 23 field goals made this season. Freshman guard Elijah Johnson (4.2 ppg) has started two games this season. Thomas Robinson (4.0 ppg, 3.9 rpg) is another KU regular.

About Nebraska

Nebraska is 12-4 on the season and 0-1 in Big 12 play after its 64-53 loss at Texas A&M Saturday. The Huskers are 10-0 at home and average 68.9 points per game and are giving up 58.6 for a +10.4 scoring margin. The 58.6 points allowed leads the Big 12 as does Nebraska’s 32.0 rebounding defense average (or rebounds opponents average per game). NU averages 7.6 steals per game and 15.1 assists. Freshman forward Christian Standhardinger sat out the first 15 games of the season due to NCAA regulations and had 13 points and seven rebounds in his season debut at Texas A&M. Senior guard Ryan Anderson is scoring 11.2 points per game and leads NU with 33 steals. His 18 three-pointers are second on the team and his 4.9 rebound average is a team best. Freshman center Jorge Brian Diaz leads the Huskers with 24 blocked shots to complement his 8.6 points per game. He is making 56 percent of his shots from the field and pulls down 4.2 rebounds per game. Sophomore guard Brandon Richardson scores 7.9 points per contest and he is second behind Anderson with 18 steals. Senior guard Sek Henry is a starter scoring 7.8 points per game and he is second on the team with 42 assists. Freshman guard Eshaunte Jones comes off the bench to score 7.3 points per contest and he leads NU with 26 three-pointers. Junior guard Lance Jeter leads the team with 67 assists to complement his 6.9 scoring average. Freshman forward Brandon Ubel (5.8 ppg) and freshman guard Ray Gallegos (4.2 ppg) are other Husker regulars who average 16-plus minutes per game.

The Series

This series dates back to 1900 and Kansas leads 166-71. Kansas is 61-44 against Nebraska in games played in Lincoln, including 17-16 in the Bob Devaney Sports Center. Kansas has won 13 straight against Nebraska and 22 of the last 23 dating back to the 1998-99 season. The last Nebraska victory in the series was a 74-55 decision on Feb. 15, 2004, in Lincoln, Bill Self’s first season at KU and his only loss to Nebraska. The previous NU win was 64-59 on Feb. 10, 1999, in Lawrence. Kansas holds a 27-3 record against Nebraska since the inception of the Big 12 and has swept the season series 11 times, including each of the last five seasons. KU and NU have played each other four times in the Phillips 66 Big 12 Championship with the Jayhawks winning all four contests.

Team Notables

–KU leads the nation in scoring margin (+25.3). The Jayhawks also lead the Big 12 in assists at 18.6 and assist-to-turnover ratio at 1.5. The Jayhawks rank in the top three in all but three Big 12 statistical categories.

–Through 15 games, Bill Self has used at least nine players in the first half of every game. He used a season-high 11 players in the first half against Central Arkansas (Nov. 19).

–Nine of Kansas’ 14 victories this season have been by 25 or more points with eight of those by 30 points or more.

–KU averages 6.9 blocked shots per game to its opponents’ 2.7.

–Kansas has shot 50 percent or better in 10 of 15 games this season, including six of its last eight contests.

–Kansas has also held 12 of 15 opponents this season to under 40 percent from the field. Only Radford (.423), Cornell (.436) and Tennessee (.481) have shot higher than 40 percent against the Jayhawks.

–KU’s bench has outscored its opponents’ bench in 11 of 15 games this season. KU’s bench averages 25.9 points per game compared to 13.6 by its opponents.

–Through 15 games, nine different Jayhawks, including ties, have led the team in steals, seven in points and six in assists.

–Kansas forces 15.3 turnovers per game and averages 18.7 points off turnovers per game.

Player Notables

–Senior Sherron Collins has scored 55 points in his last two games, including a career-high 33 points in the come-from-behind win against Cornell (Jan. 6). His 22 point effort at Tennessee (Jan. 10) was his third 20-point effort of the season. Collins has shot 50 percent or better in three of his last four games and four of his last six outings. Collins is second on the team in scoring and his 15.6 ppg ranks tied for 11th in the Big 12. Collins also ranks among the league leaders in assists (sixth at 4.1), three-point field goal percentage (12th at 39), three-point field goals made (ninth at 2.0) and assist-to-turnover ratio (ninth at 2.1).

–Junior Cole Aldrich, an Academic All-America candidate, pulled down a season-high 18 rebounds at Tennessee (Jan. 10). The mark was two shy of his career high set twice last season – at Oklahoma and vs. Dayton. Aldrich was named Big 12 co-Player of the Week (Jan. 4) after posting two straight double-doubles in wins against Belmont and at Temple. Aldrich has 29 blocked shots in his last seven games. He is second in the Big 12 and ranks seventh nationally with 3.7 blocked shots per game. Aldrich is third in the Big 12 in rebounding at 10.5 rpg. He has 28 career double-doubles, including six this season.

–Freshman Xavier Henry has been named the Phillips 66 Big 12 Rookie of the Week twice this season and he leads Kansas in scoring with 15.7 ppg. He has led KU in scoring in six games this season, including 15 at Temple (Jan. 2) and 31 points against La Salle (Dec. 12). He has scored in double figures in all but one game. Xavier leads Kansas with 26 steals on the season and with 33 three-point field goals made. He has four steals in three games this season, including four against Cornell (Jan. 6) and has made multiple three-pointers in eight contests. The last KU freshman to lead the team in scoring was Brandon Rush in 2005-06 at 13.5 ppg. Xavier is second in the Big 12 in three-point field goal percentage at 45.8 percent. He also ranks 10th in the Big 12 in scoring at 15.7 ppg, seventh in field goal percentage at 49.1, tied for 13th in free throw percentage at 75.0, tied for fifth in steals at 1.7 and sixth in three-pointers made at 2.2.

–Sophomore Marcus Morris scored a career-high 23 points against Michigan (Dec. 19) and is fourth on the team in scoring at 10.5 ppg. He has two double-doubles on the season – vs. Michigan and vs. Oakland (Nov. 25). He has started the last 13 games and is third on the team with a 5.1 rebound average. Marcus is shooting 55.4 percent from the field and has pulled down six or more boards six times.

–Sophomore Markieff Morris is second on the team with a 5.4 rebound average to complement his 6.7 scoring average. He pulled down six rebounds against Cornell (Jan. 6) to mark the eighth time this season he has pulled down six or more boards. Markieff had a double-double with 12 points and 12 rebounds against La Salle (Dec. 12). He is second on the team with 13 blocked shots. He is shooting 58.7 percent from the field on the season.

–Sophomore Tyshawn Taylor scored 13 points at Tennessee (Jan. 10) to record his fourth double-figure scoring game of the season and first in four games – 13 vs. California (Dec. 22). Against Cal, Taylor was 6-of-8 shooting with seven assists, one turnover and two steals. Taylor ranks 10th in the Big 12 in assists at 4.0 and seventh in assist-to-turnover ratio at 2.1.

–Junior Brady Morningstar has 18 assists and four turnovers in his six games played this season. He has made one three pointer in five of those six games. Morningstar dished out a career-high seven assists against California (Dec. 22). In six games, Morningstar is 9-for-18 (50 percent) from the field, including 5-for-11 (45.5 percent) from three-point range. A defensive stopper who started all but one game last season, Morningstar missed the first nine games of the season due to breaking team rules. Morningstar is a redshirt junior who is the oldest player in the Big 12 at 23.

–Junior Tyrel Reed, an Academic All-America candidate, has made 17 three-pointers and 73.9 percent of his field goals made this season have been from beyond the arc. His lone field goal against Cornell gave Kansas its first lead of the game at 61-60. Reed has made at least one three in 12 games this season and multiple threes in three contests. Reed is averaging 4.4 points per game.

–Freshman Thomas Robinson averages 10 minutes per game with 4.0 ppg and 3.9 rpg. He is third on the team with 12 blocked shots. Robinson has had two games of double-figure scoring and had his first career double-double with 15 points and 10 rebounds against Alcorn State (Dec. 2). He has pulled down four or more rebounds in seven games.

–Freshman C.J. Henry is 14-for-21 (66.7 percent) from the field on the season, including 11-for-18 (61.1 percent) from three-point range. He was 3-for-4 against Belmont (Dec. 29) and 2-for-2, both three point attempts, at Temple (Jan. 2). C.J averages 4.4 points in only 7.1 minutes of action.

–Freshman Elijah Johnson averages 10.4 minutes per game with a 4.2 scoring average and 2.3 assist average. He has scored seven or more points in five games. Johnson, who has two starts this season, had a career-high 11 points in his starting debut against Radford (Dec. 9). He is third on the team with 28 assists.

Conference Success

Kansas has won nine of the 13 Big 12 regular-season titles (includes ties), including the last five Big 12 championships. Kansas’ 52 conference titles are the most in NCAA Division I. Amazingly, Kansas has now won five straight league titles for the third time in school history and first time since 1927 – five straight from 1908-12 and six straight from 1922-27.

Conference Notables

–Kansas’ 2002 team remains the only squad in Big 12 history to go undefeated in conference play at 16-0.

–Since the inception of the Big 12 in 1996-97, KU has a winning record against every league team.

–Kansas is first in the conference in wins with a 172-36 record in Big 12 regular-season games. Texas is next at 147-63. Including the league postseason championship, KU is tops at 197-42. Texas is second at 162-75.

–Kansas is the only Big 12 school to have won its regular-season championship with two different coaches – Roy Williams and Bill Self.

–Under Bill Self, Kansas is 33-15 (68.8 percent) in Big 12 road games – 4-4 in 2004, 5-3 in 2005, 6-2 in 2006, 7-1 in 2007, 5-3 in 2008 and 6-2 in 2009.

–KU has won 10 or more league games for the last 15 seasons and 47 times overall.

Up Next

Kansas returns home for two conference games, as it plays host to Texas Tech on Saturday, Jan. 16, at 12:45 p.m., a game will be televised on the Big 12 Network. The Jayhawks will then host Baylor on Wednesday, Jan. 20 at 8 p.m. on ESPN2.