No. 7 Kansas Heads to Texas for a Big 12 Men's Basketball Battle Saturday
Jan. 19, 2012
Kansas Travels to Texas
No. 7 Kansas (15-3, 5-0) hits the road to take on Texas (12-6, 2-3) Saturday, Jan. 21 at 3 p.m. on CBS. The Jayhawks are coming off a 92-74 win against No. 3 Baylor on ESPN Big Monday and are looking to go 6-0 in Big 12 play for the third time under head coach Bill Self and the sixth time in the 16-year history of the conference. Texas is looking to end a two-game skid after its 84-80 loss at Kansas State on Wednesday.
No. 7 Kansas is 15-3 and sits atop the Big 12 standings at 5-0 after defeating No. 3 Baylor 92-74 on ESPN’s Big Monday (1/16). The Jayhawks are 10-0 at home, 3-0 in road games and 2-3 on neutral courts this season. Kansas averages 76.8 points per game and allows 60.1 for a +16.7 scoring margin. KU is using solid defense as nine opponents have scored 58 points or less. KU leads the Big 12 in rebound margin at +8.4. The Jayhawks have outrebounded all but two teams this season. Additionally, KU averages 16.4 assists per contest. The Jayhawks are led by national player of the year candidate Thomas Robinson, who is the only player in the Big 12 Conference to average a double-double with 17.8 points and 12.3 rebounds per game. A three-time Big 12 Player of the Week, Robinson has four double-doubles in five conference games and narrowly missed the other with 18 points and nine rebounds at Oklahoma (1/7). His league-leading 13 double-doubles on the season rank third nationally. Senior guard Tyshawn Taylor, who was named the Big 12 Player of the Week on Jan. 16, is next in scoring at 16.2 points per game and scored a career-high 28 points in back-to-back games against Iowa State (1/14) and Baylor (1/16). Taylor leads Kansas with 94 assists. Junior Travis Releford has been hot in Big 12 play and was named the Big 12 Player of the Week Jan. 9. He averages 14.8 ppg in league play and 10.1 in all games. Junior guard Elijah Johnson leads Kansas with 31 three-pointers made and 28 steals this season, two ahead of Releford. Johnson scores 9.4 points per game and is second on the team with 68 assists. Junior center Jeff Withey rounds out the KU starters. Withey is averaging 7.3 points and 6.2 rebounds per contest after his back-to-back double-doubles (13 points, 11 rebounds against Iowa State and 10 points, 10 rebounds versus Baylor). Withey leads the Big 12 with 3.1 blocked shots per game and has 21 blocked shots in five league contests.
Senior guard Conner Teahan, who has one start in 2011-12, is second on the team with 30 three-pointers this season while averaging 7.3 points per game. Sophomore forward Justin Wesley joins Teahan as the first two off the bench. Wesley averages 1.8 points and 2.3 rebounds per contest. Junior forward Kevin Young (4.1 ppg, 3.2 rpg) and freshman guard Naadir Tharpe (1.4 ppg, 17 assists) are the other KU regulars. Tharpe had a season-high nine points on 3-for-3 shooting, all from behind the arc, at Texas Tech (1/11), while Young had seven points and seven rebounds against the Red Raiders and seven points and three rebounds against Iowa State (1/14).
Located in Austin, Texas, with an enrollment of 48,167, Texas is 12-6 on the season and 2-3 in Big 12 play. The Longhorns are coached by Rick Barnes who is 334-129 in his 14th season at UT and 536-263 in his 25th season overall. Texas is 11-0 at home, 1-4 on the road and 0-2 on neutral courts in 2011-12. UT averages 75.8 points per game and gives up 65.2 for a +10.6 scoring margin. The Longhorns make a league-high 18.1 free throws per game and are outrebounding foes with a +3.8 margin. Texas also averages 7.1 steals per contest in 2011-12.
Junior guard J’Covan Brown currently leads the Big 12 in scoring at 19.2 points per game. He has made a team-high 43 three-pointers and is tied for the team lead with 23 steals. His 69 assists are second on the team and he is making 84.4 percent from the free throw line. Freshman guard Myck Kabongo is a starter who leads UT with 104 assists and his 5.8 assists per game average ranks second in the Big 12. Kabongo scores 10.0 points per contest and is tied for the team lead with 23 steals. Freshman guard Julien Lewis, senior forward/center Alexis Wangmene and freshman forward Jaylen Bond are also starters on the UT team. Lewis averages 8.2 points and is second on the team with 25 three-pointers made. Wangmene, brother of former Jayhawk Chase Buford, averages 5.0 points and 4.7 rebounds and is second on the squad with 15 blocked shots. Bond averages 4.1 points and 4.4 rebounds per game.
Freshman guard Sheldon McClellan comes off the bench and is UT’s second-leading scorer at 11.8 points per game in 2011-12. He pulls down 3.4 rebounds per game. Freshman forward Jonathan Holmes, who has 13 starts, scores 8.4 points per game and his 5.3 rebounds per game are second on the team. Senior forward/center Clint Chapman leads UT with 5.6 rebounds per game and 28 blocked shots in his 18 games this season. Chapman averages 6.4 points per outing.
The Kansas-Texas Series
Year-in and year-out, the Kansas-Texas battles are some of the biggest in the Big 12 and nationally. Kansas leads the series 18-7 and has won four of the last five meetings. These teams have met in four of the last six Phillips 66 Big 12 Championship title games with KU claiming all four match-ups: 80-68 in Dallas in 2006, 88-84 in overtime in Oklahoma City in 2007, 84-74 in Kansas City in 2008 and 85-73 in Kansas City in 2011. Kansas is 4-5 against Texas in games played in Austin, including 3-4 in the Erwin Center. Since the inception of the Big 12, Kansas holds a 14-6 record against Texas with a 10-5 mark in regular-season play and 4-1 record in the Big 12 Championship. Expect a close contest, as five of the last seven KU-UT battles have been decided by 10 points or less. Last year, Texas defeated Kansas 74-63 on Jan. 22, 2011, to end KU’s school-record 69-game home court winning streak. This series dates back to 1938.
–Kansas is 3-2 against ranked teams in 2011-12, 29-10 versus ranked foes since 2006-07 and 38-20 against ranked foes under Bill Self (2003-04). KU has faced current Associated Press 2. Kentucky, 3. Baylor, 4. Duke and 6. Ohio State. The Jayhawks will play No. 5 Missouri twice later this season.
–Kansas has tied or outrebounded 16 of 18 opponents this season, including 14 of the last 15 games. KU has seven games with a +10 rebound margin, including a season-best 50-26 vs. Kansas State (1/4) and a +16 (40-24) at Texas Tech (1/11).
–Five different Jayhawks – Thomas Robinson, Tyshawn Taylor, Elijah Johnson, Conner Teahan and Travis Releford – have led Kansas in scoring through 18 games.
–KU has shot a higher percentage than 15 of 18 opponents this season.
–KU has blocked four or more shots in 14 of 18 games this season, including a season-high 13 against Florida Atlantic (11/30). KU had 12 blocked shots against Long Beach State (12/6) and 10 versus Iowa State (1/14).
–Kansas has 89 dunks to its opponents’ 27 through 18 games. Thomas Robinson leads KU with 43 dunks, while Jeff Withey has 18.
–Junior Thomas Robinson, who recorded his Big 12-leading 13th double-double of the season with 27 points and 14 rebounds against No. 3 Baylor (1/16), was named the No. 1 candidate for national player of the year in Dick Vitale’s midseason lists released Jan. 4. He has six 20-point efforts this season. A three-time Big 12 Player of the Week, Robinson had career highs with 30 points and 21 rebounds against North Dakota (12/31). It was the sixth 30-20 in Big 12 history and first at KU since 1961 (Wayne Hightower vs. Missouri). Robinson is the only player in the Big 12 Conference this season who is averaging a double-double with 17.8 ppg and 12.3 rpg. His 13 double-doubles, like his 12.3 rebounds per game, lead the Big 12 and his rebound average is third nationally. Robinson’s 17.8 points are tied for second in the league and he also ranks third in field goal percentage (54.4) and 11th in blocked shots (1.1).
–Senior Tyshawn Taylor has scored a career-high 28 points in back-to-back games against Iowa State (1/14) and Baylor (1/16). Named Big 12 Player of the Week Jan 16, he is second on the team with 16.2 points per game and leads KU in scoring in Big 12 games at 18.6 ppg. In all games, Taylor leads KU with 94 assists and he is making 44.8 percent from three-point range. Taylor underwent knee surgery on Dec. 11 but returned to start the Davidson contest on Dec. 19, when he scored 15 points and had seven assists. Taylor’s 16.2 points per game average is fifth in the Big 12. Also in the league, he is eighth in field goal percentage at 46.1, fifth in assists at 5.2 and ninth in assist-to-turnover ratio at 1.3.
–Junior Travis Releford, the Big 12 Player of the Week on Jan. 9, is third on the team in league-game scoring with 14.8 ppg and is averaging 10.1 ppg for the season. He opened Big 12 play with his first career double-double with 16 points and 11 rebounds against Kansas State (1/4). Both were career highs at the time. He then scored 28 points at Oklahoma (1/7) where he made a career-high nine field goals, including three three-pointers. Releford has started every game this season and has scored in double figures 11 times in 2011-12, including 11 points against Baylor (1/16). Releford is seventh in the Big 12 with 1.4 steals per game and has eight steals in his last four games.
–Junior Elijah Johnson has averaged 11.5 points in his last two games with 12 against Iowa State (1/14) and 11 versus Baylor (1/16). He has scored in double figures in eight games this season and averages 9.4 points per contest. He leads the team with 31 three-pointers made and is also the team leader with 28 steals. Johnson has multiple steals in five of his last eight games. He has started every game this season for KU and is second on the team in assists with 68. Johnson is ninth in the Big 12 in assists at 3.8, tied for fourth in steals at 1.6, tied for 12th in three-pointers made at 1.7 and fourth in assist-to-turnover ratio at 1.9.
–Junior Jeff Withey has recorded back-to-back double-doubles with 13 points and 11 rebounds against Iowa State (1/14) and 10 points and 10 rebounds versus Baylor (1/16). The 7-0 junior center leads the Big 12 with 3.1 blocked shots per game, which includes a Big 12-best 21 in conference play. He has seven games with 10-plus points scored. Withey almost had a triple-double with 13 points, 13 rebounds and nine blocked shots against Long Beach State (12/6). His nine blocked shots rank No. 2 on the KU single-game records list and were just one shy of the school record – Cole Aldrich’s 10 against Dayton in the 2009 NCAA Tournament. Withey has multiple blocks in 10 of his last 11 games and 13 contests in 2011-12. His 6.2 rebound average, which is second best on the KU team, is tied for ninth in the Big 12.
–Senior Conner Teahan is second on the team with 30 threes. He scored a career-high 14 points versus LBSU (12/6) and has chipped in 13 points twice (at USC, 12/22 and vs. Howard, 12/29). Teahan is 12th in the Big 12 in three-point field goal percentage at 37.5 and tied for 14th in three-pointers made at 1.7.
–Junior Kevin Young scored seven points at Texas Tech (1/11) and again against Iowa State (1/14). He also pulled down seven rebounds at Texas Tech. Young’s best performance of the season came against No. 2 Ohio State (12/10) with 14 points on 6-of-8 shooting. He has pulled down four or more rebounds seven times this season. In 2011-12, Young is shooting 60.0 percent (24-for-40) from the field.
In the Polls
Kansas is ranked No. 7 in both the Associated Press and ESPN/USA Today Coaches polls released Jan. 16. This is Kansas’ second appearance in the Top 10 of either poll in 2011-12. KU has been ranked in each of the last 58 Associated Press polls dating back to the 2008-09 season. Included are 41 times when the Jayhawks have appeared in the AP Top 10. KU has been ranked in each of the last 59 coaches polls with 44 appearances in the Top 10. Kansas has faced or will face seven teams currently ranked. The Jayhawks are 3-2 against ranked foes 2011-12.
The Jayhawks return home for a second-straight ESPN Big Monday appearance when they host Texas A&M on Jan. 23 at 8 p.m. KU will then play at Iowa State on Saturday, Jan. 28 at 1 p.m.