No. 4 Jayhawks Hit Road to No. 12 Texas on ESPN's Big Monday

Feb. 10, 2008

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The two winningest programs in the Big 12, both teams nationally ranked, only one-game separation in the 2008 conference standings makes for a marquee matchup for ESPN’s Big Monday as Kansas plays at Texas. No. 4 Kansas has won three straight and takes a 23-1 (8-1 Big 12 record) into Austin after its 100-90 win against Baylor Saturday. No. 12 Texas has also won three straight and six of its last seven games following its 71-65 overtime win at Iowa State Saturday. The Longhorns are 19-4 on the season and 6-2 in Big 12 play.

About Kansas

With its win against Baylor, Kansas has posted 23 wins for an incredible 19 straight seasons, dating back to 1988-89. The Jayhawks average 83.5 points and leads the Big 12, and ranks in the top five nationally, in scoring margin at +22.1. Sophomore forward Darrell Arthur leads KU in scoring with 13.7 points per game, which ranks 12th in the conference. He is second on the team with six rebounds per contest and leads KU with 40 blocked shots. His 53.1 shooting percentage is fifth in the conference. Junior guard Brandon Rush is next in scoring at 12.5 points per outing, including a team-best 14.9 ppg in Big 12 play. Rush has made a team-best 43 three-pointers in 2007-08. Senior forward Darnell Jackson leads Kansas and ranks eighth in the conference in rebound average at seven per game. He is just behind Rush in scoring at 12.4 ppg. Junior Mario Chalmers leads the Big 12 in steals with 2.52 per game and is third in assists at 4.96. Chalmers averages 12.1 points per contest. Sophomore guard Sherron Collins is scoring 9.8 points off the bench, while senior center Sahsa Kaun is at 7.6 ppg and senior guard Russell Robinson 7.5 ppg. Robinson, Arthur, Rush, Jackson and Chalmers are the KU starters. Senior guard Rodrick Stewart (3.5 ppg) and freshman center Cole Aldrich (2.9 ppg) round out the Kansas regulars.

About Texas

Texas leads the Big 12 in three-point field goal percentage at 39 percent behind the guard play of sophomore D.J. Augustin and junior A.J. Abrams. Augustin is second in the Big 12 in scoring at 19.7 points per game, while Abrams is third at 17.9 ppg. Abrams averages a league-best 3.27 three-pointers per outing. Sophomore guard/forward Damion James averages a double-double with 12.7 points and a team-best 10.6 rebounds per game. His 10.6 boards are second in the Big 12. Junior forward/center Connor Atchley has a team-best 42 blocked shots to complement his 10.2 scoring average. Sophomore guard Justin Mason (6.7 ppg) rounds out the Longhorns’ starters. Freshman forward Gary Johnson scores 5.9 points per game, while sophomore center Dexter Pittman (3.0 ppg) and freshman forward/center Alexis Wangmene (2.4 ppg) round out the UT regulars.

The Series

Year-in and year-out the Kansas-Texas battles are some of the biggest in the Big 12 and nationally. Kansas leads the overall series 14-5, yet the Longhorns lead 4-3 in games played in Austin and 3-2 in the Erwin Center. KU has won the last three meetings with Texas with two of those in the title game of the Big 12 Championship – 80-68 in Dallas in 2006 and 88-84 in overtime in Oklahoma City last year. Texas has won the last two meetings in Austin – 82-67 in 2004 and 80-55 in 2006. Since the Big 12 Conference was formed in 1997, tonight’s game will mark the 11th time both teams have been ranked nationally when they meet, including the last six meetings dating back to the 2003 season. Last season were two classics as the regular-season matchup, a 90-86 Jayhawk victory, won KU’s seventh Big 12 and 50th conference title and was the school’s 1,900th all-time victory. Mario Chalmers led Kansas with 21 points for the game. Eight days later, Texas was leading 32-10 in the first half of the Big 12 Championship game, yet Kansas mounted a school record with its largest comeback to eventually win, 88-84 in overtime. Sherron Collins paced KU with 20 points in the game.

Team Notables

–The combined record of the Kansas men’s basketball and football teams is 35-2 (94.5 winning percentage) in 2007-08, including 24-0 at home.

–Kansas is 71-8 (89.9 percent) in its last 79 games. The Jayhawks are 23-1 on the season and have won 37 of their last 39 and 40 of their last 43 contests.

–Kansas is 17-0 at home this season, including the Ohio contest at the Sprint Center, and has won 21 straight home games. The 21-game streak ranks sixth nationally.

–Kansas has won nine of its last 10 Big 12 road games and is 11-2 in its last 12 league road contests.

–Kansas has made 78 percent or better from the free throw line in each of the last four games. The Jayhawks have made 81 percent or better in five of nine Big 12 contests.

–In the last two weeks, Kansas has moved from 11th in the Big 12 free throw shooting to sixth for all games. KU is making 69 percent of its free throws in all games and 76.1 in league games, which is second in the conference.

–Kansas’ bigs score 44 percent of KU’s points, while its guards score 56 percent. KU’s scoring list goes – big, guard, big, guard, guard, big, guard, guard, big.

–KU has shot better than 50 percent in 18 of 24 contests this season, including two of its last three and four of its last six. Last year, KU shot better than 50 percent in 18 of 38 contests.

–KU has outshot 23 of 24 opponents this season – USC (Dec. 2) shot better than KU.

–Kansas leads the Big 12 in scoring offense (83.5), scoring margin (+22.1), field goal percentage (51.3), assists (19.08), blocked shots (6.46), steals (9.67) and assist-to-turnover ratio (1.47).

–The Jayhawks have held 23 of 24 opponents to under 50 percent shooting and 95 of its last 98 opponents.

–Junior guard Brandon Rush leads Kansas in scoring in Big 12 contests at 14.9 ppg, yet Rush has led the Jayhawks in scoring only twice in conference play – 19 points at Nebraska in the league opener (Jan. 12) and 19 points against Missouri (Feb. 4).

–Through 24 games, Kansas has had seven different leading scorers, six different players lead the team in rebounding, five different in assists, eight different in steals and seven different in blocked shots (these includes ties). KU has had four different leading scorers in its last four games – Arthur, Rush, Jackson and Chalmers.

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

–On the season, the Jayhawk bench has outscored its opponents 645-429 for a 26.9 to 17.9 (+9.0) advantage per game.

–Kansas redshirt senior Jeremy Case graduated last spring. KU’s other four seniors – Sasha Kaun, Darnell Jackson, Russell Robinson and Rodrick Stewart – are on pace to graduate this spring.

Player Notables

–Sophomore Darrell Arthur (#00) averaged 18 points in two victories last week, including his third double-double of the season with 23 points and 10 rebounds against Baylor. His 23 points marked a season high and his third 20-point effort of the year. His 10 boards also tied a season high and marked the 10th time this year he has pulled down seven-plus boards. Arthur is 15-for-18 (83.3 percent) from the free throw line in his last four games. With his three blocked shots against Baylor, Arthur has 12 games with multiple blocked shots this season, including five in conference action. Arthur leads KU in scoring at 13.7 ppg, which ranks tied for 12th in the Big 12. Also in the league, he is 12th in rebounding at 6.0, fifth in field goal percentage at 53.1 and fourth in blocked shots a 1.67.

–Junior Brandon Rush (#25) scored his Big 12 low nine points against Baylor, yet pulled down seven rebounds and had two blocked shots. He is second in the Big 12 in three-point field goal percentage at 41.3 percent. On the boards he is averaging 7.0 in Big 12 play and 5.2 on the year. He has pulled down six or more rebounds in all but one league contest. Rush is tied for 20th in the Big 12 in scoring for all games at 12.5 ppg and is 19th in rebounding at 5.2 and eighth in three-pointers made at 1.95.

–Senior Russell Robinson (#3) scored a season-high 22 points against Baylor, including career highs in free throws (14) and free throws attempted (15). It was only Robinson’s third double-digit scoring game in Big 12 play. He has dished out four or more assists 13 times this season. He has at least one steal in all but three games this season and multiple steals in 16 contests. His 219 career steals are fifth all-time at KU. Robinson is fourth in the Big 12 in assists at 4.29, fourth in steals at 2.13 and fourth in assist-to-turnover ratio at 2.10.

–Junior Mario Chalmers (#15) had seven assists against Baylor and has 19 dimes in his last three games. Additionally, he was 4-for-5 from the floor against Baylor in scoring 10 points with four steals. His four steals were his most in Big 12 play and marked the sixth time this season he has had at least four steals. He has 53 assists and 13 turnovers in his last 10 games. Chalmers leads the Big 12 in steals with 2.52 per game and assist-to-turnover ratio at 2.92. He is third in assists at 4.96 in the conference.

–Senior Darnell Jackson (#32) has scored in double figures in two of his last three games and 15 times this season. He has pulled down eight or more rebounds in six Big 12 contests and 14 times this season. Jackson has made his last 15 free throws, including 10-for-10 at Colorado and 4-for-4 against Baylor. Jackson leads the team in rebounding at 7.0 rpg, which is eighth in the Big 12. For his efforts at Boston College (Jan. 5, 25 points, nine rebounds), he was named the co-Big 12 Player of the Week.

–Sophomore Sherron Collins (#4) is scoring 12.5 points in his last four games, including 17 points against Baylor, his highest scoring game in Big 12 play. He had four assists in each of his last two games and averages 2.7 on the year. He has scored in double figures in four of his last five games and eight times this season. He has made at least one three-pointer in 13 of 18 games played in and has multiple treys in seven games. Collins missed six games (games 3-8) due to injury.

–Senior Sasha Kaun (#24) is averaging 10 points in his last three games, including 12 points in two of those contests (at Colorado and against Missouri). He had six points versus Baylor. He has at least one blocked shot in each of his last six games and multiple blocks in 10 contests this season. Kaun is fifth in the Big 12 in blocked shots with 1.38 per game. He is second on the team in field goal percentage at 64.2 percent. After starting the year 10-for-26 (38.5 percent) from the free throw line, Kaun is 36-for-54 (66.7 percent) in his last 18 games.

–Freshman Cole Aldrich (#45) had a season-high nine rebounds to go along with six points in 12 minutes against Missouri (Feb. 4). He has pulled down four or more rebounds in 10 games. He is 15th in the Big 12 in blocked shots for a 1.0 average.

–Senior Rodrick Stewart (#5) plays a key role off the bench as he averages 13.8 minutes per game. Able to play guard and forward, Stewart has three or more rebounds in five of his last seven games.

Up Next

Kansas returns home to face Colorado on Saturday, Feb. 16, at 12:45 p.m. That contest will celebrate the 110 years of Kansas basketball, including the 20-year anniversary of the 1988 NCAA Championship. KU will then have a week before playing at Oklahoma State on Feb. 23 at 3 p.m. on CBS.