Kansas to Face Huskers in Big 12 Battle Saturday at Allen Fieldhouse
Feb. 20, 2009
No. 15/18 Kansas (21-5, 10-1) continues its two-game home stand against Nebraska (16-8, 6-5) on Saturday, Feb. 21, at 3 p.m. on the Big 12 Television Network. Kansas improved to 10-1 in Big 12 play with a 72-55 win against Iowa State Wednesday. The victory marked the 15th-straight year the Jayhawks have won 10 or more conference games. The win also extended the nation’s longest home court winning streak to 38 games. On Wednesday, Nebraska defeated Colorado 46-41 to improve to 16-8 on the season and 6-5 in Big 12 play. The Huskers have won three of their last four contests.
Kansas sits one game behind Big 12-leading Oklahoma in the league standings with the two teams matching up on ESPN’s Big Monday following KU’s Nebraska contest. The Sooners are 10-0, while Kansas is 10-1 in Big 12 action heading into the weekend. Kansas is the four-time defending Big 12 regular-season champion and has won or shared eight of the 12 regular-season titles since the league was formed in 1996-97.
The Jayhawks are averaging 77.3 points per game and giving up 64.1 for a +12.6 scoring margin. KU leads the Big 12 in field goal percentage defense at 38.1 percent, rebound defense at 31.4 and rebound margin at +7.2. KU at 50.6 percent and Oklahoma at 51.1 percent are the only two league teams to shoot better than 50 percent in league play. Conversely, the Jayhawks also lead the Big 12 in field goal percentage defense in league games at 37.5 percent.
Junior guard Sherron Collins leads KU in scoring at 17.8 points per game, which is fourth in the Big 12, after his 22 points against Iowa State Wednesday. Named a Bob Cousy Award finalist and Wooden Award Mid-Season candidate, Collins has led the team in scoring in 18 of 26 games this season. He has a team-high 55 three-point field goals and 131 assists. Sophomore center Cole Aldrich tied Collins for the team high with 22 points against ISU and is next in scoring at 14.9 points per game. Aldrich leads the Big 12 in blocked shots with a 2.5 per game average. He is second in the league in field goal percentage at 61.7 percent and his 61.5 percent in Big 12 games ranks first. He and Oklahoma’s Blake Griffin are the only two Big 12 players to average a double-double with Aldrich at 14.9 ppg and 10.3 rpg and Griffin at 22.8 ppg and 14.2 rpg. Aldrich has a team-best 14 double-doubles on the season, second only to Griffin’s 22. He has scored 43 points in his last two games and has six 20-point efforts this season. Freshman guard Tyshawn Taylor is scoring 9.2 points per game, has 79 assists and 31 steals. Taylor has been named Phillips 66 Big 12 Rookie of the Week three times this season. Marcus Morris has been solid as of late, averaging 11.5 points and 6.5 rebounds in his last two games. Additionally, he has seven steals in his last three contests. Marcus Morris leads the Big 12 freshmen class with 5.1 rebounds per contest. He is scoring 7.7 points per outing. Sophomore guard Brady Morningstar leads the Big 12 in three-point field goal percentage at 47.2 percent and is 6-for-8 from beyond the arc in his last two games. He leads Kansas with 33 steals, including four against Iowa State and nine in his last three contests. Morningstar averages 7.3 points per game. Sophomore guard Tyrel Reed averages 7.1 points and is second on the team with a 39.2 three-point shooting percentage. Junior guard/forward Mario Little, who was named Phillips 66 co-Big 12 Rookie of the Week Feb. 9, is averaging 6.7 points in Big 12 play and 5.5 on the season. He is shooting 60.8 percent from the field in league games. He missed the first 12 games of the season due to injuries. Freshman forward Markieff Morris, twin of Marcus, is scoring 4.7 points per outing with a 4.3 rebound average, third among Big 12 freshmen.
Nebraska is 16-8 on the season and 6-5 in conference play after its 46-41 win against Colorado Wednesday in Lincoln, Neb. The Huskers have won four of their last five games, with the only loss at red-hot Missouri, 70-47, on Feb. 14. NU is 3-5 in road games this season, including a 2-3 mark in conference road tilts. Nebraska averages 64.8 points per game and has a stifling defense giving up a Big 12 scoring defense-leading 58.2 ppg. The Huskers have a balanced scoring attack with only two players averaging double figures and they are second in the conference with nine steals per game. Senior guard Ade Dagundero leads the team in scoring at 12 points per game. He is shooting a team-high 53.3 percent from the field and his 4.3 rebounds per game lead NU. Senior guard Steve Harley is the only other Husker averaging double figures at 10.7 points per game. Harley leads NU with 41 steals and is third on the team in assists with 50. Junior guard Sek Henry is scoring 8.6 points per game and he is second on the team with 24 three point field goals. Senior guard Paul Velander comes off the bench to lead the Huskers with 55 threes to complement his 8.0 scoring average. Sophomore guard Cookie Miller (7.3 ppg) has a team-high 84 assists and is making 80 percent of his free throws. Junior guard Ryan Anderson is scoring 6.2 points per game and he is just behind Dagundero in rebounds at 4.2 rpg. Freshman guard Toney McCray’s 15 blocked shots are a team best. He is scoring 5.8 points per game. Junior forward Chris Balham (2.2 ppg, 2.6 rpg) is a starter, while freshman guard Brandon Richardson (4.3 ppg) is averaging more than 14 minutes a game for the Huskers.
This series dates back to 1900 and Kansas leads 165-71. Kansas is 85-23 against Nebraska in games played in Lawrence, including 48-7 in Allen Fieldhouse matchups. Kansas has won 12 straight against Nebraska and 21 of the last 22 dating back to the 1998-99 season. The last Nebraska victory in the series was 74-55 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 26-3 record against Nebraska since the inception of the Big 12 and has swept the season series 10 times, including each of the last four seasons. KU and NU have played each other four times in the Phillips 66 Big 12 Championship with the Jayhawks winning all four contests, including last year, 64-54, in the quarterfinals of the event at Sprint Center in Kansas City, Mo.
On Jan. 28, behind 17 points from junior Sherron Collins, Kansas grinded out a 68-62 win at Nebraska. KU trailed 34-29 at half and took only its second lead of the game at 51-50 with just over six minutes remaining on a pair of Tyrel Reed baskets. Sophomore Brady Morningstar was the only other Jayhawk in double figures with 11 points. Cole Aldrich led KU in rebounds with eight to go along with his eight points.
–Kansas leads the Big 12 in field goal percentage defense (38.1), rebounding defense at 31.4 rpg and rebound margin at +7.2. KU also ranks among the Big 12’s top four teams in field goal percentage (second at 48.5), scoring margin (third at +12.6), free throw percentage (third at 73.4), three point field goal percentage defense (second at 32.7), rebounding (fourth at 38.6), assists (second at 16.4) and blocked shots (third at 4.5).
–Kansas climbed back into the national polls on Feb. 2 and is ranked No. 15 in the Associated Press and No. 18 in the ESPN/USA Today Coaches polls released Feb. 16. The No. 15 ranking is the highest this season for KU in either poll. Kansas went seven weeks out of the polls before making last week’s lists.
–Kansas currently ranks No. 12 in the Feb. 15 ESPN.com RPI rating which is second in the Big 12 behind Oklahoma (2).
–KU has outshot 16 of 26 opponents this season and has shot 50 percent or better in its last two games and 13 games this season, including seven of 11 Big 12 contests. KU shot 56.8 percent at Kansas State (Feb. 14) and 50 percent against Iowa State Wednesday. Kansas is 19-2 when outshooting its opponent this season and 2-3 when outshot.
–Kansas has outrebounded seven of its last eight opponents and 20 of 26 opponents this season. Kansas has a +8.4 rebound margin in Big 12 play, +7.2 in all games.
–After going 8-for-8 from the line against Iowa State Wednesday, KU has shot 80 percent or better from the free throw line in nine games this season.
–Through 26 games, four different Jayhawks have scored 20 or more points. Sherron Collins has seven 20-point games, while Cole Aldrich has six, including each of his last two games. Tyshawn Taylor has two 20-point games, while Brady Morningstar has one.
–Kansas has held 136 of its last 139 opponents to under 50 percent shooting, including all 26 foes this season. Seventeen of those opponents have shot below 40 percent. The last team to shoot 50 percent or better against KU was Louisiana-Monroe in the 2007-08 season opener (51 percent) as Kansas has held 65 straight foes to under 50 percent shooting.
–Individually, eight different Jayhawks have led or tied for the team lead in steals this season, six in assists and three in scoring, rebounding and blocked shots.
–KU is 106-15 (87.6 percent) in its last 121 games dating back to Jan. 21, 2006.
–Junior guard Sherron Collins was named a Bob Cousy Award finalist (Feb. 5) and made the Wooden Award Mid-Season top 30 list (Feb. 6). Collins’ 22 points against Iowa State Wednesday marked his seventh 20-point effort the season as he was 9-for-17 from the field, including 4-for-6 from three point range. Collins leads Kansas with a 17.8 scoring average, which is fourth in the Big 12, and has scored in double figures in all but two games this season. He has led (or tied for the lead) Kansas in scoring in 18 games this season. At Baylor (Feb. 2), he set the Kansas record for consecutive free throws made with 35 before missing. Collins also ranks among the league leaders in assists (fifth at 5.0), free throw percentage (seventh at .821), field goal percentage (10th at .427), three-point field goals made (13th at 2.1) and assist-to-turnover ratio (12th at 1.5).
–Sophomore center Cole Aldrich leads the Big 12 in blocked shots at 2.6 per game. Aldrich is one of two conference players, along with OU’s Blake Griffin, to average a double-double with 14.9 ppg and 10.3 rpg. He has 51 rebounds in his last four games for a 12.8 average in that span. He scored 21 points at Kansas State (Feb. 14) and answered that with 22 points against Iowa State Wednesday. He has six 20-point efforts in 2008-09. His 99 career blocked shots are 16th on the school list as he passed Paul Pierce in his last game. His 14 double-doubles this season are second most in the Big 12. Aldrich has 46 of KU’s 76 dunks this season. Aldrich is second in the Big 12 in rebounding at 10.3 rpg, second in field goal percentage at 61.7 percent, eighth in free throw percentage at 79.8 percent and 13th in scoring at 14.9 ppg.
–Freshman guard Tyshawn Taylor led Kansas in scoring for the second time this season with 11 points at Missouri (Feb. 9) but just had four points at Kansas State Feb. 14 and three against Iowa State Wednesday. Taylor is 10-for-15 (66.7 percent) in his last four games. Taylor has been named Phillips 66 Big 12 Rookie of the Week three times this season, including once in league play. His 9.2 points on the season are second most among Big 12 freshmen. Taylor is 15th in the league in assists at 3.0 apg (first among Big 12 freshmen) and 14th in assist-to-turnover ratio at 1.3. His 1.2 steals average is second among the Big 12 freshmen class.
–Sophomore guard Brady Morningstar has nine steals in his last three games. He scored 12 points on 4-of-5 shooting (4-for-4 from three-point range) at Kansas State (Feb. 14) and had six points and four steals against Iowa State Wednesday. His 12 points at KSU were a conference high and the most since he had 12 points against Tennessee on Jan. 3. Morningstar leads the Big 12 in three point field goal percentage at 47.2 percent and has made six threes in his last two games. He is scoring 7.3 points on the season. He has at least one steal in 11 of his last 13 outings and his four against Iowa State tied his career high. Morningstar has made multiple three pointers in six of his last seven games and 13 games this season. A lockdown defender, Morningstar is second on the team with 39 floor burns, behind only Sherron Collins (47).
–Freshman forward Marcus Morris has averaged 11.5 points, 6.5 rebounds and 2.5 steals in his last two games. He scored a career-high 15 points on 4-of-7 shooting, with seven rebounds, four assists and three steals at Kansas State (Feb. 14). He has started eight of the last nine games for KU and 14 games this season. He has shot 50 percent or better in five of his last seven and 10 of his last 13 games. He is second on the team with 5.1 rebounds per game, which leads the Big 12 freshmen.
–Sophomore guard Tyrel Reed started his second game of the season at Kansas State (Feb. 14) and responded with seven points, including 1-for-2 from three point range and 4-for-4 from the free throw line. He had three points and three rebounds against Iowa State. Nominated for Academic All-American, Reed has 14 games with multiple threes this season. He has shot 50 percent or better in 13 games in 2008-09. Reed is making 39.2 percent from three point range and has made at least one three in each of his last four games and in eight of 11 conference contests.
–Junior guard Mario Little started his third game of the season at Kansas State (Feb. 14), played nine minutes, did not score, but had two rebounds and three assists. Little is scoring 6.7 points in Big 12 play and 5.5 on the season. He is shooting 56.4 percent from the field, including 60.8 percent in Big 12 action. Little, the Big 12 Preseason Newcomer of the Year, missed the first 12 games of the season due to injuries. In his first three outings, Little was 0-for-4 from the field. Since then he is 31-for-51 (60.8 percent).
–Freshman forward Markieff Morris is scoring 4.7 points on the year. His 16 minutes against Iowa State Wednesday were his most in five games. He had four points, two blocked shots and three rebounds against ISU. His two blocked shots marked his seventh game this season with multiple blocks. Markieff is 3-for-4 from the field in his last two games. His nine rebounds at Baylor (Feb. 2) were his second most dating back to his 15 boards in the season opener against UMKC (Nov. 16). He has started seven games this season and is third on the team with 4.3 rebounds per game. His 4.3 rebounds on the season are third among Big 12 freshmen.
Kansas hits the road for an ESPN Big Monday battle at Big 12-leading Oklahoma on Feb. 23 at 8 p.m. (Central). KU will then host Missouri on Sunday, March 1 at 1 p.m. on CBS.