Jayhawks Head to Norman for ESPN Big Monday Battle for Big 12 Lead
Feb. 22, 2009
Top spot in the Big 12 standings is on the line as Kansas (22-5, 11-1) heads to Oklahoma (25-2, 11-1) for ESPN Big Monday. KU finds itself in familiar territory as it heads into the final two weeks of the regular season. Kansas is four-time defending Big 12 regular-season champion and has won eight of the 12 league titles since the inception of the conference in 1996-97. Kansas takes a three-game winning streak to Norman after its 70-53 win against Nebraska Saturday. Oklahoma had its 13-game win streak snapped at Texas Saturday with a 73-68 loss. Following the Oklahoma contest, KU will host the Big 12 third-place team, Missouri, on Sunday.
In Kansas’ 12 conference wins, eight have been decided by double figures, all KU victories. The Jayhawks are 5-3 in season road games and 5-1 on the road in conference play. KU has won three straight and 11 of its last 12 outings.
The Jayhawks are averaging 77.0 points per game and giving up 64.3 for a +12.7 scoring margin. KU leads the Big 12 in field goal percentage defense at 38.1 percent, rebound defense at 31.1 and rebound margin at +7.2. KU at 50.3 percent and Oklahoma at 50.5 percent are the only two league teams to shoot better than 50 percent in league play. Conversely, the Jayhawks 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 18.0 points per game, which is fourth in the Big 12. Collins has scored 22 points in each of his last two games (vs. Iowa State and Nebraska) with 10 assists and no turnovers. Named a Bob Cousy Award finalist and Wooden Award Mid-Season candidate, Collins has led the team in scoring in 19 of 27 games this season. He has a team-high 57 three-point field goals and 135 assists. Sophomore center Cole Aldrich posted his 15th double-double of the season with 18 points and 12 rebounds against Nebraska Saturday. He is next in scoring at 15.0 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 61.8 percent and his 61.7 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 15.0 ppg and 10.3 rpg and Griffin at 22.0 ppg and 13.8 rpg. Aldrich’s 15 double-doubles on the season are second only to Griffin’s 22 in the league. Aldrich has scored 61 points in his last three games and has six 20-point efforts this season. Freshman guard Tyshawn Taylor is scoring 9.1 points per game, has 80 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 9.3 points in his last three games and 7.6 on the season. Marcus Morris leads the Big 12 freshmen class with 5.0 rebounds per contest. Sophomore guard Brady Morningstar leads the Big 12 in three-point field goal percentage at 47.8 percent and is 8-for-11 from beyond the arc in his last three games. He leads Kansas with 34 steals, including 10 in his last four contests. Morningstar averages 7.3 points per game. Sophomore guard Tyrel Reed averages 6.9 points and is second on the team with a 38.4 three-point shooting percentage. Freshman forward Markieff Morris, twin of Marcus, is coming off a six-point, nine-rebound effort against Nebraska Saturday and is scoring 4.8 points per outing with a 4.5 rebound average, third among Big 12 freshmen. Junior guard/forward Mario Little, who was named Phillips 66 co-Big 12 Rookie of the Week Feb. 9, is averaging 6.2 points in Big 12 play and 5.1 on the season. He missed the first 12 games of the season due to injuries. Freshman guard Travis Releford (3.0 ppg) and freshman forward Quintrell Thomas (1.5 ppg) also see time on the floor for the Jayhawks.
Oklahoma entered the season ranked 12th nationally and has climbed up to No. 2 with a 25-2 (11-1) record. Both OU losses have been on the road – at Arkansas and at Texas Saturday. The Sooners are 15-0 at home and are tied for the nation’s third-longest home court winning streak at 19 games, behind Kansas’ 39 and Utah State’s 32. OU is tied with Cornell and Pittsburgh on the home court streak. Oklahoma leads the Big 12 in field goal percentage at 48.9 percent. The Sooners average 80.1 points per game and are giving up 66.6 for a +13.5 scoring margin. They are outrebounding foes by five boards a game at 39.1 to 34.1. OU is led by national player of the year candidate Blake Griffin who has dominated all season long with his Big 12-leading averages of 22 points and 13.8 rebounds per contest. Griffin has a nation-leading 22 double-doubles and leads the Big 12 in scoring, rebounding and field goal percentage at 63.2 percent. The sophomore forward maintains these impressive stats while only playing 11 minutes at Texas Saturday due to a concussion sustained in the first half. Griffin also leads the team with 35 blocked shots and he has 34 steals. Freshman guard Willie Warren is next in scoring at 15.4 points. He leads the Big 12 freshmen class in scoring, steals at 1.3 and is tied with KU’s Tyshawn Taylor with 2.96 assists per contest. Warren’s 50 three pointers are tied with junior Tony Crocker for the team high. Crocker is scoring 10.2 points per contest. Senior forward Taylor Griffin, older brother of Blake, is scoring 8.9 points per game and he is second on the team with 5.9 rebounds per contest. He too has 34 steals, two shy of senior guard Austin Johnson’s team-high 36. Johnson is scoring 8.7 points per game and has a team-high 119 assists. Junior forward Juan Pattillo has only appeared in 10 games yet is playing solid with a 6.9 ppg, 3.4 rpg and 14 blocked shots. Sophomore guard Cade Davis (5.2 ppg, 2.0 rpg) is also in the OU rotation averaging 15 minutes per outing.
–Kansas leads the Big 12 in field goal percentage defense (38.1), rebounding defense at 31.1 rpg and rebound margin at +7.8. KU also ranks among the Big 12’s top four teams in field goal percentage (second at 48.5), scoring margin (third at +12.7), free throw percentage (third at 72.8), three point field goal percentage defense (second at 32.6), rebounding (fourth at 38.9), assists (second at 16.3) 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. 9 in the Feb. 15 ESPN.com RPI rating which is second in the Big 12 behind Oklahoma (2).
–KU has outshot 17 of 27 opponents this season and has shot 50 percent or better in two of its last three games and 13 games this season, including seven of 12 Big 12 contests. Kansas is 20-2 when outshooting its opponent this season and 2-3 when outshot.
–Kansas has outrebounded eight of its last nine opponents and 21 of 27 opponents this season. KU outrebounded its last two foes by 32 and has a +9.5 rebound margin in Big 12 play, +7.8 in all games.
–Through 27 games, four different Jayhawks have scored 20 or more points. Sherron Collins has eight 20-point games, including his last two, while Cole Aldrich has six, including two of his last three games. Tyshawn Taylor has two 20-point games, while Brady Morningstar has one.
–Kansas has held 137 of its last 140 opponents to under 50 percent shooting, including all 27 foes this season. Eighteen of those opponents have shot below 40 percent, including the last two and five of the last six. 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 66 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 107-15 (87.7 percent) in its last 122 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 has scored 22 points in each of his last two games versus Iowa State and Nebraska. He has eight 20-point efforts this season. Collins leads Kansas with an 18 point scoring average, which is fourth in the Big 12. He has led (or tied for the lead) Kansas in scoring in 19 games this season. He has 10 assists and no turnovers in his last two games. 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 (fifth at .820), field goal percentage (11th at .435), three-point field goals made (12th at 2.1) and assist-to-turnover ratio (12th at 1.6).
–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 15 ppg and 10.3 rpg. He has 63 rebounds in his last five games for a 12.6 rpg average in that span. He recorded his team-leading 15th double-double with 18 points and 15 rebounds against Nebraska Saturday. He has six 20-point efforts in 2008-09. On Saturday, Aldrich became the 16th player in school history to record 100 career blocked shots, currently at 101. Aldrich has 47 of KU’s 79 dunks this season. He is second in the Big 12 in rebounding at 10.3 rpg, second in field goal percentage at 61.8 percent, 10th in free throw percentage at 77.1 percent and 12th in scoring at 15.0 ppg.
–Freshman guard Tyshawn Taylor has led Kansas in scoring twice this season. Taylor has been named Phillips 66 Big 12 Rookie of the Week three times this season, including once in league play. His 9.1 points on the season are third most among Big 12 freshmen. Taylor is 15th in the league in assists at 3.0 apg (tied with OU’s Willie Warren for first among Big 12 freshmen) and his 1.15 steals average is tied for second among the Big 12 freshmen class with teammate Marcus Morris.
–Sophomore guard Brady Morningstar scored eight points on 3-of-5 shooting with four rebounds and three assists against Nebraska Saturday. He has 10 steals in his last four games. Morningstar leads the Big 12 in three point field goal percentage at 47.8 percent, including 8-for-11 (72.7 percent) from way out in his last three games. He is scoring 7.3 points on the season. He has at least one steal in 12 of his last 14 outings and his four against Iowa State (Feb. 18) tied his career high. Morningstar has made multiple three pointers three straight, seven of his last eight games and 14 games this season. A lockdown defender, Morningstar is tied with Tyrel Reed for second on the team with 40 floor burns, behind only Sherron Collins (49).
–Freshman forward Marcus Morris has averaged 9.3 points and 5.3 rebounds in his last three 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 nine of the last 10 games for KU and 15 games this season. He has shot 50 percent or better in six of his last eight and 11 of his last 14 games, including 2-for-2 against Nebraska Saturday. He is second on the team with 5.0 rebounds per game, which leads the Big 12 freshmen.
–Freshman forward Markieff Morris had six points and nine rebounds against Nebraska Saturday. He was 3-for-6 from the field against the Huskers and had three blocked shots as well, tying his season high. Markieff is scoring 4.8 points on the year. He has five blocked shots in his last two games and eight games with multiple blocked shots. Markieff is 6-for-10 from the field in his last three games. He has started seven games this season and is third on the team with 4.5 rebounds per game. His 4.5 rebounds on the season are third among 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. 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 38.4 percent from three point range, yet is 1-for-8 in his last three contests from beyond the arc.
–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. He is averaging 13.3 minutes per game but has only scored two points in his last three contests. He is 0-for-9 in that span. Little, the Big 12 Preseason Newcomer of the Year, missed the first 12 games of the season due to injuries.
Kirk Hinrch’s Jersey to Be Retired March 1
Former Kansas men’s basketball great Kirk Hinrich will have his jersey retired in a halftime ceremony on March 1 when KU takes on Missouri. A native of Sioux City, Iowa, Hinrich had a stellar career at Kansas from 2000-03. He guided KU to back-to-back Final Fours in 2002 and 2003. The 2002 KU team is still the only team to go undefeated (16-0) in the 12-year history of the Big 12 Conference. The following year, KU won its second straight league regular-season title with Hinrich at the point. Hinrich, who wore jersey number 10, ranks ninth on the Kansas career scoring list with 1,753 points. His 668 assists are fourth on the school list and his 206 steals are sixth. Hinrich owns two of the top three single-season three-point field goal percentage marks in KU history – 50.5 percent in 2001 and 47.8 percent in 2002. In 2003, Hinrich was selected to the Wooden All-American team and was a third-team Associated Press All-American. Also his senior season, he was on the Final Four all-tournament team and was the NCAA West Regional Most Outstanding Player. Hinrich was named All-Big 12 First Team both his junior and senior seasons. Hinrich was the seventh overall selection in the 2003 NBA Draft by the Chicago Bulls and has been a starter with the Bulls for the past five seasons. Additionally, he was a member of Team USA in the 2006 World Championships.
The schedule does not get any easier as Border Showdown foe Missouri, who sits third in the conference standings, will visit Allen Fieldhouse Sunday at 1 p.m. on CBS. MU handed KU its only league loss, 62-60, on Feb. 9, in Columbia, Mo.