Notable night for Jayhawk basketball history

Feb. 22, 2010


Mark it down. Check it off the list. All indications before the ESPN Big Monday game against Oklahoma pointed towards a special night for the Jayhawks and indeed it was. The historic night started even before tipoff with Kansas junior Cole Aldrich being named ESPN The Magazine CoSIDA Basketball Academic All-American of the Year.

With his achievements on the court and in the classroom, Aldrich became just the second Jayhawk basketball player to garner the Academic All-American of the Year honor and the 14th to be named Academic All-America First Team. The only other Jayhawk to receive the Academic All-American of the Year award was Jacque Vaughn, who won the award in 1997.

“It’s a huge honor because I just try to give as much hard work in the classroom as I do on the court,” Aldrich said. “It really paid off and I really take pride in my academics.”

As Kansas cruised to an 81-68 victory over the Oklahoma Sooners, a few more pages were written for the Kansas basketball record books. Senior guard Sherron Collins and redshirt-junior Brady Morningstar became the all-time winningest players in Kansas basketball with the 124 wins.

“I’ve just been a player that loves to win,” said Collins. “There was never `I’ in team and there has been other players that helped me get this far. It shows how good [Head] Coach [Bill Self] has been.”

Collins tallied 17 points and six assists in his 36 minutes of play. Collins was one of four players to score in double figures. Freshman Xavier Henry led the team in scoring with 23 points, while sophomores Tyshawn Taylor and Marcus Morris also scored in double figures with 11 and 10, respectively.

Coming off of his third Big 12 Rookie of the Week honor, Henry came out firing from all cylinders and once again got off to a quick start.

Henry shot perfect from the field in the first half, shooting 7-for-7, scoring 18 points and also grabbing four rebounds. Henry ended the game with 23 points, five rebounds and two blocks.

“He scored in traffic, he scored by posting, he scored off the bounce and he obviously scored off the catch,” said Self. “That right there was a pretty complete way for a wing to score. He was really good tonight on a night where we needed him to be good in the first half.”

On top of the individual accomplishments achieved with Monday night’s win, the Jayhawks added to the special night by guaranteeing at least a share of the Big 12 regular-season conference championship, making it the sixth-straight and 53rd conference championship for Kansas.

“The league is great and to be the number one-rated RPI league and to clinch in game 13 out of 16, that is a pretty special deal,” said Self. “Clinching isn’t good enough. We have to go take care of business.”

Following the win, Self said at the press conference that the conference title is not the biggest story of the year, but from a coach’s perspective, it is an unbelievable accomplishment. Although he was excited about the win, Self and his Jayhawks have a bigger sight in mind.

“Of course here at KU, it doesn’t matter if you win six in a row,” Self said. “They weren’t talking about us winning the conference championship when Bucknell or Bradley beat us.”

The No. 1 ranked Jayhawks will take their 13-0 conference record on the road this Saturday to Stillwater, Okla., to square off against the Oklahoma State Cowboys. The game is set for 3 p.m. and will be aired on CBS.