No. 3/3 Kansas to Play Host to No. 17/15 Texas in Men's Basketball
March 1, 2007
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No. 3 Kansas (26-4, 13-2) plays host to No. 15 Texas (22-7, 12-3) in the regular-season finale for both teams Saturday at 11 a.m. on CBS. With UT’s win against Texas A&M Wednesday, Kansas has won at least a share of its seventh Big 12 and 50th overall conference title. The Jayhawks can win the championship outright with a victory against Texas. Additionally, KU has an all-time record of 1,899-781, so a triumph would be the school’s 1,900th victory. This is a battle of the Big 12’s top two programs as Kansas is the league’s top-winning program with a 144-31 conference game record and Texas is next at 123-52.
Ranked in the Associated Press Top 10 for 13 weeks in 2006-07, No. 3 Kansas’ seven-game winning streak is its second longest of the season. At 26-4, the Jayhawks have posted the most school victories since the 2003 Final Four team went 30-8. KU’s 13 conference victories tie last season’s Big 12 championship team’s mark and is the sixth time in the 11-year history of the league that KU has won at least 13 league games. Kansas is the only Big 12 school to have won at least 10 league games in each of the 11 seasons the conference has existed. Including 2006-07, KU has won at least 23 games in each of the last 18 seasons and its 26 victories this year ties last season’s mark, the most under head coach Bill Self while at KU. Kansas averages 78.9 points per game and is giving up 59.9. The Jayhawks are outrebounding foes 40.6 to 32.5 per game and hold a 49.3 to 37.0 field goal percentage edge. KU is a young team, as its top five scorers are sophomores and freshmen. Sophomore guard Brandon Rush, a Midseason Wooden Award All-American selection and Naismith Award finalist, leads Kansas in scoring at 13.7 points per game and with 56 three-point field goals made. Sophomores Mario Chalmers and Julian Wright are next in scoring with 11.8 averages apiece. Chalmers leads the Big 12 with 2.57 steals per game, while Wright leads KU with eight rebounds a game, which is fifth in the conference. His 44 blocked shots are second most on the team. Freshman forward Darrell Arthur has a team-leading 45 blocked shots to compliment his 10.6 points per game. Freshman guard Sherron Collins is scoring 12 points in Big 12 play – second best on the team – and 9.7 points on the season. He is making a team-high 43.6 percent from three-point range. Junior guard Russell Robinson, a finalist for the Bob Cousy Award, leads KU with 133 assists in addition to his 6.6 scoring average. He is second on the team with 54 steals. Juniors Sasha Kaun and Darnell Jackson round out the regulars for KU. Kaun, the starting center, is scoring 6.4 points per game and shooting 55.6 percent from the field, while Jackson, a forward, is averaging 5.7 points and 5.1 rebounds per outing off the bench.
No. 15 Texas (22-7, 12-3) is coming off a thrilling 98-96 double overtime victory over No. 7/6 Texas A&M on Wednesday. The win keeps the Longhorns in the Big 12 title race and a victory at Kansas would create at least a two-way tie for the conference title with KU and UT for the second-straight season. UT has won six straight heading into Lawrence. Texas is scoring a Big 12-best 82.8 points per game and giving up 71.7. UT is second to Kansas in rebounds with 40.4 per game and is outrebounding foes by a +3.7 margin. Freshman guard/forward Kevin Durant leads the Big 12 with a 24.9 scoring average and an 11.5 rebound mark. He is the only player in the conference to average a double-double and his numbers in Big 12 play have increased to 28.7 points and 12.7 rebounds per outing. Durant, who leads UT with 50 steals and 53 blocked shots, has been named the Big 12 Player of the Week three times and the Big 12 Rookie of the Week on six occasions. Sophomore guard A.J. Abrams is next in scoring with 15 points per game. He leads the Big 12 with 3.45 three-point field goals made per game and is making a team-high 91.5 percent from the free throw line. Freshman guard D.J. Augustin is scoring 14.8 points per game and leads the conference with 6.62 assists per contest. Freshman guard Justin Mason has an 8.6 scoring average, while freshman forward Damion James is second on the team with 7.1 rebounds per game to compliment his 7.9 points per game. Freshmen Connor Atchley (4.1 ppg, 3.9 rpg) and Matt Hill (2.7 ppg, 2.8 rpg) round out the regulars. Both are listed at forward/center.
Kansas leads the overall series with Texas, 12-5, yet the series is knotted at 3-3 in its last six match ups. Today’s contest will mark the sixth straight KU-UT game where both teams are ranked nationally and the seventh time in the last eight meetings that at least one of the two teams are in the Top 10. The series dates back to 1938 when the teams played back-to-back games on Dec. 16 and 17 in Austin. Two seasons later, they did it again in Lawrence on Dec. 9 and 10. Kansas is 7-0 against Texas in games played in Lawrence and 5-0 in Allen Filedhouse. Last year, No. 8 Texas defeated Kansas 80-55 in Austin behind 19 points from P.J. Tucker and 18 from LaMarcus Aldridge. The battle of co-Big 12 regular-season champs continued in the Big 12 Championship title game with Kansas defeating Texas 80-68 at the American Airlines Center in Dallas. Five Jayhawks scored in double figures in the victory, led by the event’s most outstanding player Mario Chalmers with 15 points. Russell Robinson added 14, Jeff Hawkins 13 and Brandon Rush and Julian Wright 12 each in the victory.
Kansas will open Big 12 Championship play on Friday, March 9, at the Ford Center in Oklahoma City. Seed, opponent and game time are yet to be determined. Big 12 Championship games will be televised on the ESPN Plus, ESPNU, ESPN2 or ESPN.