KU Looks to Claim Fifth Straight Men's Basketball Big 12 Title at Texas Tech Wednesday
March 3, 2009
No. 9 Kansas (24-5, 13-1 Big 12) closes out its regular-season with games at Texas Tech (12-17, 2-12 Big 12) on Wednesday and Texas Saturday. The Jayhawks sit at 13-1 in the Big 12 race and a win in either game will give KU its fifth-straight, ninth Big 12 and NCAA Division I all-time high 52nd conference regular-season title. Kansas takes a five-game winning streak to Lubbock after its 90-65 win against Border Showdown foe Missouri on Sunday. Kansas moved up to No. 9 in both the Associated Press and ESPN/USA Today Coaches’ polls released March 2. It marks the first time KU has been ranked in the top 10 since the final polls of the 2007-08 season. Texas Tech is looking to snap a six-game losing streak on Wednesday after its 78-63 loss to Oklahoma Saturday.
Kansas has been guaranteed a bye in the 2009 Phillips 66 Big 12 Championship to be played at the Ford Center in Oklahoma City. The Jayhawks can finish no lower than the No. 3 seed in the event. KU has won the event each of the last three seasons and six times since the inception of the league in 1996-97.
Kansas is three points from being undefeated in Big 12 play and is 6-1 on the road in conference action this season. The Jayhawks have won five straight and 13 of their last 14 games with the lone loss at Missouri, 62-60, on Feb. 9. The Jayhawks are averaging 77.8 points per game and giving up 64.8 for a +13.0 scoring margin. KU leads the Big 12 in field goal percentage defense at 38.2 percent, rebound defense at 31.2 and rebound margin at +7.9. In conference play, KU leads the conference in scoring margin (+12.6), field goal percentage (50.5), field goal percentage defense (37.9), three-point field goal percentage (42.3), three-point field goal percentage defense (30.9), rebounding (38.4), rebounding defense (28.9) and rebound margin (+9.5).
Junior guard Sherron Collins leads KU in scoring at 18.5 points per game, which is third in the Big 12. Collins has averaged 23.3 points in his last two games, including a career-high-tying 26 in the win at Oklahoma (Feb. 23). Named a Bob Cousy Award finalist, Oscar Robertson Trophy finalist, Wooden Award and Naismith Award mid-season candidate, Collins has led the team in scoring in 21 of 29 games this season. A three-time Big 12 Player of the Week, Collins has a team-high 66 three-point field goals and 144 assists. Sophomore center Cole Aldrich is coming off his fourth-straight double-double with 19 points and 14 rebounds against Missouri. His 17 double-doubles on the season are second most in the Big 12. Aldrich is next in scoring at 15.1 points per game. He 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 61.4 percent and his 60.9 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 15.1 ppg and 10.8 rpg and Griffin at 21.9 ppg and 13.9 rpg. Freshman guard Tyshawn Taylor is averaging 20.5 points in his last two games and is averaging 9.9 points per contest on the season. Named Phillips 66 Big 12 Rookie of the Week four times this season, Taylor is second on the team with 89 assists. He is tied with freshman forward Marcus Morris with 32 steals, third most on the squad. Marcus Morris is scoring 7.4 points per contest and he leads the Big 12 freshmen class with 4.9 rebounds per game. Sophomore guard Brady Morningstar rounds out the KU starters. He leads the Big 12 in three-point field goal percentage at 45.8 percent. Morningstar and Collins are tied for the team lead with 35 steals. Morningstar averages 6.9 points per game. Sophomore guard Tyrel Reed averages 6.8 points and is making 39.6 percent from three-point range. Freshman forward Markieff Morris, twin of Marcus, and junior guard/forward Mario Little are each scoring 4.9 points for the Jayhawks. Markieff Morris is third on the team with 4.5 rebounds per game, third among Big 12 freshmen. Little had six rebounds against Missouri and averages 3.3 boards per contest. He was named Phillips 66 co-Big 12 Rookie of the Week Feb. 9. He missed the first 12 games of the season due to injuries. Freshman guard Travis Releford (2.8 ppg) and freshman forward Quintrell Thomas (1.5 ppg) also see time on the floor for the Jayhawks.
About Texas Tech
Texas Tech is 12-17 overall and 2-12 in Big 12 play. The Red Raiders won their first five games of the season, yet have gone 7-17 since and are looking to snap a six-game losing streak. Tech is 11-6 at home and its two league wins have come at the United Spirit Arena. Texas Tech is scoring 77.8 points per game and giving up 79.3. Tech makes 7.1 three pointers per contest. Sophomore guard John Roberson is one of four Red Raiders averaging double figures with a team-high 14.3 points per game. He leads the Big 12 with 6.5 assists per game and his 65 three pointers are second most on the team behind senior guard Alan Voskuil’s 78. Voskuil is scoring 13.8 points per game and has a team best 36 steals. He is second on the squad with 4.1 rebounds per contest. Junior guard Nick Okorie is scoring 11.2 points per game, while sophomore forward Mike Singletary leads Tech with a 5.4 rebound average to complement his 10.7 scoring average. Freshman forward Robert Lewandowski leads the team with 22 blocked shots. He averages 7.2 points and four rebounds per game. Sophomore forward D’walyn Roberts (5.4 ppg), senior forward Michael Prince (4.0 ppg), freshman guard Tyree Graham (3.9 ppg) and junior forward Darko Cohadarevic (3.6 ppg) each play 10-plus minutes per game for Texas Tech.
This series dates back to 1959 and Kansas leads 17-3. Texas Tech has won two of the last four meetings against Kansas with both victories in Lubbock. Kansas leads 6-3 against Tech in games played in Lubbock and the series is tied at 2-2 in games played in the United Spirit Arena. Texas Tech has won the last two meetings in the facility – 80-79 in double overtime in 2005 and 69-64 in 2007. Since the Big 12 started, KU leads 10-3 with a 9-3 mark in the regular season and a 1-0 record in the Big 12 Championship. On Kansas’ Senior Day last season, KU’s 109-51 win was the widest margin of victory (58 points) in a Big 12 regular-season game in the 13-year history of the conference. Then-KU freshman Cole Aldrich had a double-double with 11 points and 11 rebounds in the game. Sherron Collins scored 13 for the game.
–Kansas leads the Big 12 in field goal percentage defense at 38.2, rebounding defense at 31.2 rpg and rebound margin at +7.9. KU also ranks among the Big 12’s top four teams in field goal percentage (second at 48.7), scoring defense (third at 64.8), scoring margin (second at +13.0), free throw percentage (third at 72.5), three point field goal percentage (second at 39.0), three point field goal percentage defense (third at 32.7), rebounding (third at 39.1), assists (second at 16.5) and blocked shots (second at 4.5).
–Kansas climbed back into the national polls on Feb. 2 and is ranked No. 9 in both the Associated Press and ESPN/USA Today Coaches polls released March 2. It is the first time KU has been ranked in the Top 10 since the final polls of the 2007-08 season when KU was No. 4 by AP (final poll released before the NCAA Tournament) and No. 1 in the coaches’ poll. Kansas went seven weeks out of the polls before making the Feb. 2 rankings in 2008-09.
–Kansas currently ranks No. 7 in the Feb. 24 ESPN.com RPI rating, which is second in the Big 12 behind Oklahoma (5).
–KU has outshot 24 of 29 opponents this season and has shot 50 percent or better in 14 games, including eight Big 12 contests. KU shot 55.9 percent against Missouri Sunday. Kansas is 22-2 when outshooting its opponent this season and 2-3 when outshot.
–Kansas has outrebounded four straight, 10 of its last 11 and 23 of 29 opponents this season. KU outrebounded its last three foes by 51 and has a +9.5 rebound margin in Big 12 play, +7.9 in all games.
–Through 29 games, four different Jayhawks have scored 20 or more points. Sherron Collins has 10 games of 20 or more points, including the last four, while Cole Aldrich has six, including two of his last four games. Tyshawn Taylor has three 20-point games, including a career-high 26 at Oklahoma (Feb. 23). Brady Morningstar has one 20-point effort.
–Kansas has held 139 of its last 142 opponents to under 50 percent shooting, including all 29 foes this season. Nineteen of those opponents have shot below 40 percent, including two of the last three. 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 68 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 109-15 (87.9 percent) in its last 124 games dating back to Jan. 21, 2006.
–Junior guard Sherron Collins has scored 22 or more points in each of his last four games and has been named Phillips 66 Big 12 Player of the Week each of the last two weeks and three times this season. His 25 points against Missouri Sunday were one shy of his career-high 26 points he scored at Oklahoma the previous Monday. A Bob Cousy Award finalist, Oscar Robertson Trophy finalist, Wooden Award and Naismith Trophy mid-season candidate, Collins has averaged 23.8 points in his last four games. He has 10 games of 20-plus points this season. Collins leads Kansas with an 18.5 point scoring average, which is third in the Big 12. He has led (or tied for the lead) Kansas in scoring in 21 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 (sixth at .814), field goal percentage (eighth at .44.0), three-point field goals made (tied for eighth at 2.2), three-point field goal percentage (13th at 40.2) and assist-to-turnover ratio (13th at 1.5).
–Sophomore center Cole Aldrich has four straight double-doubles after his 19 points and 14 rebounds against Missouri. In his last four games he is averaging 16 points and 16.8 rebounds. His 17 double-doubles on the season are second most in the league next to Oklahoma’s Blake Griffin’s 23. He and Griffin are the only two conference players to average a double-double with Aldrich at 15.1 ppg and 10.8 rpg and Griffin at 21.9 ppg and 13.9 rpg. Aldrich has six 20-point efforts in 2008-09. On Feb. 21, Aldrich became the 16th player in school history to record 100 career blocked shots, currently at 107, which is tied with Drew Gooden (2000-02) for 14th on KU’s all-time list. Aldrich has 54 of KU’s 88 dunks this season. Aldrich leads the Big 12 in blocked shots with 2.5 per game. He is second in the Big 12 in rebounding at 10.8 rpg, second in field goal percentage at 61.4 percent, 11th in free throw percentage at 78 percent and 11th in scoring at 15.1 ppg.
–Freshman guard Tyshawn Taylor was named Phillips 66 Big 12 Rookie of the Week for the fourth time this season on Monday. He is scoring 20.5 points in his last two games and is 13-for-20 (65 percent) from the field in that span. He had a career-high 26 points in the win at Oklahoma (Feb. 23) and then had 15 points against Missouri Sunday. Taylor is 4-for-6 from three-point range in his last two games. Taylor has led Kansas in scoring three times this season. His 9.9 point average on the season is second most among Big 12 freshmen. Taylor is 13th in the league in assists at 3.0 apg (first among Big 12 freshmen), and his 1.1 steals average is second among the Big 12 freshmen class with teammate Marcus Morris.
–Sophomore guard Brady Morningstar leads the Big 12 in three point field goal percentage at 45.8 percent, including 8-for-15 (53.3 percent) from way out in his last five games. Morningstar has started every game for Kansas in 2008-09. He is scoring 6.9 points on the season. He has at least one steal in 13 of his last 16 outings. Morningstar has made multiple three pointers in three of his last five games. A lockdown defender, Morningstar is second on the team with 42 floor burns. He is behind Sherron Collins’ 50 floor burns and just ahead of Tyrel Reed’s 40.
–Freshman forward Marcus Morris has started 11 of the last 12 games for KU and 17 games this season. He has shot 50 percent or better in seven of his last 10 contests, including a 2-for-3 effort with four points against Missouri on Sunday. He is second on the team with 4.9 rebounds per game, which leads the Big 12 freshmen.
–Freshman forward Markieff Morris has shot 50 percent or better in each of his last five games and is 11-for-19 (57.9 percent) in that span. He is scoring 4.9 points on the season, yet has scored seven or more points eight times, including three times in Big 12 play. He has six blocked shots in his last four games and eight games with multiple blocked shots. He has started seven games this season and is third on the team with 4.5 rebounds per game. His 4.5 rpg on the season is third among Big 12 freshmen.
–Sophomore guard Tyrel Reed scored nine points on 3-of-4 shooting from three-point range against Missouri Sunday. His nine points were the most since he had 10 at Iowa State on Jan. 24, 10 games prior. He is averaging 21.2 minutes per contest and has been KU’s first player off the bench 11 times this season. Nominated for Academic All-American, Reed has 15 games with multiple threes during 2008-09. He has shot 50 percent or better in 14 games. Reed is making 39.6 percent from three point range.
–Junior guard Mario Little scored five points and pulled down six rebounds in 15 minutes against Missouri Sunday. It was his most points since his nine at Missouri on Feb. 9. Little has pulled down six or more rebounds three times this season. He is averaging 13 minutes per game. Little, the Big 12 Preseason Newcomer of the Year, missed the first 12 games of the season due to injuries.
Kansas concludes the regular season when it hosts Texas on Saturday, March 7 at 3 p.m. on CBS. The game will be the final home appearance for seniors Matt Kleinmann and Brennan Bechard. Since 1983-84, the Jayhawks have won 24-straight Senior Days and 25 consecutive final home games of the season (as in 2007 there was no senior on the KU roster). Following the Texas contest, Kansas’ next action will be Thursday, March 12, in the quarterfinals of the Phillips 66 Big 12 Championship at the Ford Center in Oklahoma City. KU is three-time defending Big 12 Championship champion.