Jayhawks to Host Longhorns in Men's Basketball Home Finale Saturday at 3 p.m.
March 5, 2009
No. 9 Kansas (24-6, 13-2 Big 12) returns home for Senior Day when it plays host to Texas (20-9, 9-6 Big 12). The game, televised on CBS at 3 p.m., 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). Both invited walk-ons, Kleinmann is a fifth-year senior, while Bechard is completing his third season at Kansas after transferring from Barton County Community College in 2005. Kansas is coming off an 84-65 loss at Texas Tech on Wednesday. Despite the loss, Missouri’s win against Oklahoma guaranteed Kansas its fifth-straight, ninth Big 12 and 52nd overall conference regular-season title for KU.
Kansas will be the No. 1 seed in the 2009 Phillips 66 Big 12 Championship March 11-14 to be played at the Ford Center in Oklahoma City. KU has won the event each of the last three seasons and six times since the inception of the league in 1996-97.
At 40 consecutive wins in Allen Fieldhouse, Kansas takes the nation’s longest home court winning streak into the Texas contest. The Jayhawks have won five of their last six games and 13 of their last 15 games. The Jayhawks are averaging 77.4 points per game and giving up 65.4 for a +12.0 scoring margin. KU leads the Big 12 in field goal percentage defense at 38.4 percent, rebound defense at 31.5 and rebound margin at +7.6. In conference play, KU leads the conference in scoring margin (+10.5), field goal percentage defense (38.4), rebounding (38.3), rebounding defense (29.5) and rebound margin (+8.8).
Junior guard Sherron Collins leads KU in scoring at 18.2 points per game, which is fourth in the Big 12. Collins has averaged 21.2 points in his last five games. 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 22 of 30 games this season. A three-time Big 12 Player of the Week, Collins has a team-high 67 three-point field goals and 148 assists. Sophomore center Cole Aldrich has four double-doubles in his last five games. His 17 double-doubles on the season are second most in the Big 12. Aldrich is scoring at 14.9 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 60.6 percent and his 59.4 percent in Big 12 games ranks second as well. 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 10.5 rpg and Griffin at 21.9 ppg and 13.9 rpg. Freshman guard Tyshawn Taylor is averaging 17.3 points in his last three 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 90 assists. He is third on the team with 35 steals, just behind sophomore guard Brady Morningstar’s 37 and Collins’ 36. Morningstar is third in the Big 12 in three-point field goal percentage at 44.1 percent and is scoring 6.8 points per game. Marcus Morris is scoring 7.5 points per contest and he leads the Big 12 freshmen class with 5.0 rebounds per game. Sophomore guard Tyrel Reed averages 6.8 points and is making 39.3 percent from three-point range. Freshman forward Markieff Morris, twin of Marcus, is scoring 4.9 points per game and he has a 4.5 rebound average. Junior guard/forward Mario Little averages 4.8 points and 3.2 rebounds per outing. 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 (1.6 ppg) also see time on the floor for the Jayhawks.
–Both are invited walkons
–Regular members of the Red Team (i.e., the team which goes against the KU regulars day-in and day-out in practice)
Matt Kleinmann (6-10, C, Sr., Overland Park, Kan., Blue Valley West HS)
–Academic All-Big 12 First Team as a senior
–Six-time member of the Athletic Director’s Honor Roll
–Has been a member of eight Big 12 Championship titles (five Big 12 regular-season, three Big 12 Tournament)
–Has appeared in 68 games while at Kansas with one start.
–Kansas is 19-0 when Kleinmann scores in a game, including 4-0 in 2008-09
–Was a redshirt in 2004-05
–Kansas has averaged 28.4 wins per season in Matt Kleinmann’s five-year career as a Jayhawk.
–KU is 142-29 (83 percent) during his stint at Kansas.
–Member of Kansas’ two NCAA Tournament Elite Eights (2007, 2008) and the 2008 Final Four and NCAA National Championship teams.
Brennan Bechard (6-0, G, Sr., Lawrence, Kan., Lawrence HS/Barton County CC)
–Was a member of the Athletic Director’s Honor Roll his sophomore year.
–Has appeared in 33 games while at Kansas.
–Has been a member of five Big 12 Championship titles (three Big 12 regular-season, two Big 12 Tournament)
–While Bechard has been a Jayhawk, Kansas is 94-14 for an 87 percent winning percentage.
–KU has won an average of 31.3 games per season with Bechard as a team member.
–Member of Kansas’ two NCAA Tournament Elite Eights (2007, 2008) and the 2008 Final Four and NCAA National Championship teams.
–Transferred to Kansas from Barton County Community College following his freshman season.
Texas has won three of its last four games and brings a 20-9 record into Allen Fieldhouse. The Longhorns are tied for fourth in the Big 12 standings with a 9-6 record along with Oklahoma State. A victory over KU would assure UT the No. 4 seed in next week’s conference championship. Texas averages 73.0 points and allows 65.1 for a +7.9 scoring margin. The Longhorns lead the Big 12 in rebounding with 39.4 boards per game. Texas has a deep team as eight players average 14-plus minutes per game. Senior guard A.J. Abrams leads the team in scoring with 16.9 points per game, which is seventh in the Big 12. Abrams leads the conference in three-point field goals made per contest at 3.0 with 88 treys in 29 contests. He is second on the team with 34 steals in 2008-09. Junior guard/forward Damion James is next in scoring at 15.6 points per game and his 9.5 rebound average is third in the league behind OU’s Blake Griffin (13.9 rpg) and Kansas’ Cole Aldrich (10.8 rpg). Sophomore forward Gary Johnson is scoring 11.3 points per contest and he is second on the team with 5.8 rebounds per game. Anchoring the middle for UT is junior center Dexter Pittman who averages 9.0 points and 4.7 rebounds per game. He leads the team with a 62.1 field goal percentage and he and James have 24 blocked shots apiece. Junior guard Justin Mason is scoring 6.6 points per game and he leads the team with 127 assists and 37 steals. Senior forward/center Connor Atchley (5.1 ppg, 3.4 rpg), freshman guard Varez Ward (3.5 ppg) and sophomore guard Dogus Balbay (3.1 ppg, 3.1 assists per game) round out the UT regulars.
Year-in and year-out the Kansas-Texas battles are some of the biggest in the Big 12 and nationally. Kansas leads the overall series 15-6 and has won four of the last five meetings. These teams have met in each of the last three Phillips Big 12 Championship title games with KU claiming all three match ups – 80-68 in Dallas in 2006, 88-84 in overtime in Oklahoma City in 2007 and 84-74 in Kansas City last year. Kansas is 8-0 against Texas in Lawrence, including a 6-0 record in Allen Fieldhouse. Expect a close contest, as each of the last four have been decided by 10 points or less. This series dates back to 1938.
–Kansas leads the Big 12 in field goal percentage defense at 38.4, rebounding defense at 31.5 rpg and rebound margin at +7.6. KU also ranks among the Big 12’s top four teams in field goal percentage (second at 48.1), scoring margin (third at +12.0), free throw percentage (third at 72.4), three point field goal percentage (second at 37.9), three point field goal percentage defense (fourth at 33.7), rebounding (fourth at 39.1), assists (second at 16.2) and blocked shots (third at 4.4).
–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. 8 in the Feb. 24 ESPN.com RPI rating, which is second in the Big 12 behind Oklahoma (4).
–KU has outshot 24 of 30 opponents this season and has shot 50 percent or better in 14 games, including eight Big 12 contests. Kansas is 22-2 when outshooting its opponent this season and 2-4 when outshot.
–Kansas has outrebounded four of its last five opponents and 23 of 30 opponents this season. KU has a +8.8 rebound margin in Big 12 play, +7.6 in all games.
–Through 30 games, four different Jayhawks have scored 20 or more points. Sherron Collins has 10 games of 20 or more points, including four of his last five games, while Cole Aldrich has six. 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 140 of its last 143 opponents to under 50 percent shooting, including all 30 foes this season. Nineteen 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 69 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 109-16 (87.2 percent) in its last 125 games dating back to Jan. 21, 2006.
–Junior guard Sherron Collins tied for the team lead in scoring at Texas Tech with 11 points and has averaged 21.2 points in his last five games. Collins has been named Phillips 66 Big 12 Player of the Week each of the last two weeks and three times this season. A Bob Cousy Award finalist, Oscar Robertson Trophy finalist, Wooden Award and Naismith Trophy mid-season candidate, Collins was named to the NABC District 8 First Team Thursday. He has 10 games of 20-plus points this season. Collins leads Kansas with an 18.2 point scoring average, which is fourth in the Big 12. He has led (or tied for the lead) Kansas in scoring in 22 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 4.9), free throw percentage (seventh at .803), field goal percentage (eighth at .427), three-point field goals made (ninth at 2.2), three-point field goal percentage (15th at .385) and assist-to-turnover ratio (13th at 1.5).
–Sophomore center Cole Aldrich had his string of four straight double-doubles stopped at Texas Tech. Despite his eight points and three rebounds at Texas Tech, in his last six games he is averaging 17.2 points and 11.2 rebounds. Like Collins, Aldrich was named to the NABC District 8 First team Thursday. His 17 double-doubles on the season are second most in the league next to Oklahoma’s Blake Griffin’s 24. He and Griffin are the only two conference players to average a double-double with Aldrich at 14.9 ppg and 10.5 rpg and Griffin at 21.7 ppg and 14.2 rpg. Aldrich has six 20-point efforts in 2008-09. Aldrich currently ranks 14th on the Kansas career blocked shots list with 108. Aldrich has 54 of KU’s 91 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 10.5 rpg, second in field goal percentage at 60.6 percent, 10th in free throw percentage at 78.9 percent and 12th in scoring at 14.9 ppg.
–Freshman guard Tyshawn Taylor was named Phillips 66 Big 12 Rookie of the Week for the fourth time this season on March 2. He is scoring 17.3 points in his last three games and is 17-for-25 (68 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 (March 1). His three steals at Texas Tech were one shy of his career high as he tied for the team lead with 11 points. Taylor has led Kansas in scoring four 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 1.2 steals average is second among the Big 12 freshmen class.
–Sophomore guard Brady Morningstar is third in the Big 12 in three point field goal percentage at 44.1 percent. Morningstar has started every game for Kansas in 2008-09. He is scoring 6.8 points on the season. He has at least one steal in 14 of his last 17 outings, including two at Texas Tech. A lockdown defender, Morningstar is second on the team with 43 floor burns. He is behind Sherron Collins’ 53 floor burns and just ahead of Tyrel Reed’s 42.
–Freshman forward Marcus Morris has started 12 of the last 13 games for KU and 18 games this season. He has shot 50 percent or better in eight of his last 11 contests, including a 5-for-9 effort with 11 points at Texas Tech on Wednesday. His eight rebounds at Tech were his most in Big 12 play. He is second on the team with 5.0 rebounds per game, which leads the Big 12 freshmen.
–Freshman forward Markieff Morris has shot 50 percent or better in five of his last six games and is 12-for-23 (52.2 percent) in that span. He is scoring 4.9 points on the season. 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 has scored 16 points in his last two games, which is more than his four previous games combined (13 points). He is averaging 21.2 minutes per contest and has been KU’s first player off the bench 12 times this season. An Academic All-Big 12 First Team selection, Reed has 16 games with multiple threes during 2008-09, including each of his last two (three vs. Missouri and two at Texas Tech). He has shot 50 percent or better in 14 games. Reed is making 39.3 percent from three point range.
–Junior guard Mario Little is averaging 12.9 minutes per game with 4.8 scoring and 3.2 rebound averages. Little has pulled down six or more rebounds three times this season. Little, the Big 12 Preseason Newcomer of the Year, missed the first 12 games of the season due to injuries.
–Freshman guard Travis Releford has played in 29 of 30 games this season and averages 7.4 minutes per contest. He scored four points on 2-of-2 shooting and tied his career high with four rebounds at Texas Tech Wednesday. He is making 56.1 percent from the field in 2008-09.
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 the No. 1 seed and will play at 11:30 a.m. KU is three-time defending Big 12 Championship champion.