Jayhawks to Face Wildcats in NCAA Sweet 16 in Detroit Friday

March 25, 2008

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No. 1 seed Kansas (33-3) has advanced to the NCAA Championship Sweet 16 for the 25th time in school history and the third time under head coach Bill Self. The Jayhawks are coming off a 75-56 win against UNLV, in capturing their 78th all-time victory in the NCAA Tournament. KU will play No. 12 seed Villanova (22-12), on Friday, March 28, at approximately 9:40 p.m. (Eastern) at Ford Field in Detroit, Mich. The Wildcats defeated Siena 84-72 to advance to the Sweet 16. Kansas and Villanova are meeting for the fourth time in men’s basketball with KU holding a 2-1 series advantage. This will be the first meeting between the two schools in NCAA Championship competition.

About Kansas

After posting its 78th all-time win in the NCAA Championship, Kansas takes a nine-game winning streak into the event’s Sweet 16 against Villanova. The Jayhawks entered the NCAA Championship ranked No. 4 in both national polls. The Jayhawks average 81.4 points and lead the nation in scoring margin at +20.0. KU’s top four scorers average within 1.6 points scored of each other. Sophomore forward Darrell Arthur leads KU in scoring with 13.1 points per game. He is second on the team with 6.2 rebounds per contest and leads KU with 47 blocked shots. Junior guard Brandon Rush led KU with 18 points against Portland State in the NCAA opener and is second on the team in scoring with 13 points per game. Rush, the Most Outstanding Player of the Big 12 Championship, leads the team with 75 three-point field goals and is shooting 43.9 percent from beyond the arc. Junior guard Mario Chalmers had a team-high 17 points in the second round against UNLV and is scoring 12.6 points per game. Chalmers is second on the team with 65 three-pointers. He leads the conference in steals at 2.43 per game and is vying to lead the Big 12 in steals for the third straight season. Senior forward Darnell Jackson is scoring 11.5 ppg and he leads KU in rebounding at 6.7 per contest. Sophomore guard Sherron Collins is scoring 9.5 points off the bench and he sparked KU in the second half against UNLV by scoring all of his 10 points after intermission. Seniors Russell Robinson and Sasha Kaun are scoring 7.4 and 7.1 points per game, respectively. Robinson, Arthur, Rush, Jackson and Chalmers are the KU starters. Senior guard Rodrick Stewart (2.9 ppg) and freshman center Cole Aldrich (2.9 ppg) round out the Kansas regulars.

About Villanova

Villanova has won two straight and five of its last six games heading into the Sweet 16 contest. The Wildcats are 22-12 on the season and have gone 8-3 in their last 11 games. After opening the year 4-0 and 10-1, Villanova tied Syracuse for eighth in the Big East Conference with a 9-9 record. Villanova averages 73.2 points per game and gives up 69.4 points. The Wildcats outrebound foes 36.1 to 33.3 and average seven three-point field goals per game. Sophomore guard Scottie Reynolds leads the team with a 16-point scoring average, 77 three pointers, 113 assists and 49 steals. Junior forward Dante Cunningham leads Villanova with 6.4 rebounds per game and 31 blocked shots. He is second on the team with 45 steals. Cunningham is the only other Wildcat to average double digits in scoring at 10.4 ppg. Freshman guard Corey Fisher is scoring 9.2 points per game and is second on the team with 41 three pointers and 88 assists. Freshman forward Antonio Pena and junior forward Shane Clark are each averaging seven points and 4.3 rebounds per game, while freshman guard Corey Stokes and junior guard/forward Dwayne Anderson are scoring 6.4 points apiece. Reynolds, Cunningham, Pena, Anderson and Stokes are the starters, yet Villanova has eight players who average 20 or more minutes per game.

Kansas-Villanova Series

Kansas leads the all-time series with Villanova, 2-1, yet the Wildcats won the last meeting 83-62 on Jan. 22, 2005, in Philadelphia. The Villanova win snapped KU’s 14-game winning streak to open the 2004-05 season. On Jan. 2, 2004, KU handed Villanova an 86-79 loss at Allen Fieldhouse. In the first meeting in the series, the Jayhawks defeated the Wildcats, 55-49, on March 18, 1968, in New York at the National Invitation Tournament. KU coach Bill Self is 1-2 versus Villanova. Besides KU, Self’s Oral Roberts team lost to Villanova, 64-46, in Philadelphia on Jan. 8, 1997. Wildcat head coach Jay Wright is 1-1 versus Kansas.


–Villanova head coach Jay Wright was the Team USA Head Coach for the Pan Am Games this past summer. Kansas guards Mario Chalmers and Sherron Collins were each invited to try out for the squad but did not make the final cut.

–Villanova, Kansas and North Carolina State are the lowest seeds to win the NCAA Championship. As the No. 8 seed in 1985, Villanova is the lowest seed to win the national championship, while Kansas in 1988 and N.C. State in 1983 were No. 6 seeds.

Team Notables

–The combined record of the Kansas men’s basketball and football teams is 45-4 (91.8 winning percentage) in 2007-08. The 45 combined wins are more than any other NCAA Division I school. The Jayhawks were a combined 27-0 in home games at Memorial Stadium and Allen Fieldhouse.

–Kansas is 81-10 (89 percent) in its last 91 games. The Jayhawks are 33-3 on the season and have won 47 of their last 51 and 50 of their last 55 contests. KU has 66 wins over the last two seasons.

–For the second straight year, Kansas will not have more than five losses. In fact, KU has had single-digit losses each of the last eight seasons and 17 of the last 19 years.

–Kansas’ three losses have been by a combined 13 points – 9 at Kansas State, 3 at Texas and 1 at Oklahoma State.

–Kansas finished 20-0 at home this season marking its 14th all-time undefeated home season and first since 2001-02 (13-0) – 15th time if you count 2-0 in 1955. The 19 wins in Allen Fieldhouse (1-0 in Sprint Center in KC) are the most home wins ever in a KU home season. KU’s 24-game home court winning streak ranks fourth nationally.

–Kansas has won 11 of its last 14 Big 12 road games and is 13-4 in its last 17 league road contests.

–With a 54.1 field goal percentage against Portland State and 58 percent versus UNLV, KU has shot better than 50 percent in 23 of 36 contests this season. Last year, KU shot better than 50 percent in 18 of 38 contests.

–KU has outshot 35 of 36 opponents this season – USC (Dec. 2) shot better than KU.

–The Jayhawks have held 35 of 36 opponents to less than 50 percent shooting and 107 of its last 110 opponents.

–Through 36 games, Kansas has had seven different leading scorers, seven different players lead the team in rebounding, five different in assists, eight different in steals and seven different in blocked shots (these includes ties). Including ties, Kansas has had five different leading scorers in the last seven games.

–Six Jayhawks have scored 20-plus points this season – Rush, Collins, Jackson, Chalmers, Arthur and Robinson. Chalmers had the lone 30-point game against Texas in the Big 12 Championship.

–On the season, the Jayhawk bench has outscored its opponents 895-584 for a 24.9 to 16.2 (+8.7) advantage per game.

–Kansas redshirt senior Jeremy Case graduated last spring. KU’s other four seniors – Sasha Kaun, Darnell Jackson, Russell Robinson and Rodrick Stewart – are on pace to graduate this spring.

Player Notables

–Sophomore Darrell Arthur (#00) is averaging 13 points through two games of the NCAA Championship after having nine points and five boards against UNLV. He is 18-for-27 (66.7 percent) from the field in his last three games. Arthur has pulled down at least seven rebounds in three of his last four games. Including ties, he led KU in rebounds in three of the last four games. Arthur just missed a double-double in the Big 12 title game with 16 points on 6-of-9 shooting and nine rebounds. He has pulled down at least seven rebounds 15 times this year. He has four 20-point efforts on the season. Arthur has 12 games with multiple blocked shots this season, including five in conference action.

–Junior Mario Chalmers (#15) is averaging 21 points in his last three games after his 17 points against UNLV. He is 13-for-25 (52 percent) from three-point range in his last three games and 22-for-36 (61.1 percent) from the field. Chalmers has multiple steals in each of his last nine games. He has 22 assists in his last five games, including four assists and no turnovers against Portland State. Chalmers had a career-high 30 points in earning all-tournament honors in the title game of the Big 12 Tournament against Texas. He has scored in double figures in his last three games and five of his last six and 12 of his last 14 games.

–Junior Brandon Rush (#25) has scored in double figures in each of his last four games and is averaging 19.3 points in that span. He had 18 points against Portland State and 12 versus UNLV. Named the Most Outstanding Player of the Phillips 66 Big 12 Championship, Rush is 27-for-52 (51.9 percent) from three-point range in his last four games. He has pulled down six rebounds in each of his last three games and has six or more boards in 16 games this season. A three-time All-Big 12 First Team selection and on the Wooden Award ballot for 2008, Rush is 26-for-32 (81.3 percent) from the free throw line in his last 15 games.

–Senior Darnell Jackson (#32) has led Kansas in rebounds 14 times this season, including nine boards against UNLV. He has scored in double figures in three of his last five games. He has reached double digits scoring 23 times this season. Jackson pulled down eight or more rebounds in nine Big 12 contests and 19 times this season.

–Senior Russell Robinson (#3) scored 13 points against UNLV, his highest output in six games. He has three steals in each of his last two games and in 11 games this season. Robinson has multiple steals in seven of his last eight contests and 24 times this year. He is 42-for-50 (84 percent) from the line in his last 16 games. He has dished out five or more assists 12 times this season.

–Sophomore Sherron Collins (#4) scored all 10 of his points in the second half against UNLV. The 10 points were the most since the opening round of the Big 12 Tournament when he had 13 against Nebraska. Collins was 5-for-8 (62.5 percent) from the field against UNLV to mark the 10th time this season he has shot 60 percent for better. Including ties, Collins has led KU in assists in two of his last three games and four times this season. All four of those games have been in the last seven KU contests.

–Senior Sasha Kaun (#24) is averaging 5.7 rebounds in his last three games and 3.9 on the season. He is second on the team in field goal percentage at 61.1 percent, including a 2-for-3 effort against UNLV. He has shot 80 percent or better in 12 games this season.

–Freshman Cole Aldrich (#45) logged 10 minutes with two points, two steals, two rebounds and one blocked shot against Portland State and three minutes with two points against UNLV. He is 5-for-7 (71.4 percent) from the field in his last four games. Aldrich had the quietest double-double of the year with career highs in 11 points and 11 rebounds against Texas Tech (March 3), mainly due to Senior Night. He has pulled down four or more rebounds in 12 games and has multiple blocked shots in nine contests.

Up Next

Should Kansas advance with a win against Villanova, it would play the winner of the Wisconsin/Davidson game on Sunday, March 30. Time for the Midwest Regional championship is TBD.