Jayhawks to Face Memphis for NCAA National Title
April 6, 2008
No. 1 seed Kansas (36-3) has advanced to the NCAA Division I men’s basketball championship game for the eighth time in school history and first since 2003. NCAA Championship games for Kansas include 1940-52-53-57-88-91-2003-08. KU is 2-5 in title contests and won the 1952 and 1988 championship. Kansas advanced to the title game with an 84-66 win against top-ranked North Carolina in the national semifinal. KU will face Memphis (38-1) in the championship contest. The Tigers defeated UCLA 78-63 in their semifinal contest.
Kansas has won a school-record 36 games this season surpassing the 1986 and 1998 teams which each went 35-4. The Jayhawks have won 12 consecutive games since dropping a 61-60 game at Oklahoma State on Feb. 23. Kansas leads the nation in scoring margin (+19.3), while ranking in the top five in the country in assists (18.1), field goal percentage (50.8 percent), field goal percentage defense (37.9), and win-loss percentage (92.3). The balanced Jayhawks feature four players scoring in double figures and a fifth at 9.2 points per game. Junior guard Brandon Rush leads the team with a 13.4 scoring average, following his 25 points against North Carolina on Saturday. He is followed by sophomore forward Darrell Arthur and junior guard Mario Chalmers, both at 12.6 and Darnell Jackson at 11.3. Sophomore guard Sherron Collins comes off the bench to chip in 9.2 points per game. Senior guard Russell Robinson averages 7.4 points per game while handing out 161 assists and recording 78 steals to rank second on the team in both categories. Chalmers leads the team with 166 assists and 93 steals. Arthur leads the team with 53 blocked shots, while senior center Sasha Kahn is next with 49 blocks to complement his 7.2 scoring average. KU averages 80.7 points per game, while shooting 50.8 percent from the field and 39.9 percent from three-point range. The Jayhawks have limited their opponent to just 61.3 points and just 37.9 percent shooting. KU out-rebounds its opponents by nearly eight boards per game (38.7 to 30.9).
Memphis owns a 38-1 record this season with its only loss coming at home against Tennessee (66-62) on Feb. 23. The Tigers earned a Final Four spot after defeating co-Big 12 Champions Texas 85-67 in an Elite Eight game. Memphis defeated UCLA 78-63 in the national semifinal. The Tigers feature two players in double-figure points in Chris Douglas-Roberts (18.0) and Derrick Rose (14.8). Robert Dozier averages 9.1 points and a team-best 6.7 rebounds. Memphis has nine players averaging at least 14 minutes per game and is out-scoring opponents by 18.6 points per game and out-rebounding their opponents by 6.6 per game. The Tigers are making their second NCAA championship game having lost to UCLA 87-66 in the 1973 title game.
Kansas leads the all-time series 3-2 with all five meetings coming in the decade of the 1980s. KU claimed the first matchup 59-49 at Memphis in 1981, as well as the most recent, a 64-62 victory in the ECAC Holiday Festival in New York, N.Y., during the 1987-88 campaign. In between Memphis won 64-58 at Lawrence on Dec. 18, 1982, KU won 75-71 at Lawrence on Feb. 9, 1985, and Memphis won 83-80 in overtime at Memphis on Jan. 4, 1986. Kansas is 56-15 against current members of Conference USA all-time. Bill Self is 0-1 against Memphis and 20-9 against members of Conference USA as a college coach.
Memphis head coach John Calipari began his coaching career at Kansas as a volunteer assistant under Ted Owens. He spent three years at KU from 1982-85, spending the final year as a full-time assistant… Memphis assistant John Robic spent two years as a graduate assistant at KU in the 1987 and 1988 seasons… Memphis media relations basketball contact Lamar Chance and Kansas assistant media relations director Katy Lonergan provide an Ole Miss connection as each were assistant SIDs at Mississippi.
–The combined record of the Kansas men’s basketball and football teams is 48-4 (92.3 winning percentage) in 2007-08. The 48 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 84-11 (88.4 percent) in its last 95 games. The Jayhawks are 36-3 on the season and have won 50 of their last 52 and 53 of their last 58 contests. KU has 69 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.
–Kansas has shot 53 percent or better in four of its five NCAA Tournament games (shot just 44.2 percent vs. Davidson). KU has shot better than 50 percent in 25 of 39 contests this season. Last year, KU shot better than 50 percent in 18 of 38 contests.
–KU has outshot 38 of 39 opponents this season – USC (Dec. 2) shot better than KU.
–The Jayhawks have held 38 of 39 opponents to less than 50 percent shooting (ULM, 51.0 percent in the season opener) and 110 of its last 113 opponents.
–Through 39 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).
–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 952-630 for a 24.4 to 16.2 (+8.2) 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.
–Sophomore Darrell Arthur (#00) pulled down nine rebounds and had a season-best four blocked shots to go along with six points against North Carolina. His nine boards were the most since he also pulled down nine against Texas in the title game of the Big 12 Championship. Arthur is shooting 58.3 percent from the field in five NCAA Tournament games. He has pulled down at least seven rebounds 16 times this year and nine-plus in nine games. He has four 20-point efforts on the season. Arthur has 13 games with multiple blocked shots this season.
–Junior Mario Chalmers (#15) is averaging 16.3 points in his last six games after his 11 points against North Carolina. He has 13 steals in five NCAA Tournament games, including three versus UNC. Chalmers has the top two KU single-season steals record with 97 last year and 93 this season. He surpassed former KU great Darnell Valentine who had 92 steals in 1981. Chalmers earned Midwest Region All-Tournament honors after averaging 15.0 points, 3.0 assists and 2.5 steals per game on the road to the Final Four. Chalmers had a career-high 30 points in earning all-tournament honors in the title game of the Big 12 Tournament against Texas. Chalmers leads the Jayhawks with 30 double-figure scoring games in 2007-08.
–Junior Brandon Rush (#25) is scoring 16.6 points through five NCAA Tournament games after his 25-point effort against North Carolina. He picked up Midwest Region All-Tournament honors after propelling the Jayhawks to the Final Four. Rush has scored in double figures in each of his last seven games and is averaging 18.6 points in that span. Named the Most Outstanding Player of the Phillips 66 Big 12 Championship, Rush has pulled down seven rebounds in each of his last two games and six or more in five of his last six games. A three-time All-Big 12 First Team selection and on the Wooden Award All-American for the second straight season, Rush was 11-for-17 (64.7 percent) against North Carolina.
–Senior Darnell Jackson (#32) scored 10 of his 12 points against North Carolina in the second half. His 6.0 rpg in the NCAA Tournament ties Brandon Rush for the team lead. He has led Kansas in rebounds 15 times this season, including seven boards against Davidson in the Elite Eight. He has reached double digits scoring 24 times this season. Jackson pulled down eight or more rebounds in nine Big 12 contests and 19 times this season. In his nine career NCAA Tournament games, Jackson has knocked down 25-of-42 (59.5 percent) shots from the field. He made 4-of-6 in the Jayhawks’ win over Davidson and was 5-for-6 against North Carolinal.
–Senior Russell Robinson (#3) scored seven points and had four assists, four rebounds and three steals against North Carolina. His 16 assists in the NCAA tourney are a team best, while his 11 steals are second most through five NCAA contests. Robinson tied his career high with three three-pointers against Villanova in scoring 15 points in the Sweet 16. He has at least three steals in 12 games this season, including the three NCAA tourney contests (vs. Portland State, UNLV and UNC). Robinson has multiple steals in eight of his last 11 contests and 25 times this year. He is 48-for-56 (85.7 percent) from the line in his last 19 games. He has dished out five or more assists 13 times this season and is one dime from his 500th career assist.
–Sophomore Sherron Collins (#4) had 11 points against North Carolina, the most points for the guard since 13 in the quarterfinals of the Big 12 Championship on March 14. He has scored in double figures in 14 games this season. He has come up big down the stretch hitting key baskets in the second half against Davidson and North Carolina.
–Senior Sasha Kaun (#24) is 14-for-19 in the NCAA Tournament for a team-best 73.7 percent. He had four points against North Carolina. He is first on the team in field goal percentage at 62.6 percent, including 13-for-17 in his last four games. He has shot 80 percent or better in 13 games this season. Kaun nabbed Midwest Regional All-Tournament honors after pacing Kansas with 13 points and six rebounds versus Davidson. Kaun made 9-of-10 shots from the field in two games in Detroit, scoring 22 points and pulling down 13 boards in KU’s two regional games.
–Freshman Cole Aldrich (#45) had eight points, seven rebounds and four blocked shots against North Carolina. His points were the second most this season for the center, while his blocked shots were a career high. His seven rebounds were the most since he had a double-double with 11 points and 11 rebounds against Texas Tech in the home finale on March 3. Aldrich’s 34 blocked shots are tied for fifth most by a KU freshman.