Kansas Men's Basketball Hits Road at Arizona Tuesday (Dec. 23) at 9:30 p.m. (Central)

Dec. 21, 2008

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Kansas makes its first official road trip of the season when it plays Arizona on Tuesday, Dec. 23 at 9:30 p.m. (Central) on Fox Sports Net. The game is part of the Desert Fiesta Bowl Classic and also part of the Big 12/Pac-10 Hardwood Series. Kansas (8-2) is coming off a 71-59 win against Temple on Saturday. Arizona (7-3) lost at UNLV 79-64 on Saturday.

About Kansas

Kansas is 5-1 in its last six games and 8-2 on the season. The Jayhawks are averaging 79.9 points per game and giving up 61.8 for a +18.1 scoring margin. KU leads the Big 12 in field goal percentage defense at 37.2, free throw percentage at 72.8, rebounding at 41.7, rebound defense at 31.8 and rebound margin by +9.9. KU’s two losses have been by one point to UMass (61-60) and in overtime to Syracuse (89-81).

Junior guard Sherron Collins, who was named to the Naismith Trophy Watch List last week, leads KU in scoring at 18 points per game. Collins has led the team in scoring in eight of 10 games this season and has a team-high 21 three-point field goals and 49 assists. Sophomore center Cole Aldrich is one of two players in the Big 12 who averages a double-double with 14 points and 10.5 rebounds. The other is Oklahoma’s Blake Griffin (22.6 ppg, 14.4 rpg). Aldrich has led Kansas in rebounding in each of the last eight games with six double-doubles in that span. Aldrich has 25 of KU’s 51 blocked shots for a Big 12-leading 2.6 per game. Freshman guard Tyshawn Taylor had eight assists, one turnover and four steals against Temple. He is scoring 10.8 ppg, has 41 assists and a team-best 18 steals. Freshman forward Marcus Morris (8.3 ppg) is second on the team with 5.9 rebounds per game. He has two double-doubles in 2008-09. Sophomore guard Brady Morningstar is a starter who is coming off an 11-point performance against Temple. He is scoring 7.5 points per game. Sophomore guard Tyrel Reed (6.7 ppg) and freshman Markieff Morris (5.5 ppg, 5.1 rpg) are also averaging 17-plus minutes per contest. Markieff Morris started the last game for KU, his second start of the season. Freshman forward Quintrell Thomas (2.5 ppg, 3.0 rpg) and freshman guard Travis Releford (3.5 ppg) also see time in KU’s rotation.

About Arizona

After defeating then-No. 4 Gonzaga 69-64 on Dec. 14, Arizona lost at UNLV 79-64 on Saturday to drop to 7-3 on the season. The Wildcats are 4-1 at home and have won their last three at McKale Center. Arizona is scoring 72.7 points per game and giving up 63.2. UA is outrebounding foes 34.9 to 29.3 and is making 46.0 percent from three-point range. Junior forward Chase Budinger leads UA with a 19.1 scoring average. He is 25-for-43 from three-point range for a remarkable 58.1 percent. He leads Arizona with 13 steals on the season and is second on the team with 6.0 rebounds per contest. Junior forward Jordan Hill leads UA in rebounding with 11.9 boards per outing to go along with his 18.5 scoring average. He has 28 of Arizona’s 44 blocked shots. Junior guard Nic Wise leads the team with 52 assists on the season and has a 13.6 ppg average. He is second behind Budinger with 20 three-pointers. Sophomore forward Jamelle Horne (7.4 ppg, 4.6 rpg) and freshman guard Klye Fogg (4.4 ppg) round out the Wildcats’ starters. Sophomore guard Zane Johnson (4.0 ppg), freshman guard Garland Judkins (3.9 ppg) and senior forward Fendi Onobun (1.2 ppg) round out the Arizona regulars.

The Series

Kansas leads the heated series with Arizona 7-3 and the Jayhawks have won two of the last three meetings. This series dates back to 1979 and five of the nine matchups have been at neutral sites, including three NCAA Tournament clashes. Five of the nine meetings have come in three calendar years. Kansas defeated Arizona 83-80 on March 22, 1996, in the NCAA Tournament West Regional semifinal in Denver. The following year, Arizona returned the favor with an 85-82 win in the Sweet 16 of the Southeast Regional on March 21, 1997, in Birmingham, Ala., en route to its NCAA Championship. The next fall, KU defeated UA, 90-87, in the Great Eight in Chicago on Dec. 2, 1997. In 2003, Kansas lost to Arizona 91-74 on Jan. 23 in Allen Fieldhouse yet later that season defeated the Wildcats 78-75 in the NCAA West Regional Finals to advance to the Final Four. Expect a close game, as six of the 10 meetings have been decided by eight points or less and four of those have been three-point nail biters. Kansas won last season’s meeting in the Big 12/Pac-10 Hardwood Series matchup 76-72 in overtime in Allen Fieldhouse. Current Jayhawks who played in the game were guard Tyrel Reed (7 minutes, no points) and Cole Aldrich (1 minute, no points). Arizona won the previous meeting, 61-49, in the first round of the Maui Invitational in Hawaii, during the 2005-06 season.

Team Notables

–Kansas leads the Big 12 in free throw percentage at 72.8 percent. KU has shot 80 percent or better from the line in four games this season.

–Besides free throw percentage, Kansas leads the Big 12 in field goal percentage defense (.372), rebounding (41.7), rebound margin (+9.9) and rebound defense (31.8).

–KU has outshot eight of 10 opponents this season and has shot 50 percent or better in four games. Last year, KU outshot 39 of 40 opponents.

–Kansas has outrebounded nine of 10 opponents this season.

–Through nine games, four different Jayhawks have scored 20 or more points this season. Sherron Collins leads the list with two 20-point efforts (25 vs. Florida Gulf Coast and 21 vs. Syracuse). Other 20-point scorers include Brady Morningstar (21 vs. Coppin State), Cole Aldrich (23 vs. Coppin State) and Tyshawn Taylor (23 vs. New Mexico State).

–Kansas has held 120 of its last 123 opponents to under 50 percent shooting, including all 10 foes this season. Six of those opponents have shot below 40 percent.

–Kansas posted its 100th game of scoring 100 points in the 100-79 win against defending WAC champion New Mexico State Dec. 3.

–Five different Jayhawks have led the team in assists this season.

–KU is 78-10 (88.6 percent) in its last 88 games.

Player Notables

–Junior guard Sherron Collins has scored 19 or more points in five games this season and each of the last two against Temple and UMass. Collins is 14-for-16 from the free throw line in his last six games. Collins is fourth in the Big 12 in scoring at 18 ppg. He also ranks among the league leaders in assists (sixth at 4.9), field goal percentage (14th at 43.7), free throw percentage (sixth at 81.8), three-point field goals made (tied for 11th at 2.1) and assist-to-turnover ratio (seventh at 2.0).

–Sophomore Cole Aldrich has shot 50 percent or better from the field in eight of 10 games this season and is 20-for-32 (62.5 percent) in his last four games. He went 6-for-8 against Temple Saturday. He has a team-leading six double-doubles on the season, all in his last seven games. Aldrich leads the Big 12 in blocked shots at 2.6 per game and is second in the conference in rebounding at 10.5, field goal percentage at 59.6 and free throw percentage at 87.2. His 14 ppg is 18th in the league.

–Freshman guard Tyshawn Taylor had a solid stat line against Temple with 11 points, eight assists, one turnover and four steals. He was also 4-for-7 (57.1 percent) from the field against the Owls. Taylor has scored in double figures in seven of his last eight games. He has multiple steals in his last three games with eight in that span. He has 22 assists in his last three games, including a double-double with 11 assists and 10 points against Jackson State. He is ninth in the league in assists at 4.1 apg, tied for ninth in steals at 1.8 spg and 10th in assist-to-turnover ratio at 1.8.

–Sophomore guard BRADY MORNINGSTAR’s 11 points against Temple marked his second double-figure scoring game of the season (21 vs. Coppin State on Nov. 28). Morningstar was 4-for-6 from the field against Temple, including 3-for-4 from three-point range. He has made at least one three-pointer in each of his last seven games.

–Freshman forward Markieff Morris made the most of his second start of the season against Temple scoring eight points and pulling down five rebounds. He is 6-for-10 (60 percent) from the field in his last three games, including 3-for-4 against Temple. His 5.1 rebounds per game are second behind twin Marcus Morris (5.9 rpg) among Big 12 freshmen.

–Freshman forward Marcus Morris scored nine points and had three steals against Temple Saturday. He has started six games for KU this season and is second on the team with 5.9 rebounds per game. Marcus leads the Big 12 freshmen in rebound average, which is 16th overall in the conference.

–Sophomore guard Tyrel Reed has made 10 three-pointers in his last four games and is 10-for-22 (45.5 percent) from beyond the arc in that span. Reed has scored in double figures in two of his last four games and three times this season.

–Sophomore guard Conner Teahan played a career-high 17 minutes against UMass (Dec. 13), tying a season high with five points and setting a career high with five rebounds.

2008 Big 12/Pac-10 Hardwood Series

This is the second season for the Big 12/Pac-10 Hardwood Series as Kansas hosted Arizona in an overtime thriller last year in Allen Fieldhouse. With only two games remaining in the 2008 Big 12/Pac-10 Hardwood Series, the Big 12 holds a 6-4 lead. Additionally, the home team is 9-1 in this year’s series.

Last season, the Big 12 held an 11-8 overall advantage in contests between the two conferences. The Pac-10 had the edge in official Big 12/Pac-10 Hardwood Series games with a 7-5 mark. Outside of the series, the Big 12 had a 6-1 record versus the Pac-10 in 2007-08, including 2-1 in the NCAA Tournament.

The games this season are return contests from one year ago. New pairings for the next two years of the agreement will be announced in the near future. Because of the uneven number of teams in the two conferences, Arizona and Stanford each play two games. There are three games outside the main series window of Dec. 4-7. Those games are: Colorado at Stanford (Nov. 29), Kansas at Arizona (Dec. 23), and Texas Tech at Stanford (Dec. 28).

Six of the 12 games in the inaugural event last season were decided by seven points or fewer, with two games going to overtime (Kansas-Arizona, Kansas State-Oregon).

Youth Movement

The 2008-09 Kansas basketball team is young. How young? Ten of its top 11 scorers are freshmen or sophomores and the two classes are neck-and-neck in scoring with the freshmen scoring 38.3 percent of KU’s points and the sophomore 37.7 percent. That’s a combined effort of 76 percent scoring from KU’s underclassmen. Below is a breakdown of KU’s scoring for 2008-09. Note: KU’s seniors Brennan Bechard and Matt Kleinmann are walk-ons and have combined for four points.

Kansas Scoring for 2008-09

Freshmen – 38.3 percent (306 points)

Sophomores – 37.7 percent (301 points)

Juniors – 23.5 percent (188 points)

Seniors – 0.5 percent (4 points)

Up Next

Kansas will take a week off before hosting Albany on Dec. 30 at 8 p.m. in Allen Fieldhouse. That game will be televised on ESPNU. The Jayhawks will then play host to nationally-ranked Tennessee on January 3 at 1 p.m. on ESPN.