No. 1 Kansas to Host Belmont in Men's Basketball Tuesday
Dec. 27, 2009
Following a brief holiday break, No. 1 Kansas (11-0) closes out the 2009 calendar year hosting Belmont (7-4, 2-0 Atlantic Sun) Dec. 29, at 8 p.m. on ESPNU. The Jayhawks are 11-0 for the third time under head coach Bill Self, joining the 2004-05 team, which went 14-0 and the 2007-08 NCAA Championship team, which posted a 20-0 record. Belmont last played Eastern Illinois on Dec. 19 and lost 63-60.
Top-rated Kansas extended the nation’s longest home-court winning streak to 49 games with an 84-69 win against Pac-10 foe California on Dec. 22. The Jayhawks, 11-0, average 88.4 points per game, are giving up 59.3 points and rank in the top five nationally with a +29.1 scoring margin. KU is shooting 51.6 percent from the field, while its opponents are shooting 34.9 percent. Only one KU opponent, Radford, has shot above 40 percent against the Jayhawks this season. Xavier Henry leads the team with a 17.2 point scoring average. He has shot 50 percent or better in nine of 11 games this season is making 53.2 percent of his shots from the field and 48.2 from three-point range. Xavier leads KU with 27 threes and 19 steals. Senior guard Sherron Collins has scored 36 points in his last two games and is averaging 14.2 points on the season. Collins and sophomore guard Tyshawn Taylor (7.4 ppg) are tied for the team lead with 47 assists. Taylor has 24 assists and two turnovers in his last four games. Taylor has 17 steals, three ahead of Collins (14). Junior center Cole Aldrich leads the team in rebounds with 9.7 per game and has 21 boards in his last two games with 11 against Michigan and 10 versus California. Aldrich has four double-doubles this season and averages 3.6 blocked shots per outing. Sophomore forward Marcus Morris has averaged 18.5 points and 8.5 rebounds in his last two games. He is scoring 11.4 points and pulling down 5.9 rebounds per game. Marcus’ twin, sophomore forward Markieff Morris, is coming off the bench to score 7.9 points per game. Markieff, who recorded his first career double-double with 12 points and 12 rebounds against La Salle on Dec. 12, pulls down 5.8 rebounds per game and leads KU with a 67.3 percent field goal shooting. Junior guard Brady Morningstar returned to the lineup the past two games and is averaging 21.5 minutes, 4.5 points and 5.0 assists per game. Junior guard Tyrel Reed scores 4.7 points per outing and he has 13 three-pointers this season. Freshman guard Elijah Johnson (3.9 ppg) has started two games this season. Thomas Robinson (4.8 ppg, 4.5 rpg) is another KU regular.
Kansas is the five-time defending Big 12 champion, finished 27-8 last season and won the 2009 league title outright with a 14-2 conference record. The Jayhawks advanced to their third-straight NCAA Tournament Sweet 16 before falling to NCAA runner-up Michigan State in Indianapolis last year.
Located in Nashville, Tenn., with an enrollment of 5,393, Belmont has lost two straight and brings a 7-4 record to Lawrence. The Bruins are coached by Rick Byrd who is 476-265 in his 24th season at Belmont. Belmont lost at Saint Louis 75-67 on Dec. 16 and against Eastern Illinois 63-60 on Dec. 19. Belmont averages 76.9 points per game and is giving up 70.7 for a +6.2 scoring margin. The Bruins hold a +1 rebound margin against their opponents and average 7.5 three-point field goals per game. Sophomore forward/center Mick Hedgepeth leads the team in scoring with 13 points per game and rebounding with 5.5 boards per outing. Hedgepeth also has a team-high nine blocked shots. Senior forward Keston Belcher and freshman guard Ian Clark are just behind Hedgepeth in scoring at 12.5 points per game each. Belcher has made a team-best 25 three pointers and he is averaging four rebounds per contest. Clark is second on the team with 10 steals and he has 24 assists on the season. Sophomore forward/center Scott Saunders comes off the bench to score 9.7 points per game. He is second on the team with a 4.1 rebound average. Freshman guard Kerron Johnson leads Belmont with 12 steals to complement his 7.5 scoring average. Junior guard/forward Jordan Campbell is a top reserve who averages 7.2 points per contest. Junior guard/forward Jon House (7.0 ppg) and sophomore guard Drew Hanlen (4.7 ppg) round out the eight Bruins who average 16-plus minutes per game. Hanlen is a starter who leads the team with 46 assists on the season.
Kansas and Belmont are meeting for the first time in men’s basketball but this is the second team with the mascot of Bruins the Jayhawks will play in 2009-10. KU defeated the UCLA Bruins 73-61 in Los Angeles on Dec. 6 in the Big 12/Pac-10 Hardwood Series. Belmont is a member of the Atlantic Sun Conference and Kansas is 4-0 against the league – 3-0 mark vs. East Tennessee State and 1-0 vs. Florida Gulf Coast. KU last faced an A-Sun team when it defeated Florida Gulf Coast 85-45 on Nov. 18, 2008.
–Kansas remains one of six undefeated teams in NCAA Division I (Dec. 26). Others include Kentucky, Purdue, Syracuse, Texas and West Virginia.
–KU leads the Big 12 in scoring (88.4 ppg), scoring margin (+29.1), field goal percentage (.516), assists (20.0), blocked shots (7.3) and assist-to-turnover ratio (1.6). The Jayhawks rank in the top three in all but two Big 12 statistical categories.
–Seven of Kansas’ 11 victories this season have been by 25 or more points with six of those by 30 points or more.
–KU averages 7.3 blocked shots per game to its opponents’ 2.9.
–Kansas has shot 50 percent or better in eight of 11 games this season, including its last four contests.
–KU’s bench averages 28.3 points per game compared to 12.5 by its opponents.
–Through 11 games, eight different Jayhawks, including ties, have led the team in steals, seven in points and six in assists.
–Kansas forces 16.1 turnovers per game and averages 20.8 points off turnovers per game.
–Senior Sherron Collins has averaged 18 points in his last two games and 14.2 on the season. Since going 1-for-12 against La Salle (Dec. 12), Collins is 13-for-25 (.520) from the field. Collins has scored in double figures in nine games this season. He has 21 assists in his last four games. He is second on the team in scoring and his 14.2 ppg ranks 17th in the Big 12. Collins also ranks among the league leaders in assists (tied for seventh at 4.3), three-point field goal percentage (seventh at .426), three-point field goals made (tied for seventh at 2.1) and assist-to-turnover ratio (10th at 2.1).
–Junior Cole Aldrich, an Academic All-America candidate, posted his fourth double-double of the season with 10 points and 10 rebounds against California (Dec. 22). Aldrich also matched his season high with five blocked shots against the Golden Bears. He is second in the Big 12 and ranks in the top 10 nationally with 3.6 blocked shots per game. Aldrich has had at least three blocked shots in all but one game this season. He led the league with 2.7 blocked shots per game last year and his 168 career blocked shots are sixth on the KU list. Aldrich is third in the Big 12 in rebounding at 9.7 rpg. He has 26 career double-doubles.
–Freshman Xavier Henry has been named the Phillips 66 Big 12 Rookie of the Week twice this season and he leads the conference freshmen class in scoring with a 17.2 ppg. He has led KU in scoring in five games this season, including 31 points against La Salle (Dec. 12). Xavier has shot 50 percent or better from the floor in all but two games this season and is making .482 percent from three-point range. The last KU freshman to lead the team in scoring was Brandon Rush in 2005-06 at 13.5 ppg. Henry ranks eighth in the Big 12 in scoring at 17.2 ppg, fourth in field goal percentage at .532, second in three-point field goal percentage at .482, 11th in free throw percentage at .789 and fifth in three pointers made at 2.5.
–Sophomore Marcus Morris has averaged 18.5 points in his last two games, including a career-high 23 points on 7-of-10 shooting against Michigan (Dec. 19). He added 10 rebounds for a double-double against the Wolverines. He has started the last nine games and is second on the team with 5.9 rebounds per contest. He is shooting .568 percent from the field. Marcus has pulled down six or more boards in six of his last eight games. He has two double-doubles this season: the Michigan game and 19 points and 11 rebounds against Oakland (Nov. 25). Marcus ranks 16th in the Big 12 in rebounding with his 5.9 rpg.
–Sophomore Markieff Morris pulled down seven rebounds against California (Dec. 22) to mark the seventh time this season he has pulled down six or more boards. Markieff had a double-double with 12 points and 12 rebounds against La Salle (Dec. 12). He also had a career-high four blocked shots against the Explorers. Two games earlier, Markieff had a career-high 19 points at UCLA (Dec. 6) on 8-of-11 shooting. He is shooting .673 percent from the field on the season and had made 15 consecutive shots at one point. Markieff ranks tied for 17th in the Big 12 in rebounding at 5.8 rpg.
–Sophomore Tyshawn Taylor has 24 assists and just two turnovers over his last four games. In the win against California, Taylor had 13 points on 6-of-8 shooting with seven assists, one turnover and two steals. He has five or more assists in five of his last six contests. Taylor ranks tied for 10th in the Big 12 in steals at 1.6, tied for seventh in assists at 4.3 and sixth in assist-to-turnover ratio at 1.8.
–Junior Brady Morningstar made his season debut against Michigan (Dec. 19) playing 22 minutes with three assists and two points. In his second outing he scored seven points and dished out a career-high seven assists against California (Dec. 22). In two games, Morningstar is 4-for-6 (.667) from the field with 10 assists and three steals. A defensive stopper who started all but one game last season, Morningstar missed the first nine games of the season due to breaking team rules. Morningstar is a redshirt junior who is the oldest player in the Big 12 Conference at 23.
–Junior Tyrel Reed, an Academic All-America candidate, has made 13 three pointers and 18 field goals on the season. He was 2-for-3 from the field, all threes, against Michigan (Dec. 19) scoring six points and 1-for-2, all threes, against California (Dec. 22). He also tied his season high with three rebounds against the Wolverines. Reed is averaging 4.7 points per game.
–Freshman Thomas Robinson had two blocked shots against Michigan (Dec. 19) to mark the fourth time this season he has had multiple blocked shots in a game. He has pulled down four or more rebounds in seven of 10 games, including seven against Radford (Dec. 9), 11 against Central Arkansas (Nov. 19) and 10 versus Alcorn State (Dec. 2). He recorded his first career double-double with 15 points and 10 rebounds against Alcorn State. For the season, he is scoring 4.8 points and pulling down 4.5 rebounds per game. He ranks 13th in the Big 12 with 1.1 blocked shots per game.
–Freshman Elijah Johnson has two starts this season and had a career-high 11 points in his starting debut against Radford (Dec. 9). Johnson had nine assists against Alcorn State (Dec. 2) in addition to four rebounds. He is third on the team with 24 assists.
–Freshman C.J. Henry had a career-high 11 points on 4-of-5 shooting against Radford (Dec. 9). Henry was 3-for-4 from three-point range versus RU with one blocked shot in 10 minutes. C.J. is 9-for-15 (60 percent) from the field this season, including 7-of-13 (53.8 percent) from three-point range.
Kansas takes its second true road trip of the season when it plays at Temple on Saturday, Jan. 2 at 4:30 p.m. on ESPN2. The Jayhawks then return home on Wednesday, Jan. 6 against Cornell at 7 p.m. and close out non-conference play at Tennessee on Jan. 10. The KU at Tennessee contest is currently scheduled for a 12:30 tip but NFL playoffs may move the tip time.