🏀 Jayhawks Welcome Western Kentucky Friday for WNIT Opener
LAWRENCE, Kan. – The Kansas Jayhawks are set to compete in the WNIT for the first time since 2011 as KU opens the 2023 tournament hosting Western Kentucky at Allen Fieldhouse on Friday, March 17.
Tipoff is set for 5 p.m. CT on Friday and the game will be televised on Big 12 NOW, with Josh Klingler and Wayne Simien on the call. Fans can also listen to the game on the Jayhawk Radio Network from Learfield, with Steven Davis and Jill Dorsey-Hall calling the action.
This is the second-straight postseason appearance for the Jayhawks, who advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament in 2022. Kansas is making its 25th all-time postseason appearance and sixth in the WNIT, most recently in 2011.
Kansas is 19-11 on the season after winning its final three games of the regular season. The Jayhawks suffered a 57-52 defeat to TCU in the opening round of the Phillips 66 Big 12 Championship on March 9. With one more victory, the Jayhawks would secure a second-consecutive 20-win season and the 23rd in program history.
The Jayhawks are 9-5 all-time in the WNIT, an event KU previously played in following the 2006, 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2011 seasons. Kansas is 3-0 in first-round contests and the Jayhawks have won at least one game in the WNIT in each appearance. In 2009, the Jayhawks hosted four WNIT games at Allen Fieldhouse and hosted the championship game in front of a Kansas and Big 12 Conference record-setting crowd of 16,113 fans.
Kansas had three players named to the 2023 All-Big 12 team last week. Taiyanna Jackson was named a unanimous selection to both First Team All-Big 12 and the All-Big 12 Defensive Team, while Zakiyah Franklin was also a First Team All-Big 12 selection and Holly Kersgieter was Honorable Mention All-Big 12.
Jackson repeated as a member of the Big 12 All-Defensive Team and is on pace to become the first Jayhawk since 1982 to average a double-double, with current averages of 14.8 points and 12.6 rebounds per game. She matched her career-high with 21 rebounds against TCU in the Big 12 Tournament, her third game with 20+ rebounds this season. Jackson leads the Big 12 with 92 blocked shots, which is second in school history behind her school-record 95 from last season.
Franklin leads the Jayhawks with 15.6 points per game for the year. She scored in double figures in each of the last 14 games of the regular season, including four 20-plus point games and two with more than 30 points scored, including a career-high 31 in KU’s win over No. 23 Iowa State on March 1.
Western Kentucky enters the WNIT with a record of 19-13 after finishing second in Conference USA with a 14-6 league record. WKU advanced to the CUSA Championship and fell 82-70 to top-seeded Middle Tennessee State, who earned a No. 11 seed in the NCAA Tournament. WKU’s loss in the tournament championship game snapped a five-game winning streak for the Hilltoppers, who are 7-8 in true road games this season.
With a win, Kansas would advance to the second round of the WNIT, where the Jayhawks would face the winner of a first-round matchup between Missouri and Illinois State.