Kansas to Host San Diego State Sunday in Men’s Hoops at 3:30 p.m.
CLOSING OUT NON-CONFERENCE
No. 16/17 Kansas (9-3) closes out non-conference play when it hosts No. 21/19 San Diego State (11-1) on Sunday, Jan. 5 at 3:30 p.m. on CBS. KU has won three-straight games after its 93-83 win in handing Toledo (12-1) its first loss of the season on Dec. 30. San Diego State has won 10-straight following its Mountain West Conference opening victory at Colorado State, 71-61, on Jan. 1. Something will have to give as Kansas enters the game ranked fifth nationally with a 50.9 field goal percentage, while San Diego State leads the nation field goal percentage defense at 34.2.
Kansas averages 79.4 points per game and has a +10.6 scoring margin. The Jayhawks have outrebounded 11 of 12 opponents, with an average of 38.4 boards per game and have a +7.8 rebound margin. KU is also winning the efficiency battle, having outshot 11 of its 12 opponents. With nine players averaging nine or more minutes per game, KU’s bench has outscored all but three opponents this season and averages 25.8 points per contest.
Freshman G Andrew Wiggins leads Kansas with a 15.9 scoring average and scored 20 points against Toledo in his last outing. He is second on the team with 14 three-pointers made and 12 steals and third on the squad with a 5.4 rebound average. Sophomore F Perry Ellis is next in scoring at 13.9 points per game after his first double-double of the season with 21 points and a career-high 11 rebounds versus Toledo (12/30). He has four 20-point games this season and is second on the team in rebound average at 6.7. Freshman C Joel Embiid has a team-high 28 blocked shots and 13 steals, while also leading KU in rebounds with a 6.9 per-game average and field goal percentage at 66.7 percent. He averages 10.8 points per game after his second double-double of the season (14 points, 10 rebounds) versus Toledo. Rounding out the KU starters are freshman G Wayne Selden, Jr. (8.7 ppg, 2.9 rpg) and junior G Naadir Tharpe (7.8 ppg). Tharpe scored a career-high 20 points versus Toledo and leads Kansas with 58 assists. His 15 three-pointers made are best on the squad.
Freshman G Frank Mason scores 7.4 points per game and has started three games for the Jayhawks this season. Sophomore F Jamari Traylor is averaging 3.8 points per contest and is making a team-best 85.0 percent from the free throw line. Other contributors off the bench include senior F Tarik Black (4.1 ppg, 2.8 rpg), sophomore G Andrew White III (4.1 ppg) and freshman G Brannen Greene (2.3 ppg). Black had a KU career-high 17 points with six rebounds against Georgetown (12/21) and is two points shy of 1,000 for his career (three seasons at Memphis prior to Kansas).
ABOUT SAN DIEGO STATE
Located in San Diego, Calif., with an enrollment 32,396, San Diego State is 11-1 on the season after its 71-61 win at Colorado State on Jan. 1 in its Mountain West Conference opener. The Aztecs are coached by Steve Fisher who is 292-172 in his 15th season at SDSU and 476-254 in his 23rd season overall. San Diego State has won 10-straight with its only loss to current No. 1 Arizona, 69-60, on Nov. 14. San Diego State averages 76.7 points per game and gives up 53.3 for a +23.3 scoring margin. The Aztecs also dominate the boards with a +7.3 rebound margin. They shoot 46.5 percent from the field and, defensively, hold opponents to 34.2 percent shooting. San Diego State also averages 8.8 steals and forces 15.8 turnovers per game.
Senior G Xavier Thames leads San Diego State in scoring at 16.3 points per game. He has made a team-best 27 three-pointers and also leads the Aztecs with 30 assists and 24 steals. Thames is making a team-best 79.4 percent from the free throw line. Sophomore F Winston Shepard is next in scoring at 13.3 points per game. He is second on the team with 24 assists and 16 steals. Shepard’s 4.6 rebounds per contest are third on the squad. Junior F JJ O’Brien scores 9.5 points per game and his 4.8 rebound average is second on the team. Senior F Josh Davis leads San Diego State in rebounds with 11.1 per game to complement his 8.8 scoring average. Sophomore F Skylar Spencer, 4.3 points and 4.3 rebounds per game, leads SDSU in field goal percentage at 54.8 percent and with 31 blocked shots. Other SDSU regulars include redshirt freshman F Matt Shrigley (7.4 ppg, 20 three-pointers), junior F Dwayne Polee II (8.6 ppg, 3.6 rpg), junior G Aqeel Quinn (7.6 ppg), freshman G Dakarai Allen (4.2 ppg) and junior F James Johnson (2.3 ppg).
The Kansas-San Diego State series dates back to 1978 and is tied at 1-1. The Jayhawks played a home-and-home with the Aztecs winning 81-69 on Dec. 23, 1978, in San Diego and the Jayhawks winning the following season, 79-66, on Dec. 8, 1979. San Diego State is the second Mountain West Conference (MWC) team KU will have faced this season. Kansas defeated New Mexico of the MWC, 80-63, at Sprint Center on Dec. 14. KU has faced 10 of the 11 current Mountain West Conference members and is 24-7 all-time against the present-day MWC.
COUNTDOWN TO 1,000
Just a single bucket on Sunday would be enough for a milestone memory for senior F Tarik Black as he enters the San Diego State matchup with 998 career points. Black scored 949 points for the University of Memphis before graduating in three seasons and moving to Lawrence for his last year of collegiate basketball. The last Jayhawk to reach 1,000 career points was 2012-13 senior Kevin Young who ended with 1,067 points (658 while at Loyola-Marymount and 409 while at KU in 2011-12 and 2012-13).
GET TO THE LINE
Although sophomore F Jamari Traylor leads the Jayhawks at the free throw line with his 85.0 percent mark, he has had just 20 opportunities at the line. With a team-high 70 attempts from the charity stripe, freshman G Andrew Wiggins has the official team lead with a 75.7 free throw shooting mark (53-for-70). As of late, the rookie Jayhawk has further upped his clutch status at the line, making 22 of his last 23 free throws (95.6 percent).
MAKE THE MINUTES COUNT
Sophomore F Jamari Traylor hasn’t wasted a minute of gathering experience off the bench, especially recently. In the last five games, Traylor has averaged 13.6 minutes per game. The Chicago native has made every shot he’s taken since the Colorado game (12/8), going 8-for-8 in the last five games. Additionally, he’s racked up 26 rebounds, five assists and six blocks in the last five contests.
- Kansas has outrebounded 11 of its 12 opponents this season. KU has six games with a +10 rebound advantage, including three of its last four contests (44-28 vs. Toledo, 39-29 vs. Georgetown and 40-30 at Florida).
- KU has held every opponent under 50 percent shooting this season, while the Jayhawks have shot 50 percent or better in eight games, including three straight and four of the last five contests.
- Kansas is shooting 41 percent (25-of-61) from three-point range in its last four games after hitting just 29.8 (36-of-121) percent in its first eight games of the year.
- KU’s bench has outscored its opponents’ bench in nine of 12 games this season. KU’s bench averages 25.8 points per game.
- Freshman G Andrew Wiggins (5) and sophomore F Perry Ellis (5) have led KU in scoring the most times in 2013-14.
- Ellis has led the Jayhawks in rebounding in seven games, while freshman C Joel Embiid has four times.
- Junior G Naadir Tharpe has topped the team in assists eight times.
- Embiid is 14-for-19 (73.7 percent) from the field in his last three games with 16.3 ppg and 8.0 rpg averages in that span. In addition, Embiid has 19 blocked shots in his last six games.
- Wiggins has at least one blocked shot in each of his last seven games. In his last five games, Wiggins is averaging 18.2 points and is 90.6 percent (29-for-32) from the free throw line.
- Freshman G Wayne Selden, Jr., has shot 50 percent or better in four of his last six games and seven times this season. Selden has four games with 10+ points.
- Tharpe is 11-for-14 (78.6 percent) from the field, including 5-for-7 from three-point range, in his last two games with a 15.0 ppg average in that span.
- Sophomore F Jamari Traylor has 26 rebounds in his last five games, including a career-high nine at Florida (12/10) and seven versus Georgetown (12/21). Traylor leads KU with an 85.0 free throw percentage (17-for-20).
- Freshman G Frank Mason dished a career-high seven assists versus Toledo (12/30) and is now boasting a 12:2 assist-to-turnover ratio over his last three outings.
KANSAS VS. RANKED FOES UNDER BILL SELF
San Diego State will be the third ranked team Kansas will have faced in 2013-14. The Jayhawks defeated then-No. 4 Duke, 94-83, in the State Farm Champions Classic on Nov. 12 at the United Center in Chicago and lost at then-No. 19 Florida, 67-61 on Dec. 10. Kansas has played 76 games against Associated Press-ranked opponents in the 10-plus seasons under head coach Bill Self. Last year, Kansas went 5-2 against ranked foes. Under Self, KU is 49-27 (64.5 percent) against ranked competition. That percentage has an upward trend since the 2007-08 season as the Jayhawks are 39-17 (69.6 percent) versus ranked foes.
Many experts have said Kansas has the toughest schedule in college basketball. KU’s 2013-14 men’s basketball schedule includes 13 opponents which advanced to the 2013 postseason (12 NCAA, one NIT), including six foes that either won their regular-season or conference tournament titles last year. The 12 NCAA participants on the KU schedule for 2013-14 include: Colorado (L, 72-75), Duke (W, 94-83), Georgetown (W, 86-64), Florida (L, 61-67), Iona (W, 86-66), Iowa State, Kansas State, New Mexico (W, 80-63), Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, San Diego State and Villanova (L, 59-63). Baylor won the 2013 NIT.
The combined record of Kansas’ next six opponents is 67-8 (89.3 percent). KU closes out its non-conference season versus San Diego State (11-1) and then opens Big 12 play at Oklahoma (11-2), hosting Kansas State (10-3), at Iowa State (12-0), Oklahoma State (12-1) and Baylor (11-1).
IN THE POLLS
Kansas is ranked No. 16 by the Associated Press and No. 17 in the USA Today Coaches’ poll released Dec. 30. In the Bill Self era, this is the 159th week Kansas has been ranked in the AP top 25, which includes 112 times in the top 10. KU has been ranked in each of the last 93 polls dating back to the 2008-09 season. In the coaches’ poll, Kansas has been ranked 186 times, including 137 in the top 10 in the Self era. KU has been listed in each of the last 97 coaches’ polls.
Kansas opens Big 12 play at Oklahoma on Wednesday, Jan. 8, at 6 p.m. on ESPN2 and returns home to host Kansas State on Saturday, Jan. 11, at 1 p.m. on ESPN. The Jayhawks will have a short turnaround after the K-State game as they will play their first of four ESPN Big Monday games at Iowa State on Jan. 13 at 8 p.m.