Kansas to Open Big 12 Play at Baylor Wednesday in Men’s Hoops
Kansas to Open Big 12 Slate at Baylor
No. 13/14 Kansas (11-2, 0-0) opens Big 12 play at No. 21/22 Baylor (11-2, 0-1) on Wednesday, Jan. 7, at 8 p.m. on ESPNU. This will be the sixth time KU and BU have both been ranked at tip with the last being Jan. 20, 2014. The Jayahwks are coming off a 76-61 home win against UNLV on Jan. 4. Baylor is looking to bounce back from a 73-63 loss at No. 18 Oklahoma Jan. 3 to open league play. Of Kansas’ NCAA-leading 57 conference regular-season titles, 14 have come in the Big 12, including an unprecedented 10-straight from 2005-14.
Kansas has won 23-straight conference openers dating back to the 1991-92 season with 13 of those on the road. The last time KU lost a conference opener was at Oklahoma, 88-82, on Jan. 8, 1991. This is the second-straight year and seventh time in Bill Self’s 12 seasons at KU that the Jayhawks have opened Big 12 play on the road. Additionally, this is the first time Kansas will play Baylor in a conference opener.
No. 12/13 Kansas (11-2) is looking for its third-straight win at Baylor. The Jayhawks are 7-0 in home games, 1-1 in road games and 3-1 on neutral floors this season. Kansas averages 71.2 points per game and has a +6.8 scoring margin. The Jayhawks have outrebounded 10 opponents, average 39.2 boards per contest and hold a +7.4 rebound margin. KU shoots 42.6 percent from the field and has outshot nine opponents this season. The Jayhawks also average 13.1 assists, 6.5 steals and 4.7 blocked shots per game.
Junior F Perry Ellis just missed a double-double with 16 points and nine rebounds against UNLV (1/4). He leads KU with 13.0 points and 6.6 rebounds per contest. Named the Big 12 Player of the Week (12/1), Ellis has led KU in scoring five times this season and in rebounding five times. Sophomore G Frank Mason III also came close to a double-double with 18 points and seven assists versus UNLV (1/5). He has averaged 17.3 points in his last three games, including a career-high 20 points at Temple (12/22). He is tied for the KU lead with 18 three-pointers made and leads the squad with 55 assists and 22 steals through 13 games. Mason is scoring 12.4 points per contest and, at 5-11, pulls down 3.8 rebounds per outing. Sophomore G Wayne Selden, Jr., is tied with Mason with 18 three-pointers made after going 4-for-8 in scoring 16 points versus UNLV (1/4). Selden scores 9.3 points per game and is second on the team with 43 assists. Rounding out the KU starters are freshman G Kelly Oubre, Jr., and junior F Jamari Traylor. Oubre has two double-doubles in his last four games with a career-high 23 points and 10 rebounds versus Lafayette (12/20) and 12 points with 10 boards against UNLV (1/5). He is averaging 16.0 points and 8.5 rebounds in his last four games and 7.3 ppg and 4.2 rpg for the season. Traylor started his fourth game of the season against UNLV (1/4) and responded with nine rebounds and three blocked shots. Traylor averages 5.1 points and 4.5 rebounds in 2014-15 and is second on the team with 15 blocked shots.
Freshman F Cliff Alexander is a mark of efficiency, averaging 8.3 points and 5.8 rebounds in 18.4 minutes per game. He is shooting a team-best 52.3 percent from the field and leads KU with 17 blocked shots in 2014-15. Sophomore G Brannen Greene has made 14 three-pointers this season, including a 5-for-5 effort at Georgetown (12/10). Greene has two starts and is scoring 5.0 points per game. Freshman G Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk scores 4.4 points per game and has made 12 three-pointers. Mykhailiuk has started six games this season. Sophomore F Landen Lucas has started eight games this season and averages 2.5 points and 3.3 rebounds per game. He pulled down a career-high seven boards against Kent State (12/30). Redshirt junior F Hunter Mickelson scored eight points and pulled down seven rebounds against Lafayette (12/20). He has averaged 11 minutes in his last three games and 5.9 minutes for the season. Mickelson averages 2.0 points and 1.5 rebounds per game and has six blocked shots. Ellis, Selden, Alexander and Oubre are on the Wooden Award Preseason Top 50 list as KU is one of only two schools, Kentucky being the other, to have four on the list.
On Dec. 13, KU head coach Bill Self announced freshman G Devonte’ Graham (5.9 ppg, seven steals) has a sprained toe and will miss four weeks due to the injury suffered at Georgetown (12/10). Graham had the walking boot removed Dec. 30.
Located in Waco, Texas, with an enrollment of 15,616, Baylor is 11-2 on the season and 0-1 in Big 12 play. The Bears are coached by Scott Drew who is 205-152 in his 12th season at BU and 235-163 in his 13th season overall. Baylor is 8-0 at home in the Ferrell Center in 2014-15. BU averages 70.0 points and has a +13.9 scoring margin. The Bears average 41.1 rebounds per game and rank second in the Big 12 with a +10.5 rebound margin. BU leads the conference in three-point percentage defense limiting opponents to 27.6 percent of made shots from beyond the arc. Baylor also shoots 44.0 percent from the field, make 6.6 three-pointers per game and averages 15.5 assists, 8.0 steals and 4.2 blocked shots per contest.
Junior F Taurean Prince has started five games and is the Baylor leading scorer at 12.0 points per contest. He did not start at Oklahoma in the conference opener. Prince also leads the team with 21 three-pointers made and is making a Big 12-best 53.8 percent from beyond the arc. Redshirt freshman F Johnathan Motley is next in scoring at 10.8 points per game. He leads the team with 21 blocked shots. Senior F Royce O’Neale is just behind Motley in scoring at 10.3 points per contest and he is second on the team with 6.4 rebounds per game, 19 three-pointers made and 43 assists. Junior F Rico Gathers leads the Big 12 with 10.6 rebounds per game; 64 of his 138 boards have come on the offensive end of the floor. Gathers scores 9.6 points per game and is second on the team with 19 steals. Rounding out the BU starters are junior G Lester Medford and senior G Kenny Chery. Medford leads BU with 22 steals to complement his 8.3 scoring average. He has made 17 threes this season. Chery has started eight of nine games played, averages 8.2 points per game and has 41 assists and 14 steals. Freshman G Al Freeman (6.5 ppg, 11 threes) and junior F Deng Deng (4.1 ppg) round out the BU regulars.
The Kansas-Baylor series dates back to 1951 with the Jayhawks leading 21-4. Kansas holds a 3-2 advantage in the last five meeting as Baylor’s wins in that span have been away from Allen Fieldhouse: 81-72 in the semifinals of the 2012 Big 12 Championship in Kansas City, Missouri, and 81-58 in the 2013 regular-season finale for both teams in Waco, Texas. The Jayhawks are 9-2 versus the Bears in games played in Waco with every meeting in the Ferrell Center. Since the inception of the Big 12, KU is 19-4 versus BU: 19-2 in regular-season play and 0-2 in the Big 12 Championship. Kansas head coach Bill Self is 13-4 all-time against Baylor, including 13-3 while at Kansas, while Baylor’s Scott Drew is 3-13 versus Kansas.
- The NCAA is listing statistics and Ratings Percentage Index (RPI) on a regular basis. As of Jan. 4, Kansas is No. 2 nationally in the RPI.
- Kansas has outrebounded 10 of 13 opponents this season with five of those by double figures. Included are the last two games and three of the last four contests: 44-26 (+18) vs. Lafayette (12/20), 44-31 (+13) vs. Kent State (13/30) and 45-31 (+14) vs. UNLV (1/4).
- Kansas leads the Big 12 in three-point field goal percentage at 39.2 percent. The Jayhawks also rank in the upper half of the conference in free throw percentage (third at 72.1), rebound margin (fourth at +7.4) and blocked shots (fifth at 4.7).
- KU has 17 assists in each of its last two games and has averaged 16 dimes in its last four contests. KU is averaging 13.1 assists for the season.
- Freshman G Kelly Oubre, Jr., has averaged 16.0 points and 8.5 rebounds in his last four games. In that span he has two 20-point games and two double-doubles.
- Sophomore G Frank Mason III is 10-for-18 (55.6 percent) from three-point range in his last five games. In his last three games, Mason is averaging 17.3 points. In his last two contests he has 12 assists and three turnovers.
- Junior F Perry Ellis is 14-for-27 (51.9 percent) from the field in his last two games. In that span he is averaging 15.5 points and 8.5 rebounds.
- Freshman F Cliff Alexander has shot 60 percent or better in six games this season, including two of his last four contests.
- Junior F Jamari Traylor is 10-for-13 (76.9 percent) from the line in his last five games. He has two double-figure scoring games this season with both in his last five contests. Traylor’s nine rebounds against UNLV were one shy of his season-best 10 versus UC Santa Barbara in the 2014-15 opener.
- Sophomore G Brannen Greene has made 19-straight free throws dating back to last season, including 15-for-15 in 2014-15.
- Six Big 12 teams are ranked in the Associated Press Top 25 (Jan. 5) which is more than any other conference. Nine of the 10 Big 12 teams have been ranked at one point during the 2014-15 season.
- At 104-21 (83.2 percent), the Big 12 is the only league nationally to have an 80 percent or better winning percentage against non-conference foes.
In the Polls
In the Jan. 5 national polls, Kansas men’s basketball is ranked No. 12 in the Associated Press and No. 13 in the USA Today Coaches’ polls. The Jayhawks have been ranked in each of the last 113 Associated Press polls dating back to the 2008-09 season, including in the top five 50 times. In the coaches’ poll, the Jayhawks have been ranked in each of the past 119 polls and in the top five on 54 occasions.
Versus Ranked Teams
With its win versus No. 13 Utah on Dec. 13, under KU head coach Bill Self, since the 2003-04 season, Kansas is 56-30 against Associated Press-ranked teams, including 2-1 in 2014-15. In each of the last five seasons the Jayhawks have a winning record versus ranked foes, including a 7-3 mark in 2013-14. Since the 2009-10 season, KU is 34-13 against AP ranked teams.
Kansas returns home to host Texas Tech on Saturday, Jan. 10, at 2 p.m., on ESPNU. Kansas also hosts Oklahoma State on Tuesday, Jan. 13, at 6 p.m., on ESPN2.
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