Men's Hoops to Open Big 12 Play at Oklahoma Wednesday
BIG 12 PLAY BEGINS
No. 18/20 Kansas (9-4, 0-0), nine-time defending Big 12 Conference regular-season champion, opens league play when it travels to Oklahoma (12-2, 1-0) Wednesday, Jan. 8, at 6 p.m. on ESPN2. Kansas has won 56 conference titles, which ranks first in NCAA Division I. Though the Big 12 season officially started Jan. 4, this is the league opener Kansas, while Oklahoma won at Texas, 88-85, on Jan. 4.
Kansas has won 22-straight conference openers dating back to the 1991-92 season with 12 of those on the road. Eerily, the last time KU lost a conference opener was at Oklahoma, 88-82, on Jan. 8, 1991. Kansas’ only other time to have faced OU in a league opener was Jan. 10, 1994, at KU 94-84 win.
Kansas averages 77.7 points per game and has a +9.5 scoring margin. The Jayhawks have outrebounded 11 of 13 opponents, with an average of 38.5 boards per game and have a +6.3 rebound margin. KU is also winning the efficiency battle, having outshot 11 of its 13 opponents. KU’s bench has outscored all but three opponents this season and averages 25.0 points per contest.
Freshman G Andrew Wiggins leads Kansas with a 15.8 scoring average, which also leads the Big 12 freshmen class and is 10th overall in the conference. He has four games of 20 points and is 28-of-30 (93.3 percent) from the free throw line in his last five games. Wiggins is second on the team with 14 three-pointers made and tied for the team lead with 13 steals. His 5.4 rebound average is third on the team. Sophomore F Perry Ellis is next in scoring at 13.2 points per game. Like Wiggins, Ellis also has four 20-point games this season and is second on the team in rebound average at 6.5. Freshman C Joel Embiid has a team-high 33 blocked shots and his 2.5 blocked shots per game average ranks second in the Big 12. Embiid is tied with Wiggins for the team lead with 13 steals and his 7.3 rebounds per game are a team best as is his 66.2 field goal percentage. Embiid averages 10.8 points per game after his second-straight double-double of the season (12 points, 12 rebounds) versus San Diego State (1/5). Rounding out the KU starters are freshman G Wayne Selden, Jr. (8.5 ppg, 2.8 rpg) and junior G Naadir Tharpe (7.6 ppg, 5.3 apg). Tharpe leads Kansas with 63 assists and his 16 three-pointers made are best on the squad.
Freshman G Frank Mason scored 14 points against San Diego State and averages 7.9 points per game. Sophomore F Jamari Traylor is averaging 3.6 points and 3.1 rebounds per contest, while making a team-best 81.0 percent from the free throw line. Other contributors off the bench include senior F Tarik Black (3.8 ppg, 2.6 rpg) and redshirt freshman F Landen Lucas (1.5 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).
Located in Norman, Okla., with an enrollment of 30,753, Oklahoma is 12-2 on the season after its 88-85 win at Texas on Jan. 4 to open Big 12 play. The Sooners are coached by Lon Kruger who is 47-30 in his third season at OU and 526-334 in his 28th season overall. Oklahoma averages 87.3 points per game which ranks fifth nationally. The Sooners have a +9.0 scoring margin and a +3.7 rebound margin. OU averages 20.3 three-point attempts per contest and make 7.8 per outing. Oklahoma forces 14.2 turnovers per game, averaging 7.6 steals. The Sooners also shoot 73.3 percent from the free throw line as a team.
All five OU starters average double figures and the Sooners have two scorers ranked in the top six of the Big 12 scoring with senior G Cameron Clark leading the way at third in the conference with a 17.7 scoring average. Clark makes a team-best 47.4 percent from three-point range (18-38) and his 6.2 rebound average is second on the squad. He is tied for the team lead with 18 steals. Sophomore G Buddy Hield is next in scoring at 16.3 points per game, which is sixth in the league. He has made a team-best 27 three-pointers and is tied with Clark for the team lead with 18 steals. Freshman G Jordan Woodard is next in scoring at 12.2 points per game and he leads OU with 67 assists. His 16 steals help OU rank second in the league. Sophomore F Ryan Spangler’s 9.2 rebounds per contest are second in the Big 12. He also leads OU with 17 blocked shots and is scoring 11.0 points per game. Sophomore G Isaiah Cousins rounds out the OU starters. He scores 10.9 points per game and is third on the team with a 4.5 rebound average. Other key contributors include senior F Tyler Neal (6.2 ppg, 3.8 rpg), freshman G Frank Booker (5.8 ppg, 17 threes), sophomore G Je’lon Hornbeak (5.1 ppg) and redshirt junior F D.J. Bennett (3.7 ppg).
This series between Kansas and Oklahoma dates back to 1920 when both schools were members of the Missouri Valley Intercollegiate Athletic Association and Kansas leads, 139-65. Since 2006, the Jayhawks have won 10 of the last 11 meetings against the Sooners. OU ended a KU 10-game winning streak with a 72-66 in Norman, Okla., last season. Kansas is 49-41 against Oklahoma in games played in Norman, Okla., and holds a 17-16 edge in contests in the Lloyd Noble Center. Kansas has won four of the last five meetings against OU in Lloyd Noble dating back to the 2007 season. Since the inception of the Big 12 Conference, Kansas is 18-5 against Oklahoma; 16-3 in regular-season play and 2-2 in the Big 12 Championship. Kansas head coach Bill Self is 11-4 all-time against Oklahoma, including 11-2 while at KU. Oklahoma head coach Lon Kruger is 6-13 versus Kansas, including 1-3 while at OU.
COUNTDOWN TO 1,000
Just a single bucket on Wednesday would be enough for a milestone memory for senior F Tarik Black as he enters the Oklahoma 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 81.0 percent mark, he has had just 21 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 76.6 free throw shooting mark (59-for-77). As of late, the rookie Jayhawk has further upped his clutch status at the line, making 28 of his last 30 free throws (93.3 percent).
- Kansas has outrebounded 11 of its 13 opponents this season. KU has six games with a +10 rebound advantage, including three of its last five 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 of their last four contests and four of the last six contests.
- KU’s bench has outscored its opponents’ bench in 10 of 13 games this season. KU’s reserves average 25.0 points per game, while its opponents are averaging 16.9 ppg.
- Freshman G Andrew Wiggins (6) 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 five times.
- Junior G Naadir Tharpe has topped the team in assists nine times.
- Embiid is 17-for-24 (70.8 percent) from the field in his last four games with 15.3 ppg and 9.0 rpg averages in that span. In addition, Embiid has 24 blocked shots in his last seven games.
- Wiggins has at least one blocked shot in each of his last eight games. In his last six games, Wiggins is averaging 17.5 points and is 89.7 percent (35-for-39) from the free throw line.
- Freshman G Wayne Selden, Jr., has shot 50 percent or better in four of his last seven games. He is 5-for-11 (45.5 percent) from three-point range in his last four games. Selden has four games with 10+ points.
- Tharpe is averaging 11.7 points in his last three games. He had five assists with no turnovers versus San Diego State (1/5).
- Sophomore F Jamari Traylor has 29 rebounds in his last six games, including a career-high nine at Florida (12/10) and seven versus Georgetown (12/21). Traylor is 9-for-12 (75.0 percent) from the field in his last six games.
- Freshman G Frank Mason dished a career-high seven assists versus Toledo (12/30) and is now boasting a 12:3 assist-to-turnover ratio over his last four outings.
IN THE POLLS
Kansas is ranked No. 18 by the Associated Press and No. 20 in the USA Today Coaches’ poll released Jan. 6. In the Bill Self era, this is the 160th 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 94 polls dating back to the 2008-09 season. In the coaches’ poll, Kansas has been ranked 187 times, including 137 in the top 10 in the Self era. KU has been listed in each of the last 98 coaches’ polls.
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 (L, 57-61) and Villanova (L, 59-63). Baylor won the 2013 NIT.
The Big 12 ended non-conference play with the highest winning percentage of any other league at 79.7 percent (102-26). The combined record of Kansas’ next five opponents is 60-8 (88.2 percent): at Oklahoma (12-2), vs. Kansas State (11-3), at Iowa State (13-0), vs. Oklahoma State (12-2) and vs. Baylor (12-1).
NOT BAD COMPANY
Kansas head coach Bill Self is one of 11 active coaches in NCAA Division I to have won an NCAA National Championship. In 2013-14, Kansas has faced three of those coaches – Mike Krzyzewski (Duke), Billy Donovan (Florida) and Steve Fisher (San Diego State) – and will face Tubby Smith (Texas Tech) later this season. The other national championship coaches are Jim Boeheim (Syracuse), Larry Brown (SMU), John Calipari (Kentucky), Tom Izzo (Michigan State), Rick Pitino (Louisville) and Roy Williams (North Carolina).
Kansas’ 56 conference titles are the most in NCAA Division I. Kentucky is second with 51 and Penn third at 37. Kansas’ nine-straight league titles is the longest active streak in NCAA Division I and the longest streak in school history. Including 2013, Belmont (Atlantic Sun/Ohio Valley East) and Murray State (Ohio Valley West) are next at four on the active league title list.
CONSECUTIVE CONFERENCE REGULAR-SEASON WINNERS
(source: NCAA Record Book; *active streak)
No. Team Conference Seasons
13 UCLA PAC-12 1967-79
11 Gonzaga West Coast 2001-11
10 Connecticut Yankee 1951-60
10 UNLV Big West 1983-92
9* KANSAS Big 12 2005-13
9 Idaho St. Rocky Mountain 1953-61
9 Kentucky Southeastern 1944-52
Kansas Conference Regular-Season Titles – 56 (*tied for championship)
Missouri Valley Intercollegiate Athletic Association (13) – 1908-09-10-11-12*-14*-15-22*-23-24-25-26-27
Big Six (12) – 1931-32-33-34-36-37*-38-40*-41*-42*-43-46
Big Seven (5) – 1950*-52-53-54*-57
Big Eight (13) – 1960*-66-67-71-74-75-78-86-91*-92-93-95-96
Big 12 (13) – 1997-98-2002-03-05*-06*-07-08*-09-10-11-12-13*
Kansas returns home to host No. 25 Kansas State on Saturday, Jan. 11, at 1 p.m. on ESPN. The Jayhawks will have a short turnaround after the K-State contest as they will play their first of four ESPN Big Monday games at No. 9/7 Iowa State on Jan. 13 at 8 p.m. Kansas and No. 11/12 Oklahoma State were co-preseason Big 12 favorites and the Cowboys will come to Allen Fieldhouse on Saturday, Jan. 18, at 3 p.m. on CBS.