Top Seeded Kansas Heads to Big 12 Championship
2014 BIG 12 CHAMPIONSHIP
Big 12 Conference regular-season champion Kansas (23-8, 14-4) enters the 2014 Phillips 66 Big 12 Championship as the No. 1 seed for the 11th time, sixth-straight, in the 18-year history of the league. KU won its 10th straight, 14th Big 12 and NCAA-leading 57th conference regular-season championship in 2014. Kansas will face the winner of the No. 8 Oklahoma State-No. 9 Texas Tech game Thursday, March 13 at 2 p.m., on ESPN2 at Sprint Center in Kansas City. The Cowboys and Red Raiders will play Wednesday, March 12 at 6 p.m. Kansas is the defending champion and has won 14 conference tournament titles, including six of the last nine and nine of the 17 total Big 12 Championships. Since the Big 12’s inception in 1997, Kansas is 16-1 in its first games, 15-2 in the quarterfinals, 10-5 in semifinals and 9-1 in championship games.
No. 10/10 Kansas won the Big 12 Conference regular-season outright on March 1 with a three-game lead and two league games remaining. KU averages 79.6 points per game and has a +9.9 scoring margin. KU has outrebounded 26 of 31 opponents, including 15 of 18 Big 12 foes, and holds a +7.1 rebound margin. KU leads the Big 12, and ranks in the top-five nationally, with a 49.7 field goal percentage. KU has shot 50 percent or better in eight of its last 15 games. In all, KU has outshot 24 of its 31 opponents in 2013-14. KU also ranks in the top four in the Big 12 in scoring offense (fourth, 79.6), scoring margin (second, +9.9), rebounding (fourth, 38.0), rebounding margin (third, +7.1), assists (third, 15.3) and blocked shots (second, 5.8).
Coming off a KU freshman-record 41 points at West Virginia (3/8), G Andrew Wiggins leads Kansas with a 16.8 scoring average, the best among Big 12 freshmen and eighth overall in the conference. An All-Big 12 First Team selection, Wiggins has made 39 threes this season and is the team leader with 36 steals, which included five at WVU, the most by a Jayhawk this season. The Big 12 Freshman of the Year and Wooden Award final ballot honoree, Wiggins’ 5.9 rebound average is third on the team and tied for 17th in the conference. Sophomore F Perry Ellis is coming off a 14-point, five-rebound effort at West Virginia (3/8). A two-time Big 12 Player of the Week, Ellis is KU’s second-leading scorer at 13.2 points per game, which is 16th in the Big 12. Ellis’ 6.4 rebound average is second on the team (15th in the Big 12), as are his 27 steals. On March 10, KU head coach Bill Self announced that freshman C Joel Embiid would sit out the Big 12 Championship and likely the first weekend of the NCAA Tournament due to a re-aggravated back injury. The Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year, Embiid has broken the KU freshman record for blocked shots, currently at 72, and his 2.6 blocked shots per game are second in the league. Embiid leads KU with 8.1 rebounds per game, good for sixth in the Big 12. Embiid is shooting 62.6 percent from the field and averages 11.2 points per game. Stepping in for Embiid in the starting role has been senior F Tarik Black who had a season-high 19 points on 9-of-9 shooting against Texas Tech (3/5) with six rebounds and two blocked shots. Black averages 4.8 points and 3.3 rebounds per game. Freshman G Wayne Selden, Jr., is scoring 10.1 points per game and has three 20-point scoring games this season, all in league play. His 40 three-pointers and 80 assists each rank second among his teammates. Junior G Naadir Tharpe scored 16 points in 18 minutes against Texas Tech (3/5) and averages 8.9 ppg this season. With his team-high 149 assists, Tharpe’s 5.0 assists per game rank is tied for third in the Big 12 while his 2.5 assist-to-turnover ratio is also tied for third. Tharpe has made a team-best 42 three-pointers in 2013-14.
Freshman G Frank Mason averages 5.9 points per game and is third on the team with 66 assists. Sophomore F Jamari Traylor leads KU with a 73.8 field goal percentage and is averaging 4.4 points and 3.6 rebounds per contest. Other contributors off the bench include freshman G Brannen Greene (2.5 ppg), freshman G Conner Frankamp (1.9 ppg) and redshirt freshman F Landen Lucas (1.7 ppg).
THE OKLAHOMA STATE SERIES
The Kansas-Oklahoma State series dates back to 1926 with KU holding a 108-55 all-time advantage. KU has won six of the last eight meetings and the series is 8-4 in favor of KU in the last 12 matchups. Since the inception of the Big 12, Kansas is 19-7 versus OSU: 15-5 in regular-season play and 4-2 in the Big 12 Championship. The Jayhawks have defeated the Cowboys in each of their last two Big 12 Championship meetings by identical scores, 63-62, in the 2011 quarterfinals and the 2006 quarterfinals. Kansas head coach Bill Self is 12-9 all-time against his alma mater, including an 11-6 record at Kansas, while Travis Ford is 3-7 versus KU.
Earlier this season, then-No. 15 Kansas edged then-No. 9 Oklahoma State, 80-78, on Jan. 18 in Allen Fieldhouse, while unranked Oklahoma State defeated then-No. 5. Kansas 72-65 on Feb. 22 in Stillwater. Kansas and Oklahoma State were co-preseason favorites to win the 2014 Big 12 regular season with the Jayhawks claiming the title and OSU finishing eighth.
THE TEXAS TECH SERIES
Kansas leads the overall series with Texas Tech 27-4 as the Jayhawks have won 10-straight in the series beginning on Jan. 16, 2010. Last year, KU defeated TTU three times, including 91-63 in the quarterfinals of the Big 12 Championship in Kansas City, Mo., en route to the title. Since the inception of the Big 12 in 1997, Kansas is 20-4 against Texas Tech; 17-4 in regular-season match-ups and 3-0 in conference championship meetings. The first meeting between the two schools took place in Allen Fieldhouse on Dec. 7, 1959, an 85-71 KU victory. KU head coach Bill Self is 14-6 all-time against Texas Tech, including 13-3 while at Kansas. Texas Tech head coach Tubby Smith is 2-5 versus Kansas. Both Self and Smith are two of 11 active coaches in Division I to have won an NCAA National Championship.
Earlier this season, Kansas freshman G Andrew Wiggins made a basket with 1.7 seconds remaining as Kansas edged Texas Tech, 64-63, on Feb. 18 in Lubbock. KU dismantled TTU on Senior Night, 82-57, on March 5, in Allen Fieldhouse.
KANSAS IN THE PHILLIPS 66 BIG 12 CHAMPIONSHIP
Here are some Kansas notes heading into the conference postseason tournament:
- Kansas has won more Big 12 Championships than any other school with nine. Oklahoma is next with three titles (2001-02-03). KU won the first three events in 1997-98-99, then the 2006-07-08-10-11-13 titles. KU is 9-1 in tourney title games having only lost the 2002 title to Oklahoma.
- Kansas is the only team to have won at least 30 games in the Big 12 Championship. The Jayhawks are 35-8 (81.4 percent) in the event, while Oklahoma State (22-15) and Texas (22-17) are second with 22 wins each.
- With a 21-4 (84.0 percent) record, KU head coach Bill Self has the highest winning percentage in Big 12 Championship history.
- Kansas has been the No. 1 seed 11 times (1997-98-2002-03-07-09-10-11-12-13-14), No. 2 seed four times (2001-05-06-08), No. 3 seed twice (1999-2004), and the No. 5 seed in 2000.
- Kansas has won 16 of its 17 first games in the Big 12 Championship with the 2009 loss to Baylor being its only blemish. The Jayhawks are 1-0 in opening-round games and 15-2 in quarterfinal contests. In 2000 KU was the No. 5 seed, won its first game and lost in the quarterfinals. All of KU’s other first games were in the quarterfinals.
- KU has reached the semifinals in 15 of the 17 Big 12 Championships. The Jayhawks did not reach the 2000 or 2009 semis.
- Kansas has won six of its nine titles as the No. 1 seed – 1997, 1998, 2007, 2010, 2011 and 2013. KU was the No. 3 seed in its 1999 title run and the No. 2 seed in 2006 and 2008. The lowest seed to win the event was a No. 3 seed: Kansas in 1999, Oklahoma in 2003 and Oklahoma State in 2005.
KANSAS IN KANSAS CITY
Kansas City has been a second home of sorts for Kansas over the years. KU’s first-ever game — a 16-5 loss to Kansas City YMCA on Feb. 3, 1899 — was played in Kansas City. The March 13 Big 12 Championship quarterfinal will mark KU’s 287th game played all-time in Kansas City, and its 28th in Sprint Center. KU is 23-4 in Sprint Center including winning the 2008, 2010, 2011 and 2013 Big 12 Championships in the building. Kansas has won nine-straight in the venue entering the 2014 Big 12 Championship. KU defeated New Mexico 80-63 on Dec. 14, 2013, in the Sprint Center. In 2009-10 and 2010-11, Kansas went 4-0 in Sprint Center. In 2008-09, KU went 1-2 in the venue. In 2007-08, Kansas went 4-0 in the venue, including winning the Big 12 Championship en route to its NCAA National Championship. Kansas went 8-0 in the Sprint Center in 2012-13 having won the CBE Classic (78-41 vs. Washington State 11/19 and 73-59 vs. St. Louis 11/20), defeating Oregon State 84-78 in the Kansas City Shootout (11/30), winning the Big 12 Championship (defeating Texas Tech 91-63, Iowa State 88-73 and Kansas State 70-54) and beating Western Kentucky 64-57 (3/22) and North Carolina 70-58 (3/24) in the NCAA Tournament. KU played 106 games in Kemper Arena with an 81-25 record. KU is 208-78 all-time in games played in Kansas City.
MORE NOTES ON THE JAYHAWKS IN KC
Kansas went 26-4 in Kemper Arena from 1997 until 2006, when it played its last game in the venue. Included in that run were Big 12 Championship titles in 1997, 1998 and 1999.
Kemper Arena was the host of the 1988 NCAA Final Four when the Jayhawks won the national championship.
Kansas has played at least one regular-season game in Kansas City in 24 of the last 26 seasons, including every year Sprint Center has existed.
- Kansas has scored 80 or more points in seven of its last nine games. The Jayhawks have six games of 90 or more points this season, including four in Big 12 play. In 18 of KU’s 23 victories, the Jayhawks have scored at least 80 points, including 11 Big 12 games. The Jayhawks are 18-2 when scoring 80 points or more in 2013-14.
- After shooting 51.9 percent against Texas Tech (3/5), Kansas is 17-1 when shooting 50 percent or better in the game and has eclipsed the 50 percent field goal percentage in eight of its last 14 games and 10 of 18 Big 12 games. KU’s 61.5 percent versus TCU (2/15) was a season best.
- KU has outrebounded 26 of 31 opponents this season, including 15 of 18 Big 12 foes. KU has 14 games with a +10 rebound advantage.
- Kansas is 21-1 when leading at half this season, including 13-1 in Big 12 play. KU led at OSU 26-25 on March 1 for the only loss.
- KU has held all but two opponents (Duke, 51.7 and at West Virginia, 52.9) under 50 percent shooting in 2013-14.
- After his 41 points at West Virginia (3/8), freshman G Andrew Wiggins has led Kansas in scoring in five of the last six games. He has led KU in scoring 14 times this season, including eight times in Big 12 play.
- Wiggins has averaged 18.4 points in his last 13 contests. His 16.8 scoring average for the season would break the KU freshman record. Wiggins has nine games of 20-plus points, including five in Big 12 play.
- After his 4-for-4 effort against Texas Tech (3/5), sophomore F Perry Ellis has shot 60 percent or better in 13 games this season, including five conference contests. The Jayhawks are 13-0 when Ellis shoots 60 percent or better this season.
- Sophomore F Jamari Traylor missed only 10 shots in 17 conference games and was 33-for-43 (76.7 percent) in league play.
- Freshman G Frank Mason scored 10 points on 3-of-4 shooting at West Virginia (3/8). His three threes were the most he has made this season.
- Freshman G Wayne Selden, Jr., had 13 points on 5-of-9 shooting at Oklahoma State (3/1). Selden has three 20-point efforts this season, all against Big 12 competition.
- Freshman C Joel Embiid has 72 blocked shots this year, which is the KU freshman record. He has blocked at least one shot in each of his last 22 games played.
- Embiid is 22-for-33 (66.7 percent) from the field in his last six games played.
- Freshman G Andrew Wiggins scored 41 points at West Virginia (3/8). His 41 points…
- Broke the Kansas freshman record of 36 set by Ben McLemore last season against West Virginia (3/2/13).
- Ranks as the second-most points scored by a freshman in Big 12 history (44 by Michael Beasley vs. Baylor, 2-23-08).
- Were the most points scored by a Jayhawk since Terry Brown scored 42 points against North Carolina State on Jan. 5, 1991.
- Made Wiggins only the second freshman in KU history to score 500 points, currently at 522. Ben McLemore holds the KU record of 589 set last season.
- He added career-highs with five steals and four blocked shots against the Mountaineers, becoming the only Division I player in the past 15 seasons with at least five steals and four rejections in a 40-point game.
IN THE POLLS
Kansas is ranked No. 10 in the Associated Press in the poll released March 10. The Jayhawks were in the AP top 10 the first five polls of 2013-14 and 13 total in 2013-14. KU is No. 10 in the March 10 USA Today Coaches’ poll. In the Bill Self era, this is the 169th week Kansas has been ranked in the AP top 25, which includes 120 times in the top 10. KU has been ranked in each of the last 103 polls dating back to the 2008-09 season. In the coaches’ poll, Kansas has been ranked 196 times, including 144 in the top 10 in the Self era. KU has been listed in each of the last 107 coaches’ polls.
TEN THERE, DONE THAT NOTABLES
- Bill Self passed coaching legends John Wooden (UCLA) and Adolph Rupp (Kentucky) who won nine-straight conference titles during their schools’ respective runs. Only Mark Few’s 11 consecutive Big West titles are more than Self’s 10.
- Including the 2014 campaign, three of Kansas’ 10-consecutive Big 12 titles were accomplished with no returning starters from the previous season (2005-06, 2008-09, 2013-14).
- In the 10-year run, Kansas has never been swept in a conference two-game round-robin series, while the Jayhawks have swept Big 12 foes 44 times.
- Kansas’ worst record in the streak was 12-4, which happened twice (2005 and 2006), and was still eight games above .500. Every other Big 12 team in that stretch has had at least one losing league record.
- Every player in the Bill Self era has won at least one Big 12 regular-season championship with the exception of David Padgett and Omar Wilkes who was a freshman in 2003-04. Note: Jeff Graves and Brett Olson who played for Self in 2003-04, won a Big 12 title in 2002-03.
- In the 10 titles, KU tied for the title four times: with Oklahoma in 2005, Texas in 2006, Texas in 2008 and Kansas State in 2013.
- Including being the top-rated conference in the nation in RPI in 2013-14, the Big 12 has ranked among the top five leagues in the final RPI (post-NCAA Championship) for seven-straight seasons and 12 times in the last 13 years. In six of the last seven campaigns, the conference will be in the top three, including the No. 1 finish in 2009-10 and most likely 2013-14.
AFTER ONLY ONE SEASON
Last season, Ben McLemore broke the Kansas freshman scoring record, which was held for 28 years by KU legend Danny Manning, set in 1985. Manning scored 496 points, while McLemore became the first freshman in school history to surpass the 500-point barrier with 596 in 2012-13. This season, KU freshman G Andrew Wiggins’ 16.8 points per game is ahead of McLemore’s KU frosh-record average of 15.9 ppg and Wiggins’ 522 points rank second on the KU freshman list. Wiggins already owns the KU freshman record for free throw attempts (200) and free throws made (153).
EMBIID ALSO A KU FROSH RECORD HOLDER
Freshman C Joel Embiid is the Kansas freshman blocked shots record holder, currently at 72, as he passed former center Eric Chenowith’s 62 in 1997-98 on Feb. 22. Embiid has blocked at least one shot in his last 22-consecutive games played. Chenowith’s longest streak stopped at five-straight. Embiid’s eight blocked shots against Oklahoma State (1/18) set the KU freshman game record and tied the Big 12 freshman game record. Embiid is second in the Big 12 with 2.6 bpg and he has six outings with four or more blocks.
Embiid’s 8.1 rebound average in 2013-14 is ahead of Danny Manning’s KU freshman record of 7.6 set in 1985, while his 227 boards rank fifth on the KU freshman list. Also if maintained, Embiid’s 62.6 field goal percentage would set the KU freshman record (59.5 by Jeff Gueldner in 1987) and rank tied for fourth on KU’s overall single-season list with Darnell Jackson (62.6 in 2008).
A Kansas victory on March 13 would advance the Jayhawks to face the winner of the No. 4 Iowa State vs. No. 5 Kansas State game on Friday, March 14 at 6 p.m. It would mark the 34th time Kansas has advanced to its postseason conference tournament semifinal, including the 16th time in the 18-year history of the Big 12 Championship.
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