Men’s Hoops to Open Season Hosting Bears Friday
Ready to Tip
No. 4/5 Kansas, 11-time defending Big 12 regular-season champions, officially opens the 2015-16 season when it plays host to North Colorado on Friday, Nov. 13, at 7 p.m. in Allen Fieldhouse. The game will be televised on Jayhawk IMG TV and can also be seen via the internet by fans outside of Kansas by visiting KUAthletics.com/ESPN3.com. For more information on accessing Kansas video content, visit KUAthletics.com/TV. Kansas is looking to win its 43rd-consecutive home opener in Allen Fieldhouse, dating back to the 1973-74 season. Since 2001-02, the Jayhawks have won their last 13 season openers.
Kansas is coming off a 27-9 season in which the Jayhawks won their 11th consecutive Big 12 regular-season title with a 13-5 record. Northern Colorado went 15-15 in 2014-15 and placed fifth in the Big Sky Conference with a 10-8 record. KU went 2-0 in exhibition contests while UNC is playing its first game of the season.
This matchup is an opening game for the 2015 Maui Jim Maui Invitational. Bracket play at Lahina, Hawaii for the event begins on Monday, Nov. 23 when KU will face Chaminade. The Jayhawks will play either UCLA or UNLV Nov. 24 and will face either Indiana, St. John’s, Vanderbilt or Wake Forest Nov. 25.
Kansas returns four starters and 11 letterwinners from last season’s 27-9 team that won KU’s 11th-straight, 15th Big 12 and NCAA-leading 58th overall conference regular-season title with a 13-5 league record. In 2014-15, the Jayhawks posted their 18th undefeated season inside historic Allen Fieldhouse by going 15-0 in the venue’s 60th year of existence. Additionally, KU led its conference in home attendance for the 29th-straight season, beginning in 1986-87, with an average of 16,383 last season. KU has sold out 227 consecutive regular-season games in Allen Fieldhouse dating back to the 2001-02 season.
Senior F Perry Ellis is one of four returning all-conference Jayhawks from 2014-15. A Wichita, Kansas native, Ellis was an All-Big 12 First Team selection last season, leading Kansas in scoring (13.8 ppg) and rebounding (6.9 rpg). The 2014 Orlando Classic MVP, Ellis was also named to the 2015 Academic All-Big 12 First Team and the 2015 Big 12 Men’s Basketball Scholar-Athlete of the Year. Guard Frank Mason III, from Petersburg, Virginia, was an All-Big 12 Second Team honoree who was second on the team in scoring with 12.6 points per game and led Kansas with 142 assists and 50 steals in 2014-15. Mason’s 42.9 percent shooting from three-point range was best on the KU team last season. Junior G Wayne Selden Jr., from Roxbury, Massachusetts, was a 2015 All-Big 12 Honorable Mention selection who led Kansas with 46 three-pointers made last year as he averaged 9.4 points per contest. Senior F Jamari Traylor (4.8 ppg, 3.7 rpg in 2014-15) started 18 games last season for KU.
Junior F Landen Lucas started 14 games for KU last season. He averaged 3.5 points and 4.3 rebounds per game as a sophomore. Senior F Hunter Mickelson (2.4 ppg, 1.8 rpg) also came on strong toward the end of 2014-15 and at the World University Games where he averaged 8.4 points and 4.9 rebounds for the gold medal USA team.
Sophomore G Devonte’ Graham (5.7 ppg, 2.1 assists per game) should see minutes at the point guard spot, while junior G Brannen Greene (5.7 ppg, 40 threes) and sophomore G Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk (2.8 ppg, six starts) are outside threats and will assist on the perimeter.
Forwards Cheick Diallo and Carlton Bragg Jr., and guard Lagerald Vick headline the incoming freshman class for 2015-16. The 2015 McDonald’s All-American Game MVP, Diallo has yet to be cleared by the NCAA and may not play against Pittsburg State. Fellow McDonald’s All-American Bragg and Vick each earned valuable playing time at the 2015 World University Games.
About Northern Colorado
Located in Greeley, Colorado, with an enrollment of 12,000, Northern Colorado will be playing its first game of the season at Kansas. The Bears return two starters and five letterwinners from last season’s 15-15 team which placed fifth in the Big Sky 12-team conference. Northern Colorado is coached by B.J. Hill who is in his sixth season as head coach, all at UNC, with a 76-77 record.
Picked to finish sixth in the Big Sky this upcoming season by the media, seventh by the coaches, Northern Colorado’s roster features four players 6-7 or taller. Junior G Cameron Michael and redshirt sophomore C Jeremy Verhagen are the two returning starters from last season. Michael averaged 12.9 points per game last season and made a team-high 66 three-pointers, while Verhagen averaged 3.2 points per contest. Junior guards Jordan Wilson (8.8 ppg2.3 assists per game) and Anthony Johnson (3.5 ppg) along with junior F Jon’te Dotson (1.4 ppg) are also back. UNC has nine newcomers on its roster which includes six non-freshmen.
Kansas won the only meeting with Northern Colorado, 85-62, on Dec. 22, 2005, in Allen Fieldhouse in the third season under KU head coach Bill Self. KU opened the 2005 matchup with a 14-0 run and never looked back. Freshmen Brandon Rush and Julian Wright each scored 13 points to lead KU, while sophomore Darnell Jackson added 12. Wright led KU in rebounding with seven boards. Kansas is 15-0 against current membership of the Big Sky Conference: 4-0 vs. Northern Arizona, 3-0 vs. North Dakota, 2-0 vs. Idaho and 1-0 vs. Idaho State, Montana, Montana State, Northern Colorado and Portland State.
In prepping for the regular season, Kansas posted a 2-0 record in exhibition play with an 89-66 win against Pittsburg State on Nov. 4 and a 95-59 victory versus Fort Hays State on Nov. 10. The two wins extended KU’s exhibition winning streak in Allen Fieldhouse to 44 games and make KU 77-9 all-time in exhibition play.
Senior F Perry Ellis led KU averaging 19.0 points and 9.0 rebounds for the two games. Included was a 22-point, 12-rebound effort against Pittsburg State. Junior G Frank Mason III was next in scoring at 14.0 ppg in the two contests and he was second on the team with 10 assists, two behind sophomore G Devonte’ Graham’s 12. Graham averaged 9.0 points per contest in exhibition play. Mason, Graham, junior G Wayne Selden Jr. (8.0 ppg) and senior F Jamari Traylor (7.0 ppg) led KU with three steals. Freshman F Carlton Bragg Jr. also scored in double figues with 10.5 ppg and he was second on team with a 7.5 rebound average. In all, 11 Jayhawks averaged 10 or more minutes in the two exhibition contests.
In the Polls
Kansas enters the 2015-16 season ranked No. 4 by the Associated Press and No. 5 in the USA Today Coaches’ polls. This season’s AP poll is the highest ranking for the Jayhawks since 2009-10 when they entered the season No. 1 in the country. Dating back to the 2008-09 season, KU has been ranked in each of the last 124 polls which is the second longest active streak in NCAA Division I behind Duke’s 156.
KU received five first-place votes in the AP preseason poll and one in the coaches’ poll. This marks the 24th time in the 27-year history of the coaches’ poll the Jayhawks have been ranked in the preseason.
The ranking is the 10th time in the Bill Self era that the Jayhawks enter the season slotted seventh or higher, including each of the last four seasons – No. 5 in 2015-16 and 2014-15, No. 6 in 2013-14, and No. 7 in 2012-13.
Last season, KU entered the year No. 5 nationally in the coaches’ poll and ended up No. 17. The Jayhawks were ranked in the top 10 in 12 times during the 2014-15 season.
Kansas is scheduled to play 10 games against teams ranked in the 2015-16 preseason coaches’ poll: No. 1 Kentucky, No. 7 Iowa State (twice), No. 8 Oklahoma (twice), No. 13 Michigan State, No. 21 Baylor (twice) and No. 21 West Virginia (twice). Additionally, KU could play No. 15 Indiana or No. 20 Vanderbilt in the Maui Jim Maui Invitational.
Last season, Kansas played an all-time high 16 games against ranked opponents and its 10 victories against those foes were also a season best.
Kansas will face Michigan State in the sixth annual State Farm Champions Classic at United Center in Chicago on Tuesday, Nov. 17, at 9 p.m. (Central) on ESPN. The contest is the second of the Champions Classic and will be approximately 30 minutes following the Duke-Kentucky game which will tip at 7 p.m. KU will then head to Hawaii and will face Chaminade on Monday, Nov. 23, at 8 p.m. (Central) in the Maui Jim Maui Invitational at the Lahina Civic Center. The game televised on ESPNU.
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