🏀 GAME PREVIEW: vs. Duke
LAWRENCE, Kan. – No. 3 Kansas will open its 122nd season of men’s basketball when it meets No. 4 Duke in the ninth annual State Farm Champions Classic on Tuesday, Nov. 5, at 6 p.m. (CT) at Madison Square Garden in New York City. The contest will be broadcast on ESPN with Dan Shulman (play-by-play), Jay Bilas (analyst) and Holly Rowe (reporter) calling the action.
- Kansas enters the season ranked No. 3 in both the preseason Associated Press and USA TODAY Coaches’ top-25 polls. The Jayhawks have been ranked fifth or higher in each of the last seven preseason AP polls and the last six coaches’ polls.
- KU has been ranked in each of the last 201 AP polls dating back to 2008-09. The 201-consecutive weeks in the polls is the longest active streak in the nation. KU holds the same streak in the coaches’ poll at 210.
- Kansas is the preseason favorite by the conference coaches to win the 2019-20 Big 12 title. The Jayhawks have been the pick of the conference 19 times in the 24-year history of the league.
- This year’s Champions Classic features the top four teams in the nation with No. 1 Michigan State, No. 2 Kentucky, No. 3 Kansas and No. 4 Duke. This is the first time in the nine-year history of the event the four teams have ranked in the top-four preseason spots.
- In facing No. 4 Duke, Kansas is 17-5 against teams ranked in the Associated Press top five in the Bill Self era. In that span, KU is 14-5 when ranked lower than its opponent and 3-0 when ranked higher.
- Kansas ranks No. 2 in all-time NCAA Division I victories at 2,274. Duke is fourth at 2,176.
- Senior Udoka Azubuike was named the Big 12 Preseason Player of the Year by the league’s coaches. He is the ninth Jayhawk to claim preseason Big 12 honors as the top player and the seventh in the Bill Self era.
- Sophomore Devon Dotson joined Azubuike on the league’s preseason All-Big 12 team. Dotson was the league’s top-scoring freshman and was an All-Big 12 Third Team selection last season.
- Both Azubuike and Dotson received votes for the Associated Press preseason All-America team. Kansas was the only school with two players picked on the 21-man list.
CHAMPIONS CLASSIC HISTORY
Beginning in 2011, the State Farm Champions Classic is a neutral site doubleheader series featuring men’s basketball powers Kansas, Duke, Kentucky and Michigan State. The inaugural Champions Classic was held at Madison Square Garden in 2011.
Kansas and Kentucky are 4-4 in the Champions Classic, while Duke is 5-3 and Michigan State 3-5. In 2011, Kansas and Kentucky’s Champions Classic meeting also became the matchup for the 2012 NCAA National Championship title game in New Orleans.
Kansas has won each of its last three Champions Classic contests. Last year, the Jayhawks defeated Michigan State 92-87 in Indianapolis. In 2017, KU defeated Kentucky, 65-61, in Chicago and in 2016 Kansas beat Duke, 77-75, in New York City. KU will face Kentucky in 2020 in Chicago, Michigan State in 2021 in New York City and Duke in 2022 in Indianapolis.
The Jayhawks have been stellar when taking on a top-10 team in the regular-season during the Bill Self era. The Jayhawks have lost only two regular-season contests against top-10 teams in its last 22 tries. One of those losses came at then-No. 8 Kentucky last season, a game result which ended an astounding 13-game regular-season winning streak against top-10 foes.
Kansas is an incredible 20-2 in its last 22 regular-season contests against top-10 ranked squads. Since Bill Self took the reins of the Jayhawks in 2003, KU is 40-20 against top-10 teams, a number which includes postseason play.
- Kansas posted two exhibition victories against Fort Hays State, 86-56, on Oct. 24 and versus Pittsburg State, 102-42 on Oct. 31.
- Kansas is now 90-9 all-time in exhibition games.
- KU extended its home exhibition winning streak to 52 games dating back to the 1994 season.
- Kansas has won 31st-consecutive exhibition contests.
- Sophomore guard Ochai Agbaji led KU in exhibition scoring averaging 20.0 points per game and with four steals.
- Other double-figure scoring average Jayhawks in exhibition play included sophomore guard Devon Dotson (12.0, one game), junior forward Silvio De Sousa (10.0) and junior guard Marcus Garrett (10.0).
- Senior center Udoka Azubuike led KU in exhibition rebound average at 10.0, while De Sousa averaged 8.5 boards.
THE KU-DUKE SERIES
Although it only started in 1985, Kansas and Duke have shared a high-stakes series. Duke leads, 7-5, but Kansas has won the last three and four of the last five meetings. The most recent battle was an 85-81 overtime KU win in the 2018 Elite Eight of the NCAA Tournament that propelled KU to its 15th Final Four.
Ten of the 12 match-ups have been on neutral floors while seven of the games have been NCAA Tournament battles, including three Final Fours and one NCAA title game.
The first meeting came in the 1985 Preseason NIT championship game in Madison Square Garden, which Duke won 92-86. The same two teams met in Dallas in the Final Four semifinal later that season, a game which was the first-ever game between two 30- win teams. Duke won that contest, 71-67. In 1988, the teams met again, this time in the Final Four semifinal, with Kansas defeating Duke, 66-59, at Kemper Arena in Kansas City, Missouri. The national title was on the line in the 1991 meeting, a Duke 72-65 win in Indianapolis. The Blue Devils ended the Jayhawks’ season in the second round of the 2000 NCAA Tournament in Winston Salem, N.C., while KU returned the favor in the 2003 Sweet 16 in Anaheim, Calif., en route to its Final Four run.
No. 3/3 Kansas will open its home portion of the 2019-20 when it plays host to UNC Greensboro of the Southern Conference. The Spartans went 29-7 last season and finished second in the league with a 15-3 record.
Kansas won the only meeting with UNCG, 105-66, on Nov. 22, 2012, in Allen Fieldhouse.
KU has won a mind-boggling 46-consecutive regular-season home openers in Allen Fieldhouse, a streak which started in the 1973-74 season.