No. 1 Kansas Faces No. 9 West Virginia in Big 12 Championship Title Game Saturday
No. 1 Kansas (29-4, 15-3) advanced to the title game of the 2016 Phillips 66 Big 12 Championship with a 70-66 win against Baylor, March 11. The Jayhawks will face No. 9/8 West Virginia (26-7, 13-5) in the finals, Saturday, March 12, at 5 p.m. on ESPN. West Virginia advanced to the title game with a 69-67 win against No. 6/6 Oklahoma, Friday. Kansas is the No. 1 seed of the event for the 13th time in the 20-year history of the Conference. West Virginia is the No. 2 seed for the 2016 event. This will mark the second-straight year, ninth time overall, No. 1 will play No. 2 for the Big 12 Championship. Kansas is 5-2 in No. 1 vs. No. 2 matchups in the event, including 3-2 as the No. 1 seed.
Kansas has advanced to its 20th all-time title game in a league postseason tournament, including its 12th in the 20-year history of the Big 12. KU is in the title game for the second-straight year and eighth time in the Bill Self era. KU is 13-6 all-time in league tournament titles, including 9-2 in the Big 12 era and 6-1 under Bill Self.
Kansas averages 81.6 points per game and has 13.9 scoring margin. The Jayhawks shoot 49.4 from the field, including 42.2 from 3-point range. KU is among the Big 12 leaders in field goal percentage defense at 39.6 percent. The Jayhawks pull down an average of 38.1 rebounds per game and have a 5.2 rebound margin. Kansas also averages 16.0 assists, 6.8 steals and 4.2 blocked shots per contest.
Senior F Perry Ellis leads Kansas in scoring (16.7 ppg) and has scored 20 or more points in each of his last four games, including 21 points in the Big 12 quarterfinal against Kansas State (3/10) and 20 versus Baylor (3/11). Ellis has 13 games of 20-plus points with 10 of those against Big 12 competition. He is second on the team in rebounding at 6.0 rpg. Ellis averaged 17.7 points and 5.8 rebounds during Big 12 play. Junior G Frank Mason III scored 16 points against Kansas State (3/30) where he was 6-for-8 from the field. Mason is shooting 66.0 percent from the field in his last six games, including 61.1 percent (11-18) from 3-point range. He is averaging 13.4 points for the season. Mason has 38 assists and eight turnovers in his last eight contests. Mason leads KU with 4.6 assists per contest and is second on the team with 45 steals. Junior G Wayne Selden Jr., is a starter who scores 13.1 points per game after his 11 points, which included three dunks, against Baylor (3/11). Selden leads KU with 66 3-pointers this season. Sophomore G Devonte’ Graham had four steals against Baylor (3/11) and leads KU with 47 steals this season. He is second on the team in assists (126) and 3-point field goals made (63). He is scoring 11.2 points per game. Graham and Mason each have a team-best 2.5 assist-to-turnover ratio. Junior F Landen Lucas rounds out the KU starters. He leads Kansas in rebounding at 6.2 boards per game and has averaged 8.8 boards in his last 10 games. Lucas averages 5.1 points per game.
Junior G Brannen Greene is a regular who has made 30 3-pointers this season and scores 5.9 points per game off the bench. Sophomore G Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk was 2-for-2 from 3-point range against Kansas State (3/10) in scoring six points. Mykhailiuk averages 5.3 points and has made 33 3-pointers this season. Freshman F Carlton Bragg Jr. is averaging 11.0 points in two Big 12 Championship games and 4.1 ppg and 2.4 rpg for the season. Bragg had a career-high 12 points, on 5-of-6 shooting, 2-for-2 from 3-point range, against Kansas State (3/10) and 10 points and a career-high seven rebounds versus Baylor (3/11). Senior F Jamari Traylor leads KU with 28 blocked shots, which includes three in two Big 12 tourney games. Traylor has scored six or more points in three of his last four games and is averaging 3.3 points and 3.3 rebounds for the season. Freshman Cheick Diallo missed the Kansas State game due to a mouth injury suffered in practice and played one minute against Baylor (3/11). Diallo averages 2.8 points and 2.5 rebounds per contest. His 22 blocked shots are tied for second on the team with senior F Hunter Mickelson, who has started 10 games this season, and is averaging 2.4 points and 2.3 rebounds.
THE WEST VIRGINIA SERIES
Kansas and West Virginia are meeting for the ninth time, with the Jayhawks owning a 5-3 series advantage. This is the first meeting between the two schools in Big 12 Championship play. The Mountaineers have won three of the last five meetings with all three of those in Morgantown. KU head coach Bill Self is 5-3 against West Virginia, while WVU’s Bob Huggins is 3-9 all-time versus Kansas (3-5 while at WVU). This season, Kansas and West Virginia each claimed home victories with WVU winning 74-63 on ESPN Big Monday, Jan. 12, in Morgantown and KU at 75-65 victory on Feb. 9 in Allen Fieldhouse.
A KANSAS WIN WOULD…
Make Kansas 30-4, extending its winning streak to 14 games… Give Kansas 30 wins for the 13th season, including five of the last seven years… Make KU 13-4 in games away from Allen Fieldhouse (7-3 in true road games and 6-1 on neutral floors)… Make Kansas 10-2 in Big 12 Championship title games and 14-6 in all-time league tournament title tilts… Improve Kansas to 71-26 in league tournament play, 41-10 at the Big 12 Championship… Make Kansas 31-6 all-time in Sprint Center, including 4-0 this season… Give Kansas a 6-3 all-time series advantage against West Virginia… Make Bill Self 382-82 while at Kansas, 589-187 all-time and 36-11 in conference tournament play, 27-6 while at Kansas in the Big 12 Championship… Make Kansas 2,183-835 all-time.
A KANSAS LOSS WOULD…
Drop Kansas to 29-5 on the season, ending a 13-game winning streak… Make Kansas 12-5 in games away from Allen Fieldhouse this season (7-3 in true road games and 5-2 on neutral courts)… Make Kansas 9-3 in Big 12 tourney title games… Drop Kansas to 70-27 in league tournament play overall, including 40-11 in Big 12 Championship play… Make Kansas 3-1 in Sprint Center this season… Make Kansas 30-7 all-time in Sprint Center… Make the KU-WVU series 5-4 in favor of Kansas… Make Bill Self 380-83 while at Kansas, 588-188 all-time and 35-12 in conference tournament play, 26-7 while at Kansas in the Big 12 Championship… Make Kansas 2,182-836 all-time.
• Kansas improved to 10-3 against nationally-ranked opponents this season, including 3-0 versus top-10 foes.
• Kansas improved to 7-2 when trailing at halftime. It is just the second time in the last 12 games that Kansas has trailed at intermission.
• Kansas recorded a season-high 12 steals. KU’s previous high of 11 occurred three times, including the last time in the Sprint Center against Oregon State (Dec. 12).
• KU’s 21 first-half points are the fewest points in a half by the Jayhawks since scoring 18 in the first half at Baylor last season (Jan. 7, 2015).
• The Jayhawks combined for eight dunks, led by Wayne Selden Jr.’s three. Carlton Bragg Jr. and Perry Ellis each dunked twice, while Devonte’ Graham flushed it once.
• KU reached 40 wins in the history of the Big 12 Championship. The Jayhawks are 40-10 (80.0 percent) in the event, while Oklahoma State (23-18) and Texas (23-20) are second with 23 wins each.
• Senior F Perry Ellis scored 20 points, 16 in the second half, and has now has four consecutive 20-point scoring efforts – 20 at Texas (Feb. 29), 22 vs. Iowa State (March 5), 21 vs. Kansas State (March 10), and 20 vs. Baylor (March 11).
• Ellis passed Kevin Pritchard (1987-90; 1,692) for 11th-place on KU’s career scoring list. Ellis now has 1,708 career points.
• Junior G Frank Mason III reached 150 assists in a season for the first time in his three-year collegiate career (152).
• Sophomore G Devonte’ Graham scored 14 points and tied his career high in assists with eight. Also had eight dimes against Northern Colorado in the season open on Nov. 13.
• Junior G Wayne Selden Jr. scored 11 points, including three dunks, with four assists.
• Freshman F Carlton Bragg Jr. scored 10 points in just 10 minutes of action. Two of his three double-figure scoring efforts this season have come in the last two games of Big 12 Championship action.
• Kansas was the only team in the Big 12 with an undefeated league record at home (9-0) in 2015-16.
• Kansas’ 81.6 scoring average is tied for the best in the Bill Self era (81.6 in 2009-10) which is the highest since a 90.9 scoring average in 2001-02.
• Out of its 29 victories this season, Kansas has won by 10 or more points in 17 of those wins, including six of the last 12 games. Six KU wins have been by 30 points or more, including 86-56 at Texas (2/29).
• KU has out-shot 29 of 33 opponents, including each of their last 12 opponents. KU is shooting 51.2 percent from the field in its last 12 games, including 57.1 percent against Kansas State (3/10).
• Kansas has shot 50 percent or better in eight of its last 12 games and 16 times overall this season.
• The Jayhawks have out-rebounded 24 of 33 foes, including 10 of the last 14 contests. KU had a 12 against Baylor (3/11).
• Kansas has shot 40 percent or better from 3-point range in 22 of its 33 games, including seven of the last 10 contests.
• The KU bench has outscored its opponents’ bench in 22 of 33 games this season and is 21-1 in those contests. With it being Senior Day, KU’s bench outscored Iowa State’s bench 46-10 on March 5.
• KU has made seven or more 3-pointers in 25 of 33 games this season, including 11 of the last 13 battles. KU has made 10 or more 3-pointers 11 times, including 15 threes vs. No. Colorado (11/13) and Chaminade (11/23), which were one off the school record.
• When guards Frank Mason III, Wayne Selden Jr. and Devonte’ Graham each score 10-plus points in the same game, KU is 13-0, including 7-0 in Big 12 league play.
• Senior F Perry Ellis is averaging 20.8 points and shooting 58.9 percent (33-for-56) in his last four games.
• Ellis has pulled down nine or more rebounds in eight games this season.
• Ellis led KU in scoring in nine of 18 Big 12 games, averaging 17.7 points per Big 12 contest (16.3 ppg overall).
• Sophomore G Devonte’ Graham has made three or more 3-pointers in four of his last six games and 10 times this season. Graham had three of KU’s four 3-pointers against Baylor (3/11).
• Junior G Frank Mason III is shooting 66.0 percent from the field in his last six games, including 11-for-18 (61.1 percent) from 3-point range. Mason averages 13.8 ppg in that span.
• Freshman F Carlton Bragg Jr. is averaging 11.0 points in two Big 12 Championship games and 4.1 points for the season. He has scored 10-plus points three times this season including each of the last two games.
KANSAS IN THE PHILLIPS 66 BIG 12 CHAMPIONSHIP
Here are some Kansas notes heading into the conference postseason championship:
• Kansas has won more Big 12 Championships than any other school with nine. Oklahoma and Iowa State are next with three each. KU won the first three events in 1997-98-99, then the 2006-07-08-10-11-13 titles. KU is 9-2 in tourney title games having only lost the 2002 title to Oklahoma and the 2015 title to Iowa State.
• Kansas is the only team to have won at least 30 games in the Big 12 Championship. The Jayhawks are 40-10 (80.0 percent) in the event, while Oklahoma State (23-18) and Texas (23-20) are second with 23 wins each.
• With a 26-6 (81.3 percent) record, KU head coach Bill Self has the highest winning percentage in Big 12 Championship history with more than one tournament (Frank Haith went 3-0 at Missouri in 2012).
• Kansas has been the No. 1 seed 13 times (1997-98-2002-03-07-09-10-11-12-13-14-15-16), 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 19 of its 20 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 18-2 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 18 of the 20 Big 12 Championships. The Jayhawks did not reach the 2000 or 2009 semis.
• Kansas has won six of its nine Big 12 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 has had 42 conference championship all-tournament selections, including 25 in the 18-year history of the Big 12 Championship. Current Jayhawk senior F Perry Ellis was an all-tournament selection in 2013 and junior G Wayne Selden Jr. was a 2015 all-tourney honoree.
• Of the 42 conference championship all-tournament selections, 11 were named the event’s most outstanding player, including eight in the Big 12 era.
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 2016 Big 12 Championship title game will mark KU’s 296th game played all-time in Kansas City, and its 37th in Sprint Center. KU is 30-6 in Sprint Center including winning the 2008, 2010, 2011 and 2013 Big 12 Championships in the venue and the 2012 CBE Classic.
Kansas played 106 games in Kemper Arena with an 81-25 record. KU is 215-80 in games played in Kansas City.
• 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 26 of the last 28 seasons, including every year Sprint Center has existed.
• Kansas has won a mind-boggling 26 conference tournaments (13 holiday conference tourneys and 13 postseason league titles) with 24 of those in Kansas City. The lone two titles not in KC were in 2006 in Dallas and 2007 in Oklahoma City.
In the Polls
In the most recent national rankings released on March 7, Kansas is No. 1 both the Associated Press Top 25 and USA Today Coaches’ Poll. Kansas holds the longest active streak for consecutive weeks in the AP Top 25 (142) after Duke fell out of the poll for the first time in eight seasons, ending a 167-week streak, on Feb. 1.
KANSAS vs. RANKED TEAMS
With its 70-66 win against No. 22/20 Baylor (3/11), Kansas improved to 10-3 against nationally-ranked opponents in 2015-16, including 3-0 versus top-10 foes. Ten of those 13 contests have been versus Big 12 members with KU having an 8-2 record. In the Bill Self era, Kansas is 74-37 against ranked opponents and has had a winning record against ranked foes each of the last 11 seasons. In 2014-15 KU played an all-time high 16 games vs. ranked foes and its 10 wins last year were also a season best.
THIS DAY IN KANSAS BASKETBALL HISTORY
Kansas is 10-7 all-time on March 12
March 12, 1948: Kansas defeated Iowa State, 61-54, under legendary coach Phog Allen. Otto Schnellbacher, Kansas’ great four-time all-conference forward, scored an impressive 19 points in his last home game. Schnellbacher ended the season as KU’s leading scorer with 203 points to average 12.8 points per game. Teammate Jack Eskridge, a senior forward, led all scorers with 22 points to help propel the Jayhawks to victory. Eskridge ended the season with 177 points and averaged 7.6 points per game, scoring 73 points in the last three games.
Kansas will learn its NCAA Championship fate on Sunday, March 13. The CBS selection show will air from 4:30-6:30 p.m. (Central).
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