Top seed Kansas to open Big 12 Championship Thursday
Sophomore C Udoka Azubuike
|GM 32: Big 12 Championship // Quarterfinals|
|approx. 1:30 p.m. (CT)|
|Sprint Center (18,972)|
|Stats||KU||Rankings (NCAA/Big 12)|
LAWRENCE, Kan. – Big 12 Conference regular-season champion Kansas (24-7, 13-5) is set to tip-off postseason play when it hits the court at Kansas City’s Sprint Center for the 2018 Phillips 66 Big 12 Championship this week. KU enters the tournament as the No. 1 seed for the 15th time in the 22-year history of the league after the Jayhawks won their 14th-straight, 18th-Big 12 and NCAA-leading 61st regular-season conference championship. Kansas will face the winner of the No. 8 Oklahoma State-No. 9 Oklahoma game on Thursday, March 8 at approximately 1:30 p.m. The Cowboys and Sooners will play Wednesday, March 7 at 6 p.m. Kansas has won 15 conference tournament titles, including seven of the last 13 and 10 of the 21 total Big 12 Championships. Thursday’s quarterfinal contest will be broadcast on ESPN or ESPN2, with Bob Wischusen (play-by-play), Fran Fraschilla (analyst) and Holly Rowe (reporter) set to call the action.
- Kansas is the No. 1 seed for the Big 12 Championship for the 10th-consecutive year, beginning in 2009, and the 15th time in the 22-year history of the event. It marks the 21st time in the 22-year history of the Big 12 that Kansas will not play on the first day of the conference tournament. See page 46 for KU’s full history at the Big 12 Championship.
- With a win in the Big 12 quarterfinals, Kansas would have its 13th-straight 25-win season. That would extend the NCAA record as well as the longest-active streak in the nation.
- Kansas is 1-3 this season against its possible Big 12 quarterfinal foes. The Jayhawks went 1-1 against No. 9 seed Oklahoma and 0-2 versus No. 8 seed Oklahoma State.
- Hovering in the top-five most of the year, Kansas is No. 2 nationally in strength of schedule according to the NCAA. The Jayhawks are No. 5 in the Ratings Percentage Index (RPI), which is tops in the Big 12.
- In looking at the NCAA Ratings Percentage Index, Kansas currently has 10 wins against Quadrant 1 teams this season, which the second-most in NCAA DI (as of March 5). KU’s six “Quad 1” road wins are also tied for the most in the nation.
- Senior G Devonte’ Graham, the 2018 Big 12 Player of the Year, is the only player in NCAA Division I averaging 17.0-plus points, 7.0-plus assists, 1.7-plus steals and fewer than 3.0 turnovers per game. Graham is sixth nationally in assists per game at 7.2. See back page for more on #DG4AllAmerican.
- Kansas saw a big haul of Big 12 postseason awards, with all five starters being named to at least one of the all-league teams. Bill Self was named the league’s co-Coach of the Year for the eighth time in his 15 seasons at KU and the second-straight year.
- Sophomore C Udoka Azubuike is 42-for-49 (85.7 percent) from the field in his last seven games. He leads the country in field goal percentage at 77.4 percent.
- In 2017-18, Kansas won its NCAA-record 14th-consecutive, 18th Big 12 and NCAA-record 61st regular-season conference championship.
SETTING THE STAGE – 2018 BIG 12 CHAMPIONSHIP
Big 12 Conference regular-season champion Kansas (24-7, 13-5) enters the 2018 Phillips 66 Big 12 Championship as the No. 1 seed for the 15th time, 10th-straight, in the 22-year history of the league. KU won its NCAA-record 14th straight, 18th Big 12 and NCAA-leading 61st conference regular-season championship in 2018. Kansas will face the winner of the No. 8 Oklahoma State-No. 9 Oklahoma game on Thursday, March 8 at 1:30 p.m., on ESPN or ESPN2 at Sprint Center in Kansas City. Oklahoma State and Oklahoma will play Wednesday, March 7 at 6 p.m.
Kansas has won 15 conference tournament titles, including seven of the last 13 and 10 of the 21 total Big 12 Championships. KU last won the title in 2016. Since the Big 12’s inception in 1996-97, Kansas is 19-2 in its first games, 1-0 in opening round games, 18-3 in the quarterfinals, 12-6 in semifinals and 10-2 in championship games.
Kansas (24-7, 13-5) is ranked No. 9 in both the Associated Press and USA TODAY Coaches’ polls, released March 5. Kansas leads the Big 12 in 3-point field goals made at 10.0 per game, which is 21st nationally. KU also ranks in the top three in the Big 12 in scoring (third at 81.5), scoring margin (third at +10.3), field goal percentage (second at 49.4, 16th nationally), 3-point field goal percentage (second at 39.8, 22nd nationally), assists (second at 17.0, 15th nationally) and assist-to-turnover ratio (second at 1.5, 17th nationally).
The 2018 Big 12 Player of the Year and on every national player of the year watch list, senior G Devonte’ Graham averaged 18.7 points per game in Big 12 play and is scoring 17.6 in all games, which is second in the Big 12. An All-Big 12 First Team selection, Graham is second in the conference in assists (7.2), second in assist-to-turnover ratio (2.7), ninth in free throw percentage (83.0), fourth in 3-point field goals made (3.0), seventh in 3-point field goal percentage (42.3) and fifth in steals (1.6). Senior G Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk, an all-league second team honoree, is second in the Big 12 in 3-point field goal percentage (45.1, 14th nationally) and third in 3-point field goals made (3.1) as he is the only player in the conference to rank that high in both 3-point stats. Mykhailiuk is averaging 15.3 points per game, which is 10th in the Big 12.
Sophomore C Udoka Azubuike, an All-Big 12 Third Team selection, leads the country in field goal percentage at 77.4 percent and is 42-for-49 (85.7 percent) from the field in his last seven games. He has seven 20-point games this season. Azubuike has five double-doubles on the season, two in Big 12 play, and ranks tied for 14th in the league in scoring at 13.7 points per game. Azubuike’s 7.1 rebound average is seventh in the conference. Junior G Lagerald Vick, an honorable mention all-conference honoree, is averaging 12.2 points per game, which is 23rd in the conference. He pulls down 5.0 rebounds per game and has made 46 3-pointers this season. Redshirt-sophomore G Malik Newman, the 2018 Big 12 Newcomer of the Year, is averaging 12.0 points for the season, which is 25th in the conference. He is pulling down 4.9 rebounds per game.
Freshman G Marcus Garrett is averaging 9.0 points and 4.5 rebounds in his last two games. Overall, he averages 4.5 points and 3.6 rebounds per contest. Sophomore F Mitch Lightfoot is second on the team with 47 blocked shots. He is averaging 3.7 points and 2.9 rebounds per game and leads KU with 13 charges taken this season.
THE KANSAS-OKLAHOMA STATE SERIES
The Kansas-Oklahoma State series dates back to 1926 with KU holding a 113-59 all-time advantage. Kansas and Oklahoma State would be meeting for the 15th time in conference tournament play and the eighth time in the Big 12 Championship. Kansas is 10-4 against Oklahoma State in the league tournament with the last meeting in 2014, a KU 77-70 overtime win in the Big 12 quarterfinals. Since the inception of the Big 12, Kansas is 24-12 versus OSU: 19-10 in regular-season play and 5-2 in the Big 12 Championship. KU defeated OSU in each of the teams’ last three Big 12 Championship meetings in 2014, 2011 and 2006. KU head coach Bill Self is 17-13 all-time against his alma mater, including a 16-10 record at KU. OSU head coach Mike Boynton Jr., is 2-0 against Kansas.
Earlier this season, Oklahoma State became first team to sweep a conference home-and-home series against Kansas in the Self era. The Cowboys won 84-79 on Feb. 3 in Allen Fieldhouse and 82-64 on March 3 in Stillwater. The sweep made KU 102-1 in home-and-home series during the Self era, which started in 2003-04.
THE KANSAS-OKLAHOMA SERIES
The series between Kansas and Oklahoma dates back to 1920 when both schools were members of the Missouri Valley Intercollegiate Athletic Association and Kansas leads, 147-67. Kansas has won five of the last six meetings and, since 2006, the Jayhawks have won 18 of the last 21 matchups against the Sooners. Kansas is 7-4 against Oklahoma in conference tournament games with the series tied at 2-2 in the Big 12 Championship. KU and OU last met in the Big 12 tourney in the 2007 quarterfinals, a Kansas 64-47 win. Since the inception of the Big 12 Conference, Kansas is 26-7 against Oklahoma; 24-5 in regular-season play and 2-2 in the Big 12 Championship. Kansas head coach Bill Self is 18-6 all-time against Oklahoma, including 18-4 while at KU. Oklahoma head coach Lon Kruger is 8-20 versus Kansas, 3-10 while at OU.
Kansas and Oklahoma split the 2017-18 season series with then-No. 12/11 OU winning 85-80 against then-No. 5/5 KU in Norman on Jan. 23. Then-No. 8/8 Kansas defeated unranked Oklahoma, 104-74, on Feb. 19 in Allen Fieldhouse.
A KANSAS WIN WOULD…
Make Kansas 25-7, giving KU 25 wins for the 13th-consecutive season, beginning in 2005-06, adding to its NCAA active and all-time NCAA record 25-consecutive win seasons … Make KU 10-4 in games away from Allen Fieldhouse this season … Make Kansas 20-3 in Big 12 Championship first games (1-0 in first round, 19-3 in quarterfinals) … Advance KU to the conference tourney semifinals for the 19th time in Big 12 history and 37th time overall … Improve Kansas to 72-27 in league tournament play, 42-11 at the Big 12 Championship … Make Kansas 36-9 all-time in Sprint Center, including 1-1 this season … Make Bill Self 441-95 while at Kansas, 648-200 all-time and 37-12 in conference tournament play, 28-7 while at Kansas in the Big 12 Championship … Make Kansas 2,242-848 all-time.
A KANSAS LOSS WOULD…
Drop Kansas to 24-8 on the season, tying KU with is longest losing streak of the season … Make Kansas 10-5 in games away from Allen Fieldhouse this season … Give Kansas a quarterfinal loss in the Big 12 Championship for the second-straight year … Make Kansas 18-4 in Big 12 tourney quarterfinal action … Drop Kansas to 71-28 in league tournament play overall, including 41-12 in Big 12 Championship play … Make Kansas 0-2 in Sprint Center this season … Make Kansas 35-10 all-time in Sprint Center … Make Bill Self 440-96 while at Kansas, 647-201 all-time and 36-13 in conference tournament play, 27-8 while at Kansas in the Big 12 Championship… Make Kansas 2,241-849 all-time.
KANSAS IN THE PHILLIPS 66 BIG 12 CHAMPIONSHIP
- KU’s 10 Big 12 Tournament titles are more than any other school in the league. Iowa State is second with four titles, including last year. Oklahoma (3) and Oklahoma State (2) are the only other schools to have won a Big 12 tourney. Kansas won the first three events 1997-98-99, then the 2006-07-08-10-11-13-16 titles. KU is 10-2 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 40 games in the Big 12 Championship. The Jayhawks are 41-11 (78.8 percent) in the event. Oklahoma (22-18, 55.0 percent), Oklahoma State (23-19, 54.8) and Texas (25-21, 54.3) are the only other schools above .500 in the event.
- With a 27-7 (79.4 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 15 times (1997-98-2002-03-07-09-10-11-12-13-14-15-16-17-18), No. 2 seed four times (2001-05-06-08), No. 3 seed twice (1999-2004), and was the No. 5 seed in 2000.
- Kansas has won 19 of its 21 first games in the Big 12 Championship with the 2009 loss to Baylor and last year’s loss to TCU being the only blemishes. The Jayhawks are 1-0 in opening-round games and 18-3 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 21 Big 12 Championships. The Jayhawks did not reach the 2000, 2009 or 2017 semis.
- Kansas has won seven of its 10 Big 12 titles as the No. 1 seed – 1997, 1998, 2007, 2010, 2011, 2013 and 2016. 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. 4 seed: Iowa State in 2017.
- Kansas has had 44 conference championship all-tournament selections, including 27 in the 21-year history of the Big 12 Championship. Current Jayhawk senior Devonte’ Graham was the Most Outstanding Player of the 2016 event.
OKLAHOMA STATE LEFTOVERS & NOTABLES
- Oklahoma State became the first team to sweep a Bill Self Kansas team in a conference home-and-home series, making KU 102-1 in such occurrences since 2003-04.
- The 18-point loss at Oklahoma State was KU’s largest since the Jayhawks lost by 19 points, 86-67, also to Oklahoma State in Stillwater, on Jan. 19, 2016.
- KU’s 16-point halftime deficit (30-46) at OSU was KU’s largest this season and largest since it also trailed by 16 (29-45) at Oklahoma State on Feb. 27, 2010.
- Kansas outrebounded Oklahoma State, 37-30. The Jayhawks have out-boarded their opponent three of the last four games, this after outrebounding only one of its first 14 Big 12 contests.
- KU pulled down 14 offensive rebounds at OSU, its second-most in conference play this season, and turned those into 19 second chance points, the most for the Jayhawks in a Big 12 game.
- Oklahoma State’s 11 steals were the most by a Jayhawk opponent this season and the most since Iowa State’s 12 thefts on Feb. 4, 2017.
- Kansas saw an opponent shoot better than 50 percent from the field for the fourth time this season and the 29th time in Bill Self’s 535 games as the KU head coach.
- Senior G Devonte’ Graham led KU in scoring for the 11th time this season and the fifth time in his last eight games.
- With his 3-pointer at the 11:56 mark of the first half, Graham has now converted on at least one three in 31-consecutive games. That is the second-longest streak in school history. Jeff Boschee holds the all-time record with 36-straight games with a trey during the 2001-02 season.
- Graham made four 3-pointers, which moved makes him one shy of himself for fifth on KU’s single-season 3-point list. Graham has now connected on 93 threes in 2017-18, matching his mark from the 2016-17 campaign.
KANSAS IN KANSAS CITY
Kansas City has been a second home for KU over the years. The Jayhawks’ first-ever game — a 16-5 loss to Kansas City YMCA on Feb. 3, 1899 — was played in Kansas City. The March 8, 2018, Big 12 Championship quarterfinal game will mark KU’s 304th all-time game played in Kansas City, and its 45th in Sprint Center. Excluding exhibition contests, KU is 35-9 in Sprint Center including winning the 2008, 2010, 2011, 2013 and 2016 Big 12 Championships in the venue and the 2012 and 2016 CBE Hall of Fame Classics.
MORE ON THE JAYHAWKS IN KANSAS CITY
- Beginning in 1984-85, Kansas has played at least one regular-season game, be it in a tournament or a home contest, in Kansas City in 30 of the last 33 seasons. KU only missed 1987-88, 1990-91 and 1996-97 and in those seasons the Jayhawks played league tournament or NCAA Tournament postseason games in KC.
- KU is 221-83 in games played in Kansas City.
- KU played 106 games in Kemper Arena with an 81-25 record. 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 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.
Kansas Conference Tournament Titles in KC
Municipal Auditorium (Conference Holiday Tournament) – 1951, 1953, 1956, 1957, 1962, 1964, 1965, 1966, 1968, 1970
Kemper Arena (*Big Eight Holiday Tournament) – *1974, *1977, *1978, 1981, 1984, 1986, 1992, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2006, 2007
Sprint Center – 2008, 2010, 2013, 2016
THIS DAY IN KANSAS BASKETBALL HISTORY
Kansas is 14-7 all-time on March 8
March 8, 1958: Junior center Wilt Chamberlain topped all scorers with 23 points to lead Kansas to a 61-44 upset over the No. 1 Kansas State Wildcats in Manhattan. The victory marked KU’s sixth-straight in Ahearn Fieldhouse. The Wildcats pulled within five, 47-42, in the second half, but KU closed on a 14-2 run to win the game by a commanding 17-point margin. The Jayhawks finished the year with an 18-5 record and ranked No. 7 in the country by the Associated Press, but they did not earn a spot in the NCAA Tournament because they finished in second place in the first year of the Big Eight Conference.
JAYHAWKS WELL REPRESENTED ON ALL-BIG 12 TEAMS
Highlighted by Big 12 Player of the Year Devonte’ Graham, conference regular-season champion Kansas is well represented on the men’s basketball 2017-18 All-Big 12 Team selected by the conference coaches, the league announced March 4. Graham was the unanimous selection for Big 12 Player of the Year, while redshirt sophomore Malik Newman is the Big 12 Newcomer of the Year and Bill Self the co-Big 12 Coach of the Year, along with Chris Beard of Texas Tech. Graham was an All-Big 12 First Team selection, while senior Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk is a second team honoree. Sophomore center Udoka Azubuike is third team and junior Lagerald Vick honorable mention. Newman was also named to the Big 12 All-Newcomer Team. Coaches were not allowed to vote for players from their own team.
Historically, Graham is the 12th Jayhawk to be named his conference’s player of the year. This is the ninth time a Kansas student-athlete has earned the distinction in the 22-year history of the Big 12 Conference. With Frank Mason III winning the 2017 honor, this is the seventh time in league history a school has been named the Big 12 player of the year in consecutive seasons with Kansas holding four of those occasions.
Newman is the ninth Jayhawk to be named his conferences’ newcomer of the year and the first in the Big 12 era. Mykhailiuk, Azubuike and Vick are appearing on the All-Big 12 Team for the first time in their career.
Kansas has now won 18 of the 22 Big 12 regular-season titles (includes ties), including the last 14, which is an NCAA record. Kansas’ 61 conference titles are the most in NCAA Division I. Kentucky is second with 54 and Penn third at 37 (pre-2017-18). KU’s 14-straight league titles, all under head coach Bill Self, is the longest active streak in NCAA Division I and the longest streak in school history.
KANSAS CONFERENCE REGULAR-SEASON TITLES
61 (*Tied for the 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 (18) – 1997-98-2002-03-05*-06*-07-08*-09-10-11-12-13*-14-15-16-17-18
Here are some “nuggets” from the current Kansas conference regular-season championship streak:
- Kansas has won the title outright 10 times and shared it four times (2005, 2006, 2008 and 2013). Overall, Kansas has won 18 of the 22 Big 12 regular-season titles, with those four being the only ties.
- In the current 14-year streak, including the four ties and the two-game edge in 2018, Kansas has won the Big 12 regular-season title by an average of 1.4 games. Twice, in 2009-10 and 2016-17, Kansas won the Big 12 regular-season title by four games.
- In the 14-year streak, the Jayhawks have clinched at least a share of the title six times on the road – 2006 (at Kansas State), 2008 (at Texas A&M), 2009 (at Texas Tech, though it was a loss), 2011 (at Missouri), 2013 (at Baylor, though it was a loss) and 2018 (at Texas Tech).
- In Kansas’ national championship season, 2007-08, the Jayhawks won the fourth of the current string of 14-straight Big 12 Conference titles.
- Matt Kleinmann, Landen Lucas, Brady Morningstar, Travis Releford, Tyler Self and Conner Teahan each won five Big 12 regular-season titles, as they were redshirts during their KU careers. Teahan is the only KU player in the current streak to have been on two Final Four teams in 2008 and 2012.
- When the streak began in 2004-05, current senior Devonte’ Graham was nine years old, while fellow senior Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk was six.
- In 2005, George W. Bush was beginning his second term as the 43rd President of the United States. Barrack Obama, the 44th President, would serve two terms and current Commander-In-Chief, Donald Trump, the 45th President, recently completed his first year in office, giving the streak three sitting U.S. commanders.
BIG 12 RUN NO CAKEWALK
Kansas once again finds itself near the top of the nation in the latest NCAA Rating Percentage Index (RPI). In Self’s first 14 seasons, KU has finished fifth or higher in the final RPI 10 times, including each of the last eight years. This season the strength of the Big 12 is quite prevalent. Kansas leads the league in RPI at fifth nationally and in strength of schedule at No.2 (through games of March 4). TCU is second in RPI at 29th and in strength of schedule at seventh.
RECORD BOOK REVIEW
Here are some things to keep an eye on as several Jayhawks continue to make an impact on the career and single-season KU record books:
- This year’s KU squad is well on pace to break the program’s single-season 3-point record. The Jayhawks have connected on 311 treys this season, a number that is just seven shy of the record mark of 318 set by last year’s squad.
- Senior Svi Mykhailiuk recently became the 60th player in KU history to score 1,000 points, currently at 1,084, which is 45th. He is the 15th player in Bill Self’s 15 seasons at Kansas to reach the milestone.
- Mykhailiuk is already fourth on the KU single-season 3-point field goals made list with 96. He is four from becoming the fourth Jayhawk to make 100 threes in a single season. “Downtown” Terry Brown holds the single-season record with 111 treys in 1990-91.
- Against Texas (2/26), senior Devonte’ Graham became the 15th player in KU history to record 1,600 career points. He currently sits 15th at 1,620. Graham is the third player in school history to tally 1,600 points, 550 assists and 180 steals in a career. Darnell Valentine and Kirk Hinrich are the only other Jayhawks to hit those numbers.
- In the Oklahoma contest (2/19), Graham moved into second on the KU career 3-point field goals made list, currently at 279. Jeff Boschee (1999-2002) holds the season record at 338.
- Graham is logging 37.4 minutes per game this year, which ranks as the fifth most in a single season.
- Sophomore Udoka Azubuike is primed to become the most-efficient shooting Jayhawk in a single season. His 77.4 shooting clip is more than 12 percentage points better than Mark Randall’s record mark of 64.6 percent achieved during the 1988-89 campaign.
KANSAS CLAIMS 300TH BIG 12 WIN
Kansas’ win against Oklahoma (Feb. 19) gave KU its 300th Big 12 regular-season victory. In 22 seasons, the Jayhawks have amassed a record of 302-63 for an 82.7 win percentage. Only Texas (225) and Oklahoma (213) have claimed more than 200 victories in the Big 12 since the league’s inception in 1996-97. Now in its 22nd year as a Big 12 member, Kansas has won 18 regular-season league championships and has never finished lower than fifth in the final standings.
POSTSEASON ACCOLADES ROLLING IN FOR GRAHAM
Kansas senior Devonte’ Graham has begun to collect a wide variety of postseason honors as the 2017-18 season begins its final month. The senior is on a number of watch lists for national player of the year and has made the first step in becoming Kansas’ 23rd player to be a consensus First Team All-American, earning a spot on The Sporting News’ All-America First Team, released on March 5. Below is the ever-growing list for Graham’s postseason honors attained after the conclusion of the regular season (in chronological order):
- Big 12 Player of the Year (Big 12, Associated Press)
- All-Big 12 First Team (Big 12, Associated Press)
- Bob Cousy Point Guard of the Year Award Finalist (1 of 5)
- The Sporting News First Team All-American
- USA TODAY All-America First Team
- USBWA District VI Player of the Year
- USBWA All-District VI Team
- NCAA.com First Team
KU DUO NAMED TO ACADEMIC ALL-BIG 12 TEAMS
Kansas men’s basketball senior Clay Young and sophomore Udoka Azubuike have been named Academic All-Big 12, announced by the league office Feb. 22. Young was a first-team selection, while Azubuike is on the second team. A total of 31 student-athletes were named to the 2018 team.
Both Young and Azubuike are appearing on the Academic All-Big 12 Team for the first time. Young, from Lansing, Kansas, will graduate from KU in May 2018 with a bachelor’s degree in sport management. Azubuike, from Delta, Nigeria, is a liberal arts and sciences major. Kansas has a league-leading 57 all-time Academic All-Big 12 honorees since the inception of the conference in 1996-97. Texas is second with 52. KU has 42 Academic All-Big 12 First Team honorees and 15 second-team selections. In the Bill Self era, Kansas has had 37 student-athletes named Academic All-Big 12, including 26 Jayhawks on the first-team.
KANSAS VS TOP-25 TEAMS
With its 74-72 win at No. 6 Texas Tech (2/24), Kansas is 5-3 against ranked foes this season. Under Bill Self, Kansas is 87-44 against AP-ranked opponents. In his 15 seasons at KU, Self’s Jayhawks have collected four wins or more over top-25 ranked foes in 12 of those seasons, which includes a 32-15 record from 2014-present.
Kansas’ record against top-10 ranked opponents is even more impressive. KU is 15-3 against foes ranked inside the top-10 of the AP poll since 2013-14. This number includes the Jayhawks’ victory over Kentucky on Nov. 14, at West Virginia on Jan. 15 and at Texas Tech Feb. 24. Since Bill Self’s first season, the Jayhawks are 13-2 against AP top-10 teams inside Allen Fieldhouse, which includes KU’s current streak of nine-straight home victories against top-10 foes.
KU FROM DOWNTOWN
Kansas leads the Big 12 with 10.0 3-point field goals made per game, which is 21st nationally. The Jayhawks are second in the conference with a 39.8 3-point field goal percentage. Kansas has made 10 or more 3-pointers in eight conference games and 15 total in 2017-18. For the season, the Jayhawks are 13-2 in games where they have made 10 or more threes.
Last year, KU set the school single-season 3-point record, making 318 from beyond the arc for 8.8 per game. Three of the last eight Jayhawk squads have averaged more than seven treys per game, with both of the last two KU teams hitting an average of eight or more threes per contest. This season’s team is the third KU squad to make 300 3-pointers in a season.
DEVONTE’ + SVI = THREES
The senior pairing of Devonte’ Graham and Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk has established itself as one of the top long-range shooting duos in KU history. Already this year, the two Jayhawk guards have combined for 189 of KU’s 311 3-pointers, which is 60.7 percent of the team’s threes. The prolific outside shooting from these two is nothing new as they continue to move up the all-time KU 3-point charts.
Since the advent of the 3-point line prior to the 1986-87 season, no other Kansas duo has tallied more threes over a three-year stretch than the 465 that Graham and Mykhailiuk have combined for since the 2015-16 season. At Oklahoma (1/23), Graham and Mykhailiuk passed Jeff Boschee and Kirk Hinrich as the most prolific 3-point shooting twosome in school history. Boschee and Hinrich amassed 405 treys while they played together from 2000-02.
Graham and Mykhailiuk are also among the most-accurate Jayhawk pairs. They have teamed up to shoot 41.8 percent from beyond the arc in that same three-year span, the third-best mark among KU teammates who have combined for 700 or more attempts. Brandon Rush and Mario Chalmers boast the best combined percentage with a 42.7 percent (385-of-901) clip coming during their three seasons in Lawrence from 2006-08.
Udoka Azubuike ranks first in NCAA Division I in field goal percentage at 77.4 percent and he is the only one shooting 70 percent or better with a minimum of five shots made per game. Azubuike is on pace to break the Big 12 single-season record of 69.3 percent, set by Ricardo Ratliffe of Missouri in 2011-12.
History has shown that it isn’t easy to lead the nation in a statistic. In fact, checking the NCAA Records Book of annual leaders, only twice has a Jayhawk led the country in a season stat and both were KU All-Americans. KU legend Clyde Lovellette led the NCAA in scoring average in 1951-52 at 28.6 points per game. More recently, Thomas Robinson led the country in double-doubles with 27 during the 2011-12 season. Under Lovellette’s leadership KU won the 1952 NCAA National Championship, while Robinson led the Jayhawks to a runner-up finish in 2012.
With a minimum of 175 attempts, the Kansas single-season field goal percentage record is 64.6 percent by Mark Randall in 1988-89. Last year, Landen Lucas shot 63.1 percent from the field, which ranks fourth on the KU single-season list. On the NCAA level, with a minimum of five makes per game, there have been only 12 players who have shot 70 percent or better in a season, with the most recent being Devontae Cacok of UNC-Wilmington, who set the NCAA record last season (2016-17) at 80.0 percent.
WHAT ELSE TO WATCH FOR…
- Senior G Devonte’ Graham is quickly moving up the school’s all-time career lists. Graham entered his senior season No. 45 on the KU scoring list with 1,075 points. Against Texas, (2/19), Graham became the 15th player in KU history to score 1,600 career points. He currently sits 15th with 1,605 points.
- Against Oklahoma (2/19), Graham moved into second all-time on the KU 3-point field goal list, currently at 279. Jeff Boschee (1999-2002) is first at 338.
- Entering 2017-18 with a 247-48 (83.7 percent) record since 2010, Kansas is the winningest program, by percentage, this decade: 1. KANSAS (247-48, 83.7%); 2. Gonzaga (239-47, 83.6%); 3. Kentucky (249-53, 82.5%); 4. Wichita State (233-53, 81.7); 5. Duke (238-56, 81.0%).
Should Kansas win, the Jayhawks will play in the semifinals on Friday, March 9, at 6 p.m. (Central) on ESPN or ESPN2. KU would face the winner of the No. 4 Kansas State vs. No. 5 TCU contest. Kansas is 20-16 all-time in conference tournament semifinals, including 12-6 in the Big 12 Championship.
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