Kansas Begins Big 12 Play at No. 3 Texas
LAWRENCE, Kan. – Kansas women’s basketball is set to ring in the New Year and the Big 12 Conference slate on the road with its third nationally-ranked opponent of the season. The Jayhawks travel to No. 3 Texas on Saturday, Jan. 3, to open league play at the Erwin Events Center. The game will be broadcast on the Longhorn Network and the Jayhawk Radio Network.
ABOUT THE JAYHAWKS
Kansas ends its streak of opening Big 12 play in Allen Fieldhouse this season when the Jayhawks head to Austin for their first contest of conference action this weekend. KU ended its non-conference schedule with a 9-4 record with three of those losses away from Allen Fieldhouse. The Jayhawks look to end their road woes by earning their first road victory and second over a nationally-ranked foe.
The Jayhawks are averaging 67.1 points per game with a +9.6 scoring margin over their opponents. Kansas has won seven of its last 10 games, highlighted by a victory then-No. 10 Cal (12/7). KU is shooting 44.2 percent from the field, while holding its opponents to shooting 34.2 percent. Kansas has connected on 39.7 percent of its attempts from the three-point line, which is the best mark in the Big 12. The Jayhawks are averaging 39.1 rebounds, 14.7 assists, 6.2 steals and 4.3 blocks per game.
Seniors Chelsea Gardner, Natalie Knight and Asia Boyd are averaging double digits with 16.5, 12.5 and 10.0 points per game, respectively. Gardner also leads the team with 7.7 rebounds and 2.2 blocks per contest. From beyond the arc, Knight is shooting an impressive 44.3 percent and has shot 50 percent or higher in eight-of-13 games played this year.
Sophomore Jada Brown is the last veteran in Kansas’ starting lineup. She is averaging 2.6 points and 3.9 rebounds per game, which is third-most on the roster. Against the Alabama Crimson Tide, Brown recorded a career-high 12 points. Freshmen Lauren Aldridge and Chayla Cheadle round out the Jayhawks’ starting five. Aldridge is averaging 7.6 points per game. She dished out a career-high eight assists at Purdue (12/11). Cheadle is averaging 7.2 points per game and is shooting 40.0 percent from beyond the arc.
KANSAS FAST BREAKS
• Three or more Jayhawks have netted double-figure scoring performances in 10 of Kansas’ 13 games this season. KU had four reach double-digit scoring in three-straight games and in a total of six contests. Senior Chelsea Gardner has scored 10 or more points in 11-of-13 games in 2014-15, while senior Natalie Knight has contributed double figures in 11 of the Jayhawks’ 13 games this year.
• For the first time in nearly 14 years, the Jayhawks shot 67 percent from three-point range on a minimum of 10 attempts against Incarnate Word (12/4), connecting on 8-of-12 shots from beyond the arc. It marked the highest completion rate from three since Dec. 2, 2000, when Kansas went 8-for-11 (72.7 percent) against St. Joseph in Allen Fieldhouse. KU followed that with a 7-for-11 effort from the three-point line against then-No. 10 Cal (12/7).
• KU has limited its opponents to 34.2 percent shooting from the field. The Jayhawks have held three opponents to less than 30 percent shooting, including holding the Cal Golden Bears to 25 percent from the field. Cal averaged 90 points coming into the match-up and KU kept the Bears under 40 points.
• Kansas’ all-time record is 780-555 while the program has an all-time conference record of 237-249. Head coach Bonnie Henrickson is 339-219 all-time and 180-157 at KU.
• Gardner, a Preseason All-Big 12 selection, joined the 1,000-point club after scoring 24 points in the season opener against South Dakota (11/16).
• Knight has 846 career points and needs 154 more to join Gardner in the 1,000-point club, which she is on pace to reach by the end of February.
• Gardner has four double-doubles after 12 games this season and is second in the Big 12 Conference. She posted a Big 12-leading 13 double-doubles last year. Gardner’s 13 double-doubles were the most by a Jayhawk in a single season since Shyra Holden had 14 in 1978-79.
• Gardner has scored 20 or more points in four of Kansas’ 12 games, including a season-high 30 against Alabama (11/22). Gardner has netted double figures in 37 of her last 41 games.
SCOUTING THE LONGHORNS
Texas heads into Saturday’s match up with an unblemished 11-0 record and No. 3 ranking in the nation. The Longhorns have a perfect 3-0 record against top-25 teams. Texas was selected to finish on top of the Big 12 leaderboard by the conference coaches and three Longhorns earned a spot on the Preseason All-Big 12 team.
Nneka Enemkpali is averaging a double-double with 13.5 points and 10.0 rebounds per game, while Kelsey Lang also leads the Longhorns with 13.5 points per contest. Lang is shooting a team-best 62.4 percent from the field, which is the third-best shooting percentage in the conference. Preseason Freshman of the Year Ariel Atkins is the final Longhorn averaging double digits with 10.6 points per game.
The Longhorns average 75.8 points per game and have a +22.3 scoring margin over their opponents. Texas is shooting 45.9 percent from the field, which is third-best mark in the league, but only 29.0 percent from the three-point line. The Longhorns’ defense has held opponents to 33.9 percent from the field. UT averages 44.9 rebounds, 16.4 assists, 15.2 turnovers and 4.1 blocks per game.
Texas leads the all-time series, 17-10.
The Jayhawks and Longhorns square off on the hardwood for the 28th time in program history. The series began on a neutral court in 1982, when Texas defeated KU, 66-47. The Longhorns have won the past three meetings after sweeping the Jayhawks in 2014.
Last Time Out
Texas caught on fire from the field in the second half to top the Jayhawks, 80-55. Natalie Knight finished the evening second on the team with 11 points and secured a team-leading five assists to go along with five rebounds, while Asia Boyd led the team with 13 points. On the night, four Jayhawks scored in double figures against Texas. An early second half surge sparked a 15-4 Texas run to take control of the game.
AND THE AWARD GOES TO…
Freshman guard Lauren Aldridge was the first Jayhawk to earn Big 12 weekly honors in 2014-15. She was named Big 12 Freshman of the Week for the week of Dec. 8 after helping KU to a pair of victories. Kansas swept the weekly accolades for the week of Dec. 29 after Natalie Knight earned player of the week honors and Terriell Bradley was named the freshman of the week. It’s the first weekly honor for Bradley and second of Knight’s career.
JAYHAWKS AGAINST RANKED OPPONENTS
Kansas’ match-up with Notre Dame was the first time this season that KU faced a ranked opponent. It was also the first time that the Jayhawks squared off with the No. 1 team in the nation since 2012-13 when Kansas hosted Baylor in Allen Fieldhouse. The last time KU defeated a nationally-ranked foe was against Cal, 62-39, Sunday (12/7). Since 2004, KU is 14-64 against opponents in the national polls and 4-28 against foes ranked in the top 10. KU has defeated at least one top 10 foe in the past two seasons.
Head coach Bonnie Henrickson stresses the importance of defense and the Jayhawks are taking that to heart in 2014-15. On the season, Kansas has held its opponents to 34.2 percent shooting. The Jayhawks have held three opponents to under 30 percent shooting including then-No. 10 Cal, who has one of the most potent offenses in the country. The Golden Bears were averaging 90 points coming into the match-up and Kansas’ defense held Cal to 39 points and 24 percent shooting from the field. On the season, Kansas has held six opponents under 50 points.
JAYHAWKS FACE TOURNAMENT TESTED OPPONENTS
Kansas faces 14 opponents that advanced to the postseason last season, which is two more than the previous season. KU’s non-conference schedule includes three conference champions and seven squads that reached the 20-win plateau. Kansas has a 4-3 record after facing seven programs that appeared in the 2014 postseason.
A LEAGUE OF THEIR OWN
After 13 games during the 2014-15 campaign, Kansas has several players among the top of Big 12 statistical categories. Senior Chelsea Gardner is fourth in the league in scoring (16.5), fourth in rebounds (7.7) and eighth in field goal percentage (54.1). Gardner is also third in the Big 12 in blocks per game (2.2). Senior Natalie Knight is second in the assist-to-turnover ratio (3.3) in the Big 12. She has 50 assists to 15 turnovers in the first 13 games. Knight has the third-best three-point field goal average in the league (44.3). Freshman Lauren Aldridge is No. 5 in assists per game (4.2). Knight is right behind her with 3.8 assists per game, good for sixth in the league. The Jayhawks have the best team three-point percentage in the conference (39.7).
Kansas hosts Oklahoma for its Big 12 home opener on Jan. 7 at 7 p.m., inside Allen Fieldhouse. The contest will air on the Jayhawk Television Network and the Jayhawk Radio Network.
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