No. 6/6 Kansas (14-1, 2-0) continues its quest for nine-straight Big 12 regular-season championships when it plays host to Baylor (11-4, 3-0) on ESPN’s Big Monday, Jan. 14 at 8 p.m. Kansas was the preseason selection to win the 2013 Big 12 title, while Baylor was second. The Jayhawks are looking to go 3-0 in league play for the 17th time in the last 18 seasons dating back to the Big Eight Conference days. The Baylor contest will be the 799th all-time Kansas men's basketball regular-season game played in historic Allen Fieldhouse.
Kansas, ranked No. 6 in both the Jan. 7 polls, is 14-1 (2-0 Big 12) on the season after winning its 13th-straight game with a 60-46 victory at Texas Tech on Jan. 12. The 13 consecutive wins tie for the seventh-longest winning streak in the 10 seasons under head coach Bill Self. Self holds a 283-54 record for an 84.0 winning percentage. Kansas averages 77.8 points per game and is giving up 60.3 for a Big 12-leading +17.5 scoring margin. KU is outrebounding foes 38.9 to 32.9 and averages 7.1 steals, while also leading the conference in field goal percentage at 49.7, three-point field goal percentage at 37.7 and blocked shots at 7.8.
Kansas starts four seniors, including three fifth-year seniors, and one freshman. Redshirt freshman guard Ben McLemore leads the team in scoring at 16.4 points per game, which leads all Big 12 freshmen and ranks second overall in the conference. The Dec. 24 Big 12 Rookie of the Week, McLemore scored 33 points against Iowa State (1/9) on 10-of-12 shooting including the game-tying three-pointer to send the game into overtime. His 33 points are the most by a KU freshman since Danny Manning scored 35 points against Oklahoma State in 1985. McLemore leads KU with 28 three-pointers made and is second on the team with 17 steals. Senior center Jeff Withey has two double-doubles in his last five games. He leads Kansas in rebounding (8.3 rpg) and blocked shots at 4.8 bpg, which ranks second nationally. Withey, the Dec. 3 Big 12 Player of the Week, is tied for the Big 12 lead with six double-doubles on the season and is scoring 13.4 points per outing. Senior guard Travis Releford has shot 80 percent or better in eight of his last 12 outings, including a 4-for-5 effort at Texas Tech (1/12) Saturday. In his last 12 games, Releford is shooting 73.6 percent from the field, including 62.1 percent from three-point range. The Nov. 26 Big 12 Player of the Week, Releford is scoring 13.2 points per game and leads KU with a 63.6 field goal percentage. Senior guard Elijah Johnson has a team-high 82 assists which included a career-high 10 dimes in recording his first career double-double (12 points) against Iowa State (1/9). Johnson is second on the team with 24 three-pointers made to complement his 9.8 scoring average. Senior forward Kevin Young rounds out the KU starters; he is scoring 8.0 points per game and is second on the team with 7.1 rebounds per outing. Young has double-doubles in two of his last three games and led KU in scoring with 14 points on 7-of-9 shooting at Texas Tech. Other KU regulars include freshman forward Perry Ellis (5.2 ppg, 3.5 rpg), sophomore guard Naadir Tharpe (5.3 ppg, 2.7 apg), redshirt freshman forward Jamari Traylor (2.6 ppg, 2.9 rpg) and freshman guard Andrew White III (3.6 ppg). Tharpe has 24 assists and just four turnovers in his last seven games.
Located in Waco, Texas, with an enrollment of 15,364, Baylor is 11-4 on the season, 3-0 in Big 12 play after its 51-40 win against TCU on Saturday, Jan. 12. The Bears are coached by Scott Drew who is 168-128 in his 10th season at BU and 188-139 in his 11th season overall. Baylor averages 76.8 points and gives up 65.2 for a +11.6 scoring margin. The Bears are ranked second behind Kansas in the Big 12 in field goal percentage at 47.2 percent including 34.3 percent from three-point range. BU averages 6.6 three-pointers and 7.7 steals per game.
Senior guard Pierre Jackson, the 2013 Big 12 Preseason Player of the Year, leads Baylor in scoring at 19.2 points per game, which also tops the conference. Jackson has made a team-high 35 three-pointers and also leads BU with 94 assists, 75 free throws made and is second on the team with 29 steals. Freshman center Isaiah Austin is next in scoring at 14.6 points per game and he is tied for the team lead with an 8.4 rebound average. His 15 blocked shots in 2012-13 are second most on the squad. Junior forward Cory Jefferson is tied with Austin with an 8.4 rebound average. He is scoring 14.3 points per game and has a team-high 35 blocked shots in 2012-13. Junior guard Brady Heslip has made 30 three-pointers and scores 8.9 points per contest. Senior guard A.J. Walton rounds out the BU starters. He leads the team with 30 steals, scores 6.9 points per outing and is second on the team with 66 assists. Other Baylor regulars include junior guard Gary Franklin (3.5 ppg) and sophomore guard Deuce Bello (3.0 ppg).
Kansas leads the series with Baylor 18-3, including a 9-0 record in Lawrence. This series dates back to 1951 with Kansas winning the first six meetings. Since the inception of the Big 12, KU holds a 16-3 record against BU and has won three of the last four meetings. Baylor’s last two wins in the series were in the Phillips 66 Big 12 Championship: 71-64 in the 2009 quarterfinals in Oklahoma City and 81-72 in the 2012 semifinals in Kansas City.
KANSAS TEAM NOTABLES
--Kansas is second in NCAA Division I and first in the Big 12 in blocked shots at 7.8 per game and also leads the conference in scoring margin (+17.5), field goal percentage (49.7), three-point field goal percentage (37.7) and assist-to-turnover ratio (1.3). The Jayhawks also rank in the top four of the Big 12 in scoring (second, 77.8), field goal percentage defense (second, 34.9), free throw percentage (third, 74.2), rebound margin (third, +5.9) and made three-pointers (third, 6.3).
--Over the last eight contests, KU is averaging a 20.3-point scoring margin over its opponents.
--KU has outrebounded 12 of 15 opponents this season including seven of its last eight foes. KU has had four games with 10-plus rebounds over its opponent.
--Kansas has outshot all but one opponent in 2012-13. Only Michigan State outshot KU this year (52.1 to 50.0 percent). Additionally, KU has shot 50 percent or better in eight games this season, including seven of the last nine contests.
--Ten of Kansas’ 14 wins have been by 13 or more points.
--Kansas has held a 40-plus point lead in four different games this season.
--Kansas had four players score in double figures in nine of the last 10 games, including five against Iowa State (1/9). Eight different players have made that happen: Ellis, Johnson, McLemore, Releford, Tharpe, White, Withey and Young.
KANSAS SHOOTING THE BALL WELL LATELY
Kansas has shot 50 percent or better from the field in seven of its last nine games and leads the Big 12 in field goal percentage at 49.7 percent. Included was a season-high 63.0 percent effort against American (12/29) and a 60 percent game versus Oregon State (11/30). Individually, senior guard Travis Releford is 64-for-87 (73.6 percent) from the field in his last 12 games and 27-for-34 (79.4 percent) in his last six contests. Also in his last four outings, Releford is 9-for-13 (69.2 percent) from three-point range. Redshirt freshman guard Ben McLemore has shot 50 percent or better from three-point range in five of his last seven games, including a 6-for-6 effort against Iowa State (1/9). Senior center Jeff Withey is 8-for-13 (61.5 percent) in his last two games and has shot 50 percent or better in 12 of 15 games this season, including eight games at 60 percent or higher. Senior forward Kevin Young is 25-for-37 (67.6 percent) in his last six games which included a 7-for-9 performance at Texas Tech Saturday (1/12).
KANSAS ON ESPN BIG MONDAY
Starting with Baylor (1/14), Kansas will appear on ESPN's Big Monday four times in 2013. Since the inception of the Big 12 in 1996-97, Kansas is 45-16 all-time on ESPN’s Big Monday (25-1 at home, 20-15 on the road), including 26-8 under head coach Bill Self. Additionally, KU has won 18-straight Big Monday games in Allen Fieldhouse, which includes a 14-0 mark under Self.
MCLEMORE'S 33 AGAINST IOWA STATE
Ben McLemore scored a career-high 33 points in the Big 12 opener against Iowa State (1/9), including the game-tying three-pointer with 1.3 seconds remaining. The 33 points:
--Were the most by a Jayhawk since Marcus Morris tallied 33 points against Iowa State on Jan. 12, 2011.
--Are the most points scored in a game this season in the Big 12 Conference for all players.
--Were the most by a Kansas freshman since Danny Manning scored 35 points against Oklahoma State on March 2, 1985.
--McLemore connected on 6-of-6 three-point field goal attempts, marking the best three-point field goal percentage since Rex Walters went 6-for-6 from beyond the arc against Ball State in 2003.
--McLemore also hit 7-for-7 free throws, the most free throws without a miss since Tyshawn Taylor went 8-for-8 from the charity stripe against Texas on March 3 of last season.
--McLemore set career highs in points (33), field goals (10) and three-point field goals (six).
In the Polls
Kansas remained at No. 6 in both the Associated Press poll and the USA Today Coaches' poll released Jan. 7. Dating back to the final three polls of the 2008-09 season, this marks the 67th-straight poll in which the Jayhawks have been ranked in the AP poll, including 57 times in the Top 10. In the coaches' poll, Kansas has been ranked in each of the last 72 polls, including 59 times in the Top 10.
Here are some block party notables for Kansas All-American candidate Jeff Withey:
--The 2012 Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year, Withey set the KU and Big 12 single-game record with 12 blocked shots versus San Jose State (11/26).
--Withey leads the Big 12 and is second nationally with 4.8 blocked shots per game. KU's record for single-season blocked shot average is 3.6 set by Withey in 2012.
--Withey's 72 blocks in 2012-13 are more than seven Big 12 teams this season and rank 12th on the KU single-season list. He is one blocked shot from entering the top 10 and six from the top eight.
--Withey ranks fifth on the KU career blocked shots list with 237. He is 21 blocked shots from the KU career record of 258 held by Greg Ostertag (1992-95).
--For his career, Withey has had 10 games with seven or more blocked shots, including three in 2012-13.
--Withey broke the NCAA Tournament record for blocked shots with 31 in the 2012 event.
--Withey broke the Kansas and Big 12 single-season blocked shots record with 140 last year (3.6 per game). He became only the second Jayhawk to pass 100 blocked shots for a single season (125, Cole Aldrich in 2009-10).
MCLEMORE TOPS AMONG BIG 12 FRESHMEN
Kansas guard Ben McLemore leads the Big 12 freshman class with a 16.4 scoring average, which is second best overall in the conference. KU's leading scorer as well, McLemore has five games with 20 points or more this season, including a 33-point effort against Iowa State (1/9) in the Big 12 opener.
KANSAS FRESHMAN RECORD-WISE MCLEMORE'S...
...16.4 ppg would surpass the KU freshman record of 14.6 ppg held by by Danny Manning in 1985.
...5.2 rebound average would rank 10th on the KU freshman list.
...28 three-pointers made in 2012-13 are tied for 11th on the KU freshman list.
...43.1 three-point field goal percentage is fifth on the KU freshman list.
Kansas has won 12 of the 16 Big 12 regular-season titles (includes ties), including the last eight. Kansas' 55 conference titles are the most in NCAA Division I. Kentucky is second with 51 and Penn third at 37. Kansas' eight-straight league titles is the longest active streak in NCAA Division I and the longest streak in school history. Ohio State (Big Ten), Belmont (Atlantic Sun) and Murray State (Ohio Valley) are next at three on the active league title list.
Kansas will play at Texas on Saturday, Jan. 19, in a 1 p.m. contest on CBS. The Jayhawks will continue on the road at Kansas State the following Tuesday, Jan. 22, at 7 p.m. on the Big 12 Television Network and return home Saturday, Jan. 26 against Oklahoma at 3 p.m. on ESPN.
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