No. 8 Kansas (17-4, 7-1) returns home to host Oklahoma (13-7, 3-5) in Big 12 play on Wednesday, Feb. 1 at 8 p.m. on ESPNU. The game will air in High Definition as well at 3D, or as ESPN puts it, 5D. The Jayhawks are looking to bounce back from their first conference loss at Iowa State, 72-64, Saturday. Oklahoma snapped a two-game losing streak with a 63-60 win at then-No. 22/24 Kansas State Saturday.
Kansas is 17-4 and sits atop the Big 12 standings at 7-1. The Jayhawks are 11-0 at home, 4-1 in road games and 2-3 on neutral courts this season. Kansas averages 75.2 points per game and allows 60.6 for a +14.6 scoring margin, which ranks third in the Big 12. KU is second in the Big 12 in rebound margin at +6.4 and leads the league in field goal percentage defense at 37.5. Additionally, KU averages 15.8 assists per contest.
The Jayhawks are led by national player of the year candidate Thomas Robinson, who is the only player in the Big 12 Conference to average a double-double with 17.5 points and 11.8 rebounds per game. A three-time Big 12 Player of the Week, Robinson has five double-doubles in eight conference games. His league-leading 14 double-doubles on the season rank second nationally.
Senior guard Tyshawn Taylor, who was named the Big 12 Player of the Week on Jan. 16, has scored 15-plus points in each of his last six games, including a career-high 28 points in back-to-back games against Iowa State (1/14) and Baylor (1/16). Taylor leads Kansas with 110 assists and his 33 three-pointers are tied for second-most on the team. Taylor's 18.5 scoring average in conference games are a team best. Junior Travis Releford, who was named the Big 12 Player of the Week on Jan. 9, averages 12.0 ppg in league play and 9.7 in all games.
Junior guard Elijah Johnson has a team-best 34 three-pointers and also leads KU with 34 steals this season. Johnson scores 9.2 points per game and is second on the team with 75 assists. Junior center Jeff Withey leads the Big 12 in blocked shots at 3.2 per game and rounds out the KU starters. Withey has scored in double figures in each of his last five games and is averaging 8.2 points for the season. He is second on the team with 6.0 rebounds per contest and has 32 blocked shots in eight league contests.
Senior guard Conner Teahan, who has one start in 2011-12, is tied with Taylor for second best on the team with 33 three-pointers this season, while averaging 6.8 points per game. Sophomore forward Justin Wesley is a regular who averages 1.6 points and 2.1 rebounds per contest. Junior forward Kevin Young (3.7 ppg, 2.9 rpg) and freshman guard Naadir Tharpe (1.2 ppg, 17 assists) are the other KU regulars.
Located in Norman, Okla., with an enrollment of 30,092, Oklahoma is 13-7 on the season, including 3-5 in Big 12 play. Coached by former Kansas State standout Lon Kruger, who is in his first season at Oklahoma and is 492-311 in his 26th season overall, OU is 9-2 at home, 1-3 away and 3-2 on neutral courts in 2011-12. A young team with only one senior in its top-nine rotation, the Sooners average 72.4 points and have a +5.1 scoring margin. They outrebound opponents by a +4.2 rebound margin and are among the Big 12 leaders in offensive rebounds (second at 14.4), turnover margin (second at +2.2), steals (second at 7.1) and free throw percentage (second at 74.3 percent).
Junior guard Steven Pledger leads Oklahoma in scoring at 17.8 points per game, which is second in the Big 12, and in three-pointers made with 51. He also averages 4.2 rebounds per contest and is making 90.6 percent from the free throw line. Junior forward Andrew Fitzgerald is next in scoring at 12.8 points per game and is second on the team in rebounding with a 5.2 board average. Junior forward Romero Osby leads OU with 8.0 rebounds per game to complement his 12.0 scoring average. He has a team-best 24 blocked shots.
Sophomore guard Cameron Clark and junior guard Sam Grooms are the other Sooners starters. Clark averages 8.5 points and 3.7 rebounds, while Grooms contributes 6.4 ppg and 3.1 rpg. Grooms leads OU with 111 assists and has 20 steals. Sophomore forward Tyler Neal (4.3 ppg), junior guard Carl Blair (4.0 ppg, 57 assists and a team-best 30 steals), senior forward C.J. Washington (2.4 ppg, 3.2 rpg) and junior center Casey Arent (1.5 ppg, 2.3 rpg) round out the OU regulars.
The Kansas-Oklahoma Series
This series dates back to 1920 when both schools were members of the Missouri Valley Intercollegiate Athletic Association and Kansas leads, 137-64. Since 2006, the Jayhawks have won eight straight against the Sooners. Kansas is 68-16 against Oklahoma in games played in Lawrence and KU holds a 41-7 advantage in contests in Allen Fieldhouse. Kansas has won the last 10 meetings against OU in Allen Fieldhouse dating back to the 1994 season. Since the inception of the Big 12, Kansas is 16-4 against Oklahoma - 14-2 in regular-season play and 2-2 in the Big 12 Championship.
Earlier this season, Kansas overcame a 34-33 halftime deficit to defeat Oklahoma 72-61 in Norman on Jan. 7. KU junior guard Travis Releford led all scorers with a career-high 28 points, while Thomas Robinson had 18 points and nine rebounds. Steven Pledger led Oklahoma with 14 points, while Romero Osby had nine points and nine rebounds.
--Kansas leads the Big 12 in field goal percentage defense at 37.5, which is seventh nationally. KU has led the Big 12 in field goal percentage defense in five of the last six seasons, all under head coach Bill Self.
--KU is second in the conference in rebound margin at +7.4. The Jayhawks have led the Big 12 in rebound margin in each of the last five seasons, all under Bill Self.
--Kansas has tied or outrebounded 17 of 21 opponents this season, including 15 of the last 18 games. KU has seven games with a +10 rebound margin, including a season-best 50-26 vs. Kansas State (1/4) and a +16 (40-24) at Texas Tech (1/11).
--Five different Jayhawks - Thomas Robinson, Tyshawn Taylor, Elijah Johnson, Conner Teahan and Travis Releford - have led Kansas in scoring through 21 games.
--KU has shot a higher percentage than 18 of 21 opponents this season.
--Kansas has blocked five or more shots in 11 games this season, including a season-high 13 against Florida Atlantic (11/30). KU had 12 blocked shots against Long Beach State (12/6) and Texas A&M (1/23) and 10 versus Iowa State (1/14). KU ranks 11th nationally with 5.8 blocked shots per game.
--Kansas is 3-2 against ranked teams in 2011-12, 29-10 versus ranked foes since 2006-07 and 38-20 against ranked foes under Bill Self (2003-04). KU has faced current Associated Press 1. Kentucky, 3. Ohio State, 6. Baylor, 7. Duke and 14. Georgetown. KU will play No. 4 Missouri twice later this season.
--Kansas has 99 dunks to its opponents' 31 through 21 games. Thomas Robinson leads KU with 47 dunks, while Jeff Withey has 20.
--Junior THOMAS ROBINSON, who recorded his Big 12-leading 14th double-double of the season with 18 points and 10 rebounds against Texas A&M (1/23), was named the No. 1 candidate for national player of the year in Dick Vitale's midseason lists released on Jan. 4. He has six 20-point efforts this season. A three-time Big 12 Player of the Week, Robinson had career highs with 30 points and 21 rebounds against North Dakota (12/31). It was the sixth 30-20 in Big 12 history and first at KU since 1961 (Wayne Hightower vs. Missouri). Robinson is the only player in the Big 12 Conference this season who is averaging a double-double with 17.5 ppg and 11.8 rpg. His 14 double-doubles, like his 11.8 rebounds per game, lead the Big 12 and both are second nationally. Robinson's 17.5 points are second in the league and he also ranks fourth in field goal percentage (53.2) and 10th in blocked shots (1.2).
--Senior TYSHAWN TAYLOR has scored 15-plus points in each of his last six games after his 16 points at Iowa State (1/28). He had his first double-double of the season at ISU with 10 assists. Taylor had a career-high 28 points in back-to-back games against Iowa State (1/14) and Baylor (1/16). Named Big 12 Player of the Week Jan 16, he is second on the team with 16.5 points per game and leads KU in scoring in Big 12 games at 18.5 ppg. In all games, Taylor leads KU with 110 assists, a 45.2 three-point field goal percentage and is second on the team lead with 33 three-pointers. Taylor's 16.5 points per game average is fifth in the Big 12. Also in the league, he is seventh in field goal percentage at 47.7, fifth in three-point field goal percentage at 45.2, tied for 15th in three-pointers made at 1.6, fifth in assists at 5.2 and ninth in assist-to-turnover ratio at 1.4. Taylor underwent knee surgery on Dec. 11 but returned to start the Davidson contest on Dec. 19, when he scored 15 points and had seven assists.
--Junior TRAVIS RELEFORD, the Big 12 Player of the Week on Jan. 9, has scored in double figures in 11 games this season, including 10 points at Iowa State (1/28). He is third on the team in scoring with 9.7 ppg in all games and 12.0 ppg in Big 12 contests. Releford opened Big 12 play with his first career double-double with 16 points and 11 rebounds against Kansas State (1/4). Both were career highs at the time. He then scored 28 points at Oklahoma (1/7). A lockdown defender, Releford is tied for 11th in the Big 12 with 1.3 steals per game.
--Junior ELIJAH JOHNSON had 10 points on 4-of-6 shooting at Iowa State (1/28) and has nine games with 10 or more points this season, including three of his last five games: 12 against Iowa State (1/14) and 11 versus Baylor (1/16). Johnson leads Kansas with 34 three-pointers made and is also the team leader with 34 steals. Johnson has multiple steals in five of his last eight games. He has started every game this season for KU and is second on the team in assists with 75. Johnson is ninth in the Big 12 in assists at 3.6, third in steals at 1.6, tied for 12th in three-pointers made at 1.6 and sixth in assist-to-turnover ratio at 1.7.
--Junior JEFF WITHEY has scored in double figures in each of his last five games, including two double-doubles: 13 points, 11 rebounds against Iowa State (1/14) and 10 points, 10 rebounds versus Baylor (1/16). He had 10 points at Iowa State (1/28) on 4-of-5 shooting with six rebounds. Withey leads the Big 12 with 3.2 blocked shots per game, which ranks in the top 10 nationally. He has a Big 12-best 32 blocked shots in conference play (4.0 average). Withey has 10 games with 10-plus points scored and is also solid from the line with an 85.2 free throw percentage. Withey almost had a triple-double with 13 points, 13 rebounds and nine blocked shots against Long Beach State (12/6). His nine blocked shots rank No. 2 on the KU single-game records list and were just one shy of the school record - Cole Aldrich's 10 against Dayton in the 2009 NCAA Tournament. Withey has multiple blocks in 12 of his last 14 games and 15 contests in 2011-12. His 6.0 rebound average, which is second best on the KU team, is 10th in the Big 12.
--Senior CONNER TEAHAN is tied with Taylor with 33 three-pointers made. He scored a career-high 14 points versus LBSU (12/6) and has chipped in 13 points twice (at USC, 12/22 and vs. Howard, 12/29). Teahan is 12th in the Big 12 in three-point field goal percentage at 35.1 and tied for 15th in three-pointers made at 1.6.
--Junior KEVIN YOUNG scored seven points at Texas Tech (1/11) and again against Iowa State (1/14). He also pulled down seven rebounds at Texas Tech. Young's best performance of the season came against then-No. 2 Ohio State (12/10) with 14 points on 6-of-8 shooting. He has pulled down four or more rebounds seven times this season. In 2011-12, Young is shooting 55.3 percent (26-for-47) from the field.
In the Polls
Kansas is ranked No. 8 in both the Associated Press and ESPN/USA Today Coaches polls released Jan. 30. This is Kansas' fourth appearance in the Top 10 of either poll in 2011-12. KU has been ranked in each of the last 60 Associated Press polls dating back to the 2008-09 season. Included are 43 times when the Jayhawks have appeared in the AP Top 10. KU has been ranked in each of the last 61 coaches polls with 46 appearances in the Top 10. Kansas has faced or will face six teams currently ranked. The Jayhawks are 3-2 against ranked foes 2011-12.
Taylor Climbing the Charts
Senior Tyshawn Taylor continues to etch his name into the Kansas career lists. A four-year starter, Kansas is 112-18 (86.2 percent) during Taylor's time in Lawrence with three Big 12 regular-season titles, two Big 12 Championship crowns and trips to the NCAA Sweet 16 and Elite Eight. His 109 all-time KU starts are tied for 11th all-time at Kansas. Statistically, against Duke, Taylor became the 54th player in school history to record 1,000 points. He currently sits 30th with 1,280 points. He is tied for ninth (Kevin Pritchard) on the KU all-time assists list with 499. Taylor also ranks 19th with 146 career steals and his 38.8 percent career three-point percentage is 17th best at Kansas.
Robinson Named John R. Wooden Award Midseason Top 25 Candidate
Kansas junior Thomas Robinson was named a John R. Wooden Award Midseason Top 25 candidate on Jan. 17, by The Los Angeles Athletic Club. Selected by the Wooden Award National Advisory Board, the list is made up of 25 student-athletes who, based on their performances in November, December, and the beginning of January, are the frontrunners for college basketball's most prestigious honor.
Kansas will have a two-game road swing starting in Columbia, Mo., to face Border Showdown rival Missouri on Saturday, Feb. 4 at 8 p.m. on ESPN. The game will be the setting for ESPN's College Gameday, which KU has been a part of seven of the eight seasons the show has existed. Previously, Kansas hosted College Gameday in 2005, 2007, 2008 and 2011 and was at Texas in 2006 and at Kansas State in 2010. The Jayhawks will then play at Baylor on Wednesday, Feb. 8, at 8 p.m. on ESPN.