Big 12 Conference regular-season co-champion and No. 1 seed Kansas (28-5, 14-4) will face No. 2 seed Kansas State (27-6, 14-4) in the title game of the 2013 Phillips 66 Big 12 Championship, Saturday, March 16, at 5 p.m. (Central) on ESPN. Kansas defeated No. 5 seed Iowa State 88-73 in the Big 12 semifinals on March 15, while Kansas State defeated No. 3 Oklahoma State 68-57 in its semifinal game.
Kansas is in the title game of the Big 12 Championship for the 10th time in the 17-year history of the event. The Jayhawks are 8-1 in the Big 12 finals and 12-5 overall in its conference tournament title games.
Kansas and Kansas State are meeting for the fourth time in a conference tournament title game with the others in 1980 (a KSU 79-58 win), 1981 (a KU 80-68 win) and 2010 (a KU 72-64 win). Kansas is 13-7 all-time against Kansas State in conference tournament meetings and has won the last 10 matchups dating back the quarterfinals of the 1994 Big Eight Conference tournament. At 13-7, Kansas has played Kansas State 20 times which is more than any other school in its league tournament history. Oklahoma State is next with 13 meetings with KU.
Kansas, ranked No. 7 in the Associated Press and No. 6 in the USA Today Coaches' polls released March 11, is 17-1 at home, 7-3 in road games and 4-1 on neutral courts in 2012-13. In his 10th season at KU, Bill Self holds a 297-58 record for an 83.7 winning percentage. Overall, Self won his 500th career game with a 108-96 overtime win at Iowa State (2/25) and is 504-163 in his 20th season as a head coach. KU averages 75.5 points per game and leads the Big 12 with a +13.8 scoring margin. KU also leads the league in rebounding at 39.2, rebound margin at +6.6, field goal percentage at 48.0, field goal percentage defense at 36.0, which leads the nation, and blocked shots at 6.6.
Kansas starts four seniors, including three fifth-year seniors, and one freshman. An All-Big 12 First Team and USBWA Freshman All-America selection, redshirt freshman guard Ben McLemore leads the team in scoring at 16.7 points per game. His scoring average leads all Big 12 freshmen in scoring and ranks second overall in the conference. The Jan. 14 Big 12 Player of the Week and three-time conference Rookie of the Week, McLemore leads the league in free throw percentage (86.7). McLemore has a team-high 68 three-pointers made and is third on the team with 36 steals.
All-America candidate and two-time Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year senior center Jeff Withey leads Kansas in rebounding (8.4 rpg) and has 12 double-doubles this season. An All-Big 12 First Team selection and three-time Big 12 Player of the Week, Withey leads the league in blocked shots at 3.9 per game, which ranks third nationally. Withey is Kansas' and the Big 12's all-time blocked shots leader with 293. A USBWA Oscar Robertson National Player of the Year Midseason, Wooden Award Final Ballot and Naismith Award Top-30 list honoree along with McLemore, Withey is scoring 13.5 points per outing and is second in the Big 12 with a 57.9 field goal percentage.
Senior guard Travis Releford is third in the Big 12 in field goal percentage at 56.8 percent. An All-Big 12 Second Team selection, Releford is scoring 11.6 points per contest. All-Big 12 Honorable Mention and Big 12 Player of the Week (3/4) honoree senior guard Elijah Johnson has a team-high 160 assists and is second on the team with 48 three-pointers made to complement his 10.1 scoring average. Senior forward Kevin Young rounds out the KU starters; he is scoring 7.6 points per contest and is second on the team with 6.6 rebounds per outing.
Other KU regulars include sophomore guard Naadir Tharpe (5.3 ppg, 3.0 apg), freshman forward Perry Ellis (5.6 ppg, 3.8 rpg), and redshirt freshman forward Jamari Traylor (2.2 ppg, 2.3 rpg). Ellis scored a career-high 23 points on 10-of-12 shooting in the Big 12 semifinal win against Iowa State (3/15).
THE KANSAS-KANSAS STATE SERIES
Kansas has won 46 of the last 49 meetings with Kansas State dating back to the 1994 season. The Jayhawks have won 11 of the last 12 match-ups and hold a 185-91 all-time series advantage over the Wildcats, which dates back to 1907. Since the inception of the Big 12 Conference, Kansas is 38-3 against KSU (31-3 in regular-season battles and 7-0 in the Big 12 Championship). Kansas head coach Bill Self is 21-3 all-time against Kansas State, including 20-3 while at KU. Bruce Weber is 0-3 against Kansas.
Earlier this season, then-No. 3/2 Kansas handed then-No. 11/13 Kansas State its only home loss of 2012-13 with a 59-55 win in Bramlage Coliseum on Jan. 22. Jeff Withey paced KU with his seventh double-double of the season scoring 11 points and pulling down 10 rebounds. Travis Releford added 12 points and Ben McLemore chipped in 11 points in the Jayhawks' win. KSU's Shane Southwell led all scorers with 19 points.
On Feb. 11, then-No. 14/13 Kansas defeated then-No. 10/11 Kansas State 83-62 to give KU its eighth-straight win in Allen Fieldhouse versus a team ranked higher at tip. McLemore led KU with 30 points, his second 30-point effort of the season. Withey had a double-double with 17 points and 10 rebounds. He also had five blocked shots and became the Kansas career blocked shots leader during the contest. Rodney McGruder paced KSU with 20 points.
KANSAS-IOWA STATE LEFTOVERS
--Kansas improved to 10-5 in Big 12 Championship semifinals games.
--KU is now 64-24 all-time in league tournament play, including 34-8 at the Big 12 Championship.
--The Jayhawks have reached the finals 10 times in the 17 Phillips 66 Big 12 Championships and have advanced to 18 conference tournament championships.
--Kansas is 19-4 all-time at the Sprint Center, including a 5-0 mark this season.
--Kansas is 28-5 on the season and boasts 28 wins for the fourth-straight season and the sixth time in the Bill Self-era.
--Kansas is 25-1 when leading at the half this season.
--In the two games at the 2013 Big 12 Championship, Kansas is shooting a combined 64-for-109 (.587).
--KU's 179 points scored in its first two games of the 2013 Phillips 66 Big 12 Championship are the most since the Jayhawks poured in a combined 192 points against Colorado and Texas Tech in the 2002 event.
--Freshman forward Perry Ellis finished with a career-best 23 points, marking his sixth double-digit effort of the season and his second in the last three games. His previous career-high was 15 against Southeast Missouri State (Nov. 9, 2012), making this his first 20-point game.
--Senior guard Elijah Johnson scored the first seven points of the second half for Kansas. He finished with 14. Johnson has 15 double-digit scoring efforts this season, including three against Iowa State, and 40 in his career. --Sophomore Naadir Tharpe posted a game-high eight assists, which equaled his second-highest assist total of the season.
KANSAS IN THE PHILLIPS 66 BIG 12 CHAMPIONSHIP
Here are some Kansas notes heading into the conference postseason tournament:
--Kansas has won more Phillips 66 Big 12 Championships than any other school with eight. Oklahoma is next with three titles (2001-02-03). KU won the first three events in 1997-98-99, then the 2006-07-08-10-11 titles. KU is 8-1 in tourney title games having only lost the 2002 title to Oklahoma.
--Kansas is the only team to have won at least 30 games in the Phillips 66 Big 12 Championship. The Jayhawks are 34-8 (81.0 percent) in the event, while Oklahoma State (22-15) and Texas (22-17) are second with 22 wins each.
--With a 20-4 (83.3 percent) record, KU head coach Bill Self has the highest winning percentage in Phillips 66 Big 12 Championship history.
--Kansas has been the No. 1 seed 10 times (1997-98-2002-03-07-09-10-11-12-13), 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 16 of its 17 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 15-2 in quarterfinal contests.
--KU has reached the semifinals in 15 of the 17 Phillips 66 Big 12 Championships. The Jayhawks did not reach the 2000 or 2009 semis.
--Kansas has won five of its eight titles as the No. 1 seed - 1997, 1998, 2007, 2010 and 2011. 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 VS. RANKED TEAMS UNDER Bill Self
The Kansas State contest will mark the 73rd Associated Press-ranked opponent Kansas faced in the nine-plus seasons under head coach Bill Self and the fifth in 2012-13. Kansas is 4-1 against ranked foes this season. Under Self, KU is 47-25 (65.3 percent) against ranked competition. That percentage has an upward trend as the last six seasons the Jayhawks are 37-15 (71.2 percent) versus ranked foes.
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 2013 Phillips 66 Big 12 Championship title game will mark KU's 283rd game played all-time in Kansas City, and its 24th in Sprint Center. KU is 19-4 in Sprint Center including winning the 2008, 2010 and 2011 Big 12 Championships in the venue. In 2009-10 and 2010-11, Kansas went 4-0 in Sprint Center. In 2008-09, KU went 1-2 in the venue. In 2007-08, Kansas went 4-0 in the venue, including winning the Big 12 Championship en route to its NCAA National Championship.
Kansas is 5-0 in the Sprint Center this season having won the CBE Classic (78-41 vs. Washington State 11/19 and 73-59 vs. St. Louis 11/20), defeating Oregon State 84-78 in the BMO Harris Bank Kansas City Shootout (11/30) and defeating Texas Tech 91-63 in the Big 12 quarterfinals and Iowa State 88-73 in the Big 12 semifinals. KU played 106 games in Kemper Arena with an 81-25 record. KU is 204-78 in games played in Kansas City.
KANSAS TEAM NOTABLES
--Kansas leads the NCAA Division I in field goal percentage defense at 36.0 percent and is third nationally in blocked shots at 6.6 per game. Both stats lead the Big 12 and KU also leads the conference in scoring margin (+13.8), field goal percentage (48.0), rebounding (39.2) and rebound margin (+6.6). The Jayhawks also rank in the top four of the Big 12 in scoring (second, 75.5), free throw percentage (third, 73.2), rebound defense (second, 32.5), assists (third, 15.6), steals (fourth, 7.2), assist-to-turnover ratio (fourth, 1.1) and three-point field goals made (fourth, 6.0).
--Kansas has held a double-digit lead in all but seven contests this season. KU has held the lead in all but one game in 2012-13.
--Out of its 33 games, Kansas has held 18 of its opponents to 60 points or less, including nine during conference play.
--KU has outrebounded 26 of 33 opponents this season, including 22 of its last 27 foes. KU has had eight games with 10-plus rebounds over its opponent, including a 40-30 advantage against Iowa State (3/15). Kansas' 50 rebounds at Oklahoma State (2/20) were a season high and its +22 against Texas Tech (3/4) was its widest margin of 2012-13.
--KU has out shot all but five opponents in 2012-13. Additionally, KU has shot 50 percent or better in 13 games this season. Kansas has shot 53.2 percent or better in four of its last six games, including a season-best 66.0 percent vs. Texas Tech (3/14).
--Kansas has held a 40-plus point lead in four different games this season.
--Kansas has had four players score in double figures in 10 times this season, including five against Iowa State (1/9).
Kansas has shot 58.7 percent in two Big 12 Championship victories (its season-best 66.0 percent vs. Texas Tech, 3/14, and 53.2 percent vs. Iowa State, 3/15). Kansas is shooting 53.3 percent from the field in its last six games. The Jayhawks have out shot all but five opponents in 2012-13 and have shot 50 percent or better from the field in 14 games, including five of the last six contests. KU leads the Big 12 in field goal percentage at 48.0 percent. Individually, senior center Jeff Withey is second in the Big 12 and senior guard Travis Releford third in field goal percentage at 57.9 and 56.8, respectively.
Withey is 26-for-35 (74.3 percent) from the field in his last five games, while Releford has shot 70 percent or better in 13 games. Withey has shot 50 percent or better in 26 of 32 games this season, including 16 games of 62.5 percent or better. Redshirt freshman guard Ben McLemore is 20-for-33 (60.6 percent) from the field in his last three games. He has nine games of 60 percent or better shooting this season. He shot 50 percent or better from three-point range in nine conference games.
Senior forward Kevin Young is 22-for-30 (73.3 percent) in his last seven games and has 15 games of shooting 60.0 percent or better. Freshman forward Perry Ellis is 25-for-40 (62.5 percent) from the field in his last seven games which includes a 10-for-12 effort against Iowa State in the Big 12 Championship semifinals.
The legacy the four senior players will leave at Kansas is quite impressive. Entering the final games of their careers, fifth-year Travis Releford has a 155-26 record for an 85.6 winning percentage when wearing the Crimson and Blue. Fourth-year seniors Elijah Johnson and Jeff Withey have a 128-18 (87.7 percent) record, while senior transfer Kevin Young is at 60-12 (83.3 percent).
Releford has been a part of five Big 12 Conference regular-season titles, while Johnson and Withey four and Young two. Additionally, in the last four seasons, Kansas has won two Big 12 postseason championships (2010, 2011), advanced to the NCAA Tournament Elite Eight twice and one Final Four, including last year's run to the NCAA championship game in New Orleans. Combined these seniors are 16-4 in postseason play.
Kansas will next wait for the NCAA Tournament selection show, Sunday, March 17, at 5 p.m. on CBS. KU will be making its 24th-straight NCAA Tournament appearance, which is the longest active streak in NCAA Division I.