No. 9/8 Kansas (9-1) has its first true road test of the 2012-13 season when it travels to No. 7/7 Ohio State (9-1) Saturday at 3 p.m. (Central) on CBS.
The Jayhawks have won eight straight and are 3-1 in games away from Allen Fieldhouse in 2012-13. Ohio State has a five-game winning streak and the Buckeyes are 7-0 at Value City Arena this season. These two teams are familiar with each other as Kansas defeated Ohio State twice in 2011-12, including the NCAA National semifinal. This will be the third-straight KU-OSU meeting where both team were ranked nationally at tip.
Ranked No. 9/8 in the Dec. 17 polls, Kansas is 9-1 on the season after its 87-59 home win against Richmond Dec. 18, extending its winning streak in Allen Fieldhouse to 28 games, the second-longest winning streak in the nation behind Syracuse's 29.
Coached by Bill Self, who is in his 10th season at KU with a 278-54 record for an 83.7 winning percentage, Kansas averages 77.8 points per game and is giving up 58.5 for a Big 12-leading +19.3 scoring margin. KU is outrebounding foes 38.8 to 33.1 and averages 7.9 steals while also leading the conference in field goal percentage at 49.1, blocked shots at 8.7 and assist-to-turnover ratio at 1.4.
Redshirt freshman Ben McLemore leads the team in scoring at 15.9 points per game, which is tops among Big 12 freshmen and third overall in the conference. He leads KU with 17 three-pointers made and is second on the team with 12 steals. Senior center Jeff Withey leads Kansas in rebounding (8.1 rpg), field goal percentage (59.2 percent) and blocked shots (5.4 bpg), which leads the nation.
Withey, the Dec. 3 Big 12 Player of the Week who has four double-doubles on the season, is scoring 14.1 points per outing. Senior guard Travis Releford is next in scoring at 13.0 points per game. The Nov. 26 Big 12 Player of the Week, Releford leads the Big 12 in free throw percentage at 92.9 percent and also leads Kansas in steals (16). Senior guard Elijah Johnson has a team-high 53 assists and is second on the team with 16 three-pointers made to complement his 9.6 scoring average.
Senior forward Kevin Young rounds out the KU starters. He is scoring 6.7 points per game and is second on the team with 6.7 rebounds per outing. Other KU regulars include freshman forward Perry Ellis (6.2 ppg, 3.1 rpg), sophomore guard Naadir Tharpe (4.6 ppg, 2.3 assists), redshirt freshman forward Jamari Traylor (2.7 ppg, 3.0 rpg) and freshman guard Andrew White (4.5 ppg).
ABOUT OHIO STATE
Located in Columbus, Ohio, with an enrollment of 53,715, No. 7 Ohio State is 9-1 on the season after defeating Winthrop 65-55 on Dec. 18 in Columbus. The Buckeyes are coached by Thad Matta who is 230-66 in his ninth season at OSU and 332-97 in his 13th season as a head coach.
Ohio State has won five straight and averages 78.6 points per game, while its +21.4 scoring margin ranks in the top-10 nationally. Ohio State shoots 46.9 percent from the field, including 38.7 percent from three-point range. The Buckeyes have a +7.2 rebound margin and a +4.8 turnover margin forcing 10.2 turnovers per contest. Additionally, OSU averages 15.8 assists per game and ranks in the top-10 nationally with a 1.5 assist-to-turnover ratio.
Junior forward Deshaun Thomas leads the team in scoring at 20.4 points per game and rebounding with a 6.9 rpg average. Thomas has made a team-high 27 three-pointers, is shooting 40.9 percent from beyond the arc and has a team-best 86.1 free throw percentage. Junior guard Lenzelle Smith Jr., is next in scoring at 11.5 points per game. He is also second on the team with 5.2 rebounds per game and 19 three-pointers made. He leads the Buckeyes in three-point shooting at 48.7 percent.
Junior guard Aaron Craft is a starter who scores 9.1 points per game and leads OSU with 48 assists. He is second on the team with 17 steals. Rounding out the OSU starters are sophomore forward Sam Thompson and senior forward Evan Ravenel. Thompson is scoring 7.9 points per game and is second on the team with a 50.9 shooting percentage, while Ravenel leads Ohio State with a 59.1 shooting percentage to complement his 6.6 scoring average.
Ravenel is third on the team with a 4.9 rebound average. Sophomore forward LaQuinton Ross comes off the bench to score 9.6 points per game and he makes 85.7 percent of his free throws. Sophomore guard Shannon Scott (6.4 ppg) leads the team with 25 steals while sophomore center Amir Williams (4.4 ppg) leads OSU with 13 blocked shots.
THE KU-OHIO STATE SERIES
Kansas leads the all-time series with Ohio State 7-3, including two KU wins last season: 78-67 on Dec. 10, 2011, in Allen Fieldhouse and 64-62 on March 31, 2012, in the NCAA Final Four semifinals at the Mercedez-Benz Supderdome in New Orleans. The attendance for the Final Four matchup was 73,361, the largest crowd to see a Kansas men's basketball game ever. The previous meeting was during the 2000-01 season, a Kansas 69-68 win in Columbus, Ohio, on Dec. 23, 2000.
The Jayhawks have won five straight in the series which dates back to 1965, when the Jayhawks won the first two meetings: 81-68 on Dec. 23, 1965, in Columbus and 94-70 on Dec. 5, 1966, in Lawrence. The two teams played twice in 1983 to start a three-game OSU-victory run against Kansas. The Buckeyes won 64-61 on Jan. 2, 1983, in Kansas City, Mo., and 79-74 on Dec. 22, 1983, in Columbus. In 1986, OSU edged KU 79-78 in overtime in the Rainbow Classic in Honolulu.
The two schools' next meeting was 1997 in the Rainbow Classic, a Kansas 69-56 win. Before the Kansas win in 2000, the Jayhawks defeated the Buckeyes 80-67 on Dec. 16, 1999, in Lawrence. Kansas head coach Bill Self is 5-3 all-time against Ohio State.
IN THE POLLS
Kansas is ranked No. 9 in the Associated Press poll and No. 8 in the ESPN Coaches' poll released Dec. 17. Dating back to the final three polls of the 2008-09 season, this marks the 64th-straight poll in which the Jayhawks have been ranked in the AP poll, which includes 54 times in the Top 10. In the coaches' poll, Kansas has been ranked in each of the last 69 polls, including 56 times in the Top 10.
KANSAS VS. RANKED TEAMS UNDER Bill Self
Ohio State will be the 68th Associated Press-ranked opponent Kansas will face in the nine-plus seasons under head coach Bill Self. In that span KU is 43-24 (64.2 percent) against ranked competition. That percentage has an upward trend as the last six seasons the Jayhawks are 33-14 (70.2 percent) versus ranked foes.
KANSAS SHOOTING THE BALL WELL LATELY
Kansas has shot 56.0 percent from the field in its last four games and is shooting 49.1 percent for the season. Included was a 60 percent game in the 84-78 win against Oregon State (11/30) and a 59.0 percentage effort in its last game against Richmond (12/18).
Individually, senior guard Travis Releford is shooting 70.7 percent (41-58) from the field in his last seven games, including 58.8 percent (10-17) from three-point range. Redshirt freshman guard Ben McLemore is making 61.1 percent of his three-pointers (11-18) in his last four games.
Senior center Jeff Withey has shot 50 percent or better in his last nine games, including five games at 62.5 percent or higher. He was 7-for-9 against Richmond. Senior forward Kevin Young was 4-for-4 against Richmond and is making 65.5 percent of his shots (19-29) in his last four games.
Here are some block party notables for Kansas All-American candidate Jeff Withey:
--Withey set the KU and Big 12 single-game record with 12 blocked shots versus San Jose State (11/26).
--Withey leads the nation with 5.4 blocked shots per game.
--Withey ranks fifth on the KU career blocked shots list with 219.
--For his career, Withey has had nine games with seven or more blocked shots.
--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).
KANSAS TEAM NOTABLES
--Kansas is second in NCAA Division I, first in the Big 12, in blocked shots at 8.7 per game and also leads the conference in scoring margin (+19.3), field goal percentage (49.1) and assist-to-turnover ratio (1.4). The Jayhawks also rank in the top four of the Big 12 in scoring offense (third, 77.8), scoring defense (fourth, 58.5), field goal percentage defense (second, 35.1), free throw percentage (second, 75.3), rebounding defense (fourth, 33.1), rebound margin (third, +5.7), assists (17.0) and made three-pointers (third, 5.9).
--KU has never relinquished the lead in its last six games; meaning the Jayhawks have led for their last 293 minutes and 17 seconds on the court. The last team to have a lead on Kansas was Chattanooga on Nov. 15.
--Kansas opened the Richmond (12/18) game on a 9-3 run, keeping the trend of fast starts this season. The Jayhawks are outscoring opponents 107-50 in the opening five minutes of their games this year.
--Over the last three contests, KU is averaging a 31-point scoring margin over its opponents.
--Kansas set a school record with 16 blocked shots against San Jose State (11/26).
--KU has outrebounded eight of 10 opponents this season including a season-best 46-26 advantage against Richmond (12/18).
--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 five games this season, including each of the last four games.
--Kansas has posted a first-half double-digit lead in each of its last seven games.
--Eight of Kansas' nine wins have been by 13 or more points.
--Kansas has held a 41-plus point lead in three different games this season.
--Kansas had four players score in double figures in each of the last five games. Six different players have made that happen: Johnson, McLemore, Releford, White, Withey and Young.
MCLEMORE TOPS AMONG BIG 12 FRESHMEN
Kansas guard Ben McLemore leads the Big 12 freshman class with a 15.9 scoring average, which is third best overall in the conference. KU's leading scorer as well, McLemore has three games with 20 points or more this season: 25 vs. Chattanooga (11/15), 21 vs. Oregon State (11/30) and 24 vs. Colorado (12/8).
Kansas' single-season freshman average scoring record is 14.6 points by Danny Manning in 1985. McLemore's 5.7 rebounds would rank eighth on the KU freshman single-season list.
SPACE AVAILABLE FOR MEN'S BASKETBALL HOLIDAY CLINIC
The University of Kansas men's basketball program will hold its annual Men's Basketball Holiday Clinic for boys and girls ages first through sixth grade on Thursday, Dec. 27 from 1-3:30 p.m. in Allen Fieldhouse.
The annual clinic, hosted by current KU players, coaches and staff, will include fundamental instruction, an official camp t-shirt, a Junior Jayhawk basketball and one general admission ticket to KU's Dec. 29 home game against American. Additionally, there will be an autograph session with the current KU team and coaches following the clinic.
The cost of the clinic is $85 and pre-registration MUST be done online at BillSelfBasketballCamp.com. No walk-up registration will be taken on the date of the clinic. Upon completing the online registration, those that sign up will receive a promotional code to purchase additional tickets to the American game at KUTickets.com. All tickets will be general admission.
Check-in begins at noon and lasts until 12:50 p.m. at the north end of Allen Fieldhouse. Parents are welcome to watch and take pictures from the second level of Allen Fieldhouse during the two and a half hour clinic.
Kansas will return home to host American University on Saturday, Dec. 29 at 7 p.m. (Central) on Jayhawk TV to close out the 2012 calendar year. The Jayhawks will then welcome Temple on Sunday, Jan. 6, at either 12:30 or 3:30 p.m. (Central) on CBS to close out non-conference play. Once the NFL playoffs television schedule is determined, tip time for the KU-Temple game will be announced.