Kansas men's basketball will make its first trip to Morgantown, W.Va., as members of the Big 12 Conference to play the West Virginia Mountaineers on ESPN's Big Monday at 8 p.m. CT.
ESPN'S BIG MONDAY
No. 3/2 Kansas (18-1, 6-0 Big 12) takes the nation's longest winning streak of 17 games into ESPN's Big Monday battle at West Virginia (9-10, 2-4) Jan. 28 at 8 p.m. (Central). The Jayhawks are coming off a 67-54 win against Oklahoma Saturday (1/26), while West Virginia is looking to bounce back from an 80-66 loss at Oklahoma State (1/26). This will be the first meeting between the two schools in men's basketball and is believed to be Kansas' first conference game played in the Eastern time zone.
Kansas will wear new road uniforms for the West Virginia contest. Designed and developed by ADIDAS, the new Kansas uniforms feature solid color blocking of team logos, word marks and numbers with minimal accent color and shimmer finish for a bold on-court look. The monochromatic uniforms are a nod to team unity and pride for Kansas team colors.
Kansas, ranked No. 3 by the Associated Press and No. 2 in the USA Today Coaches' polls released Jan. 21, is 18-1 (6-0 Big 12) on the season after defeating Oklahoma 67-54 Saturday to extend its home-court winning streak to 33 games in Allen Fieldhouse. One-third of the way through Big 12 play, KU has a one-game lead in its quest for its ninth-straight conference title over Baylor (5-1). Kansas' 17-game winning streak is the nation's longest and is the third longest during the Bill Self era. In his 10th season at Kansas, Self holds a 287-54 record for an 84.2 winning percentage.
Overall, Self is nearing his 500th career victory with a 494-159 record in his 20th season as a head coach. Kansas averages 74.6 points per game and is giving up 58.8 for a Big 12-leading +15.8 scoring margin. KU is outrebounding foes 38.9 to 32.7 and averages 7.4 steals while also leading the conference in field goal percentage at 48.0, three-point field goal percentage at 36.5, field goal percentage defense at 34.9 and blocked shots at 7.6.
Kansas starts four seniors, including three fifth-year seniors, and one freshman. Named to the Sporting News Mid-Season All-American team Jan. 15, redshirt freshman G Ben McLemore leads the team in scoring at 16.2 points per game, which leads all Big 12 freshmen and ranks second overall in the conference. The Jan. 14 Big 12 Player of the Week and two-time conference rookie of the week, McLemore leads the Big 12 in field goal percentage (51.0), three-point field goal percentage (45.6) and free throw percentage (88.0). McLemore has a team-high 36 three-pointers made and is second on the team with 23 steals. All-American candidate senior C Jeff Withey leads Kansas in rebounding (8.4 rpg) and has seven double-doubles this season. Withey leads the league in blocked shots at 4.3 bpg, which ranks second nationally. A Wooden Award Mid-Season Top 25 honoree along with McLemore, Withey is scoring 13.0 points per outing.
Senior G Travis Releford is just behind McLemore and ranks second in the Big 12 in free throw percentage at 87.9 percent. The Nov. 26 Big 12 Player of the Week, Releford is shooting 65.6 percent from the field in his last 10 games and is scoring 12.7 points per game. He leads KU with a 60.7 field goal percentage. Senior G Elijah Johnson has a team-high 91 assists and is second on the team with 28 three-pointers made to complement his 9.5 scoring average.
Senior F Kevin Young rounds out the KU starters; he is scoring 7.3 points per game and is second on the team with 6.7 rebounds per outing. Young has two double-doubles this season. Other KU regulars include freshman F Perry Ellis (5.2 ppg, 3.9 rpg), sophomore G Naadir Tharpe (5.3 ppg, 2.5 apg) and redshirt freshman F Jamari Traylor (2.3 ppg, 2.7 rpg).
ABOUT WEST VIRGINIA
Located in Morgantown, W.Va., with an enrollment of 29,306, West Virginia is 9-10 on the season and 2-4 in Big 12 play after its 80-66 loss at Oklahoma State on Saturday (1/26). The Mountaineers are coached by Bob Huggins who is 129-66 in his sixth season at WVU, his alma mater, and 719-277 in his 31st season overall. West Virginia is 6-2 at home (WVU Coliseum) this season, averages 67.2 points per game and gives up 66.7. The Mountaineers are outrebounding foes 38.1 to 35.2 and average 7.4 steals per contest. WVU forces 14.3 turnovers per game.
West Virginia has a balanced team as 10 different Mountaineers average 12-plus minutes per game and all 10 have started at least two games in 2012-13. WVU's top three scorers did not start at Oklahoma State Saturday. Junior C Aaric Murray leads West Virginia in scoring at 9.6 points per game and has one more point (173-172) than sophomore G Juwan Staten, who also averages 9.6 ppg. Murray leads WVU with a 49.2 field goal percentage, a 6.7 rebound average and 29 blocked shots this season. Staten has a team-high 55 assists and 23 steals. Freshman G Terry Henderson (8.0 ppg) is second on the team with 20 three-pointers made.
Sophomore G Jabarie Hinds is the only Mountaineer to have started every game this season and scores 7.9 points per game. Freshman G Eron Harris leads WVU with 23 three-pointers this season and is making 80 percent from the free throw line. Senior F Deniz Kilicli (7.5 ppg, 4.4 rpg), sophomore G Gary Browne (7.1 ppg, 3.3 rpg) and sophomore F Kevin Noreen (2.6 ppg) joined Hinds and Harris in the WVU starting lineup last game.
Browne's 18 steals are second best on the team, while Noreen's 4.5 rebounds per game only trail Murray for the Mountaineers. Other WVU regulars include sophomore F Keaton Miles (3.4 ppg) and senior F Dominique Rutledge (3.1 ppg, 3.5 rpg).
Kansas and West Virginia are meeting for the first time in men's basketball. The last time Kansas faced a team for the first time and it was also a conference game was when the Jayhawks defeated Oklahoma 38-18 on March 5, 1920, the first year OU joined the then-Missouri Valley Intercollegiate Athletic Association. Kansas head coach Bill Self has yet to face West Virginia, while WVU coach Bob Huggins is 0-4 all-time against KU.
KANSAS TEAM NOTABLES
--Kansas is second in NCAA Division I and first in the Big 12 in blocked shots at 7.6 per game and also leads the conference in scoring margin (+15.8), field goal percentage (48.0), three-point field goal percentage (36.5) and field goal percentage defense (34.9). The Jayhawks also rank in the top four of the Big 12 in scoring (third, 74.6), free throw percentage (third, 73.7), rebounding (fourth, 38.9), rebound defense (second, 32.7), rebound margin (second, +6.2), assists (third, 15.6) and assist-to-turnover ratio (fourth, 1.2).
--The Jayhawks have held a double-digit lead in all but two contests this season, with the exceptions coming in their 67-64 loss to Michigan State on Nov. 13 when they held a seven-point lead and at Texas (1/19) when they led by five.
--Out of its 19 games, Kansas has held 14 of its opponents to 60 points or less, including each of its last five conference foes: 46 at Texas Tech, 44 vs. Baylor, 59 at Texas, 55 at Kansas State and 54 vs. Oklahoma.
--KU has outrebounded 16 of 19 opponents this season including 12 of its last 13 foes. KU has had four games with 10-plus rebounds over its opponent, including a 41-31 advantage versus Oklahoma Saturday (1/26).
--Kansas has outshot all but two opponents in 2012-13. Michigan State outshot KU (52.1 to 50.0 percent) and Texas outshot KU 44.6 to 39.2 percent. Additionally, KU has shot 50 percent or better in eight games this season, including seven of the last 12 contests.
--Kansas has held a 40-plus point lead in four different games this season.
--Kansas had four players score in double figures in nine times this season, including five against Iowa State (1/9).
Kansas has out shot all but two opponents in 2012-13 and has shot 50 percent or better from the field in eight games. KU leads the Big 12 in field goal percentage at 48.0 percent and three-point field goal percentage at 36.5 percent. Individually, senior G Travis Releford is 79-for-117 (67.5 percent) from the field in his last 16 games. Redshirt freshman G Ben McLemore has shot 50 percent or better from three-point range in nine of his last 11 games, including a 6-for-6 effort vs. Iowa State (1/9), a 2-for-3 game at Texas (1/19), a 1-for-2 night at Kansas State (1/22) and 3-for-5 outing vs. Oklahoma (1/26).
Senior C Jeff Withey has shot 50 percent or better in 15 of 19 games this season, including nine games at 60 percent or higher. Withey was 4-for-6 (66.7 percent) at Texas, 3-for-6 at Kansas State and 6-for-11 vs. Oklahoma. Senior F Kevin Young has six games of shooting 66.7 percent or better, including two in conference play: 7-of-9 at Texas Tech and 2-of-3 at Texas.
IN THE POLLS
Kansas moved up to No. 3 in the Associated Press poll and No. 2 the USA Today Coaches' poll released Jan. 21. Dating back to the final three polls of the 2008-09 season, this marks the 69th-straight poll in which the Jayhawks have been ranked in the AP poll, including 59 times in the Top 10. In the coaches' poll, Kansas has been ranked in each of the last 74 polls, including 61 times in the Top 10. If it occurs, Kansas was last No. 1 in the Associated Press poll Feb. 14, 2011, during the 2010-11 season. Kansas has held No. 1 in the Associated Press poll 59 weeks, including 19 times in the Bill Self era. In the USA Today Coaches' Poll, Kansas was last No. 1 on also on Feb. 14, 2011, and have been the nation's top team 37 times, including 19 in the Bill Self era.
Here are some block party notables for Kansas All-American candidate Jeff Withey:
--Withey leads the Big 12 and is second nationally with 4.3 blocked shots per game. KU's record for single-season blocked shot average is 3.6 set by Withey in 2012.
--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's 82 blocks in 2012-13 are more than six Big 12 teams this season and rank eighth on the KU single-season list.
--Withey ranks third (Nick Collison, 2000-03) on the KU career blocked shots list with 247. He is 11 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).
Kansas guard Ben McLemore leads the Big 12 freshman class with a 16.2 scoring average, which is second overall in the conference. He leads the Big 12 in field goal percentage at 51.0 percent, free throw percentage at 88.0 and three-point field goal percentage at 45.6 percent. 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:
...16.2 ppg would surpass the KU freshman record of 14.6 ppg held by Danny Manning in 1985.
...5.5 rebound average would rank eighth on the KU freshman list. ...36 three-pointers made in 2012-13 are tied for eighth (Kevin Pritchard, 1987) on the KU freshman list.
...45.6 three-point field goal percentage is third on the KU freshman list. McLemore's 33 points against Iowa State (1/9):
--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.
--Consisted of him connecting 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 SPORTING NEWS MID-SEASON ALL-AMERICAN
Kansas redshirt freshman G Ben McLemore was named to the Sporting News Mid-Season All-America First Team it was announced Jan. 15. McLemore is joined on the first team by Oklahoma State freshman Marcus Smart, Michigan sophomore Trey Burke, Creighton junior Doug McDermott and Duke senior Mason Plumlee.
MCLEMORE AND WITHEY NAMED TO WOODEN AWARD MIDSEASON TOP 25
Kansas' Ben McLemore and Jeff Withey were named to the John R. Wooden Award Midseason Top 25, announced Jan. 10 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 Wooden Award. With McLemore and Withey listed, Kansas is one of three schools to have two players among the 25, along with Duke and Missouri.
The players on the Wooden midseason list are considered candidates for the official ballot. The Wooden Award All-American Team, consisting of the nation's top 10 players, will be announced the week of the "Elite Eight" round of the NCAA Tournament. The John R. Wooden Award Player of the Year will be announced on ESPN during the Final Four Weekend in Atlanta. The 2013 Wooden Award Gala will take place April 11-13, 2013, at The Los Angeles Athletic Club. The Gala will honor the Men's and Women's Wooden Award winners, All Americans and the Legends of Coaching Award winner, Kansas head coach Bill Self.
WINNING STREAKS IN THE Bill Self ERA
Kansas' 17-game winning streak heading into the West Virginia contest is the longest in the nation. This is the 12th time in the
Bill Self era the Jayhawks have won 10 or more games in a row.
Kansas returns home to host Oklahoma State on Saturday, Feb. 2, at 3 p.m. on the Big 12 Television Network. The Jayhawks will play at TCU on Wednesday, Feb. 6 at 8 p.m. on ESPNU and at Oklahoma on Saturday, Feb. 9, at 3 p.m. on either ESPN or ESPN2. KU returns home to host Kansas State on ESPN's Big Monday, Feb. 11 at 8 p.m.