No. 6/5 Kansas plays host to Texas Tech in its regular-season home finale Monday, March 4 at 6 p.m. on ESPNU. Since 1983-84, Kansas has won 29-straight home finales, including 28 consecutive Senior Nights. In 2006-07, Kansas did not have a senior on its roster.
Kansas' seniors who will be honored include Elijah Johnson (Las Vegas, Nev.), Travis Releford (Kansas City, Mo.), Jeff Withey (San Diego, Calif.) and Kevin Young (Perris, Calif.). Additionally, KU senior managers Kelli Blacklock (Derby, Kan.), James Cox (Kansas City, Kan.) and Greg Youncofski (Middletown, N.J.) will be recognized Monday.
The legacy the four senior players will leave at Kansas is quite impressive. Entering the final two regular-season games of their careers, fifth-year senior Travis Releford has a 152-25 record for an 85.9 winning percentage when wearing the Crimson and Blue. Fourth-year seniors Elijah Johnson and Jeff Withey have a 125-17 (88.0 percent) record, while senior transfer Kevin Young is at 57-11 (83.8 percent).
Releford has been a part of four Big 12 Conference regular-season titles, while Johnson and Withey three and Young one. 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, ranked No. 6 in the Associated Press and No. 5 the USA Today Coaches' polls released Feb. 25, is 25-4 (13-3 Big 12) after its 91-65 win against West Virginia on March 2. The Jayhawks are 16-1 at home, 7-2 in road games and 2-1 on neutral courts in 2012-13. In his 10th season at KU, Bill Self holds a 294-57 record for an 83.8 winning percentage. Overall, Self won his 500th career game with a 108-96 overtime at Iowa State (2/25) and is 501-162 in his 20th season as a head coach. KU averages 75.1 points per game and is giving up 61.3 for a Big 12-leading +13.8 scoring margin. KU also leads the league in rebounding at 39.6, rebound
margin at +6.3, field goal percentage at 47.4, field goal percentage defense at 35.4, which leads the nation, and blocked shots at 6.8.
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 guard Ben McLemore leads the team in scoring at 16.6 points per game, which leads all Big 12 freshmen in scoring and ranks second overall in the conference. Against West Virginia McLemore broke the Kansas freshman record for points in a game with 36. The Jan. 14 Big 12 Player of the Week and two-time conference Rookie of the Week, McLemore leads the league in free throw percentage (87.2) and is second in the Big 12 in three-point field goal percentage (44.2). McLemore, who is listed on the USBWA Wayman Tisdale National Freshman of the Year Award Midseason list, has a team-high 57 three-pointers made and is tied second on the team with 34 steals.
All-America candidate senior center Jeff Withey, who on Feb. 25 was named the Big 12 Player of the Week for the second-straight week and third time in 2012-13, leads Kansas in rebounding (8.6 rpg) and has 12 double-doubles this season, including five in his last six games. Withey leads the league in blocked shots at 4.0 per game, which ranks third nationally. Withey is Kansas' and the Big 12's all-time blocked shots leader with 281. A USBWA Oscar Robertson National Player of the Year Midseason, Wooden Award Mid-Season and Naismith Award Top-30 list honoree along with McLemore, Withey is scoring 13.6 points per outing.
Senior guard Travis Releford leads the Big 12 in field goal percentage at 59.0 percent. The Nov. 26 Big 12 Player of the Week, Releford is scoring 12.2 points per contest and had 19 points at Iowa State (2/25). Senior guard Elijah Johnson is coming off his third career double-double with 12 points and a career-high-tying 10 assists versus West Virginia. Earlier in the week, Johnson had a career night at Iowa State (2/25) where he scored 39 points. He has a team-high 135 assists and is second on the team with 45 three-pointers made to complement his 10.3 scoring average.
Senior forward Kevin Young rounds out the KU starters; he is scoring 7.7 points per contest and is second on the team with 6.9 rebounds per outing. Young scored his 1,000th career point against West Virginia between Loyola-Marymount (658) and Kansas (346).
Located in Lubbock, Texas, with an enrollment of 32,611, Texas Tech is 10-17 overall and 3-13 in Big 12 play after its 72-63 win versus TCU on March 2. TTU's interim head coach, Chris Walker, is in his first season as a head coach with a 10-17 record. Texas Tech is 9-10 at home and 1-7 on the road this season. The Red Raiders average 66.0 points per game and give up 72.1. Tech leads the Big 12 with 8.2 steals per game and also averages 32.7 rebounds and forces 14.5 turnovers per contest.
Redshirt junior forward Jaye Crockett leads Texas Tech with a 12.0 scoring average, which ranks 14th in the Big 12. His 6.8 rebounds per game are also a team high and are eighth in the conference while his 50.8 percent field goal percentage is fifth in the league. Crockett will vie for Big 12 Sixth Man of the Year as he has only three starts in 2012-13.
Freshman guard Josh Gray leads Texas Tech with 57 steals and 90 assists and averages 9.7 points per game. His 2.1 steals per game are second in the Big 12. Sophomore forward Jordan Tolbert is second on the squad with a 5.6 rebounding average and with 21 blocked shots to complement his 9.4 scoring average. He, too, is shooting above 50 percent from the field at 54.1 percent. Redshirt junior forward Dejan Kravic leads the team with 35 blocked shots. He is shooting 52.0 percent from the field and averages 8.8 points and 5.1 rebounds per contest.
Freshman guard Dusty Hannahs leads Tech with 40 three-pointers made and makes 37.7 percent from beyond the arc. He is scoring 6.8 points per contest. Junior guard Jamal Williams, Jr is a starter who scores 4.7 points per game and is third on the team with 18 three-pointers.
Kansas leads the overall series with Texas Tech 23-4 as the Jayhawks have won six straight and seven of the last eight meetings. KU also leads the overall series played in Lawrence, 12-0, with all 12 meetings in Allen Fieldhouse. Since the inception of the Big 12 Conference in 1997, Kansas is 16-4 against Texas Tech: 14-4 in regular-season match-ups and 2-0 in conference championship meetings.
The first meeting between the two schools took place in Allen Fieldhouse on Dec. 7, 1959, a KU 85-71 victory. Kansas head coach Bill Self is 10-6 all-time against Texas Tech, including 9-3 while at Kansas. Tech's Chris Walker is 0-1 versus Kansas.
Earlier this season then-No. 6 Kansas defeated Texas Tech 60-46 in Lubbock, Texas, on Jan. 12. KU had four players score in double figures led by senior forward Kevin Young with 14 points. Senior center Jeff Withey added 12 points and seven rebounds, while senior guard Travis Releford also scored 12 and redshirt freshman guard Ben McLemore 10 in the win. Jamal Williams, Jr., led Tech with 11 points.
KANSAS TEAM NOTABLES
--Kansas leads the NCAA Division I in field goal percentage defense at 35.4 percent and is third nationally in blocked shots at 6.8 per game. Both stats lead the Big 12 and KU also leads the conference in scoring margin (+13.8), field goal percentage (47.4), rebounding (39.6) and rebound margin (+6.3). The Jayhawks also rank in the top four of the Big 12 in scoring (second, 75.1), free throw percentage (fourth, 72.3), rebound defense (third, 33.3), assists (third, 15.3), steals (fourth, 7.3), assist-to-turnover ratio (fourth, 1.1) and three-point field goals made (fourth, 6.1).
--Kansas has held a double-digit lead in all but six contests this season. KU has held the lead in all but one game in 2012-13.
--Out of its 29 games, KU has held 17 of its opponents to 60 points or less, including eight of the last 14 conference foes: 46 at Texas Tech, 44 vs. Baylor, 59 at Texas, 55 at Kansas State, 54 vs. Oklahoma, 56 at West Virginia, 47 vs. Texas and 48 vs. TCU.
--KU has outrebounded 23 of 29 opponents this season, including 19 of its last 23 foes. After its 36-22 rebound advantage against TCU (2/23), KU has had seven games with 10-plus rebounds over its opponent. Kansas' 50 rebounds at Oklahoma State (2/20) were a season high.
--KU has out shot all but four opponents in 2012-13. Additionally, KU has shot 50 percent or better in 11 games this season. KU's 56.7 percent against West Virginia (3/2) surpassed its previous conference best 54.4 percent at Iowa State (2/25) in 2012-13.
--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 is shooting 55.5 percent from the field in its last two games: 37-for-68 at Iowa State (2/25) and 34-for-60 vs. West Virginia (3/2), its two best games in Big 12 play this season. The Jayhawks have out shot all but four opponents in 2012-13 and have shot 50 percent or better from the field in 11 games. KU leads the Big 12 in field goal percentage at 47.4 percent. Individually, senior guard Travis Releford leads the Big 12 in field goal percentage at 59.0 and has shot 70 percent or better in 13 games, including six league contests. Redshirt freshman guard Ben McLemore shot 12-for-15 (80 percent) from the field against West Virginia (3/2) and has seven games of 60 percent or better shooting this season. He has shot 50 percent or better from three-point range in eight conference games, which includes a 5-for-6 (83.3 percent) effort against West Virginia (3/2).
After his 7-for-8 (87.5 percent) against WVU (3/2), senior center Jeff Withey has shot 50 percent or better in 23 of 29 games this season, including 13 games of 62.5 percent. Senior forward Kevin Young is 12-for-16 (75.0 percent) in his last three games and has 12 games of shooting 60.0 percent or better, including seven in conference play.
Senior guard Elijah Johnson was 6-for-10 from three-point range at Iowa State (2/25) and 13-for-22 (59.1 percent) for the game. He has shot 53.7 percent (29-for-54) in his last five games and is shooting 40.1 percent for the season.
ELIJAH'S 39 AT IOWA STATE
Senior guard Elijah Johnson's 39 points at Iowa State (2/25) were the most scored by a player in the Big 12 this season. It was one of only 15 performances in NCAA Division I this season of 39 points or more. It was the most scored by a Jayhawk since Terry Brown had 42 points against North Carolina State on Jan. 2, 1991, when Johnson was five months old.
The previous high before Brown's 42 was 34 points by Paul Pierce against Vanderbilt (12/29/97). Johnson scored eight points in the game's final 35.7 seconds, including two three-pointers and a pair of free throws to tie and send the game to overtime. He then scored 12 points in overtime, which is the most by a Jayhawk in a single overtime.
Redshirt freshman guard Ben McLemore logged his third 30-point game of the season with a KU freshman-record 36 points against West Virginia (3/2). Senior guard Elijah Johnson became the second Jayhawk to record 30 or more points this season with his 39 scored at Iowa State (2/25).
This marks the second time in the Bill Self era at Kansas that two different players have scored 30 or more points in a game during the same season. Sherron Collins and Xavier Henry each had 30-point games during the 2009-10 season.
Here are some block party notables for Kansas All-American candidate Jeff Withey:
--Withey leads the Big 12 and is third nationally with 4.0 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 may have narrowly missed a triple double, but his nine block performance against West Virginia was one only 16 performances of nine or more blocks in NCAA Division I this season, including three Withey. He has twice swatted nine shots this season and his 12-block game against SJSU is tied with three others for best single game in the nation. Withey is one of only two players in the country with three games of nine or more blocks.
--A three-time Big 12 Player of the Week, including twice in 2012-13, Withey's 116 blocks in 2012-13 are more than six Big 12 teams this season and rank third on the KU single-season list.
--Earlier this season, Withey broke the Kansas and Big 12 Conference career blocked shots record, currently at 281. He passed Greg Ostertag who had 258 blocks at Kansas from 1992-95 and Chris Mihm of Texas' 264 from 1998-2000.
--For his career, Withey has had 11 games with seven or more blocked shots, including four 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 is only the second Jayhawk to pass 100 blocked shots for a single season with his 140 last year and 104 this year. The other was Cole Aldrich with 125 in 2009-10.
Kansas guard Ben McLemore leads the Big 12 freshman class with a 16.6 scoring average, which is second overall in the conference. A two-time Big 12 Rookie of the Week and one-time Player of the Week honoree, McLemore leads the Big 12 in free throw percentage at 87.2 and also ranks among the league leaders in field goal percentage (sixth, 50.8), rebounding (20th, 5.4), three-point field goal percentage (second, 44.2), three-pointers made (seventh, 2.0) and blocked shots (15th, 0.8).
KU's leading scorer, McLemore has eight games with 20 points or more this season, including three 30-point efforts: 36 vs. West Virginia (3/2), 33 vs. Iowa State (1/9) and 30 vs. Kansas State (2/11). He is the only freshman in KU history to have three 30-point games in conference play. His 36 points against West Virginia (3/2) broke the Kansas freshman record of 35 points set by Danny Manning against Oklahoma State (3/2/1985).
Kansas freshman record-wise, McLemore's:
...16.6 ppg would surpass the KU freshman record of 14.6 ppg held by Danny Manning in 1985.
...5.4 rebound average would rank eighth on the KU freshman list.
...57 three-pointers made in 2012-13 are fourth on the KU freshman list.
...42.3 three-point field goal percentage is fifth on the KU freshman list.
...87.2 free throw percentage is first on the Kansas freshman list.
KANSAS AND THE BIG 12 WEEKLY HONORS
Kansas senior center Jeff Withey was named the Phillips 66 Big 12 Player of the Week Feb. 25 for the second consecutive week and third time this season. Withey averaged 17.5 points and 10.0 rebounds in two Jayhawk victories with 17 points and a season-high 14 rebounds at No. 14 Oklahoma State (2/20) and 18 points and six rebounds versus TCU (2/23). It was the fourth time in his career he has been named Big 12 Player of the Week.
Kansas redshirt freshman guard Ben McLemore was named the Phillips 66 Big 12 Men's Basketball Rookie of the Week (1/21) after averaging 16.5 points in KU wins against Baylor and at Texas. It was the second time McLemore has won the accolade this season. The previous week (1/21), McLemore was named the conference's player of the Week.
Historically, McLemore is the first KU player since Josh Selby in 2010-11 to be named Big 12 Rookie of the Week twice in one season. Additionally, he became only the second Jayhawk in the 17-year history of the Big 12 to have earned Big 12 Player and Rookie of the Week in the same season. Mario Chalmers also accomplished the feat during the 2005-06 season.
McLemore was the third different Jayhawk to be named Big 12 Player of the Week this season. He joins KU seniors Travis Releford (11/26) and Withey (12/3 and 2/18) as honorees. This is the second-straight season Kansas has had three different players earn the weekly honor. Last year, KU had four different players named Big 12 Player of the Week - Releford, Withey, Thomas Robinson and Tyshawn Taylor - which was a Big 12 first for one season.
MCLEMORE SPORTING NEWS MID-SEASON ALL-AMERICAN
Kansas redshirt freshman guard 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 NATIONAL WATCH LISTS
On Feb. 25, Kansas' Ben McLemore and Jeff Withey were named to Naismith Top 30 candidates. The duo was named to the USBWA Oscar Robertson Player of the Year Midseason Watch List on Jan. 31 and on Jan. 10 were selected to the John R. Wooden Award Midseason Top 25 announced by The Los Angeles Athletic Club. The Naismith Award had three schools with two players listed (Kansas, Duke and Indiana). The Oscar Robertson award consisted of 12 players and Kansas and Indiana were the only schools with multiple players listed with two each. For the Wooden Award, Kansas is one of three schools to have two players among the 25, along with Duke and Missouri. 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.
Kansas will close out the regular season at Baylor on Saturday, March 9, at 5 p.m. on ESPN. KU will then participate in the Big 12 Championship, March 13-16, at the Sprint Center in Kansas City, Mo. Its first action will be in the quarterfinals on Thursday, March 14.