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January 22, 2011

KU looks to make it 70 straight at home

Kansas and Texas make up one of the Big 12's biggest rivalries, but their meeting Saturday may be one of the most hyped in several years.

With first place in the conference on the line, the second-ranked and undefeated Jayhawks look to win their 70th straight home game when they meet No. 10 Texas, which has never won at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas (18-0, 3-0) and Texas (15-3, 3-0) are the two winningest programs in the Big 12, but the Jayhawks have had the advantage in the rivalry recently, winning three straight and six of seven.

The success of both programs has created several high-profile matchups over the years. In five of the last six, each team has been ranked in the top 15 and this is the second time in the last four they've both been in the top 10.

"It's going to be an unbelievable game," Kansas coach Bill Self told the Big 12's official website.

Kansas is one of three remaining undefeated teams along with Ohio State and San Diego State, and is off to its best start since the 2007-08 team opened 20-0 en route to a national championship.

The Jayhawks have been especially tough to beat at home, winning their 10 games at Allen Fieldhouse by an average of 25.2 points. Kansas hasn't lost at home since a 69-66 defeat to Texas A&M on Feb. 3, 2007, winning a school-record 69 consecutive games.

Texas, however, could provide the toughest test there this season. The Jayhawks have played only one team in the Top 25, defeating then-No. 13 Memphis 81-68 on Dec. 7 at Madison Square Garden.

"There are certain games that you look at the beginning of the year on the schedule and say 'This one is going to be hard' or 'This one is going to be exciting.' I think this is one of those games," Kansas senior Brady Morningstar said.

The Jayhawks are coming off their best shooting performance of the season, making 62.5 percent of their attempts in an 85-65 win at Baylor on Monday.

After winning its previous three by a combined 15 points, Kansas put the game out of reach early, shooting 79.3 percent in the first half while taking a 53-32 lead into the break.

Marcus Morris scored 25 points and twin brother Markieff Morris added 19 points and nine rebounds. The two combined to shoot 13 of 14 in the first half.

"That was by far the best we've played," Self said. "The twins were the best players in the game, but I really felt like everybody played well, especially in the first half."

Kansas will try to carry over that performance to Saturday while looking to keep the Longhorns winless at Allen Fieldhouse. Texas has lost all nine visits to Lawrence, including seven in conference play.

The Longhorns have already ended one winning streak this week, snapping No. 11 Texas A&M's 13-game run with an 81-60 victory Wednesday for their third straight win and ninth in 10 games.

Jordan Hamilton, the conference's third-leading scorer at 19.7 points per game, scored 27 on 10-of-14 shooting and Texas shot a season-best 58.0 percent.

The Longhorns continued their impressive defense, holding Texas A&M to 41.5 percent shooting. Their last five opponents have combined to shoot 38.5 percent.

The victory was Texas' third against a ranked opponent this season. It's also lost to Pittsburgh and Connecticut by a combined three points.

"I love where we are at now," senior forward Gary Johnson said. "I think flying under the radar is a good position for any team."



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