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December 21, 2011

KU looks to rebound from Monday loss

No. 12/11 Kansas to Face USC in First True Road Game of 2011-12

No. 12/11 Kansas (7-3) heads to Los Angeles to face USC (5-7) on Thursday, Dec. 22, at 10 p.m. (Central) in its first true road game of the 2011-12 season.

Fox Sports Net will televise the game from the Galen Center. KU, who will be wearing blue uniforms for the first time in its sixth game away from Allen Fieldhouse, is looking to rebound from an 80-74 loss to Davidson on Dec. 19 in the M&I Kansas City Shootout at Sprint Center in Kansas City. USC snapped a three-game losing streak with an 83-59 win against future Big 12 Conference member TCU on Dec. 19.

About Kansas

Kansas (7-3) had its four-game winning streak snapped by Davidson on Monday at the M&I Kansas City Shootout. Kansas averages 75.2 points per game and allows 63.9 for a +11.3 scoring margin. KU is using solid defense as four opponents have scored 56 or less points this season. KU is outrebounding foes by 7.7 per game, including three games of +13 or better. Additionally, KU averages 15.0 assists per contest.

The Jayhawks are led by All-American candidate Thomas Robinson, who is the only player in the Big 12 Conference to average a double-double with 18.1 points and 12.1 rebounds per game. He has posted three-straight 20-point-scoring games with a career-high 26 against Long Beach State (12/6), 21 versus Ohio State (12/10) and 21 versus Davidson (12/19). Also against Davidson, Robinson pulled down a career-high 18 rebounds. Robinson has a league-leading eight double-doubles on the season, is shooting 51.1 percent from the field and has 13 steals.

Senior guard Tyshawn Taylor is next in scoring at 15.8 points per game. His 13 assists against Ohio State tied for fifth most in KU history. Taylor, who leads Kansas with 49 assists, underwent knee surgery on Dec. 11 and returned to start against Davidson. Junior guard Elijah Johnson has made eight three-pointers in his last two games. He is scoring 9.9 points per game, leads KU with 20 threes and is second on the squad with 37 assists. Johnson also has 12 steals. Rounding out the KU starters are juniors Travis Releford and Jeff Withey.

A guard, Releford averages 8.4 points per game and leads the team with 17 steals, including a career-high four against Davidson. Withey, KU's center, had a near triple-double with 13 points, 13 rebounds and nine blocked shots against Long Beach State. Withey is averaging 7.9 points and 6.1 rebounds per contest. He leads KU with 27 blocked shots. Senior guard Conner Teahan, who started against Long Beach State, scores 7.3 points per game and has made 17 three-pointers, which is second most on the team. Sophomore Justin Wesley joins Teahan as the first two off the bench.

Wesley averages 2.2 points and 2.6 rebounds per contest. Junior forward Kevin Young (4.6 ppg, 3.2 rpg) and freshman guard Naadir Tharpe (0.9 ppg, nine assists) are the other KU regulars. Young had a season-high 14 points against Ohio State.


About USC

Located in Los Angeles, Calif., with an enrollment of 37,000, USC is deceivingly 5-7 on the season. The Trojans ended a three-game losing streak by scoring a season-high 83 points in the 83-59 win against TCU on Dec. 19. Every one of USC's seven losses have been by 15 points or less with five of those by six points or less.

Defensive-minded, USC averages 56.6 points per game and gives up 55.4. The Trojans force 16.0 turnovers per contest and have a +4.0 turnover margin. Sophomore guard Maurice Jones leads USC in scoring at 15.6 points per game. He also leads the team with 24 three-pointers made, 44 assists and 19 steals. Junior forward Aaron Fuller is next in scoring at 11.3 points per contest and he leads USC with 6.9 rebounds per game.

Sophomore forward Dewayne Dedmon has a team-best 14 blocked shots to go along with his 7.5 scoring and 5.8 rebound averages. He is second on the team with 12 steals. Freshmen guards Byron Wesley (6.8 ppg, 4.1 rpg) and Alexis Moore (5.8 ppg, 15 three-pointers, five starts) round out the USC starters. Sophomore forward Garrett Jackson (4.3 ppg), junior guard Greg Allen (2.9 ppg, four starts) and junior center James Blasczyk (2.4 ppg) are USC's top reserves.


The KU-USC Series

Kansas leads the overall series with USC 10-5 and has won the last six matchups. This series dates back to 1935 with KU claiming the first three meetings. USC then won five of the next six matchups from 1958-78. Last season, Kansas edged USC 70-68 when Josh Selby, who scored 21 in his season debut, drained a three-pointer with 24.2 seconds remaining to give KU the victory.

Prior to last season, KU and USC clashed in a home-and-home series with the Jayhawks winning 72-62 in Allen Fieldhouse on Dec. 4, 2006, and 59-55 in Los Angeles on Dec. 7, 2008, during Kansas' NCAA National Championship season. In last season's battle, current KU junior Thomas Robinson scored 10 points with seven rebounds, while senior Tyshawn Taylor had seven points. Jeff Withey and Elijah Johnson each played in the game but did not score.


Team Notables

--Kansas has outrebounded its last nine opponents, including three teams by 13 or more - 34-21 vs. UCLA (11/2), 53-32 vs. Florida Atlantic (11/30) and 41-24 vs. Long Beach State (12/6).

--Three different Jayhawks - Thomas Robinson, Tyshawn Taylor and Elijah Johnson - have led Kansas in scoring through nine games.

--KU has shot better than eight of 10 opponents this season.

--Kansas has shot 70 percent or better from the free throw line in six games this season, including five of its last seven. Kansas is fifth in the Big 12 in free throw percentage at 71.5 percent.

--KU has blocked four or more shots in seven of 10 games this season, including a season-high 13 against Florida Atlantic (11/30). KU had 12 blocked shots against Long Beach State (12/6).

--Kansas has 51 dunks to its opponents' 16 through nine games. Thomas Robinson leads KU with 24 dunks, while Jeff Withey has 10.


Player Notables

--Junior THOMAS ROBINSON has scored 21-plus points in each of his last three games and has four 20-point efforts this season. He pulled down a career-high 18 rebounds against Davidson (12/19) to go along with 21 points. Robinson is the only player in the Big 12 who is averaging at double-double with 18.1 points and 12.1 rebounds. His eight double-doubles, like his 12.1 rebounds per game, lead the Big 12. Robinson's 18.1 points are fourth in the conference and he also ranks eighth in field goal percentage (51.1) and seventh in blocked shots (1.3).

--Senior TYSHAWN TAYLOR underwent knee surgery on Dec. 11 and started the Davidson contest on Dec. 19, where he scored 15 points and had seven assists. Taylor's 15.8 points per game are sixth in the Big 12. Also in the league, he is fourth in assists at 4.9 and 12th in assist-to-turnover ratio at 1.1. Taylor has two 20-point efforts this season and has scored in double figures in nine of 10 games played.

--Junior ELIJAH JOHNSON has scored 15 points in each of his last two games and averages 9.9 ppg for the season. He started every game for KU and leads the team with 20 three-pointers made. He is second on the team in assists with 37. Johnson is 10th in the Big 12 in assists at 3.7 and eighth in assist-to-turnover ratio at 1.7.

--Junior JEFF WITHEY scored nine points on 4-of-6 shooting against Davidson (12/19). He nearly had a triple-double with 13 points, 13 rebounds and nine blocked shots against Long Beach State (12/6). His nine blocked shots rank No. 2 on the KU single-game records list and were just one shy of Cole Aldrich's 10 against Dayton in the 2009 NCAA Tournament. Withey leads KU with 27 blocked shots this season and he has at least one blocked shot in nine of 10 games and multiple blocks in seven games. Withey ranks third in the Big 12 with 2.7 blocked shots per game and his 6.1 rebound average is 11th in the conference.

--Junior TRAVIS RELEFORD tied his career high with six rebounds against Davidson (12/19). He has started every game this season and has scored in double figures three of his last five games and five times this season. Releford leads KU with 17 steals, including a career-high four against Davidson. His 1.7 steals per game are fifth in the Big 12.

--Senior CONNER TEAHAN has made 11 three-pointers in his last five games, including a career-high four against Long Beach State (12/6) in scoring a career-high 14 points. Through 10 games, Teahan's 73 points are a career best for a season. His previous high was 46 back in 2007-08, Kansas' national championship season. Teahan is 12th in the Big 12 in three-point field goal percentage at 38.6 and 14th in three-pointers made at 1.7.

--Sophomore JUSTIN WESLEY averages 13.3 minutes per game and is 8-for-15 (53.3 percent) from the field.

--Junior KEVIN YOUNG's best performance of the season came against No. 2 Ohio State (12/10) with 14 points on 6-of-8 shooting. He has pulled down four or more rebounds in three of his last five games and four times this season.


2011 Kansas Men's Basketball Holiday Clinic Set for Dec. 27

The 2011 Kansas Men's Basketball Holiday Clinic will be Tuesday, Dec. 27, from 1-3:30 p.m. in Allen Fieldhouse for boys and girls in grades second through sixth. The annual clinic, hosted by the current KU players, coaches and staff, will include fundamental instruction, an official camp T-shirt, a Junior Jayhawk Basketball, a 2011-12 Kansas Basketball team picture and one general admission ticket to KU's Dec. 29 home game against Howard.

Additionally, there will be an autograph session with the current KU team and coaches following the clinic. The clinic costs $85. To attend, one must apply online at BillSelfBasketballCamp.com as there will be no walk-up applications accepted.


Up Next

Kansas will return home to close out the calendar year hosting Howard on Dec. 29 at 7 p.m. on Jayhawk IMG Television and North Dakota on Dec. 31 at 3 p.m. on ESPNU. The Big 12 season starts for Kansas on Jan. 4 when the Jayhawks host Kansas State at 7 p.m. on the Big 12 Television Network.


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