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February 8, 2013

KU looking to end two game skid

JAYHAWKS CONTINUE ROAD SWING

Kansas (19-3, 7-2 Big 12) continues its two-game road swing when it plays at Oklahoma (14-7, 5-4) on Saturday, Feb. 9, at 3 p.m. on ESPN. KU is looking to end a two-game skid, its first since the 2005-06 season, after its 62-55 loss at TCU Feb. 6. Oklahoma is also trying to end a two-game losing streak after its loss at Iowa State, 83-64, on Feb. 4.

ABOUT KANSAS

Kansas, ranked No. 5 in both the Associated Press and USA Today Coaches' polls released Feb. 4, is 19-3 (7-2 Big 12) and tied for the conference lead with Kansas State (18-4, 7-2). In his 10th season at Kansas, Bill Self holds a 288-56 record for an 83.7 winning percentage. Overall, Self is nearing his 500th career victory with a 495-161 record in his 20th season as a head coach. KU is 12-1 in Allen Fieldhouse, 5-1 in road games and 2-1 on neutral courts in 2012-13. Kansas averages 73.4 points per game and is giving up 60.0 for a Big 12-leading +13.4 scoring margin. KU is outrebounding foes 39.1 to 33.1 and averages 7.3 steals per game while leading the conference in field goal percentage at 46.9, field goal percentage defense at 35.6 and blocked shots at 7.3.

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 16.3 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 league in free throw percentage (86.5) and is second in three-point field goal percentage (42.6). McLemore, who is listed on the USBWA Wayman Tisdale National Freshman of the Year Award Midseason list, has a team-high 40 three-pointers made and is third on the KU squad with 24 steals.

All-America candidate senior center Jeff Withey leads Kansas in rebounding (8.3 rpg) and has seven double-doubles this season. Withey leads the league in blocked shots at 4.2 per game, which ranks third nationally. He is one blocked shot from tying the Kansas career record of 258 held by Greg Ostertag (1992-95). A USBWA Oscar Robertson National Player of the Year Midseason honoree and Wooden Award Mid-Season Top 25 honoree along with McLemore, Withey is scoring 13.0 points per outing.

Senior guard Travis Releford leads the Big 12 in field goal percentage at 60.6 percent. The Nov. 26 Big 12 Player of the Week, Releford is scoring 12.1 points per contest. Senior guard Elijah Johnson has a team-high 103 assists and is second on the team with 32 three-pointers made to complement his 9.2 scoring average. Senior forward Kevin Young has started 18 games, is scoring 7.4 points per contest and is second on the team with 6.9 rebounds per outing.

Other KU regulars include freshman forward Perry Ellis (4.8 ppg, 3.7 rpg), sophomore guard Naadir Tharpe (5.5 ppg, 2.5 apg) and redshirt freshman forward Jamari Traylor (2.1 ppg, 2.6 rpg).

ABOUT OKLAHOMA

Located in Norman, Okla., with an enrollment of 30,753, Oklahoma is 14-7 on the season and 5-4 in Big 12 play after its 83-64 loss at Iowa State Feb. 4. The Sooners are coached by Lon Kruger who is 29-23 in his second season at OU and 508-327 in his 27th season overall. Oklahoma is 7-2 at home, 4-4 on the road and 3-1 on neutral courts in 2012-13. OU averages 67.4 points per game and gives up 63.5 for a +3.9 scoring margin. The Sooners are outrebounding foes 37.3 to 35.4 per game and average 6.9 steals per contest. Oklahoma is second in the Big 12 in free throw percentage at 72.5 percent.

Oklahoma has a deep team as nine players average 15-plus minutes per game. Senior forward Romero Osby leads OU in scoring at 13.8 points per game. He is also the team's top rebounder with a 6.5 average and has a team-high 19 blocked shots. Osby is making 79.8 percent of his free throws, which ranks third in the Big 12. Senior guard Steven Pledger is also scoring in double figures at 10.7 points per game. He has a team-high 40 three-pointers made and his 1.9 three-pointers per game are fifth in the league.

Junior forward Amath M'Baye is second on the team with a 5.7 rebounding average to complement his 10.5 points per game. Freshman guard Buddy Hield scores 8.9 points per game and leads OU with 25 steals, one ahead of Pledger's 24. Hield is making 83.9 percent from the free throw line.

Freshman guard Je'lon Hornbeak scores 4.9 points per contest and is third on the team with 20 steals. Off the bench, senior guard Sam Grooms (2.7 ppg) leads the team with 49 assists in 2012-13. Other OU regulars include junior guard Cameron Clark (6.0 ppg, 2.9 rpg), senior forward Andrew Fitzgerald (5.9 ppg, 3.3 rpg) and freshman guard Isaiah Cousins (3.0 ppg).

THE SERIES

This series between Kansas and Oklahoma dates back to 1920 when both schools were members of the Missouri Valley Intercollegiate Athletic Association and Kansas leads, 139-64. Since 2006, the Jayhawks have won 10-straight against the Sooners. Kansas is 49-40 against Oklahoma in games played in Norman, Okla., and holds a 17-15 edge in contests in Lloyd Noble Center. Kansas has won the last four meetings against OU in Lloyd Noble dating back to the 2007 season.

Since the inception of the Big 12 Conference, Kansas is 18-4 against Oklahoma; 16-2 in regular-season play and 2-2 in the Big 12 Championship. Kansas head coach Bill Self is 11-3 all-time against Oklahoma, including 11-1 while at KU. Oklahoma head coach Lon Kruger is 5-13 versus Kansas, including 0-3 while at OU.

Earlier this season, Kansas defeated Oklahoma 67-54 on Jan. 26 in Allen Fieldhouse. KU led 29-21 at halftime and was up by 15 points with just over five minutes to play. KU's Ben McLemore led all scorers with 18 points, while Jeff Withey just missed a double-double with 13 points and nine rebounds. With the win, the Jayhawks improved to 18-1 on the season and 6-0 in conference play. OU's Amath M'Baye and Romero Osby each scored 12 points to pace the Sooners.

KANSAS TEAM NOTABLES

--Kansas leads the NCAA Division I in field goal percentage defense at 35.6 percent and is third nationally in blocked shots at 7.3 per game. Both stats lead the Big 12 and KU also leads the conference in scoring margin (+13.4), field goal percentage (46.9) and rebound margin (+6.0). The Jayhawks also rank in the top four of the Big 12 in scoring (third, 73.4), free throw percentage (third, 72.3), rebounding (third, 39.1), rebound defense (third, 33.1), assists (tied for third, 15.2), steals (fourth, 7.2) and assist-to-turnover ratio (fourth, 1.1).

--The Jayhawks have held a double-digit lead in all but four contests this season. KU has held the lead in all but one game in 2012-13.

--Out of its 22 games, Kansas has held 15 of its opponents to 60 points or less, including six of the last eight conference foes: 46 at Texas Tech, 44 vs. Baylor, 59 at Texas, 55 at Kansas State, 54 vs. Oklahoma and 56 at West Virginia.

--KU has outrebounded 19 of 22 opponents this season, including 15 of its last 16 foes. KU has had four games with 10-plus rebounds over its opponent.

--Kansas has out shot all but four opponents in 2012-13. Additionally, KU has shot 50 percent or better in nine games this season, including eight of the last 15 contests. KU's 54.1 percent at West Virginia (1/28) was its league best during 2012-13.

--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 SHOOTING

Kansas has out shot all but four opponents in 2012-13 and has shot 50 percent or better from the field in nine games. KU leads the Big 12 in field goal percentage at 46.9 percent, is second in three-point field goal percentage at 35.5 percent and third in free throw percentage at 72.3. Individually, senior guard Travis Releford leads the Big 12 in field goal percentage at 60.6 and is 88-for-132 (66.7 percent) from the field in his last 19 games. Redshirt freshman guard Ben McLemore has shot 50 percent or better from three-point range in 10 of his last 14 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), a 3-for-5 outing vs. Oklahoma (1/26) and a 3-for-6 day vs. Oklahoma State (2/2).

Senior center Jeff Withey has shot 50 percent or better in 18 of 22 games this season, including 11 games at 60 percent or higher. Withey was 4-for-6 at TCU (2/6), 4-for-6 (66.7 percent) at Texas, 3-for-6 at Kansas State, 6-for-11 vs. Oklahoma and 6-for-8 at West Virginia (1/28). Senior forward Kevin Young has seven games of shooting 60.0 percent or better, including three in conference play: 7-of-9 at Texas Tech, 2-of-3 at Texas and 3-of-5 vs. Oklahoma State.

IN THE POLLS

Kansas is ranked No. 5 in both the Associated Press and USA Today Coaches' polls released Feb. 4. Kansas' No. 1 ranking in last week's coaches' poll (Jan. 28) was its first since Feb. 14, 2011, and KU has been the nation's top team 38 times, including 20 weeks in the Bill Self era. Also in the coaches' polls, Kansas has been ranked in each of the last 76 week, including 63 times in the Top 10. In the Associated Press poll and dating back to the final three polls of the 2008-09 season, this marks the 71st-straight poll in which the Jayhawks have been ranked in the AP poll, including 61 times in the Top 10.

WITHEYBLOCKPARTY.COM

Here are some block party notables for Kansas All-American candidate Jeff Withey:

--Withey leads the Big 12 and is third nationally with 4.2 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 92 blocks in 2012-13 are more than six Big 12 teams this season and rank fifth on the KU single-season list.

--Withey ranks second on the KU career blocked shots list with 257. He is one blocked shot from tying the KU career record of 258 held by Greg Ostertag (1992-95). He is seven blocked shots from the Big 12 career record of 264 (Chris Mihm, Texas, 1998-2000).

--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).

AIRMCLEMORE.COM

Kansas guard Ben McLemore leads the Big 12 freshman class with a 16.3 scoring average, which is second overall in the conference. He leads the Big 12 in free throw percentage at 86.5 and is second in three-point field goal percentage at 42.6 percent. KU's leading scorer as well, McLemore has six games with 20 points or more this season, including a 33-point effort against Iowa State (1/9) in the Big 12 opener and a 23-point day against Oklahoma State (2/2).

Kansas freshman record-wise, McLemore's:

...16.3 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.

...40 three-pointers made in 2012-13 are eighth on the KU freshman list.

...42.6 three-point field goal percentage is fifth 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.

UP NEXT

Kansas returns home to host Kansas State on ESPN's Big Monday, Feb. 11 at 8 p.m. The Jayhawks will then host Texas on Saturday, Feb. 16, at 8 p.m. on ESPN. ESPN College GameDay will originate from Allen Fieldhouse on that day and Kansas will retire Mario Chalmers' No. 15 jersey at halftime.



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