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January 21, 2011

KU, UT set to battle for first place in Big 12

Battle for First:

No. 2 Kansas plays host to its second ranked team when it plays No. 10/11 Texas Saturday, Jan. 22, at 3 p.m. on CBS, in a battle of Big 12 unbeatens. Kansas improved to 18-0 and 3-0 in Big 12 play with an 85-65 win at Baylor on ESPN's Big Monday, Jan. 17. Earlier this season, KU defeated then-No. 13 Memphis 81-68 on Dec. 7 in the Jimmy V Classic at Madison Square Garden. Texas is 15-3 overall and 3-0 in Big 12 play. The Longhorns defeated Texas A&M on Wednesday 81-60 before making the trip to Lawrence. This battle pits the two winningest teams in the Big 12 up against one another as Kansas is 218-44 against conference foes, including the Big 12 Championship, since the inception of the league in 1996-97. Texas is next with a 175-84 record.

About Kansas:

Kansas remains undefeated with an 18-0 record (3-0 in Big 12 play) after an 85-65 win at Baylor, ending the Bears' school-record home court winning streak at 15 games. The Jayhawks own the nation's longest active home court winning streak at 69 games heading into the Texas contest. Kansas is 18-0 for the first time since the 2007-08 NCAA National Championship team opened the season 20-0. The Jayhawks average 83.2 points and give up 61.1 for a +22.1 scoring margin. KU also leads the battle of the boards with a +7.9 rebound margin. Kansas leads the Big 12 in four different statistical categories: scoring margin (+22.1), field goal percentage (52.4), three-point field goal percentage defense (25.6) and assists (18.5).

Junior forward Marcus Morris has averaged 24 points in his last four games. Marcus averages 17.2 points for the season and leads the Big 12 with his 61.2 percent field goal percentage. On Monday, Marcus was named the Big 12 Player of the Week for the second time this season. Named a Wooden Award Mid-Season candidate, Marcus' 6.9 rebounds per game are second best on KU's team.

Markieff Morris, a junior forward, leads the Big 12 in rebounding with 8.7 boards per game and in double-doubles with seven. Markieff is averaging 13.2 points per game. Freshman guard Josh Selby is scoring 12.0 points per game. He averages 2.7 three-pointers, 3.0 assists and 2.9 rebounds per contest this season. Senior guard Tyrel Reed leads KU with 34 three-point field goals made this season. Reed averages 9.4 points per contest and has scored in double figures in four of his last five games. He is 29-for-33 (87.9 percent) from the free throw line.

Junior Tyshawn Taylor averages 8.9 points per game and ranks third in the Big 12 with 5.1 assists per contest. Sophomore forward Thomas Robinson is third on the team with a 6.2 rebound average to complement his 8.4 scoring average. He has 17 blocked shots, which are two behind Markieff's team-best 19. Senior forward Mario Little is a top reserve who averages 6.3 points and 3.3 rebounds per outing.

Senior guard Brady Morningstar leads Kansas with 28 steals, two ahead of Reed and Taylor. Morningstar is second on the team with 44 assists and is scoring 4.3 points per game. Other KU contributors include sophomore guard Travis Releford (5.7 ppg with four starts) and sophomore guard Elijah Johnson (4.3 ppg).

About Texas:

Located in Austin, Texas, with an enrollment of 48,167, No. 10/11 Texas is 15-3 and 3-0 in Big 12 play after its 81-60 win against Texas A&M Wednesday. Texas is 11-1 at home, 2-1 in true road games and 2-1 at neutral sites. UT averages 78.2 points per game and gives up 61.3 for a +16.9 scoring margin. Texas also dominates the boards with a +7.9 rebound margin.

Sophomore guard/forward Jordan Hamilton leads Texas with a 19.7 scoring average. He has made a team-high 50 three-pointers and is tied for second on the squad with a 7.1 rebound average. Freshman forward Tristan Thompson is next in scoring at 13.1 points per game and he leads UT in rebounds with 7.7 boards per contest, blocked shots with 37 and steals with 21. Senior forward Gary Johnson is tied with Hamilton with 7.1 rebounds per game. He averages 12.1 points per contest.

Freshman guard Cory Joseph leads the Longhorns with 58 assists to complement his 11.2 scoring average. Senior guard Dogus Balbay is UT's fifth starter who averages 4.1 points and has 18 steals and 42 assists. Sophomore guard J'Covan Brown (9.1 ppg), senior guard Jai Lucas (4.1 ppg), junior forward/center Alexis Wangmene (2.7 ppg) and senior forward/center Matt Hill (1.8 ppg) round out the Longhorn main contributors.

The Kansas-Texas Series:

Year-in and year-out the Kansas-Texas battles are some of the biggest in the Big 12 and nationally. Kansas leads the overall series 17-6 and has won three straight and six of the last seven meetings. These teams have met in three of the last five Phillips Big 12 Championship title games with KU claiming all three match-ups - 80-68 in Dallas in 2006, 88-84 in overtime in Oklahoma City in 2007 and 84-74 in Kansas City in 2008.

Kansas is 9-0 against Texas in games played in Lawrence, including 7-0 in Allen Fieldhouse. Since the inception of the Big 12, Kansas holds a 13-5 record against Texas with a 10-4 mark in regular-season play and 3-1 record in the Big 12 Championship. Expect a close contest, as five of the last six KU-UT battles have been decided by 10 points or less. This series dates back to 1938.

Team Notables:

--At 18-0, Kansas is one of three teams in NCAA Division I that remain undefeated as of Jan. 19. Other undefeated teams include Ohio State (19-0) and San Diego State (20-0).

--Kansas ranks first in the RPI released by the NCAA on Jan. 20. Statistically as of Jan. 16, KU leads the nation in field goal percentage at 52.4.

--Kansas leads the Big 12 in scoring margin (+22.1), field goal percentage (52.4), three-point field goal percentage defense (25.6) and assists (18.5).

--Kansas has held 10 opponents to 60 or less points this season.

--Kansas has outrebounded 15 of 18 opponents this season, including nine of its last 10.

--KU has outshot all but one team this season (USC on Dec. 18).

--Kansas' bench averages 29.7 points compared to its opponents' 16.9 ppg. KU's bench has outscored its opponents' bench in 15 of 18 games this season.

--Kansas' current 18-game win streak is the second longest in the Bill Self era. Under Self, Kansas has nine streaks of 10 or more victories.

--KU is 1-0 against ranked foes this season with its win against No. 13/14 Memphis (Dec. 7) in the Jimmy V Classic at Madison Square Garden.

--Kansas' 57-point win against Ohio (98-41) in the Las Vegas Invitational was the third-largest margin of victory in the Bill Self era and the largest in a game away from Allen Fieldhouse under Self.

--Kansas' men's basketball (18-0) and women's basketball (14-4) are a combined 32-4 (88.9 percent) in 2010-11.

Individual Notables:

--Junior MARCUS MORRIS has averaged 24 points and 9.8 rebounds in his last four games and has scored 22-plus in three of those contests. In that span, Marcus is 35-of-56 from the field for 62.5 percent. He has three double-doubles in his last four games. He has six 20-point or more scoring games this season, including 25 at Baylor (Jan. 17). Marcus leads the Big 12 in shooting percentage at 61.2 percent. Marcus has led Kansas in scoring nine times this season. His 17.2 scoring average is seventh in the conference, while his 6.9 rebounds per game are 14th in the Big 12. He has led KU in every stat at least once this season. Marcus has been named Big 12 Player of the Week twice (Nov. 29 and Jan. 17) and was named a Wooden Award Mid-Season candidate Jan. 6.

--Junior MARKIEFF MORRIS, twin of Marcus, had 19 points on 9-of-10 shooting at Baylor (Jan. 17) and just missed a double-double with nine rebounds. Markieff has a Big 12-high seven double-doubles this season with three of those in his last six games and five in his last 10 contests. Markieff leads the Big 12 in rebounding at 8.7 rpg. In his last seven games, Markieff is 38-for-57 (66.7 percent) from the field. Named Big 12 Player of the Week on Dec. 27, Markieff is 16th in the Big 12 in scoring at 13.2 ppg. Markieff has pulled down eight-plus boards in 12 games this season and has been the leading rebounder for KU in 10 of 18 games.

--Senior TYREL REED has scored in double figures in two straight games and four of his last five outings, including 11 points at Baylor (Jan. 17). He is averaging 9.4 ppg during 2010-11. The guard is the only Jayhawk to have started every game this season. Reed leads Kansas with 34 three-pointers and has an 87.9 (29-of-33) free throw percentage. Reed had career-highs in points with 18 and rebounds with seven at California (Dec. 22). Reed is one of 30 nominees for the Lowe's Senior CLASS Award who graduated from KU in December and has been accepted into KU Medicine's physical therapy school. He is a two-time Academic All-Big 12 First Team selection and has been nominated for Academic All-America for the third-straight year in 2010-11.

--Freshman JOSH SELBY scored 12 points at Baylor (Jan. 17) to mark the sixth time in nine games he has reached double figures. He has multiple three-pointers in six games and steals in seven of his nine contests played in 2010-11. Selby averages 12.1 points, 2.9 rebounds, 3.0 assists and 1.4 steals per contest. He has scored 16 or more points in four games and is 20-for-24 (83.3 percent) from the free throw line. Selby's career debut saw the guard score a team-high 21 points on 5-of-11 shooting, including 5-of-8 from three-point range against USC (Dec. 18). His final three-pointer against USC came with 26 seconds remaining to give KU a 69-68 lead in the 70-68 win. For his efforts against USC, Selby was named the Big 12 Rookie of the Week (Dec. 20).

--Sophomore THOMAS ROBINSON had nine points on 4-of-6 shooting and five rebounds against Nebraska Jan. 15. It was his best outing since his first season start against UT Arlington (Dec. 29) where he had 20 points and 10 rebounds. Robinson has two double-doubles in 2010-11. In his last nine games, Robinson is 28-for-42 (66.7 percent) from the field. Robinson has pulled down 10 rebounds in five games this season. He averages 8.4 points per game in 2010-11, while his 6.2 rebounds are 15th in the Big 12.

--Junior TYSHAWN TAYLOR is averaging 8.9 points per game this season and has scored in double figures seven times. Named a Bob Cousy Award finalist (one of 20) on Jan. 12, Taylor is third in the Big 12 in assists per game at 5.1. He has led KU in assists in 13 of 18 games this season, including six of the last eight contests. Taylor is eighth in the Big 12 in assist-to-turnover ratio at 1.6.

--Senior BRADY MORNINGSTAR pulled down a season-high five rebounds to go along with five points at Iowa State (Jan. 12). He is scoring 4.3 points per game and leads KU with 28 steals. Morningstar has recorded a steal in 12 of 18 games played this season. He is 11th in the Big 12 in steals per game at 1.6.

--Senior MARIO LITTLE scored in double figures for the second time this season with 10 points at Baylor (Jan. 15). He was 4-for-6 (66.7 percent) from the field in Waco. Little averages 15.9 minutes, 6.3 points and 3.3 rebounds per game and is shooting 51.7 percent from the field.
--Sophomore TRAVIS RELEFORD has missed the last three games due to an ankle sprain on his right foot. He matched his career high with 13 points against UMKC (Jan. 5). He was 4-for-7 (57.1 percent) from the field, including 2-for-3 from three-point range against the Kangaroos. Releford is shooting 56.1 percent from the field this season. He is averaging 5.7 points this season and has scored in double figures four times. A Las Vegas Invitational all-tournament selection, Releford's windmill dunk against UMKC (Jan. 5) was No. 1 on ESPN's Top 10 List on Jan. 6.

--Sophomore ELIJAH JOHNSON has appeared in 16 games this season with one start. He scored a career-high 13 points against UMKC (Jan. 5). Johnson had his first start of the season against UT Arlington (Dec. 29) and scored 11 points. He has a 2.8 assist-to-turnover ratio for the season. Johnson averages 4.3 points and 2.1 assists in 2010-11.

Up Next:

Kansas will play at Colorado on Tuesday, Jan. 25, at 7 p.m. (Central), on the Big 12 Network. ESPN College GameDay will then come to Lawrence when Kansas hosts Kansas State on Saturday, Jan. 29, which is also the 150th celebration of Kansas Day. KU will then travel to Texas Tech on Tuesday, Feb. 1, at 8 p.m. on ESPNU.


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