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February 8, 2012

KU faced with another difficult road test

No. 7/10 Kansas Heads to No. 6 Baylor

For the second time in as many games, No. 7/10 Kansas (18-5, 8-2) will face a higher ranked opponent on the road when it travels to No. 6 Baylor (21-2, 8-2) Wednesday, Feb. 8, at 6 p.m. on ESPN2. Just a little over halfway through the 2012 Big 12 season, KU and BU are tied for the Big 12 lead along with Missouri. Kansas is coming off a 74-71 loss at No. 4 Missouri on Saturday, while Baylor has won four straight after its 64-60 road win at Oklahoma State Saturday. KU is 3-3 against ranked foes this season, 29-11 versus ranked foes since 2006-07 and 38-21 against ranked foes under Bill Self(2003-04).

About Kansas

Kansas is 18-5 and tied for first in the Big 12 standings with Baylor and Missouri at 8-2 after its 74-71 loss at No. 4 MU Saturday. The Jayhawks are 12-0 at home, 4-2 in road games and 2-3 on neutral courts this season. Kansas averages 75.4 points per game and allows 61.3 for a +14.1 scoring margin, which ranks second in the Big 12. KU is second in the Big 12 in rebound margin at +6.0, leads the league in field goal percentage defense at 38.3 and is tied for the conference lead with 15.8 assists per contest.

The Jayhawks are led by national player of the year candidate Thomas Robinson, who is the only player in the Big 12 Conference to average a double-double with 18.0 points and 12.0 rebounds per game. A three-time Big 12 Player of the Week, Robinson has seven double-doubles in 10 conference games after his 25 points and 13 rebounds at Missouri (2/4). His league-leading 16 double-doubles on the season rank second nationally.

Senior guard Tyshawn Taylor, who was named the Big 12 Player of the Week on Jan. 16, has scored 15-plus points in each of his last eight games, including 21 points in both of his last two outings at Missouri (2/4) and against Oklahoma (2/1). Taylor leads Kansas with 119 assists and his 37 three-pointers are tied for the most on the team in 2011-12. Taylor's 19.0 scoring average in conference games are a team best and he is scoring 16.9 ppg overall.

Junior guard Travis Releford, who was named the Big 12 Player of the Week on Jan. 9, averages 11.3 ppg in league play and 9.6 in all games. Junior guard Elijah Johnson is tied with Taylor with a team-high 37 three-pointers and also leads KU with 38 steals this season. Johnson scores 9.2 points per game and is second on the team with 83 assists. Junior center Jeff Withey leads the Big 12 in blocked shots at 3.0 per game and rounds out the KU starters.

Withey has scored in double figures in six of his last seven games and is averaging 8.1 points for the season. He is second on the team with 5.8 rebounds per contest and has 34 blocked shots in 10 league contests.

Senior guard Conner Teahan, who has one start in 2011-12, is third on the team with 36 three-pointers this season, while averaging 6.6 points per game. Sophomore forward Justin Wesley is a regular who averages 1.7 points and 2.0 rebounds per contest. Junior forward Kevin Young (3.5 ppg, 2.7 rpg) and freshman guard Naadir Tharpe (1.1 ppg, 18 assists) are the other KU regulars.

About Baylor

Located in Waco, Texas, with an enrollment of 15,029, No. 6 Baylor is 21-2 and 8-2 in Big 12 play and has a four-game winning streak after its 64-60 win at Oklahoma State Saturday. The Bears are coached by Scott Drew, who is 148-118 in his ninth season at BU and 168-129 in his 10th season overall. BU is 11-1 at home, 7-1 away and 3-0 on neutral floors in 2011-12. Baylor averages 76.8 points per game and has a +13.7 scoring margin.

The Bears also hold a +5.4 rebound margin in 2011-12 and lead the Big 12 in three-point percentage (39.8) and blocked shots with 5.7 per game. They make an impressive 7.2 three-pointers per contest and average 8.3 steals this season.

Baylor has a balanced team as four players' average double-figures in scoring ranging from 14.8 ppg to 12.4 ppg. Sophomore forward Perry Jones III, the Big 12 Preseason Player of the Year, leads BU with 14.8 points and 7.9 rebounds per game in 2011-12. Junior guard Pierre Jackson is next in scoring at 12.7 points per contest. He used to come off the bench but has five starts in Big 12 play and leads Baylor with 136 assists and 41 steals this season.

Senior forward Quincy Acy and freshman forward Quincy Miller are each scoring 12.4 points per game. Acy is second the team with a 7.0 rebounding average and he also leads BU with 52 blocked shots. Miller is third on the team with 5.3 rebounds per contest in 2011-12. Rounding out the BU starters is sophomore guard Brady Heslip (9.6 ppg, a team-leading 58 three-pointers).

Senior forward Anthony Jones (5.4 ppg, 3.3 rpg), sophomore forward Cory Jefferson (4.0 ppg, 2.9 rpg) and junior guard A.J. Walton (3.6 ppg, 71 assists and 36 steals) have made starts this season. Sophomore guard Gary Franklin (2.9 ppg) is another Baylor regular in 2011-12.

The Kansas-Baylor Series

Kansas leads the series with Baylor 17-2, including a 9-0 record in Lawrence and 7-1 mark in the Ferrell Center. This series dates back to 1951 with Kansas winning the first six meetings. Since the inception of the Big 12, KU holds a 15-2 record against BU and has won the last three meetings. Baylor's last win in the series was a 71-64 upset in the 2009 Phillips 66 Big 12 Championship quarterfinals in Oklahoma City. Kansas entered the game as the No. 1 seed, while Baylor was the No. 9 seed.

Earlier this season, then-No. 7 Kansas handed then-No. 3 Baylor its first loss of the season, 92-74, on Jan. 16, in Allen Fieldhouse. Tyshawn Taylor tied his career high with 28 points on 10-of-14 shooting, while Thomas Robinson posted a double-double with 27 points and a game-high 14 rebounds. All five of KU's starters reached double figures with Travis Releford and Elijah Johnson each scoring 11 and Jeff Withey 10 points. Perry Jones III led Baylor with 18 points, while Quincy Miller scored 17 points.

Team Notables

--Kansas leads the Big 12 in field goal percentage defense at 38.3, which is in the top 10 nationally. KU has led the Big 12 in field goal percentage defense in five of the last six seasons, all under head coach Bill Self.

--KU is second in the conference in rebound margin at +6.0. The Jayhawks have led the Big 12 in rebound margin in each of the last five seasons, all under Bill Self.

--Kansas has tied or outrebounded 19 of 23 opponents this season, including 17 of the last 20 games. KU has seven games with a +10 rebound margin, including a season-best 50-26 vs. Kansas State (1/4) and a +16 (40-24) at Texas Tech (1/11).

--Five different Jayhawks - Thomas Robinson, Tyshawn Taylor, Elijah Johnson, Conner Teahan and Travis Releford - have led Kansas in scoring through 23 games.

--KU has shot a higher percentage than 21 of 23 opponents this season.

--Kansas has blocked five or more shots in 11 games this season, including a season-high 13 against Florida Atlantic (11/30). KU had 12 blocked shots against Long Beach State (12/6) and Texas A&M (1/23) and 10 versus Iowa State (1/14). KU ranks second in the Big 12 with 5.6 blocked shots per game.

--Kansas is 3-3 against ranked teams in 2011-12, 29-11 versus ranked foes since 2006-07 and 38-21 against ranked foes under Bill Self (2003-04).

--Kansas has 110 dunks to its opponents' 34 through 23 games. Thomas Robinson leads KU with 52 dunks, while Jeff Withey has 20.

Player Notables

--Junior THOMAS ROBINSON, who recorded his Big 12-leading 16th double-double of the season with 25 points and 13 rebounds at No. 4 Missouri (2/4), was named the No. 1 candidate for national player of the year in Dick Vitale's midseason list released on Jan. 4. He has eight 20-point efforts this season. A three-time Big 12 Player of the Week, Robinson had career highs with 30 points and 21 rebounds against North Dakota (12/31). It was the sixth 30-20 in Big 12 history and first at KU since 1961 (Wayne Hightower vs. Missouri). Robinson is the only player in the Big 12 Conference this season who is averaging a double-double with 18.0 ppg and 12.0 rpg. His 16 double-doubles, like his 12.0 rebounds per game, lead the Big 12 and both are second nationally. Robinson's 18.0 points are second in the league and he also ranks third in field goal percentage (54.8), tied for ninth in blocked shots (1.2) and tied for 12th in steals (1.2).

--Senior TYSHAWN TAYLOR has scored 21 points in each of his last two games (at Missouri and vs. Oklahoma) and 15-plus points in each of his last eight games. He had his first double-double of the season at ISU (1/28) with 16 points and 10 assists. Taylor had a career-high 28 points in back-to-back games against Iowa State (1/14) and Baylor (1/16). Named Big 12 Player of the Week Jan 16, he is second on the team with 16.9 points per game and leads KU in scoring in Big 12 games at 19.0 ppg. In all games, Taylor leads KU with 119 assists, a 44.0 three-point field goal percentage and is tied for the team lead with 37 three-pointers. Taylor's 16.9 points per game average is fifth in the Big 12. Also in the league, he is sixth in field goal percentage at 48.7, fifth in three-point field goal percentage at 44.0, tied for 13th in three-pointers made at 1.6, tied for fourth in assists at 5.2 and ninth in assist-to-turnover ratio at 1.4. Taylor underwent knee surgery on Dec. 11 but returned to start the Davidson contest on Dec. 19, when he scored 15 points and had seven assists.

--Junior TRAVIS RELEFORD, the Big 12 Player of the Week on Jan. 9, has scored in double figures in 12 games this season, including two of his last three games: 12 points, six rebounds against Oklahoma (2/1) and 10 points at Iowa State (1/28). He is third on the team in scoring with 9.6 ppg in all games and 11.3 ppg in Big 12 contests. Releford opened Big 12 play with his first career double-double with 16 points and 11 rebounds against Kansas State (1/4). Both were career highs at the time. He then scored 28 points at Oklahoma (1/7). A lockdown defender, Releford is tied for 12th in the Big 12 with 1.2 steals per game.

--Junior ELIJAH JOHNSON had 11 points at Missouri (2/4). He scored 10 points on 4-of-6 shooting at Iowa State (1/28). He has 10 games with 10 or more points this season, including four of his last seven games. Johnson is tied with Taylor for the team lead with 37 three-pointers made and is also the team leader with 38 steals. Johnson has multiple steals in six of his last 10 games, including three against OU (2/1). He has started every game this season for KU and is second on the team in assists with 83. Johnson is ninth in the Big 12 in assists at 3.6, third in steals at 1.7, tied for 13th in three-pointers made at 1.6 and fourth in assist-to-turnover ratio at 1.8.

--Junior JEFF WITHEY scored a career-high 15 points against Oklahoma (2/1) and has scored in double figures in six of his last seven games, including two double-doubles: 13 points, 11 rebounds against Iowa State (1/14) and 10 points, 10 rebounds versus Baylor (1/16). Withey leads the Big 12 with 3.0 blocked shots per game, which ranks in the top 15 nationally. He has a Big 12-best 34 blocked shots in conference play (3.7 average). Withey has 11 games with 10-plus points scored and is also solid from the line with an 86.8 free throw percentage. Withey almost 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 the school record - Cole Aldrich's 10 against Dayton in the 2009 NCAA Tournament. Withey has multiple blocks in 12 of his last 16 games and 15 overall contests in 2011-12. His 5.8 rebound average, which is second best on the KU team, is 12th in the Big 12.

--Senior CONNER TEAHAN has made 36 three-pointers which is third most on the team and one from first. He was 2-for-2 from beyond the arc at Missouri (2/4). Teahan scored a career-high 14 points versus LBSU (12/6) and has chipped in 13 points twice (at USC, 12/22 and vs. Howard, 12/29). Teahan is 12th in the Big 12 in three-point field goal percentage at 36.4.

--Junior KEVIN YOUNG scored seven points at Texas Tech (1/11) and again against Iowa State (1/14). He also pulled down seven rebounds at Texas Tech. Young's best performance of the season came against then-No. 2 Ohio State (12/10) with 14 points on 6-of-8 shooting. He has pulled down four or more rebounds seven times this season. In 2011-12, Young is shooting 56.0 percent (28-for-50) from the field, including a 2-for-2 effort against Oklahoma (2/1).

In the Polls

Kansas is ranked No. 7 in the Associated Press and No. 10 in the ESPN/USA Today Coaches polls released Feb. 6. This is Kansas' fifth appearance in the Top 10 of either poll in 2011-12. KU has been ranked in each of the last 61 Associated Press polls dating back to the 2008-09 season. Included are 44 times when the Jayhawks have appeared in the AP Top 10. KU has been ranked in each of the last 62 coaches' polls with 47 appearances in the Top 10. Kansas has faced or will face six teams currently ranked. The Jayhawks are 3-3 against ranked foes 2011-12.

Up Next

Kansas will return home to face Oklahoma State for the first time this season on Saturday, Feb. 11, at 3 p.m. on the Big 12 Network and play on ESPN Big Monday at Kansas State on Feb. 13, at 8 p.m. The Jayhawks defeated the Wildcats 67-49 in the 2012 conference opener on Jan. 4, in Allen Fieldhouse. KU will then host Texas Tech on Feb. 18, at 7 p.m. on the Big 12 Network. The game will also be part of KU's 60th anniversary celebration of its 1952 NCAA National Championship.



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