News, notes and quotes on Kansas' matchup with Toledo at 7 p.m. Monday in Allen Fieldhouse, while wondering if senior forward Tarik Black will come up big again after scoring a season-high 17 points against Georgetown on Dec. 21.
Toledo (12-0), which beat Coppin State, 85-66, at home on Saturday, is off to its best start since the 1966-67 season and matches the second-best start in school history (1940-41). At 12-0, the Rockets were one of seven teams undefeated in NCAA Division I through Dec. 27.
Senior guard Rian Pearson leads five players in double figures with 16.6 points per game. He's followed in scoring by junior swingman Justin Drummond (14.8), junior guard Julius Brown (13.3 ppg, team-high 88 assists), junior forward J.D. Weatherspoon (10.9 ppg, team-high 6.0 rpg), and 6-9 sophomore center Nathan Boothe (10.4 ppg, team-high 13 blocks). Boothe is Toledo's tallest player on the roster, along with 6-9 freshman center Zach Garber.
The Rockets, who were the preseason pick to win the Mid-American Conference, average 86.2 points per game and allow 73.2. They're shooting 49.8 percent from the field, 34.1 percent from three-point range, and 73.3 percent at the free throw line. Toledo is holding opponents to 45.8 percent shooting and 37.9 percent from downtown, while outrebounding foes 37.5 to 30.3. The Rockets also average 30.9 free throws and 16.4 assists per game, while forcing 13.4 turnovers per contest.
Toledo is coached by Tod Kowalczyk, who is 50-58 in his fourth year and 186-170 in his 12th season overall.
"(They're a) solid team," KU coach Bill Self said. "Tod and his staff have done an unbelievable job in a short amount of time flipping like they have. For them to be (12)-0 coming in here, I'm sure they'll have a ton of confidence. I like their team. He's done a real nice job. They've got some good wins and they've won some close games, so they've learned how to win close games."
KU freshman guard Frank Mason is ready for the challenge.
"We know they're a good team," Mason said. "Obviously, they have a great record. They've been on a pretty good win streak so we just have to come ready to play."
SELF ON KU'S 8-3 RECORD
Self was asked by a reporter if he's content with KU's 8-3 record?
"I was hoping we could get to Christmas with less then three (losses), whether it was two or one or whatever," Self said. "I didn't think it would be realistic that we'd run the table to this point because the competition was so stiff and playing games away from home. If we're able to play well the next two games (Toledo and San Diego State on Jan. 5 in the Phog), and, of course, both of them are going to be tough, I would think that's about the record we should have going into conference play.
"Have we played great? No. Have we gotten better? Yes. We still got a ways to go, but hopefully we will get better over Christmas break. I wouldn't be surprised if we had lost one or two less, but I'm also not surprised where we're at at all."
NO. 3 RPI
Self loves that KU's RPI is No. 3 in the country.
"It's nice to be that high because we've played such a hard schedule," Self said, "and it's going to continue to go up because the next two games are going to be two of the hardest games we played."
JAYHAWKS HAVE HAPPY HOLIDAYS
The players enjoyed seeing their families over Christmas break.
"It was very good to go home," said Mason, who hails from Petersburg, Va.
"I got to see my son, family and close friends."
Mason's son, Amari, is 2 years old.
"He liked everything he got for Christmas," Mason said. "He was very happy, lots of smiles."
BACK TO PRACTICE
The Jayhawks have been busy practicing since returning home.
"It's been more intense," Mason said about practices. "A lot more focus on the defensive end. We did a lot of running just to stay in shape, things like that."
Freshman guard Wayne Selden talked bout Self's message in practice.
"Basically, we just have to keep moving forward," Selden said. "We have to keep getting better and we can't settle for where we're at right now because we're nowhere where we want to be."