Kansas is coming off an impressive preseason with the Jayhawks easily defeating Sparta Praha of the Czech Republic 92-66 and St. Louis Goldstar 79-28. Topeka sophomore Crystal Kemp excelled in both contests and led the Jayhawks with 18.5 points and 8.5 rebounds per game. Freshman Lauren Ervin shined in her debut against Goldstar, posting 14 points and eight boards. Returning team MVP sophomore Tamara Ransburg and newcomer Kaylee Brown added 11.5 ppg each.
Head coach Marian E. Washington stated before the season that at least one strength of this year's team was going to be depth, as the squad is at least two deep at every position. So far that depth has been important for the Jayhawks as three players missed the first exhibition and four sat out the second nursing injuries. The encouraging part is that the Jayhawks haven't missed a beat, averaging 85.5 points per game.
UMKC is also playing its season opener. Last season, the Kangaroos finished 7-21 overall and finished eighth in the Mid-Continent Conference. UMKC defeated KU 74-62 on Dec. 21 in Municipal Auditorium. The top returner for the Roos is senior guard Katie Houlehan who averaged a team-leading 13.5 points and 3.1 assists per game in 2002-03. Also back is sophomore forward Carlai Moore who led the team in the paint and averaged 9.8 points and 5.7 rebounds per game last season.
The matchup with UMKC will mark the 12th meeting all-time between the two teams with KU owning a 9-2 series advantage.
Last Time Out
Sophomore Crystal Kemp and freshman Lauren Ervin each added 14 points and eight rebounds to lead Kansas to a 79-28 win over Saint Louis Goldstar in the Jayhawks' final exhibition contest of the season Sunday, Nov. 16, at Allen Fieldhouse. KU held Goldstar to 11 of 53 shooting from the floor as the Jayhawks improved their exhibition record to 2-0.
KU started the contest with 10 unanswered points, holding Goldstar scoreless until the 13:13 mark of the first half. The Jayhawks led by as many as 31 points and took a 42-11 lead into halftime.
KU began the second half with a 6-0 run. Goldstar's first points of the second half came at the 16:36 mark. Later in the second half, the Jayhawks went on a 12-0 run which increased their lead to 50 points. Their largest lead came just under the 4:00 mark, when the Jayhawks took a commanding 56-point lead on a fast break layup by Ervin. The Jayhawks dominated in the paint in the second half, finishing the contest with 40 of their 79 points scored in the paint.
Ervin (6-4, F), in her first appearance in a Jayhawk uniform, was 5 of 7 from the floor and 4 of 7 from the charity stripe in her debut. Kemp was 6 of 11 shooting and added two steals in the win. Sophomore Tamara Ransburg was the third Jayhawk to score in double figures, chipping in 10 points, five rebounds and three steals. Six other KU players added at least five points en route to the 51-point win.