Big 12 Tournament Notes

Big 12 regular-season champion Kansas (25-6, 14-2) enters the Phillips 66 Big 12 Championship as the No. 1 seed for the sixth time in the 13-year history of the league.

KU won its fifth straight, ninth Big 12 and 52nd conference regular-season championship in 2009. Kansas will face the winner of the No. 8 Nebraska vs. No. 9 Baylor game Thursday at 11:30 a.m. at the Ford Center in Oklahoma City. The Huskers and Bears will play Wednesday, March 11, at 11:30 a.m. Kansas is three-time defending Big 12 Championship champion and takes a nine-game league tourney winning streak into Oklahoma City. KU has won six Big 12 and 10 conference postseason championships overall. Since the Big 12's inception in 1997, Kansas is 12-0 in its first games, 11-1 in the quarterfinals, 7-4 in semifinals and 6-1 in championship games.

About Kansas
No. 11 Kansas has won six of its last seven games heading into the Phillips 66 Big 12 Championship. KU has won the event each of the last three seasons and six times since the inception of the league in 1996-97.

The Jayhawks are averaging 77.5 points per game and giving up 65.6 for a +11.9 scoring margin. KU leads the Big 12 in field goal percentage defense at 38.6 percent, rebound defense at 31.5 and rebound margin at +7.3. In conference play, KU led the conference in scoring margin (+10.5), field goal percentage defense (38.6), three-point field goal percentage (40.3), three-point field goal percentage defense (32.7), rebounding defense (29.8) and rebound margin (+8.2).

Junior guard Sherron Collins leads KU in scoring at 18.3 points per game, which is fourth in the Big 12. Collins has averaged 21.6 points in his last six games. An All-Big 12 First Team selection, Bob Cousy Award finalist, Oscar Robertson Trophy finalist, Wooden Award and Naismith Award mid-season candidate, Collins has led the team in scoring in 23 of 31 games this season. A three-time Big 12 Player of the Week, Collins has a team-high 68 three-point field goals and 155 assists. Named All-Big 12 First Team and co-Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year, sophomore center Cole Aldrich has five double-doubles in his last six games. His 18 double-doubles on the season are second most in the Big 12. Aldrich is scoring 14.8 points per game. He leads the Big 12 in blocked shots with a 2.5 per game average. He is second in the league in field goal percentage at 60.1. He and Oklahoma's Blake Griffin are the only two Big 12 players to average a double-double with Aldrich at 14.8 ppg and 10.5 rpg and Griffin at 22.1 ppg and 14.2 rpg. Freshman guard Tyshawn Taylor, a Big 12 All-Rookie Team selection, is averaging 15.8 points in his last four games and 10 points per contest on the season. Named Phillips 66 Big 12 Rookie of the Week four times this season, Taylor is second on the team with 95 assists. He is third on the team with 35 steals, just behind sophomore guard Brady Morningstar's 38 and Collins' 38. Morningstar leads the Big 12 in three-point field goal percentage at 45.3 percent and is scoring 6.9 points per game. Marcus Morris, a Big 12 All-Rookie Team selection, is scoring 7.5 points per contest and he leads the Big 12 freshmen class with 4.9 rebounds per game. Sophomore guard Tyrel Reed averages 6.7 points and is making 39.8 percent from three-point range. Freshman forward Markieff Morris, twin of Marcus, is scoring 5.0 points per game and he has a 4.4 rebound average. Junior guard/forward Mario Little averages 4.8 points and 3.2 rebounds per outing. He was named Phillips 66 co-Big 12 Rookie of the Week Feb. 9. He missed the first 12 games of the season due to injuries. Freshman guard Travis Releford (2.9 ppg) and freshman forward Quintrell Thomas (1.6 ppg) also see time on the floor for the Jayhawks.

Kansas vs. Nebraska Series
This series dates back to 1900 and Kansas leads 166-71. KU swept the regular-season series with NU – a 68-62 win at Nebraska on Jan. 28 and a 70-53 win in Lawrence on Feb. 21. Kansas is 6-1 against Nebraska in conference tournament play (2-1 in Big Eight and 4-0 in Big 12) and the two teams met in the quarterfinals of the 2008 event with Kansas winning 64-54 at the Sprint Center in Kansas City. Kansas has won 13 straight and 22 of the last 23 meetings with Nebraska dating back to 1999. The last Nebraska victory in the series was 74-55 on Feb. 15, 2004, in Lincoln. The previous NU win was 64-59 on Feb. 10, 1999, in Lawrence. Kansas holds a 27-3 record against Nebraska since the inception of the Big 12 and has swept the regular-season series 11 times, including each of the last five seasons.

Kansas vs. Baylor Series
Should Kansas face Baylor, it would be the first time in Big 12 Championship history the two teams have met. Kansas leads the overall series with Baylor 14-1, including a 75-65 win in Waco, Texas, on Feb. 2. Kansas has won seven straight in the series that dates back to 1951. The lone Baylor victory was Feb. 12, 2001, an 85-77 win in Waco.

Kansas in the Phillips 66 Big 12 Championship
Kansas is the three-time defending Phillips 66 Big 12 Championship champion. Here are some notes heading into the conference postseason tournament:

--Kansas has won more Phillips 66 Big 12 Championships than any other school with six. Oklahoma is next with three titles (2001-02-03). KU won the first three events in 1997-98-99, then the 2006-07-08 titles. KU is 6-1 in tourney title games having only lost the 2002 title to Oklahoma.

--Kansas is the only team to have won at least 20 games in the Phillips 66 Big 12 Championship. The Jayhawks are 25-6 in the event, while Oklahoma is next at 19-9.

--Kansas has been the No. 1 seed six times (1997, ‘98, ‘02, ‘03, '07, ‘09), No. 2 seed four times (2001, ‘05, ‘06, '08), No. 3 seed twice (1999, ‘04), and the No. 5 seed in 2000.

--Kansas is the only Big 12 team to have won all 12 of its first games in the conference championship. The Jayhawks are 1-0 in opening round games and 11-1 in quarterfinal contests.

--Kansas has reached the semifinals in 11 of the 12 Phillips 66 Big 12 Championships. The Jayhawks did not reach the 2000 semis.

--Kansas has won three of its six titles as the No. 1 seed – 1997, 1998 and 2007. KU was the No. 3 seed in its 1999 title run and the No. 2 seed in 2006 and 2008. The lowest seed to win the event was No. 3 - Kansas in 1999, Oklahoma in 2003 and Oklahoma State in 2005.

 

KU Has Winning Record in Oklahoma City
The Jayhawks will play in Oklahoma City for the ninth time at this season's Big 12 Championship as KU is 6-2, including 5-1 in the Ford Center. Besides the 2007 Phillips 66 Big 12 Championship title, KU's run to the NCAA 2003 title game started with a 2-0 record at the Ford Center when KU defeated Utah State, 64-61, and Arizona State, 108-76, in the first and second rounds (West Regional). Kansas also played at the Myriad Convention Center (now the Cox Convention Center) - across the street from the Ford Center in the 1998 NCAA first/second rounds and went 1-1. That year, KU defeated Prairie View A&M, 110-52, in the first round, before falling to Rhode Island, 80-75, in the second round (Midwest Regional). In the 2005 NCAA Tournament Kansas fell to Bucknell, 64-63, in the first round of the event at the Ford Center.

 

Team Notables
--Kansas leads the Big 12 in field goal percentage defense at 38.6, rebounding defense at 31.5 rpg and rebound margin at +7.3. KU also ranks among the Big 12's top four teams in field goal percentage (second at 48.1), scoring margin (second at +11.9), free throw percentage (second at 72.9), three-point field goal percentage (second at 38.3), three point field goal percentage defense (fourth at 33.6), rebounding (fourth at 38.8), assists (second at 16.2) and blocked shots (third at 4.4).

--Kansas climbed back into the national polls on Feb. 2 and is ranked No. 11 in both the Associated Press and ESPN/USA Today Coaches' polls released March 9. Last week at No. 9 was the first time KU has been ranked in the Top 10 since the final polls of the 2007-08 season when KU was No. 4 by AP (final poll released before the NCAA Tournament) and No. 1 in the coaches' poll. Kansas went seven weeks out of the polls before making the Feb. 2 rankings in 2008-09.

--Kansas currently ranks No. 8 in the Feb. 24 ESPN.com RPI rating, which is second in the Big 12 behind Oklahoma (4).

--KU has outshot 25 of 31 opponents this season and has shot 50 percent or better in 15 games, including nine Big 12 contests. Kansas is 23-2 when outshooting its opponent this season and 2-4 when outshot.

--Kansas has outrebounded four of its last six opponents and 23 of 31 opponents this season. KU ended with a +8.2 rebound margin in Big 12 play, +7.3 in all games.

--Through 31 games, four different Jayhawks have scored 20 or more points. Sherron Collins has 11 games of 20 or more points, including five of his last six games, while Cole Aldrich has six. Tyshawn Taylor has three 20-point games, including a career-high 26 at Oklahoma (Feb. 23). Brady Morningstar has one 20-point effort.

--Kansas has held 141 of its last 144 opponents to under 50 percent shooting, including all 31 foes this season. Nineteen of those opponents have shot below 40 percent. The last team to shoot 50 percent or better against KU was Louisiana-Monroe in the 2007-08 season opener (51 percent) as Kansas has held 70 straight foes to under 50 percent shooting.

--Individually, eight different Jayhawks have led or tied for the team lead in steals this season, six in assists and three in scoring, rebounding and blocked shots.

--KU is 110-16 (87.3 percent) in its last 126 games dating back to Jan. 21, 2006.

 

Player Notables
--Junior guard Sherron Collins posted 21 points against Texas Saturday to record his 11th 20-point effort of the season. He has averaged 21.6 points in his last six games. Collins was named All-Big 12 First Team on March 8 and has been named Phillips 66 Big 12 Player of the Week three times this season. A Bob Cousy Award finalist, Oscar Robertson Trophy finalist, Wooden Award and Naismith Trophy mid-season candidate, Collins was named to the NABC District 8 First Team March 5. Collins leads Kansas with an 18.3 point scoring average, which is fourth in the Big 12. He has led (or tied for the lead) Kansas in scoring in 23 games this season. At Baylor (Feb. 2), he set the Kansas record for consecutive free throws made with 35 before missing. Collins also ranks among the league leaders in assists (fourth at 5.0), free throw percentage (sixth at .800), field goal percentage (ninth at .424), three-point field goals made (10th at 2.2), three-point field goal percentage (15th at .382) and assist-to-turnover ratio (13th at 1.5).

--Sophomore center Cole Aldrich was also named All-Big 12 First Team and registered his 18th double-double of the season with 12 points and 10 rebounds in the home finale against Texas Saturday. In his last seven games he is averaging 16.4 points and 11.0 rebounds. Like Collins, Aldrich was named to the NABC District 8 First Team on March 5. His 18 double-doubles on the season are second most in the league next to Oklahoma's Blake Griffin's 25. He and Griffin are the only two conference players to average a double-double with Aldrich at 14.8 ppg and 10.5 rpg. Aldrich has six 20-point efforts in 2008-09. Aldrich currently ranks 13th on the Kansas career blocked shots list with 111. Aldrich has 54 of KU's 93 dunks this season. Aldrich leads the Big 12 in blocked shots with 2.5 per game. He is second in the Big 12 in rebounding at 10.5 rpg, second in field goal percentage at 60.1 percent, eighth in free throw percentage at 79.6 percent and 12th in scoring at 14.8 ppg.

--Freshman guard Tyshawn Taylor was named Phillips 66 Big 12 Rookie of the Week for the fourth time this season on March 2. He is scoring 15.8 points in his last four games and is 21-for-34 (61.8 percent) from the field in that span. He had a career-high 26 points in the win at Oklahoma (Feb. 23) and then had 15 points against Missouri (March 1). Taylor has led Kansas in scoring four times this season. His 10 point average on the season is second most among Big 12 freshmen. Taylor is tied for the lead among Big 12 freshmen in assists with 3.06 per game (along with OU's Willie Warren). His 1.1 steals average is second among the Big 12 freshmen class.

--Sophomore guard Brady Morningstar leads the Big 12 in three-point field goal percentage at 45.3 percent after going 3-for-4 from beyond the arc with nine points against Texas Saturday. He has multiple threes in 15 games this season. Morningstar has started every game for Kansas in 2008-09. He is scoring 6.9 points on the season. He has at least one steal in his last three games and 15 of his last 18 outings. A lockdown defender, Morningstar is second on the team with 44 floor burns. He is behind Sherron Collins' 54 floor burns and just ahead of Tyrel Reed's 42.

--Freshman forward Marcus Morris has started 12 of the last 14 games for KU and 18 games this season. He has shot 50 percent or better in his last three contests and is 10-for-15 (66.7 percent) from the field in that span. He made all three of his shots against Texas Saturday. His eight rebounds at Texas Tech (March 4) were his most in Big 12 play. He is second on the team with 4.9 rebounds per game, which leads the Big 12 freshmen.

--Freshman forward Markieff Morris has shot 50 percent or better in six of his last seven games, including 3-for-5 against Texas Saturday. His eight points against the Longhorns were his most since scoring nine points at Baylor on Feb. 2. In his last six, Markieff is 15-for-28 (53.6 percent). He is scoring 5.0 points on the season. He has started seven games this season and is third on the team with 4.4 rebounds per game. His 4.4 rpg on the season is third among Big 12 freshmen.

--Sophomore guard Tyrel Reed made his only shot attempt, a three-pointer, against Texas Saturday to end the first half. He is averaging 20.8 minutes per contest and has been KU's first player off the bench 12 times this season. An Academic All-Big 12 First Team selection, Reed has 16 games with multiple threes during 2008-09, including two of his last three (three vs. Missouri and two at Texas Tech). He has shot 50 percent or better in 15 games. Reed is making 39.8 percent from three point range.

--Junior guard Mario Little scored six points against Texas, his most points since scoring nine at Missouri on Feb. 9. He posted a perfect line against UT with 1-1 field goals and 4-4 free throws. He also did that against Texas A&M on Jan. 19 – 6-6 field goals, 2-2 free throws. Little is averaging 12.9 minutes per game with 4.8 scoring and 3.2 rebound averages. Little has pulled down six or more rebounds three times this season. Little, the Big 12 Preseason Newcomer of the Year, missed the first 12 games of the season due to injuries.

--Freshman guard Travis Releford has scored four points in each of his last two games and is averaging 2.9 points on the season. In his last two, he is a combined 3-for-3 from the field and 2-for-2 from the line. Releford has played in 30 of 31 games this season and averages 7.5 minutes per contest. He is making 56.9 percent from the field in 2008-09.

Up Next
Should Kansas defeat either Nebraska or Baylor, the Jayhawks advance to the semifinals to be played Friday, March 13, at 6 p.m. That game will be televised on the Big 12 Network.

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