This will be KU's third game of the Basketball Hall of Fame Showcase with Tennessee Tech the fourth and final foe arriving in the Phog Friday night.
Oakland University, located in Rochester, Mich., takes a 2-2 record
into Allen Fieldhouse. After losing its first two games to Eastern Michigan (81-77) and at Wisconsin (58-42), the Golden Grizzlies are
riding a two-game winning streak with victories over Rochester College
(97-63) and at Tennessee Tech (77-56) on Monday night.
Senior forward Derick Nelson led OU against Tech with 20 points and
seven rebounds, while junior center Keith Benson also had a great game
with 17 points, 10 rebounds, and four blocks. Oakland held the Golden
Eagles to just 11 points over the final 10 minutes and outscored them
42-23 in the second half. OU also shot 42 percent (5-12) from beyond
the arc the final 20 minutes.
"They made a run on us early (in the second half) and then we played
great basketball," Oakland head coach Greg Kampe said. "The key was our
Oakland averages 73.2 points per game and allows just 64.5 ppg, while
also outrebounding opponents, 41.8 to 35.2. The Golden Grizzlies,
though, are shooting just 41.3 percent from the field and 23.7 percent
from three-point range.
OU is led by two of the best unknown players in America. They are the
6-11, 225-pound Benson and 5-11 senior point guard Johnathan Jones, the
Preseason Summit League Player of the Year/Preseason Mid-Major
All-American. Jones, who led the nation in assists last season with 8.1
per game, averages 13.8 points plus a team-high 6.0 assists per game
and 11 steals.
Benson, meanwhile, is a dominant big man and the school's all-time and
single-season record holder in blocks. He's projected as a first-round
pick (No. 29 overall) in the 2010 NBA Draft by nbadraft.net.
Benson averages a team-high 16.3 points, 10.3 rebounds and
3.8 blocks per game.
The 6-5, 236-pound Nelson is another top gun up front with averages of
14.8 points and 7. 3 rebounds per game. Junior guard Larry Wright (8.5
ppg), junior forward Will Hudson (6.3 ppg, 6.8 rpg), and sophomore
guards Drew Maynard (5.0 ppg) and Blake Cushingberry (5.0 ppg) also
contribute to the attack.
After returning five starters and eight letterwinners off last season's
23-13 team, the Golden Grizzlies are the overwhelming preseason pick to
win the Summit League in 2010. They had a memorable 2008-09 campaign,
winning a Div. I era-best 23 wins, second most all time, and earning a
berth in the inaugural College Insider.com Postseason Tournament, where
OU lost in the quarterfinals at Bradley, 77-76.
KU coach Bill Self expects Oakland to be a good test after winning
blowout games against Hofstra and Central Arkansas, and a nail-biter
versus Memphis (57-55).
"They're up and they should be," Self said. "They return just about
everybody, just like we do. ... They're a highly rated program and they
schedule well. Last year, we played North Dakota State in the first
round (NCAA tournament) and Oakland had them in the conference
championship game and just let it get away at the end. I think they'll
be a difficult game for us. With the exception of Memphis, they'll be
the best challenge we've had by far."
Self expects his team to be ready.
"This is a team that has a history of beating people and they can
certainly beat us if we don't come ready to play," Self said. "If we do
that, it will be a good game."
Self has great respect for head coach Kampe.
"(He's) been there a long time," Self said. "I only hope I can coach
here as long as he's coached there."
Kampe is in his 26th season at OU with a 421-316 record, ranking 31st
among winningest active Division I coaches. He's led the Golden
Grizzlies to NCAA tournaments in both Div. II and Div. I, and recorded
20-win seasons seven times.
Only four active Division I coaches have been at their respective
schools longer than Kampe, led by Jim Boeheim with 33 seasons at
ROCK CHALK, JAYHAWK!
The top-ranked Jayhawks look to extend the nation's longest home court
winning streak to 44 games against OU. KU has been blowing away
opponents thus far with a +29.3 scoring margin, averaging 84 points per
game while allowing just 54.7 points.
The ‘Hawks are shooting well (51.8 percent from the field) and limiting
foes to just 32.6 percent. Freshman swingman Xavier Henry leads KU in
scoring at 16.7 points per game, followed by senior guard Sherron Collins (15.7 ppg and team-high six steals). Junior center Cole Aldrich
averages 12 points and a team-best 8.0 rebounds and 4.0 blocks per
game. Sophomore forward Marcus Morris rounds out the double-digit
scorers at 10.3 points per game.
Other players in the mix are freshman guard C.J. Henry (8.0 ppg, all
eight points against Central Arkansas), sophomore forward Markieff Morris (6.0 ppg, 5.7 rpg), freshman guard Elijah Johnson (5.0 ppg),
sophomore guard Tyshawn Taylor (4.7 ppg and team-high 13 assists),
freshman forward Thomas Robinson (4.3 ppg, 5.7 rpg), and junior guard
Tyrel Reed (4.0 ppg).
LET'S CRASH THE BOARDS
KU was outrebounded last game by undersized Central Arkansas, 38-36.
The Jayhawks are hoping for a better rebounding effort against Oakland.
As always, crashing the boards has been a strong emphasis in practice.
"Coach Self has a treadmill in the practice gym, so if we miss an
assignment or miss a block-out, you're going to be running on it,"
Aldrich said. "It's pretty much 15 seconds of hell. It really gets the
point across. It's one thing that really helped me get a lot of
rebounds last year."
GREAT DAY TO BE A JAYHAWK
KU is 8-1 all time in games played on Nov. 25. The last time KU played
on Nov. 25 was in 2007 (national championship season), where the ‘Hawks
won a 76-72 overtime thriller against Arizona. The previous year on
Nov. 25, 2006, No. 10 Kansas won a huge overtime game against defending
national champion No. 1 Florida, 82-80. The victory was KU's first
against a No. 1 opponent since the Jayhawks beat UMass on Dec. 3, 1994.
Kansas kept on winning in 2006-07, recording a 33-5 mark and earning a
berth in the Elite Eight.
#1 KU vs. Oakland Tonight!
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