Eagle Hunting?

News, notes and quotes on KU's matchup with Tennessee Tech tonight (7:00 CT) at Allen Fieldhouse in the final game of the Basketball Hall of Fame Showcase, while wondering if junior center Cole Aldrich will have a breakout game.

Cole Aldrich, who scored just four points in KU's last game two nights ago against Oakland, is averaging 10 points, 8.3 rebounds and 3.8 blocks in 25.3 minutes per game.

SCOUTING TENNESSEE TECH

Members of the Ohio Valley Conference, the Golden Eagles return four starters and eight letterwinners off last season's 12-18 team. Tech is 3-3 after breaking its two-game losing streak with a 72-65 victory at Southern Utah Wednesday. TTU has played five of its six games on the road with all three wins coming away from home. Tonight's game will be Tech's third contest of the week.

Senior guard Frank Davis led the Golden Eagles against Southern Utah with 19 points, while junior forward Alfred Jones added 11 points and nine rebounds.

"We played really tough and hopefully we can continue to do that," Tennessee Tech head coach Mike Sutton said. "It takes time to develop that toughness. There will be ups and downs in the season but it's all about getting your team ready for the end of the year to be playing their best basketball heading into the tournament."

After their battle with KU, the road-tested Golden Eagles will play four of their next five games at home.

"We're real proud of our kids. Hopefully the opportunity to play on the road will help us down the road later in the season," Sutton said.

Tennessee Tech, located in Cookeville, Tenn., averages just 66.7 points per game while allowing 79.5 points. The Golden Eagles are also being outrebounded, 38.0 to 34.8. TTU is led by sophomore forward Kevin Murphy, who averages 15.3 points and 4.7 rebounds per game. He's followed in scoring by Davis (10.3 ppg), senior guard Elijah Muhammad (9.5 ppg, team-high 23 assists), freshman forward Jud Dillard (8.2 ppg) and Jones (7.5 ppg, team-high 5.5 rpg).

Freshman forward Terrell Barnes (4.5 ppg, 3.8 rpg), sophomore guard Zach Bailey (3.3 ppg), sophomore forward Bassey Inameti (3.2 ppg, 2.7 rpg), and junior forward Byron Pickens (2.3 ppg) also contribute to the attack.

The Golden Eagles have played three teams the Jayhawks have faced thus far — Oakland (77-56 home loss on Monday night), Central Arkansas (71-67 road victory), and Memphis (92-59 road loss). Kansas beat Oakland, 89-59, on Wednesday night, and also claimed victories over Central Arkansas (94-54) and Memphis (57-55).

TTU stayed with Oakland the first 20 minutes. The score was tied five times before halftime.

"They played Oakland really well the first half, then Oakland put it on the second half," Self said.

Now in his eighth season at TTU, Sutton has posted a 117-103 record. He was named Ohio Valley Conference Coach of the Year in 2005 after leading the Golden Eagles to the OVC title. Sutton, the second-longest tenured coach in the conference, has persevered under great personal adversity. Diagnosed with Guillain-Barre Syndrome in April 2005, Sutton was paralyzed and fighting for his life that summer. He returned the next season (2005-06) and led Tech to a 19-12 record, his first of back-to-back 19-win seasons.

Sutton  received the Most Courageous Award by the United States Basketball Writers' Association after the 2005-06 season.

"I totally respect, and as everybody in our profession, does, Mike Sutton," Self said. "He's fought so many health issues. To see him come back and be back on the bench is so positive."

"STARTING TO GET IT"

Self, who wasn't pleased after the Memphis game (Nov. 17) with KU's ball movement, said he's more satisfied with his squad's teamwork. That, in turn, will make the Jayhawks tougher to beat.

"I think we're starting to get it a little bit," Self said after KU's win over Oakland. "We had some guys not play well, but when those guys start playing up to their capability, I think we're going to see vast improvement pretty quick."

HOT SHOOTING

KU has some players shooting lights out, led by sophomore forward Markieff Morris. After missing a shot against Hofstra in the season opener, Morris has made his last 10 field goals. He's shooting a scorching 90.9 percent from the field.

Junior guard Tyrel Reed is also on a hot streak. After going 0-of-6 his first two games, Reed has shot 7-of-9 his last two games, including 6-of-8 from three-point range.

Senior guard Sherron Collins is "only" averaging 14.0 points thus far, but has made 13-of-21 shots (61.9 percent) the last three games. Collins, who's shooting 55.6 percent from the field, is 47 points shy of tying Wilt Chamberlain for No. 21 on the school career scoring list.

Freshman swingman Xavier Henry is shooting a sizzling 54.8 percent from the field, 55.6 percent beyond the arc, and 92.9 percent at the free-throw line. He leads KU and the Big 12 freshmen class in scoring at 17.3 points per game. Brandon Rush, the second-year Indiana Pacers' guard, was the last KU freshman to lead the team in scoring with 13.5 ppg in 2005-06.

Combo guard Elijah Johnson is another freshman shooting well early this season. He's made 10-of-16 shots for 62.5 percent.

REMEMBERING NO. 1,600

Exactly 13 years ago on Nov. 27, 1996, the No. 2 Jayhawks achieved an important milestone by winning their 1,600th game in school history with an 80-63 victory over Virginia in the championship game of the Maui Invitational in front of 2,500 fans at the Lahaina Civic Center. Sophomore Paul Pierce led KU with 27 points, while Scot Pollard scored 17 and Raef LaFrentz added 15 points. Pollard also grabbed a game-high 13 boards.

Kansas marched to a 22-0 start that magical 1996-97 season, won the first ever Big 12 Conference regular-season title, and finished the year No. 1 in the Associated Press poll for the first time in history. KU went 34-2, losing to Arizona in the Sweet 16. That team is regarded by many Jayhawk observers as one of the best in school history, and certainly one of the most talented. KU had five players go on to play in the NBA, including Pierce, LaFrentz, Pollard, Billy Thomas, and Ryan Robertson.

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