The La Salle Explorers return four starters off last year's 18-13 team. La Salle enters the game at 6-2, winning five of its last six games after its last victory at Rider (69-60) on Wednesday night. The Explorers have also beaten Hampton, Davidson, Tulane, Lafayette and Hartford, while losing to South Carolina and Villanova.
La Salle held off a Rider rally to preserve its victory three nights
ago and break Rider's nine-game home-winning streak. The Explorers led
62-60 with 1:56 left before pulling away. Senior guard Rodney Green led
La Salle in scoring for the fifth time this year with a season-high 25
points, his fourth 20-point game already. He also added a game-high
seven assists, six boards and two steals.
"We were fortunate," said La Salle head coach Dr. John Giannini. "Rider
has some good wins this year, they are a veteran group of players and
they rarely lose at home. Rider played with great effort and we
couldn't keep them off the boards in the second half."
The 6-5 Green leads La Salle in scoring at 18.0 points per game, while
also averaging 5.8 rebounds, 3.9 assists and 2.0 steals. Green, who's
also made a team-best 14 three-pointers, ranks 19th on La Salle's
all-time scoring list. Senior forward Kimmani Barrett is second in
scoring at 13.3 points per game (12 threes), followed by rising
freshman center Aaric Murray (11.5 ppg, team-high 7.1 rpg and 20
blocks), senior forward Yves Mekongo (10.1 ppg), senior reserve guard
Ruben Guillandeaux (9.5 ppg), and junior forward Terrell Williams (6.9
ppg, 6.1 rpg).
La Salle, located in Philadelphia, Pa., averages 72.8 points per game
while allowing 69.6. The Explorers hold a dominating +10.4 rebounding
edge over foes.
KU leads the overall series with La Salle 2-0. The teams last met in
Allen Fieldhouse on Dec. 20, 1975, when Kansas pulled out a 74-73
victory. Their first meeting came on March 31, 1952 in the Olympic
playoffs in New York, N.Y., with KU winning 70-65.
TWIN CONNECTIONS/ HIGH
SCHOOL & AAU REUNION
KU and La Salle both feature identical twins with Jayhawks' sophomores
Markieff and Marcus Morris and Explorers' juniors Terrell and Jerrell Williams. The Morris twins played high school basketball with La
Salle's Parrish Grant and Green, and were AAU teammates with Devon White and Earl Pettis. Marcus and Markieff teamed with Green to lead
Prep Charter to the 2006 Pennsylvania Class AA State Championship.
KU redshirt freshman guard C.J. Henry shined against Radford Wednesday
night at Allen Fieldhouse with 11 points in 10 minutes. He scored all
11 in the final two minutes, 50 seconds. Henry has seen limited action
thus far as works his way back from a knee injury.
"I haven't given him a chance to play much at all," KU coach Bill Self
said. "(That) was by far the best he's looked since he's been here. He
looked like he belonged out there. ... He's got more bounce. I haven't
given him a chance to play, in large part, because I haven't seen him
play yet. To me, it's hard to put a guy out there if you haven't seen
him play. He looked good. He did some good things, not just because he
made shots. He moved pretty well and he looked quick and athletic. I
would anticipate him getting more clock as we go forward if he
continues to improve."
DEEP, DEEP, DEEP
The deep Jayhawks will continue to get deeper with Henry possibly
getting more time and the addition of Brady Morningstar and Jeff Withey
"It could get interesting where guys' minutes are being reduced and
maybe we can actually get out and pressure some people because we
really haven't done a great job with that," Self said. "We could have
some issues, but if guys buy in and will play shorter minutes and play
harder defensively, then I think we can have a happy team. Cole
(Aldrich) is not going to play 30 (minutes) a game more than likely, we
got too much depth inside. Sherron (Collins) will play 30 a game.
Xavier (Henry) might play that, but for the most part, I see those
other guys, whoever's playing well that night, really being able to
create some havoc defensively, at least hopefully."
"I THINK WE CAN BECOME A
REALLY GOOD DEFENSIVE TEAM"
Self commented about Xavier Henry's defense and the KU's overall ‘D.'
"I think Xavier's defense is pretty good," Self said. "I think it's
good for a young kid, without question. I don't know if I would put it
right at Brandon Rush's third year yet, but I think his defense is
getting better. I think he's still got a lot to learn in some areas and
can relax a little bit. I think individually, our defenders aren't as
good as what we are as a team. As we get a little bit better
individually and learn how not to relax and positioning a little better
and maybe guard the ball a little better, I think we can become a
really good defensive team."
KANSAS CITY, HERE WE COME
KU is 14-5 all time in games played on Dec. 12 and 3-0 in games played
in Kansas City on this day. The Jayhawks' most recent victory in K.C.
on Dec. 12 was in 1992, when Kansas crushed UMKC, 108-62, at Kemper
Arena in the championship game of the Golden Harvest Classic. Steve
Woodberry was named the tournament MVP. The Jayhawks went 29-7 that
1992-93 season, won the Big Eight Championship and advanced to the
Final Four. Senior guard Rex Walters led the team in scoring at 15.3
points per game, followed by senior guard Adonis Jordan at 12.1 ppg.
#1 KU vs. La Salle
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