#1 KU vs. La Salle

News, notes and quotes on KU's matchup with La Salle today at Sprint Center in Kansas City. Tipoff is 1 p.m. (CT) on ESPN with Ron Franklin and Fran Fraschilla calling the action.

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.


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."


The deep Jayhawks will continue to get deeper with Henry possibly getting more time and the addition of Brady Morningstar and Jeff Withey after finals.

"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."


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."


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.

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