The 32-point margin of victory was the largest in the Big Self era for true road games and the largest true road win by KU since a 97-58 victory at SMU on Jan. 7, 1995.
Cornell (12-2), which returns five starters off last year's 21-10 NCAA
tournament team (the Big Red lost to Missouri in the first round of the
NCAA's), has won its last 10 straight. CU's 10-game winning streak is
tied for fifth nationally, while KU's 13-game winning streak is tied
for second in the nation.
Cornell's two losses came against Seton Hall on Nov. 20 (89-79) and at
then-No. 9 Syracuse on Nov. 24 (88-73). The Big Red have notched road
victories over such teams as Alabama (71-67), UMass (74-61), La Salle
(78-75), St. John's (71-66) and Bucknell (104-98 in OT), and also
defeated Davidson (91-88 in OT) and Saint Joseph's (78-66).
Cornell, a member of the Ivy League which is located in Ithaca, N.Y.,
is coming off a 75-49 home victory against Bryant on Saturday, where
the Big Red made their first eight three-pointers.
Head coach Steve Donahue's Big Red are averaging 76.6 points per game
and allowing 69.2. Cornell is shooting 47.7 percent from the field, a
sizzling 43.3 percent from three-point range (No. 2 in country), and an
impressive 74.7 percent from the free-throw line. CU is also 10th in
the nation in three-point field goals per game (9.4). The Big Red are
an unselfish team, averaging 17.1 assists per game (No. 20 nationally)
while barely outrebounding foes 33.4 to 32.6.
Cornell, which starts four seniors and boast 12 upperclassmen on its
18-man roster, is led by three All-Ivy League players in 6-7 senior
forward Ryan Wittman, 7-0 foot senior center Jeff Foote, and 5-11
senior point guard Louis Dale.
Wittman averages a team-high 18.9 points per game while making a
team-best 46 threes and ranking second with 17 steals. Foote is next in
scoring at 13.6 points per game, while averaging a team-high 8.7
rebounds and recording a team-best 25 blocks. Dale, who's back in
action after missing the last three games with an ankle injury,
averages 9.7 points per game and paces the team with 57 assists and 19
Six-foot sophomore guard Chris Wroblewski (9.8 ppg, No. 2 with 52
assists and 25 threes), 6-4 senior guard Geoff Reeves (6.9 ppg), 6-7
senior forward Jon Jaques (6.1 ppg), 6-9 senior forward/center Mark Coury (4.0 ppg), 6-5 junior forward Adam Wire (2.9 ppg) and 6-7 senior
forward/center Alex Tyler (2.8 ppg) also contribute to the attack.
Self is obviously very concerned with the Big Red's three-point
shooting. Kansas, though, can shoot the three ball, too, ranking No. 3
in the nation behind Cornell in three-point field goal percentage
"The team that will probably have the most success is the team who
defends the other's three the best," Self said. "Cornell takes more
three-point shots (21.8 treys per game) than we do (19.0), but they
just flat-out shoot it. They have six guys who are shooting a higher
percentage than Sherron's [Collins], which is a pretty remarkable stat
considering Sherron is shooting 41 percent from three. We really have
to take away threes and take away layups. It will be very similar to
how we wanted to defend Michigan."
Kansas certainly has the advantage in guarding the three. The Jayhawks
rank ninth nationally in three-point field goal percentage defense
(.265), while Cornell is 310th in the country in that category.
KU junior center Cole Aldrich expects a big challenge.
"They have some size to match up with us, but I think most importantly
is they have a lot of seniors on their team," Aldrich said. "They have
four senior starters which will produce a good challenge for us. We are
going to have to defend them in other ways than other teams like Temple
because of their shooting ability. It is going to be another tough
game, but it will be one of those fun games that will make us better."
KU junior guard Tyrel Reed said Self told the team that Syracuse coach
Jim Boeheim said Cornell was one of the better teams the Orangemen had
played all year.
"They play very smart basketball," Reed said. "They are really good
shooters and the biggest thing we have to do is pressure the ball and
not give them open looks."
Cornell is hoping to knock down shots and shock the basketball world
with a huge upset.
"The one thing we've got is a big kid who we can go to," Donahue told
ESPN writer Andy Katz of Foote. "We can go to him and that takes the
pressure off the other guys."
"Kansas has great length and athleticism and will provide a lot of
pressure, but with Jeff we have options inside," Donahue added. "We
expect Jeff to score and pass it out."
Donahue's Big Red can't wait for this opportunity to take on No. 1
"This group has been through so much over the last four years with 100
games under their belt," Donahue said. "These guys have been looking
forward to this game all year and are excited to play on this stage.
We'll play with confidence and play hard."
This game will feature two former players from Burlington (Kan.) High
School in KU's Reed and Cornell senior guard Geoff Reeves.
Reed is excited about the matchup.
"I grew up playing with Geoff and he is a great person," Reed said. "He
could really shoot the ball in high school and I'm sure he still can.
He was really good and it will be fun playing him.
"I am sure everyone from Burlington will be watching the game," Reed
added. "It is just really cool to have two kids from Burlington to have
the chance to play in such a great building like Allen Fieldhouse. I
know there were will be a lot of people at the game so it will be
KU junior guard Brady Morningstar was also an AAU teammate of Reeves
with KC Pump N' Run.
KU is 2-0 all time vs. Cornell. The Jayhawks first beat the Big Red,
75-58, on Dec. 28, 1955 in Kansas City, Mo. KU's other victory over
Cornell, 100-46, came on Jan. 2, 1996 in Allen Fieldhouse.
Kansas is 13-0 all time versus the Ivy League.
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