Scouting Cornell

News, notes and quotes on No. 1 KU's matchup with Cornell tonight (7:00 CT) at Allen Fieldhouse while wondering if the Jayhawks will play with the same intensity as they did during their impressive 84-52 victory at Temple on Saturday.

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.

SCOUTING CORNELL

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 steals.

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 (.429).

"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 Kansas.

"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."

BURLINGTON REUNION

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 exciting."

KU junior guard Brady Morningstar was also an AAU teammate of Reeves with KC Pump N' Run.

SERIES HISTORY

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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