Previewing Kansas

It's North Carolina and Kansas in the NCAA Tournament -- again. The No. 1-seeded Jayhawks defeated Western Kentucky in their Friday opener. This Round of 32 matchup at the Sprint Center tips Sunday at 5:15pm ET and will be televised by CBS.

North Carolina (25-10) vs. Kansas (30-5)
Kansas City, Mo. -- Sprint Center
Sunday, 5:15 p.m.
CBS (Marv Albert, Steve Kerr)


"We're certainly looking forward to playing UNC tomorrow. They're a terrific team, a great program. Unbelievable history, one that we certainly respect a ton. We look at them as one of the standards of our game. We certainly look forward to accepting a big challenge playing here in Kansas City against a top-flight program." – Kansas head coach Bill Self

"I like our matchup. They do have a smaller lineup and will be going faster, but we can ugly up the game by making them play bigger. They love to spread the floor and shoot a lot of threes." – Kansas center Jeff Withey

"We're going to have a lot of fans here. This is the game that everyone wanted to see be played." – Kansas forward Kevin Young


Season to Date: Kansas enters Sunday's NCAA third round contest with a 30-5 (14-4 Big 12) record. The Jayhawks won 19 of their first 20 games before stumbling in early February with three consecutive losses to Oklahoma State, TCU and Oklahoma. Bill Self's squad has since won 11 of its last 12, including a Big 12 Championship game win over Kansas State (70-54). Kansas pulled away from No. 16 seed Western Kentucky (64-57) in its NCAA second round opener on Friday.

Block Party: Second-team All-American center Jeff Withey is the Big 12's career leader in blocked shots with 301 and currently ranks third nationally with 3.9 blocks per game. The 7-foot, 235-pounder earned Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year honors with his presence in the paint, but he's also proven be an efficient scorer, averaging 13.7 points and 8.3 rebounds on the season. The San Diego, Calif. senior Withey is shooting 71.7 percent (38-of-53) over his last seven games, including a 7-of-9 effort in Friday's win over Western Kentucky.

Freshman Firepower: Ben McLemore was ranked as the No. 13 shooting guard in the 2011 recruiting class, but was deemed a partial qualifier by the NCAA and was forced to sit out the 2011-12 season. The 6-foot-5, 185-pounder has made up for lost time this year by leading Kansas in scoring with 16.2 points per game on 50.5 percent shooting (43.1 percent from 3). That effort earned the St. Louis, Mo. native USBWA second-team All-American honors and a spot on the Big 12's first-team all-conference team. UNC wing Reggie Bullock will guard McLemore on Sunday.

Defensive Dominance: Kansas leads the country in field goal percentage defense (35.9) and was equally as suffocating during Big 12 conference play (36.8). The Jayhawks rank second nationally in blocked shots (6.7) and 29th in 3-point field goal percentage defense (30.2). Kansas has held nine of its last 11 opponents to below 40 percent shooting.

Pounding the Glass: Kansas leads the Big 12 and ranks 20th nationally in rebound margin (plus-6.3), although it has been outrebounded in seven games this season.

Efficient Offense: There's no doubt that Kansas relies heavily on its defense to win games. That's not to say that the Jayhawks' offense is miserable by any stretch. Kansas ranks 13th nationally in field goal percentage (48.0) and 69th in 3-point field goal percentage (36.3). Self's squad is connecting on 51.8 percent of its field goal attempts over its last eight games.

Stat to Watch: The Jayhawks are 1-4 on the season when shooting a lower percentage than its opponent.

Home Away from Home: Kansas is 7-0 this season and 21-4 all-time at the Sprint Center.

Last Meeting: Kansas defeated UNC, 80-67, in the NCAA Midwest Regional in St. Louis on Mar. 25, 2012. Both teams shot better than 56 percent in the first half and were tied at 47 at the break. UNC shot just 22.6 percent in the second half, however, as the Jayhawks closed the game on a 12-0 run. James Michael McAdoo led UNC with 15 points on 6-of-8 shooting.

Series History: North Carolina leads the all-time series with Kansas, 6-4. The Jayhawks are 3-2 against UNC in the NCAA Tournament, including the last two meetings.

Projected Starters:
15 Elijah Johnson (6-4, 195, Sr.) - 9.9 ppg, 4.7 apg
24 Travis Releford (6-6, 210, Sr.) - 11.5 ppg, 3.7 rpg
23 Ben McLemore (6-5, 195, Fr.) - 16.2 ppg, 5.3 rpg
40 Kevin Young (6-8, 190, Sr.) - 7.6 ppg, 6.7 rpg
5 Jeff Withey (7-0, 235, Sr.) - 13.7 ppg, 8.3 rpg, 3.9 bpg

Top Reserves:
34 Perry Ellis (6-8, 225, Fr.) - 5.9 ppg, 3.9 rpg
1 Naadir Tharpe (5-11, 170, So.) - 5.4 ppg, 3.0 apg

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(Photos by USA Today Sports)

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