Sooners, Jayhawks set for big battle on Big Monday

Two of the Big 12's best big men — Oklahoma's Taj Gray (above left) and Kansas' Wayne Simien (above right) will go head-to-head in a key conference match-up tonight at the Lloyd Noble Center in Norman. Tip-off between the Sooners (19-6, 8-4) and Jayhawks (20-3, 10-2) is set for 8 p.m. Kansas leads the all-time series against Oklahoma 129-63, but the Sooners have won three of the last five meetings.

The Matchup
Oklahoma and Kansas come into Monday night's showdown heading in different directions. The Sooners (19-6, 8-4) ended a three-game losing streak Wednesday against Nebraska and then made it two straight wins victory over Kansas State Saturday in Manhattan. The Jayhawks (20-3, 10-2) come into tonight's game having lost two straight games — at Texas Tech last Monday and Iowa State Saturday in Lawrence — after starting Big 12 play 10-0. The game will be televised nationally on ESPN by announcers Ron Franklin (play-by-play), Fran Fraschilla (color) and Stacey Dales-Schuman (sideline). Tip-off is set for 8:00 p.m. (CST). The game can be heard on the radio in the OKC area on KOKC 1520 AM. To listen to the game broadcast online click the 'Listen Online' link below and then click the KOCK News Talk 1520 banner.

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The Rankings
The Jayhawks were ranked 2nd in the Associated Press and Coaches Top 25 Poll released last Monday. The Sooners checked in at No. 21 in the Associated Press Poll and No. 22 in the Coaches Poll. This week's rankings will be announced late Monday afternoon. In the RPI (Ratings Percentage Index), which is used to help determine seeding for the NCAA Tournament, the Jayhawks are ranked 1st and the Sooners 20th.

The Series
Kansas leads the all-time series with the Sooners 129-63. The Jayhawks are the only Big 12 program with an all-time winning record against the Oklahoma. KU leads the overall series in Norman 43-39, but they have a losing record at the Lloyd Noble Center (11-14). OU head coach Kelvin Sampson is 3-3 against Kansas in Norman and 5-10 overall. Kansas head coach Bill Self improved to 1-0 against Sampson and the Sooners after last year's 79-58 win in Lawrence. However, despite last years loss OU has won three of the last five meetings against the Jayhawks.

About the Jayhawks
Kansas started the season 14-0 before losing 83-62 at Villanova on January 22. The Jayhawks then ripped off six straight wins before beginning their two-game losing streak with an 80-79 overtime loss to Texas Tech last Monday in Lubbock.

KU is led by Big 12 Player of the year candidate Wayne Simien. Simien, a 6-foot-8 power forward who has recorded five straight double-doubles, leads the Big 12 in scoring (18.7 ppg) and rebounding (11.0 rpg). Senior guard Keith Langford, a 6-foot-4 slasher with a decent mid-range game, is the Jayhawks' second-leading scorer at 15.3 points per game. J.R. Giddens, one of three Oklahomans with scholarships on the Kansas roster, leads the Jayhawks with a team-high 53 made 3-pointers. Giddens, who played his high school ball at John Marshall High School in Oklahoma City, is KU's third-leading scorer at 10.7 points per game. And then there is point guard Aaron Miles. Miles, the Big 12's all-time assist leader, chips in 8.9 points per game and is sixth in the nation with 7.5 assists per game.

In all, the Jayhawks start three seniors, a sophomore and one freshman. KU's trio of senior starters — Simien, Miles and Langford — along with bench player Michael Lee have had impressive careers during their stay in Lawrence. The quartet has played in one NCAA title game (2003), two Final Fours (2002, 2003) and three Elite Eights (2002, 2003, 2004). They also have a 107-24 record so far during their four-year tenure.

Kansas head coach Bill Self, a native of Edmond, Okla. and a graduate of Oklahoma State, is 40-10 in his second season in Lawrence.

F -- 23 -- Wayne Simien (6-9, 255, Sr., 18.7 ppg, 11.0 rpg, 1.4 apg)
C -- 24 -- Sasha Kaun (6-11, 235, Fr., 3.1 ppg, 2.8 rpg, 0.8 apg)
G -- 11 -- Aaron Miles (6-1, 175, Sr., 8.9 ppg, 3.8 rpg, 7.5 apg)
G -- 15 -- J.R. Giddens (6-5, 200, So., 10.7 ppg, 4.0 rpg, 1.3 apg)
G -- 5 -- Keith Langford (6-4, 215, Sr., 15.3 ppg, 4.6 rpg, 3.0 apg)

F -- 21 -- Taj Gray (6-9, 235, Jr., 15.3 ppg, 8.4 rpg, 1.5 apg)
F -- 34 -- Kevin Bookout (6-8, 259, Jr., 12.2 ppg, 6.6 rpg, 0.6 apg)
G -- 1 -- Lawrence McKenzie (6-2, 175, So., 9.4 ppg, 1.6 rpg, 1.3 apg)
G -- 4 -- David Godbold (6-5, 212, Fr., 3.4 ppg, 2.1 rpg, 0.8 apg)
G -- 20 -- Terrell Everett (6-4, 185, Jr., 12.1 ppg, 4.2 rpg, 5.0 apg)

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