Lawrence, KS (Sports Network) - Having finally recorded that elusive 20th win
of the season, the 14th-ranked Kansas Jayhawks return to the friendly confines
of the Allen Fieldhouse on Saturday for a Big 12 matchup against the Texas
Just a couple of weeks ago, Kansas was as highly ranked as second in the
nation, but three straight losses saw the team fall significantly. The
Jayhawks finally ended their skein on Monday, with an 83-62 romp over
nationally-ranked Kansas State. KU has now won 20 or more games in 24 straight
seasons and at 8-3 in conference play, is tied with both Kansas State and
Oklahoma State for first place in the Big 12.
Rick Barnes' Longhorns have long been out of the conference race, as Texas is
just 11-13 overall and buried in the league standings at a mere 3-8. The
Longhorns are coming off a big win, as their starting point guard Myck Kabongo
finally suited up after serving a 23-game suspension. Texas outlasted the
explosive Cyclones in a double-overtime affair, 89-86.
Kansas owns a 21-7 advantage in the all-time series with Texas and has won
seven of the last eight meetings, and is seeking the regular-season sweep
after earning a 64-59 victory in Austin back on Jan. 19.
Kabongo was one of five Longhorns to net double figures in the marathon win
over Iowa State and really helped stabilize the offensive attack, finishing
with 13 points and a team-high seven assists. Sheldon McClellan had a team-
best 18 points in the win and could be the top benefactor of Kabongo's return.
Connor Lammert and Ioannis Papapetrou added 14 points each, while Javan Felix
chipped in with 12 points for Texas, which shot 50.8 percent from the floor in
Texas' defensive play has been the real strength of the team, limiting foes to
just 63.3 ppg, while tied for first in the nation in field-goal percentage
defense (.361). McClellan is the team's top offensive threat at 14.5 ppg, but
has really struggled at times, shooting a mere .376 from the floor, including
.278 from behind the arc. Julien Lewis adds 11.1 ppg, followed by Papapetrou
and Felix with 8.4 ppg each. Just a freshman, Felix has really played well at
the point in Kabongo's absence, averaging 5.4 apg.
It just so happens that the team Texas is tied with for first nationally in
field-goal percentage defense is Kansas. The Jayhawks are yielding just 60.6
ppg on the season and enjoy a +6.2 rebounding margin, while ranking third
nationally in blocked shots (7.0 bpg). Freshman Ben McLemore has made an
instant impact, shooting .513 overall, .435 from behind the arc and averaging
a team-high 16.8 ppg. Big man Jeff Withey is a perfect complement in the
middle, averaging 13.2 points, 8.3 rebounds and 4.1 blocks per game. Travis
Releford rounds out the team's double-digit threats at 11.8 ppg.
The Jayhawks put the Wildcats away early on, shooting .586 from the floor in
the first half, leading by 18 points at the half. McLemore hit six 3-pointers
and led all scorers with 30 points. Withey added a double-double with 17
points and 10 rebounds. He added five blocks on the game and became the
school's all-time leader in that category (263). Kevin Young just missed his
own double-double with 13 points and nine boards, while Releford tacked on 10
The Sports Network