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February 17, 2011

KU looks to get back on winning track

Colorado's Final League Trip to Lawrence:

Ranked No. 1 in Associated Press and in the ESPN/USA Today polls, Kansas looks to rebound from its second loss of the season when it plays host to Colorado, Saturday, Feb. 19, at 1 p.m. on ESPN. The Jayhawks lost at Kansas State on Monday 84-68 and are 24-2 overall and 9-2 in Big 12 play. Colorado brings a 16-10 overall record, including 5-6 in Big 12 play into Lawrence.

This will be the final conference regular-season meeting between the two schools as Colorado will join the Pac-10 Conference next year. It is also the first return trip for Colorado's Tad Boyle as a head coach to Allen Fieldhouse. Boyle played at Kansas from 1982-85. This is a men's and women's split doubleheader and fans attending the CU at KU men's game may attend the 7 p.m. Missouri at Kansas women's basketball game for free with their men's ticket stub. The MU-KU women's game is Kansas' Pink Zone game, for cancer awareness.

About Kansas:

Kansas is 24-2 on the season and 9-2 in Big 12 play. The Jayhawks have guaranteed themselves an above .500 conference record for an amazing 22 straight seasons dating back to 1989-90. The Jayhawks average 83.3 points per game and give up 64.8 for a +18.5 scoring margin. KU also leads the battle of the boards with a +7.0 rebound margin. Kansas leads the nation in field goal percentage at 52.1 percent. KU also leads the Big 12 in scoring margin (+18.5), three-point field goal percentage (38.5), assists (18.3) and assist-to-turnover ratio (1.4). Junior forward Marcus Morris has averaged 18.2 points in Big 12 play and leads Kansas in all games with a 16.7 scoring average. Marcus leads the Big 12 with his 60.5 percent field goal percentage. A three-time Big 12 Player of the Week this season and a Wooden Award and Naismith Trophy mid-season candidate, Marcus' 6.8 rebounds per game are second best on KU's team.

Marcus' twin, Markieff Morris, a junior forward, leads the Big 12 in rebounding with 8.2 boards per game and in double-doubles with nine. Markieff is averaging 12.8 points per game. He leads KU with 31 blocked shots. Senior guard Tyrel Reed is averaging 10.4 points per game in conference play and 9.7 points for the season. He leads KU with 50 three-point field goals made in 2010-11. Junior guard Tyshawn Taylor averages 8.8 points per game and ranks third in the Big 12 with 4.7 assists per contest. A Bob Cousy Award finalist, Taylor has 31 steals this season.

Senior guard Brady Morningstar leads the Big 12 in assist-to-turnover ratio with a 2.7 mark in all games and an incredible 6.3 in conference games. He is scoring 8.1 points in Big 12 play and 6.2 for the season. Freshman guard Josh Selby missed three games with an ankle injury but played 11 minutes at Kansas State Monday. He averages 11.4 points per game. Other KU contributors include senior guard Mario Little (6.5 ppg, 3.1 rpg), sophomore guard Travis Releford (4.9 ppg), sophomore guard Elijah Johnson (3.6 ppg) and sophomore center Jeff Withey (2.6 ppg, 17 blocked shots).

Sophomore forward Thomas Robinson had surgery for a meniscus tear in his right knee on Feb. 11 and is expected to be out approximately two weeks. Robinson is third on the team with a 6.4 rebound average to complement his 8.9 scoring average.

About Colorado:

Located in Boulder, Colo., with an enrollment of 30,128, Colorado is 16-10 overall and 5-6 in its final season as a member of the Big 12 Conference. The Buffaloes are 13-2 at home at the Coors Events Conference Center this season and 3-8 in games away from Boulder. CU averages 79.9 points and has a +8.1 scoring margin. Colorado has a +3.4 rebound margin and averages 18.4 free throws made per contest. The Buffs lead the Big 12 in free throw percentage at 78.7 percent and are third behind Kansas and Baylor in field goal percentage at 47.3 percent.

Sophomore guard Alec Burks leads Colorado in scoring with a 19.5 scoring average, which is second in the Big 12. Burks is second on the team with 6.0 rebounds per game and is making 84.5 percent of his free throws. Senior guard Cory Higgins leads the conference in free throw percentage at 90.4 percent and scores 16.3 points per game, which is seventh in the league. Higgins is tied with Burks for the team lead with 64 assists.

Senior guard Levi Knutson is a non-starter who leads the Big 12 in three-point field goal percentage at 49.0 percent and has made a team-high 51 threes this season. He is scoring 11.3 points per game, just ahead of senior forward Marcus Relphorde's 11.2 ppg. Relphorde averages 4.3 rebounds per game. Junior forward Austin Dufault (7.9 ppg, 4.5 rpg) and junior guard Nate Tomlinson (3.2 ppg) join Burks, Higgins and Relphorde in the starting lineup.

Freshman guard Andre Roberson comes off the bench to lead Colorado in rebounding at 7.2 rpg and blocked shots with 26. Roberson scores 6.1 points per game. Freshman guard Shannon Sharpe averages 15.5 minutes per game and 2.3 ppg for CU.

The Kansas-Colorado Series:

This series dates back to 1931 and Kansas leads 120-39, including a 60-7 record in Lawrence (51-5 in Allen Fieldhouse). Kansas has won 16 straight and 43 of the last 44 meetings with CU dating back to 1991. The last Colorado win in the series was a 60-59 thriller on Jan. 22, 2003, in Boulder. The previous CU win was a 79-71 victory on Feb. 20, 1991, also in Boulder. Kansas has won 27 straight against Colorado in Allen Fieldhouse dating back to the 1984 season. As conference members - Big Seven, Big Eight and Big 12 - Kansas is 114-35 against Colorado, which includes 21 meetings in the Big Seven/Eight Holiday Tournament and postseason conference play.

Since the inception of the Big 12, Kansas is 29-1 against Colorado - 28-1 in regular-season play and 1-0 in the league championship. Earlier this season, KU's Josh Selby scored a team-high 17 points in Kansas' 82-78 win in Boulder, Colo., on Jan. 25. Marcus Morris had 15 points, while Tyrel Reed and Brady Morningstar each scored 14 points for the Jayhawks. Alec Burks led Colorado with 25 points for the game.

Team Notables:

--Kansas leads the nation in field goal percentage at 52.1 percent. KU also leads the Big 12 in scoring margin (+18.5), three-point field goal percentage (38.5), assists (18.3) and assist-to-turnover ratio (1.4).

--Kansas has held 10 opponents to 60 points or less this season.

--Kansas has outrebounded 21 of 26 opponents this season, including the last six of seven.

--KU has outshot all but three teams this season (USC on Dec. 18, Texas on Jan. 22 and at Kansas State Feb. 14).

--The Jayhawks have shot 50 percent or better in 18 games this season. KU has shot 50 percent or better in six of the last seven games and seven of its last nine.

--Kansas' bench averages 28.3 points compared to its opponents' 17.2 ppg. KU's bench has outscored its opponents' bench in 20 of 26 games this season.

--Kansas is 23-1 when leading at the half (1-1 when trailing) this season and 24-0 when leading with five minutes remaining (0-2 when trailing).

--KU has used six different starting lineups this season.
--Kansas scored a combined 192 points against Missouri (103 on Feb. 7) and Iowa State (89 on Feb. 12). KU scored a combined 192 points in the first two games of 2010-11 against Longwood (113) and Valparaiso (79). The 192 combined points is the most in conference play since the final two league games of the 2007-08 national championship season when KU scored 197 points against Kansas State (88) and Texas Tech (109).

--Under Bill Self, Kansas has nine streaks of 10 or more victories, including the 18-0 start of 2010-11.

--KU is 2-1 against ranked foes this season with its win against No. 13/14 Memphis (Dec. 7) in the Jimmy V Classic at Madison Square Garden, a loss against No. 10/11 Texas (Jan. 22) and a win against No. 19/20 Missouri (Feb. 7).

--Kansas' 57-point win against Ohio (98-41) in the Las Vegas Invitational was the third-largest margin of victory in the Bill Self era and the largest in a game away from Allen Fieldhouse under Self.

Individual Notables:

--Junior MARCUS MORRIS leads the Big 12 in field goal percentage at 60.5 and he is shooting 62.9 percent in Big 12 play. He is scoring 18.2 points in Big 12 games, which is fifth in the conference. Overall, Marcus' 16.7 scoring average is sixth in the league. Marcus has seven games with 20-plus points this season. He has shot 70 percent or better in nine games this season, including two of his last three games, and has led Kansas in scoring 12 times in 2010-11. His 6.8 rebounds per game are 11th in the Big 12 and he has five double-doubles this season. He has led KU in every statistical category at least once this season. Marcus has been named Big 12 Player of the Week three times (Nov. 29, Jan. 17 and Feb. 14) and was named a Wooden Award Mid-Season candidate Jan. 6 and Naismith Mid-Season candidate Feb. 11.


--Junior MARKIEFF MORRIS, twin of Marcus, is shooting 71.1 percent (32-for-45) in his last six games, including 6-for-10 (60 percent) from three-point range. In that span he is averaging 15.6 points per game. He notched his Big 12-leading ninth double-double of the season with 14 points and 11 rebounds against Iowa State (Feb. 12). Markieff leads the Big 12 in rebounding at 8.2 rpg and has 11 games with double-figure boards. Named Big 12 Player of the Week on Dec. 27, Markieff is tied for 16th in the Big 12 in scoring at 12.8 ppg. He has been the leading rebounder for KU in 14 of 26 games this season.

--Senior BRADY MORNINGSTAR is averaging 10.9 points per game in KU's last seven games. He is shooting 62.9 percent (17-for-27) from beyond the three-point arc during this time. Named to the 2011 Academic All-Big 12 Second Team, Morningstar is scoring 8.1 points in Big 12 play and 6.2 points per game for the season. Morningstar, who graduated in May 2010, leads KU with 40 steals and has recorded a steal in 19 of 26 games played this season. He is ninth in the Big 12 in steals per game at 1.5. Morningstar averages 3.0 assists per game, which has him 13th in the Big 12, and he leads the conference in assist-to-turnover ratio with a 2.7 mark in all games and 6.3 in league games.

--Senior TYREL REED has made seven three-pointers in his last four games. He leads KU with 50 three-pointers this season and has made multiple threes in 16 games. In conference play, Reed is scoring 10.4 points and led KU in scoring for the fourth time with 14 points at Kansas State Monday. He is scoring 9.7 points for the season. Reed is the only Jayhawk to have started every game this season. Reed has an 83.1 free throw percentage (49-of-59). Ranked 12th in the Big 12 in three-point percentage (38.2) and 13th in three-pointers made per game (1.9), Reed, who is one of 10 finalists for the Lowe's Senior CLASS Award graduated from KU in December and has been accepted into KU Medicine's physical therapy school. He is a three-time Academic All-Big 12 First Team selection, has been nominated for Academic All-America each of the last three seasons and is on the national ballot for Academic All-America in 2010-11.

--Junior TYSHAWN TAYLOR has averaged 11.6 points in his last three games, including his league-season-high 14 points against Iowa State Feb. 12. He has 10 games in double-figure scoring this season and averages 8.8 points per game. Named a Bob Cousy Award finalist (one of 20) on Jan. 12, Taylor is third in the Big 12 in assists per game at 4.7. He has led KU in assists in 15 of 26 games this season. Taylor is seventh in the Big 12 in assist-to-turnover ratio at 1.7.

--Senior MARIO LITTLE scored a career-high 17 points on 7-of-9 (77.8 percent) shooting, including 3-for-3 from three-point range, against Missouri (Feb. 7). He has three games in double-figure points this season, including 17 versus Missouri (Feb. 7), 10 points at Baylor (Jan. 15) and 11 points versus Texas A&M-Corpus Christi (Nov. 19). Little averages 15.7 minutes, 6.5 points and 3.1 rebounds per game and is shooting 52.5 percent from the field on the season.

--Sophomore TRAVIS RELEFORD scored 10 points on 4-of-5 shooting, including 2-for-2 from three-point range, against Missouri (Feb. 7). It was the most points scored in Big 12 play for Releford this season. Releford has played the last six games after missing the previous five contests due to an ankle sprain on his right foot suffered at Michigan (Jan. 9). Releford is shooting 51.4 percent from the field, is averaging 4.9 points this season and has scored in double figures five times. A Las Vegas Invitational all-tournament selection, Releford's windmill dunk against UMKC (Jan. 5) was No. 1 on ESPN's Top 10 List on Jan. 6 and is a national dunk of the year entrant by Intersport to be voted on in March.

--Sophomore ELIJAH JOHNSON has scored five points in each of his last two games against Iowa State Feb. 12 and at Kansas State Feb. 14. Johnson led Kansas with six assists against Kansas State (Jan. 29). He has appeared in 24 games this season with one start. Johnson has a 2.4 assist-to-turnover ratio for the season while averaging 3.6 points and 2.0 assists in 2010-11.

--Sophomore JEFF WITHEY is a combined 5-for-5 from the field in his last two games. He was 3-for-3 versus Iowa State (Feb. 12) and 2-for-2 at Kansas State (Feb. 14). Withey tied his season high with eight points against Iowa State Feb. 12. His two blocked shots against the Cyclones marked the fourth time this season he had multiple blocks in a game. Withey averages 6.9 minutes, 2.6 points, 2.0 rebounds and 0.8 blocked shots per game in 2010-11.

--Freshman JOSH SELBY played 11 minutes at Kansas State with four points after missing the previous three games due to a stress reaction in his right ankle. He has scored in double figures in nine of 14 games played this season. Selby averages 11.4 points, 2.7 rebounds, 2.9 assists and 1.3 steals per contest. He has scored 16 or more points in five games and is 23-for-28 (82.1 percent) from the free throw line. Selby is a two-time Phillips 66 Big 12 Rookie of the Week (Jan. 31 and Dec. 20).

--Sophomore THOMAS ROBINSON had surgery on Feb. 11 for a meniscus tear in his right knee and will be out approximately two weeks. He is 20-for-25 (80.0 percent) from the field in his last four games played with a 12.8 points per game average in that span. Robinson is 14-for-19 (73.7 percent) from the line in his last three games. Robinson missed the Colorado contest on Jan. 25 tending to the funeral of his mother, Lisa, in Washington, D.C. Robinson has recorded two double-doubles in 2010-11. He averages 8.9 points per game in 2010-11 and his 6.4 rebounds per game are 15th in the Big 12.

Up Next:

The Jayhawks will host their third ESPN Big Monday game on Feb. 21 against Oklahoma State at 8 p.m. KU will then hit the road on Saturday, Feb. 26 to play at Oklahoma in a 3 p.m. game on ESPN. On Wednesday, March 2, the Jayhawks will play their final home game of the season against Texas A&M. Tip-off is set for 8 p.m. on ESPN.


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