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January 6, 2012

KU hits the road for first time in conference play

Kansas Hits Road

After winning its 21st-straight conference opener, No. 14/15 Kansas (11-3, 1-0) hits the road to play at Oklahoma (10-3, 0-1) on Saturday, Jan. 7. The game starts from Lloyd Noble Center at 1 p.m. and can be seen on ESPNU and heard on AT&T Jayhawk All-Access via kuathletics.com with the Jayhawk IMG Radio production. Kansas takes a four-game winning streak into the OU contest and is looking to go 2-0 in Big 12 play for the sixth-straight season and 16th time in the last 17 seasons dating back to 1995-96. Oklahoma is looking to bounce back from an 87-49 loss at No. 7 Missouri on Jan. 3.

About Kansas

No. 14/15 Kansas is 11-3 (1-0 in Big 12) after defeating No. 23/22 Kansas State, 67-49, to open conference play on Jan. 4. The Jayhawks are 8-0 at home, 1-0 in road games and 2-3 on neutral courts. Kansas averages 75.4 points per game and allows 59.1 for a +16.3 scoring margin. KU is using solid defense as eight opponents have scored 58 or less points this season.

KU leads the Big 12 in rebound margin at +9.1. The Jayhawks outrebounded Kansas State 50-26 in the conference opener and have outrebounded all but one team this season. Additionally, KU averages 15.9 assists per contest.

The Jayhawks are led by All-American candidate Thomas Robinson, who is the only player in the Big 12 Conference this season to average a double-double with 17.5 points and 12.3 rebounds per game. A three-time Big 12 Player of the Week, Robinson posted career highs with 30 points and 21 rebounds against North Dakota (12/31). It was the first 30-20 effort by a Jayhawk since Wayne Hightower in 1961. Dick Vitale's No. 1 Midseason Player of the Year candidate, Robinson has a league-leading 10 double-doubles on the season.

Senior guard Tyshawn Taylor is next in scoring at 15.1 points per game, leads Kansas with 71 assists and is making 50 percent of his three-point shots. Junior guard Elijah Johnson is second on the team with 26 three-pointers made and his 22 steals are a squad best. Johnson scores 9.7 points per game and is second on the team with 53 assists. Rounding out the KU starters are juniors Travis Releford and Jeff Withey.

A guard, Releford had career highs with 16 points and 11 rebounds in recording his first career double-double against Kansas State. He averages 8.8 points and has 18 steals for the season. Withey, KU's center, is averaging 7.7 points and 6.0 rebounds per contest. He leads the Big 12 with 2.9 blocked shots per game and has 12 blocked shots in his last three contests.

Senior guard Conner Teahan, who has one start this season, leads Kansas with 27 three-pointers made while averaging 8.1 points per game. Sophomore forward Justin Wesley joins Teahan as the first two off the bench. Wesley averages 2.1 points and 2.4 rebounds per contest. Junior forward Kevin Young (4.3 ppg, 3.2 rpg) and freshman guard Naadir Tharpe (0.8 ppg, 15 assists) are the other KU regulars.


About Oklahoma

Located in Norman, Okla., with an enrollment of 30,092, Oklahoma is 10-3 on the season, inlcuding 0-1 in Big 12 play. Coached by former Kansas State standout Lon Kruger, who is in his first season at Oklahoma and is 489-307 in his 26th season overall, OU is 7-0 at home, 0-1 away and 3-2 on neutral courts. A young team with only one senior in its top-nine rotation, the Sooners average 74.9 points and have a +9.0 scoring margin. They dominate the boards with a +8.5 rebound margin which is second only to Kansas' +9.1 in the Big 12. OU averages 6.3 steals and ranks second in the league in free throw percentage at 74.1 percent.

Junior guard Steven Pledger leads Oklahoma in scoring at 18.2 points per game, which is third in the Big 12, three-pointers made with 34 and steals with 14. He also averages 4.0 rebounds per contest and is making 85.7 percent from the free throw line. Junior forward Andrew Fitzgerald is next in scoring at 12.7 points per game and is second on the team in rebounding with a 5.4 board average. Junior forward Romero Osby leads OU with 8.3 rebounds per game to complement his 10.5 scoring average. He has a team-best 13 blocked shots.

Sophomore guard Cameron Clark and junior guard Sam Grooms round out the Sooners' starters. Clark averages 8.3 points and 3.5 rebounds, while Grooms is just behind at 7.0 ppg and 3.3 rpg. Grooms leads OU with 72 assists and is second on the squad with 13 steals. Sophomore forward Tyler Neal (6.0 ppg, 3.2 rpg), junior guard Carl Blair (3.1 ppg, 34 assists, 12 steals), senior forward C.J. Washington (2.6 ppg, 3.8 rpg) and junior center Casey Arent (2.0 ppg, 3.0 rpg) round out the OU regulars.


The Kansas-Oklahoma Series

This series dates back to 1920 when both schools were members of the Missouri Valley Intercollegiate Athletic Association and Kansas leads 136-64. Since 2006, the Jayhawks have won seven straight against the Sooners. Kansas is 48-40 against Oklahoma in games played in Norman and KU holds a 16-15 edge in contests in the Lloyd Noble Center. Kansas has won the last three meetings at Lloyd Noble and is 3-1 in the facility under Bill Self.

Since the inception of the Big 12, Kansas is 15-4 against Oklahoma - 13-2 in regular-season play and 2-2 in the Big 12 Championship. Kansas head coach Bill Self is 8-3 all-time against Oklahoma, including 8-1 while at KU. Oklahoma head coach Lon Kruger is 5-10 all-time against Kansas.


Connections

--Kansas' Thomas Robinson and Naadir Tharpe and Oklahoma's Andrew Fitzgerald all played at Brewster Academy in New Hampshire.

--OU freshman James Fraschilla is the son of ESPN analyst Fran Fraschilla. KU assistant coach Joe Dooley was on Fran Fraschilla's staff at New Mexico as associate head coach from 2000-02.


Team Notables

--Kansas has outrebounded 13 of 14 opponents this season, including the last 13 games. KU has six games with a +10 rebound margin, including a season-best 50-26 vs. Kansas State (1/4).

--Four different Jayhawks - Thomas Robinson, Tyshawn Taylor, Elijah Johnson and Conner Teahan - have led Kansas in scoring through 14 games.

--KU has shot a higher percentage than 11 of 14 opponents this season.

--KU has blocked four or more shots in 10 of 14 games this season, including a season-high 13 against Florida Atlantic (11/30). KU had 12 blocked shots against Long Beach State (12/6).

--Kansas has 73 dunks to its opponents' 19 through 14 games. Thomas Robinson leads KU with 36 dunks, while Jeff Withey has 13.
--KU's bench has outscored its opponents' bench in five of the last seven games and seven times overall this season.


Player Notables

--Junior THOMAS ROBINSON was named the No. 1 candidate for national player of the year in Dick Vitale's midseason lists released Jan. 4. He is 21-for-31 (67.7 percent) from the field in his last three games, has scored 21-plus points in four of his last seven games and has five 20-point efforts this season. A three-time Big 12 Player of the Week, Robinson had career highs with 30 points and 21 rebounds against North Dakota (12/31). It was the sixth 30-20 in Big 12 history and first at KU since 1961 (Wayne Hightower vs. Missouri). Robinson is the only player in the Big 12 Conference who is averaging a double-double with 17.5 ppg and 12.3 rpg. His 10 double-doubles, like his 12.3 rebounds per game, lead the Big 12. Robinson's 17.5 points are fourth in the league and he also ranks fourth in field goal percentage (53.4) and 10th in blocked shots (1.1).

--Senior TYSHAWN TAYLOR has averaged 7.0 assists in his last six games. He is second on the team with 15.1 points per game and leads KU with 71 assists. Taylor, who is making 50 percent from three-point range (18-for-36), underwent knee surgery on Dec. 11 but returned to start the Davidson contest on Dec. 19, where he scored 15 points and had seven assists. His 18 points against North Dakota (12/31) were the most since his season-high 24 versus South Florida (12/3). Taylor's 15.1 points per game average are seventh in the Big 12. Also in the league, he is fourth in assists at 5.1 and ninth in assist-to-turnover ratio at 1.2.

--Junior ELIJAH JOHNSON has 14 assists and one turnover in his last three games. He has scored in double figures in six games this season and averages 9.7 points per contest. He is second on the team with 26 three-pointers made. Johnson has started every game this season for KU and is second on the team in assists with 53. Johnson is tied for eighth in the Big 12 in assists at 3.8, tied for sixth in steals at 1.6, 11th in three-pointers made at 1.9 and fifth in assist-to-turnover ratio at 2.0.

--Junior JEFF WITHEY leads the Big 12 with 2.9 blocked shots per game, which includes six against Kansas State (1/4). He has two double-doubles on the season and just missed a double-double against the Wildcats with eight points and nine rebounds. He has five games with 10-plus points and nearly missed another double-double with nine points and nine rebounds at USC (12/22). Withey almost had a triple-double with 13 points, 13 rebounds and nine blocked shots against Long Beach State (12/6). His nine blocked shots rank No. 2 on the KU single-game records list and were just one shy of Cole Aldrich's 10 against Dayton in the 2009 NCAA Tournament. Withey has multiple blocks in six of his last seven games and 10 contests in 2011-12. His 6.0 rebound average is tied for 11th in the conference.

--Senior CONNER TEAHAN has made mulitple three-pointers in four of his last six games and 21 three-pointers in his last nine games, including a career-high four twice -- at USC (12/22) and against Long Beach State (12/6). He leads KU with 27 threes in 2011-12. Teahan scored a career-high 14 points versus LBSU and has had 13 points in two of his last four games (at USC and vs. Howard, 12/29). Teahan is eighth in the Big 12 in three-point field goal percentage at 41.5 and 10th in three-pointers made at 1.9.

--Junior TRAVIS RELEFORD recorded his first career double-double with 16 points and 11 rebounds against Kansas State (1/4). Both were career highs, as were his six field goals. In his last two games, Releford has 18 rebounds and 30 points. He has started every game this season, has scored in double figures seven times in 2011-12, while averaging 8.8 points. Releford is third on the team with 18 steals, including a career-high four against Davidson (12/19). His 1.3 steals per game are tied for 14th in the Big 12.

--Junior KEVIN YOUNG scored seven points on 3-of-4 shooting with six rebounds and three steals against Howard (12/29). He had six points against Kansas State (1/4), including 4-for-4 from the free throw line. Young's best performance of the season came against No. 2 Ohio State (12/10) with 14 points on 6-of-8 shooting. He has pulled down four or more rebounds six times this season. For the season, Young is shooting 60.6 percent (20-for-33) from the field.

--Sophomore JUSTIN WESLEY's six points against Howard (12/29) tied a season high while his five rebounds against the Bison tied for the second most by the forward this season. Wesley averages 12.1 minutes per game and is 11-for-22 (50.0 percent) from the field.


Robinson Named Big 12 Player of the Week For Third Time (Jan. 2)

Kansas junior Thomas Robinson was named the Phillips 66 Big 12 Player of the Week for the third time this season on Jan. 2. For the week Robinson averaged 19.5 points and 14.0 rebounds as Kansas recorded victories over Howard (89-34) and North Dakota (84-58). He shot 70 percent (14-of-20) from the field on the week, while making 71.4 percent (10-of-14) of his shots from the free-throw line. Robinson's top performance came versus North Dakota, as he finished with career-highs of 30 points and 21 rebounds. Last season, Big 12 Player of the Year, Marcus Morris, earned conference player of the week honors three times.


Robinson's 30-20

Thomas Robinson joined some elite company when he scored 30 points and pulled down 21 rebounds against North Dakota (12/31). He became the first Jayhawk to score at least 30 points and record 20 rebounds since Wayne Hightower scored 36 points and grabbed 21 rebounds against Missouri on Feb. 13, 1961. In KU history there have been at least eight other 30-20 games and two games that could not be confirmed - seven of those games were by Wilt Chamberlain and one by Hightower. Robinson is the sixth player in Big 12 history to accomplish the feat joining former conference player of the years Kevin Durant (Texas), Michael Beasley (Kansas State) and Blake Griffin (Oklahoma) in addition to Oklahoma State's Mario Boggan.


Taylor Climbing the Charts

Kansas senior Tyshawn Taylor continues to etch his name on the Kansas career lists. A four-year starter, Kansas is 106-17 (86.2 percent) during Taylor's time in Lawrence with three Big 12 regular-season titles, two Big 12 Championship crowns and trips to the NCAA Sweet 16 and Elite Eight. His 102 all-time KU starts are just five shy of cracking the KU top 12. Statistically, against Duke Taylor became the 54th player in school history to record 1,000 points. He currenly sits 39th with 1,145 points. He will most likely end his career ranked in KU's top 10 in assists, currently 11th with 460 and 25 shy of 10th. Taylor also ranks tied for 33rd, with his former teammate Brady Morningstar, with 133 career steals and while 38.5 career three-point percentage is 17th best at Kansas.


Up Next

Kansas will play at Texas Tech, Wednesday, Jan. 11, at 8 p.m. on ESPNU. The Jayhawks then return to Allen Fieldhouse for two games when they host Iowa State on Saturday, Jan. 14, at 3 p.m. on the Big 12 Television Network and Baylor on Monday, Jan. 16, at 8:30 p.m. on ESPN.



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