Big 12 Conference regular-season co-champion Kansas (26-5, 14-4) enters the 2013 Phillips 66 Big 12 Championship as the No. 1 seed for the 10th time in the 17-year history of the league. KU won its ninth straight, 13th Big 12 and NCAA-leading 56th conference regular-season championship in 2013. Kansas will face No. 9 Texas Tech game Thursday, March 14 at 2 p.m., on ESPN2 at Sprint Center in Kansas City. The Red Raiders defeated the Mountaineers 71-69 Wednesday, March 13. Kansas has won 12 conference tournament titles, including five of the last eight and eight of the 17 Big 12 Championships. Since the Big 12’s inception in 1997, Kansas is 15-1 in its first games, 14-2 in the quarterfinals, 9-5 in semifinals and 8-1 in championship games.
Kansas, ranked No. 7 in the Associated Press and No. 6 in the USA Today Coaches’ polls released March 11, is 17-1 at home, 7-3 in road games and 2-1 on neutral courts in 2012-13. In his 10th season at KU, Bill Self holds a 295-58 record for an 83.6 winning percentage. Overall, Self won his 500th career game with a 108-96 overtime win at Iowa State (2/25) and is 502-163 in his 20th season as a head coach. KU averages 74.6 points per game and leads the Big 12 with a +13.4 scoring margin. KU also leads the league in rebounding at 39.5, rebound margin at +6.5, field goal percentage at 47.3, field goal percentage defense at 35.8, which leads the nation, and blocked shots at 6.7.
Kansas starts four seniors, including three fifth-year seniors, and one freshman. An All-Big 12 First Team selection, redshirt freshman G Ben McLemore leads the team in scoring at 16.7 points per game, which leads all Big 12 freshmen in scoring and ranks second overall in the conference. Against West Virginia McLemore broke the Kansas freshman record for points in a game with 36. The Jan. 14 Big 12 Player of the Week and three-time conference Rookie of the Week, McLemore leads the league in free throw percentage (86.3) and is second in the Big 12 in three-point field goal percentage (43.4). McLemore, who is a USBWA Wayman Tisdale National Freshman of the Year Award finalist, has a team-high 62 three-pointers made and is tied for second on the team with 35 steals. All-America candidate and two-time Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year senior C Jeff Withey leads Kansas in rebounding (8.6 rpg) and has 12 double-doubles this season, including five in his last eight games. An All-Big 12 First Team selection and three-time Big 12 Player of the Week, Withey leads the league in blocked shots at 4.0 per game, which ranks third nationally. Withey is Kansas’ and the Big 12’s all-time blocked shots leader with 289. A USBWA Oscar Robertson National Player of the Year Midseason, Wooden Award Final Ballot and Naismith Award Top-30 list honoree along with McLemore, Withey is scoring 13.6 points per outing and is second in the Big 12 with a 58.2 field goal percentage. Senior G Travis Releford is third in the Big 12 in field goal percentage at 57.9 percent. An All-Big 12 Second Team selection, Releford is scoring 11.9 points per contest. All-Big 12 Honorable Mention and Big 12 Player of the Week (3/4) honoree senior G Elijah Johnson has a team-high 149 assists and is second on the team with 46 three-pointers made to complement his 10.2 scoring average. Senior F Kevin Young rounds out the KU starters; he is scoring 7.7 points per contest and is second on the team with 6.7 rebounds per outing, which is eighth in the conference. Young scored his 1,000th career point against West Virginia (3/2) between Loyola-Marymount (658) and Kansas (360). Other KU regulars include sophomore G Naadir Tharpe (5.2 ppg, 2.8 apg), freshman F Perry Ellis (4.9 ppg, 3.6 rpg), and redshirt freshman F Jamari Traylor (1.9 ppg, 2.4 rpg).
THE KANSAS-TEXAS TECH SERIES
Kansas leads the overall series with Texas Tech 24-4 as the Jayhawks have won seven straight and eight of the last nine meetings. Since the inception of the Big 12 Conference in 1997, Kansas is 17-4 against Texas Tech: 15-4 in regular-season match-ups and 2-0 in conference championship meetings. KU defeated TTU 90-50 in the 2002 semifinals at Kemper Arena in Kansas City, Mo., and 80-68 in the 2010 quarterfinals at Sprint Center in KC. The first meeting between the two schools took place in Allen Fieldhouse on Dec. 7, 1959, a KU 85-71 victory. Kansas head coach Bill Self is 11-6 all-time against Texas Tech, including 10-3 while at Kansas. Texas Tech interim head coach Chris Walker is 0-2 versus Kansas.
Earlier this season then-No. 6 Kansas defeated Texas Tech 60-46 in Lubbock, Texas, on Jan. 12. KU had four players score in double figures led by senior F Kevin Young with 14 points. Senior C Jeff Withey added 12 points and seven rebounds, while senior G Travis Releford also scored 12 and redshirt freshman G Ben McLemore 10 in the win. Jamal Williams, Jr., led Tech with 11 points. In the second meeting, then-No. 4 Kansas defeated Texas Tech 79-42 on March 4, which was KU’s Senior Night in Allen Fieldhouse. Withey scored 22 points and led all rebounders with nine, while Young added 14 points and McLemore and Releford 13 each. Tech’s Jordan Tolbert led the Red Raiders with 16 points for the game.
KANSAS IN THE PHILLIPS 66 BIG 12 CHAMPIONSHIP
Here are some Kansas notes heading into the conference postseason tournament:
–Kansas has won more Phillips 66 Big 12 Championships than any other school with eight. Oklahoma is next with three titles (2001-02-03). KU won the first three events in 1997-98-99, then the 2006-07-08-10-11 titles. KU is 8-1 in tourney title games having only lost the 2002 title to Oklahoma.
–Kansas is the only team to have won at least 30 games in the Phillips 66 Big 12 Championship. The Jayhawks are 32-8 (80.0 percent) in the event, while Oklahoma State (21-14) and Texas (21-16) are second with 21 wins each.
–With an 18-4 (81.8 percent) record, KU head coach Bill Self has the highest winning percentage in Phillips 66 Big 12 Championship history.
–Kansas has been the No. 1 seed 10 times (1997-98-2002-03-07-09-10-11-12-13), No. 2 seed four times (2001-05-06-08), No. 3 seed twice (1999-2004), and the No. 5 seed in 2000.
–Kansas has won 15 of its 16 first games in the Big 12 Championship with the 2009 loss to Baylor being its only blemish. The Jayhawks are 1-0 in opening-round games and 14-2 in quarterfinal contests.
–KU has reached the semifinals in 14 of the 16 Phillips 66 Big 12 Championships. The Jayhawks did not reach the 2000 or 2009 semis.
–Kansas has won five of its eight titles as the No. 1 seed – 1997, 1998, 2007, 2010 and 2011. KU was the No. 3 seed in its 1999 title run and the No. 2 seed in 2006 and 2008. The lowest seed to win the event was a No. 3 seed: Kansas in 1999, Oklahoma in 2003 and Oklahoma State in 2005.
KANSAS IN KANSAS CITY
Kansas City has been a second home of sorts for Kansas over the years. KU’s first-ever game — a 16-5 loss to Kansas City YMCA on Feb. 3, 1899 — was played in Kansas City. The 2013 Phillips 66 Big 12 Championship quarterfinal game will mark KU’s 281st game played all-time in Kansas City, and its 22nd in Sprint Center. KU is 17-4 in Sprint Center including winning the 2008, 2010 and 2011 Big 12 Championships in the venue. In 2009-10 and 2010-11, Kansas went 4-0 in Sprint Center. In 2008-09, KU went 1-2 in the venue. In 2007-08, Kansas went 4-0 in the venue, including winning the Big 12 Championship en route to its NCAA National Championship. Kansas is 3-0 in the Sprint Center this season having won the CBE Classic (78-41 vs. Washington State 11/19 and 73-59 vs. St. Louis 11/20) and defeating Oregon State 84-78 in the BMO Harris Bank Kansas City Shootout (11/30). KU played 106 games in Kemper Arena with an 81-25 record. KU is 202-78 in games played in Kansas City.
MORE NOTES ON THE JAYHAWKS IN KANSAS CITY
–Kansas went 26-4 in Kemper Arena from 1997 until 2006, when it played its last game in the venue. Included in that run were Big 12 Championship titles in 1997, 1998 and 1999.
–Kemper Arena was the host of the 1988 NCAA Final Four when the Jayhawks won the national championship.
–With the Nov. 30 contest against Oregon State, Kansas has played at least one regular-season game in Kansas City in 23 of the last 25 seasons, including every year Sprint Center has existed.
KANSAS TEAM NOTABLES
–Kansas leads the NCAA Division I in field goal percentage defense at 35.8 percent and is third nationally in blocked shots at 6.7 per game. Both stats lead the Big 12 and KU also leads the conference in scoring margin (+13.4), field goal percentage (47.3), rebounding (39.5) and rebound margin (+6.5). The Jayhawks also rank in the top four of the Big 12 in scoring (second, 74.6), free throw percentage (fourth, 72.4), rebound defense (tied for third, 33.9), assists (tied for third, 15.3), steals (fourth, 7.1), assist-to-turnover ratio (fourth, 1.1) and three-point field goals made (fourth, 5.9).
–Kansas has held a double-digit lead in all but seven contests this season. KU has held the lead in all but one game in 2012-13.
–Out of its 31 games, Kansas has held 18 of its opponents to 60 points or less, including nine conference foes.
–KU has outrebounded 24 of 31 opponents this season, including 20 of its last 25 foes. After its 36-22 rebound advantage against TCU (2/23), KU has had seven games with 10-plus rebounds over its opponent. Kansas’ 50 rebounds at Oklahoma State (2/20) were a season high and its +22 against Texas Tech (3/4) was its widest margin of 2012-13.
–KU has out shot all but five opponents in 2012-13. Additionally, KU has shot 50 percent or better in 12 games this season. Kansas has shot 53.3 percent or better in three of its last four games.
–Kansas has held a 40-plus point lead in four different games this season.
–Kansas has had four players score in double figures in 10 times this season, including five against Iowa State (1/9).
–Senior C Jeff Withey has five double-doubles in his last eight games. His 12 DDs are second most in the Big 12.
–In his last three games, Withey is averaging 14.7 ppg, 9.0 rpg, 5.7 blocks and is 18-for-20 (90.0 percent) from the field.
Kansas is shooting 50.7 percent from the field in its last four games. The Jayhawks have out shot all but five opponents in 2012-13 and have shot 50 percent or better from the field in 12 games. KU leads the Big 12 in field goal percentage at 47.3 percent. Individually, senior C Jeff Withey is second in the Big 12 and senior G Travis Releford third in field goal percentage at 58.2 and 57.9, respectively. Withey is 18-for-20 (90 percent) from the field in his last three games, while Releford has shot 70 percent or better in 13 games, including six league contests. Withey has shot 50 percent or better in 25 of 31 games this season, including 15 games of 62.5 percent or better. Redshirt freshman G Ben McLemore shot 12-for-15 (80 percent) from the field against West Virginia (3/2) and has seven games of 60 percent or better shooting this season. He shot 50 percent or better from three-point range in nine conference games, which includes a 5-for-9 effort at Baylor (3/9) and 5-for-6 (83.3 percent) effort vs. West Virginia (3/2). Senior F Kevin Young is 17-for-24 (70.8 percent) in his last five games and has 13 games of shooting 60.0 percent or better, including eight in conference play. Senior G Elijah Johnson was 6-for-10 from three-point range at Iowa State (2/25) and 13-for-22 (59.1 percent) for the game. He has shot 46.7 percent (35-for-75) in his last seven games and is shooting 39.2 percent for the season.
IN THE POLLS
Kansas is ranked No. 7 in the Associated Press and No. 6 in the USA Today Coaches’ polls released March 11. Kansas’ No. 1 ranking in the Jan. 28, 2013, coaches’ poll was its first since Feb. 14, 2011, and KU has been the nation’s top team 38 times, including 20 weeks in the Bill Self era. Also in the coaches’ polls, Kansas has been ranked in each of the last 81 weeks, including 67 times in the Top 10. In the Associated Press poll and dating back to the final three polls of the 2008-09 season, this marks the 76th-straight poll in which the Jayhawks have been ranked in the AP poll, including 65 times in the Top 10.
2013 ALL-BIG 12 AWARDS
Kansas seniors Jeff Withey, Travis Releford and Elijah Johnson and redshirt freshman Ben McLemore highlighted KU’s selections to the 2013 All-Big 12 Men’s Basketball awards as selected by the league coaches and announced March 10. For the second straight season, Withey is the Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year. He was joined on the 2013 All-Big 12 First Team by McLemore. Releford was a second-team all-conference selection, while Johnson earned honorable mention all-league. Withey and Releford were named to the six-person Big 12 All-Defensive Team, while McLemore was selected to the six-person Big 12 All-Rookie Team.
Withey becomes the second Jayhawk to earn Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year in consecutive seasons, joining former KU center Cole Aldrich who was honored in 2009 and 2010. Kansas placed two student-athletes on the All-Big 12 First Team for the second straight year and the sixth time in the last seven seasons. The Jayhawks have had two first teamers nine times in the 17-year history of the Big 12, which began in 1996-97.
Associated Press announced its All-Big 12 team on March 11, McLemore and Withey were each named to the first team, while Releford was an honorable mention selection.
The legacy the four senior players will leave at Kansas is quite impressive. Entering the final games of their careers, fifth-year Travis Releford has a 153-26 record for an 85.5 winning percentage when wearing the Crimson and Blue. Fourth-year seniors Elijah Johnson and Jeff Withey have a 126-18 (87.5 percent) record, while senior transfer Kevin Young is at 58-12 (82.9 percent).
Releford has been a part of five Big 12 Conference regular-season titles, while Johnson and Withey four and Young two. Additionally, in the last four seasons, Kansas has won two Big 12 postseason championships (2010, 2011), advanced to the NCAA Tournament Elite Eight twice and one Final Four, including last year’s run to the NCAA championship game in New Orleans. Combined these seniors are 16-4 in postseason play.
Kansas has won 13 of the 17 Big 12 regular-season titles (includes ties), including the last nine, which ranks tied for fifth on the NCAA all-time consecutive list. Kansas’ 56 conference titles are the most in NCAA Division I. Kentucky is second with 51 and Penn third at 37. Kansas’ nine-straight league titles is the longest active streak in NCAA Division I and the longest streak in school history. Including 2013, Belmont (Atlantic Sun/Ohio Valley East) and Murray State (Ohio Valley West) are next at four on the active league title list.
CONSECUTIVE CONFERENCE REGULAR-SEASON WINNERS (source: NCAA Record Book; *active streak)
No. – Team, Conference – Seasons
13 – UCLA, Pac-12 – 1967-79
11 – Gonzaga, West Coast – 2001-11
10 – Connecticut, Yankee – 1951-60
10 – UNLV, Big West – 1983-92
*9 – KANSAS, Big 12 – 2005-12
9 – Idaho St., Rocky Mountain – 1953-61
9 – Kentucky, Southeastern – 1944-52
8 – Long Beach St., Big West – 1970-77
Here are some block party notables for Kansas All-American candidate Jeff Withey:
–An All-Big 12 First Team selection, Withey leads the Big 12 and is third nationally with 4.0 blocked shots per game. KU’s record for single-season blocked shot average is 3.6 set by Withey in 2012.
–The 2012 and 2013 Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year, Withey set the KU and Big 12 single-game record with 12 blocked shots versus San Jose State (11/26).
–A two-time member of the Big 12 All-Defensive Team (2012 and 2013), Withey may have narrowly missed a triple double, but his nine-block performance against West Virginia was one only 16 performances of nine or more blocks in NCAA Division I this season, including three by Withey. He has twice swatted nine shots this season and his 12-block game against SJSU is tied with three others for best single game in the nation. Withey is one of only two players in the country with three games of nine or more blocks.
–A three-time Big 12 Player of the Week, including twice in 2012-13, Withey’s 124 blocks in 2012-13 are more than six Big 12 teams this season and rank third on the KU single-season list.
–Earlier this season, Withey broke the Kansas and Big 12 Conference career blocked shots record, currently at 289. He passed Greg Ostertag who had 258 blocks at Kansas from 1992-95 and Chris Mihm of Texas’ 264 from 1998-2000.
–For his career, Withey has had 11 games with seven or more blocked shots, including four in 2012-13.
–Withey broke the NCAA Tournament record for blocked shots with 31 in the 2012 event.
–Withey broke the Kansas and Big 12 single-season blocked shots record with 140 last year (3.6 per game). He is only the second Jayhawk to pass 100 blocked shots for a single season with his 140 last year and 124 this year. The other was Cole Aldrich with 125 in 2009-10.
All-Big 12 First Team member, Kansas G Ben McLemore leads the conference freshman class with a 16.7 scoring average, which is second overall in the conference. A three-time Big 12 Rookie of the Week and one-time Player of the Week honoree, McLemore leads the Big 12 in free throw percentage at 86.3 and also ranks among the league leaders in field goal percentage (sixth, 50.1), rebounding (19th, 5.3), three-point field goal percentage (second, 43.4) and three-pointers made (seventh, 2.0). KU’s leading scorer, McLemore has nine games with 20 points or more this season, including three 30-point efforts: 36 vs. West Virginia (3/2), 33 vs. Iowa State (1/9) and 30 vs. Kansas State (2/11). He is the only freshman in KU history to have three 30-point games in one season. His 36 points against West Virginia (3/2) broke the Kansas freshman record of 35 points set by Danny Manning against Oklahoma State (3/2/1985).
Kansas freshman record-wise, McLemore’s:
…517 points are a Kansas freshman record. He is the only KU freshman to have scored more than 500 points.
…16.7 ppg would surpass the KU freshman record of 14.6 ppg held by Danny Manning in 1985.
…5.3 rebound average would rank tied for ninth on the KU freshman list.
…62 three-pointers made in 2012-13 are fourth on the KU freshman list.
…43.4 three-point field goal percentage is fifth on the KU freshman list.
…86.3 free throw percentage is first on the Kansas freshman list.
MCLEMORE AND WITHEY NAMED TO NATIONAL WATCH LISTS
On March 9, Kansas’ Ben McLemore and Jeff Withey were named to John R. Wooden Award final ballot. On Feb. 25, the duo was selected as Naismith Top 30 candidates. McLemore and Withey are also on USBWA Oscar Robertson Player of the Year Midseason Watch List announced Jan. 31. The Naismith Award had three schools with two players listed (Kansas, Duke and Indiana). The Wooden Award final ballot consisted of 15 players and the Oscar Robertson award consisted of 12 players; Kansas and Indiana were the only schools with multiple players listed with two each. The 2013 Wooden Award Gala will take place April 11-13, 2013, at The Los Angeles Athletic Club. The Gala will honor the Men’s and Women’s Wooden Award winners, All Americans and the Legends of Coaching Award winner, Kansas head coach Bill Self.
Should Kansas win on March 14, the Jayhawks would play the winner of the No. 4 Oklahoma vs. No. 5 Iowa State game on Friday, March 15 at 6:30 p.m. (Central) in the semifinals of the Phillips 66 Big 12 Championship at Sprint Center in Kansas City. The semifinal contest will be televised on the Big 12 Network and either ESPN3 or ESPNU.