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January 23, 2012

KU returns home for Big Monday

No. 7 Kansas (16-3, 6-0) will play in its second-straight ESPN Big Monday game when it hosts Texas A&M Jan. 23 at 8 p.m. The Jayhawks and Aggies were the co-preseason favorties to win the 2012 Big 12 race by the league coaches. Kansas leads the Big 12 with a 6-0 record and takes an nine-game winning streak into the A&M matchup. The Jayhawks have won 16-straight home games in Allen Fieldhouse after their 92-74 win against previously undefeated and No. 3 Baylor on Jan. 16. Texas A&M is 11-7 on the season and 2-4 in Big 12 play after its 81-75 overtime win against Oklahoma Saturday.

About Kansas

No. 7 Kansas is 16-3 and sits atop the Big 12 standings at 6-0 after winning at Texas 69-66 on Saturday. The Jayhawks are 10-0 at home, 4-0 in road games and 2-3 on neutral courts this season. Kansas averages 76.4 points per game and allows 60.4 for a +16.0 scoring margin, which ranks second in the Big 12. KU leads the Big 12 in rebound margin at +7.6 and field goal percentage defense at 37.0. Additionally, KU averages 16.4 assists per contest.

The Jayhawks are led by national player of the year candidate Thomas Robinson, who is the only player in the Big 12 Conference to average a double-double with 17.7 points and 12.1 rebounds per game. A three-time Big 12 Player of the Week, Robinson has four double-doubles in six conference games. His league-leading 13 double-doubles on the season rank third nationally.

Senior guard Tyshawn Taylor, who was named the Big 12 Player of the Week on Jan. 16, has scored 22-plus points in each of his last three games, including a career-high 28 points in back-to-back games against Iowa State (1/14) and Baylor (1/16). Taylor leads Kansas with 98 assists. Junior Travis Releford has been hot in Big 12 play and was named the Big 12 Player of the Week Jan. 9. He averages 13.0 ppg in league play and 9.7 in all games. Junior guard Elijah Johnson leads Kansas with 32 three-pointers made and 31 steals this season. Johnson scores 9.4 points per game and is second on the team with 71 assists.

Junior center Jeff Withey leads the Big 12 in blocked shots at 3.1 per game and rounds out the KU starters. Withey has scored in double figures in each of his last three games and is averaging 8.0 points for the season. He is second on the team with 6.2 rebounds per contest and has 23 blocked shots in six league contests.

Senior guard Conner Teahan, who has one start in 2011-12, is second on the team with 31 three-pointers this season while averaging 7.1 points per game. Sophomore forward Justin Wesley joins Teahan as the first two off the bench. Wesley averages 1.8 points and 2.3 rebounds per contest. Junior forward Kevin Young (3.9 ppg, 3.0 rpg) and freshman guard Naadir Tharpe (1.4 ppg, 17 assists) are the other KU regulars.

About Texas A&M

Located in College Station, Texas, with an enrollment of 49,129, Texas A&M will be making its final conference appearance in Allen Fieldhouse as the Aggies will join the Southeastern Conference in 2012-13. Texas A&M is 11-7 overall and 2-4 in Big 12 play after its 81-75 overtime win against Oklahoma on Jan. 21 in College Station. A&M is 10-2 at home, 0-3 on the road and 1-2 at neutral sites in 2011-12. The Aggies are coached by Billy Kennedy who is in his first season at A&M and is 222-186 in his 14th season overall as a head coach.

A&M averages 62.8 points per games and gives up 59.2 for a +3.6 scoring margin. The Aggies are solid on the boards with a +4.5 rebound margin and lead the Big 12 in scoring defense (59.2).

Junior guard Elston Turner leads Texas A&M in scoring at 13.7 points per game, with 38 three-pointers made and an 84.1 free throw percentage in 2011-12. Junior guard Khris Middleton is next in scoring at 12.4 points per game and he is second on the team with 5.4 rebounds per contest. Senior forward David Loubeau is next in scoring at 10.5 points per contest and he pulls down 4.4 rebounds per outing. Junior forward Ray Turner leads Texas A&M in rebounds with 6.5 per game to complement his 10.4 points per game scoring average.

Senior guard Dash Harris round out the Aggies' starters. Harris leads the team with 74 assists and 25 steals, while contributing 5.9 points per game.

Freshman guard Jordan Green (3.5 ppg), junior guard Naji Hibbert (3.4 ppg) and sophomore center Keith Davis are regulars for A&M off the bench. Davis (1.3 ppg), leads the Aggies with 13 blocked shots this season.

The Kansas-Texas A&M Series

Kansas and Texas A&M are meeting for the 19th time in a series that dates back to 1967. KU leads the overall series 17-1 and has won the last six meetings. The first game of the series was played in 1967 in the Sunflower Doubleheader in Manhattan, Kan., with KU winning 78-52. Ever since, the series has been during the Big 12 era.

The teams have met in the semifinals of the Big 12 Championship in two of the last four years - 2008 and 2010 - with Kansas winning both meetings and eventually claiming the league tourney titles. Since the inception of the Big 12 in 1996-97, Kansas is 16-1 against A&M. Prior to Texas ending KU's school-record 69 home-game winning streak last season, Texas A&M handed Kansas its previous home loss on Feb. 3, 2007.

Kansas is 7-1 against Texas A&M in Allen Fieldhouse.

Coaches Series

--Kansas head coach Bill Self is 9-3 all-time against Texas A&M, including a 9-1 record while at Kansas.

--This will be the first time Billy Kennedy will face Kansas as a head coach.

Team Notables

--Kansas leads the Big 12 in field goal percentage defense at 37.0. KU has led the Big 12 in field goal percentage defense in five of the last six seasons, all under head coach Bill Self.

--KU also leads the conference in rebound margin at +7.6 and has led the Big 12 in rebound margin in each of the last five seasons, all under Bill Self.

--Kansas has tied or outrebounded 16 of 19 opponents this season, including 14 of the last 16 games. KU has seven games with a +10 rebound margin, including a season-best 50-26 vs. Kansas State (1/4) and a +16 (40-24) at Texas Tech (1/11).

--Five different Jayhawks - Thomas Robinson, Tyshawn Taylor, Elijah Johnson, Conner Teahan and Travis Releford - have led Kansas in scoring through 19 games.

--KU has shot a higher percentage than 16 of 19 opponents this season.

--KU has blocked five or more shots in 10 this season, including a season-high 13 against Florida Atlantic (11/30). KU had 12 blocked shots against Long Beach State (12/6) and 10 versus Iowa State (1/14).

--Kansas is 3-2 against ranked teams in 2011-12, 29-10 versus ranked foes since 2006-07 and 38-20 against ranked foes under Bill Self (2003-04). KU has faced current Associated Press 2. Kentucky, 3. Baylor, 4. Duke and 6. Ohio State. The Jayhawks will play No. 5 Missouri twice later this season.

--Kansas has 94 dunks to its opponents' 29 through 19 games. Thomas Robinson leads KU with 46 dunks, while Jeff Withey has 19.

Player Notables

--Junior THOMAS ROBINSON, who recorded his Big 12-leading 13th double-double of the season with 27 points and 14 rebounds against No. 3 Baylor (1/16), was named the No. 1 candidate for national player of the year in Dick Vitale's midseason lists released Jan. 4. He has six 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 this season who is averaging a double-double with 17.7 ppg and 12.1 rpg. His 13 double-doubles, like his 12.1 rebounds per game, lead the Big 12 and his rebound average is in the top five nationally. Robinson's 17.7 points are second in the league and he also ranks second in field goal percentage (54.1) and 11th in blocked shots (1.1).

--Senior TYSHAWN TAYLOR has scored 22-plus points in each of his last three games after his 22 points at Texas (1/21), plus a season-high five rebounds. Taylor had a career-high 28 points in back-to-back games against Iowa State (1/14) and Baylor (1/16). Named Big 12 Player of the Week Jan 16, he is second on the team with 16.5 points per game and leads KU in scoring in Big 12 games at 19.2 ppg. In all games, Taylor leads KU with 98 assists and he is making 45.3 percent from three-point range. Taylor underwent knee surgery on Dec. 11 but returned to start the Davidson contest on Dec. 19, when he scored 15 points and had seven assists. Taylor's 16.5 points per game average is fifth in the Big 12. Also in the league, he is seventh in field goal percentage at 46.6, fifth in three-point field goal percentage at 45.3, fifth in assists at 5.2 and ninth in assist-to-turnover ratio at 1.3.

--Junior TRAVIS RELEFORD, the Big 12 Player of the Week Jan. 9, is third on the team in league-game scoring with 13.0 ppg and is averaging 9.7 ppg for the season. He opened Big 12 play with his first career double-double with 16 points and 11 rebounds against Kansas State (1/4). Both were career highs at the time. He then scored 28 points at Oklahoma (1/7). Releford has started every game this season and has scored in double figures 11 times in 2011-12, including 11 points against Baylor (1/16). A lockdown defender, Releford is tied for 10th in the Big 12 with 1.4 steals per game.

--Junior ELIJAH JOHNSON had nine points and four rebounds with three steals at Texas (1/21). He has scored in double figures in eight games this season, including two of his last three contests: 12 against Iowa State (1/14) and 11 versus Baylor (1/16). Johnson leads the team with 32 three-pointers made and is also the team leader with 31 steals. Johnson has multiple steals in six of his last nine games. He has started every game this season for KU and is second on the team in assists with 71. Johnson is ninth in the Big 12 in assists at 3.7, fourth in steals at 1.6, 14th in three-pointers made at 1.7 and fifth in assist-to-turnover ratio at 1.9.

--Junior JEFF WITHEY has scored in double figures in each of his last three games with 12 points at Texas (1/21). The two previous games, he recorded back-to-back double-doubles with 13 points and 11 rebounds against Iowa State (1/14) and 10 points and 10 rebounds versus Baylor (1/16). The 7-0 junior center leads the Big 12 with 3.1 blocked shots per game, which includes a Big 12-best 23 in conference play. He has eight games with 10-plus points scored. 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 the school record - Cole Aldrich's 10 against Dayton in the 2009 NCAA Tournament. Withey has multiple blocks in 11 of his last 12 games and 14 contests in 2011-12. His 6.2 rebound average, which is second best on the KU team, is tied for ninth in the Big 12.

--Senior CONNER TEAHAN is second on the team with 31 threes. He scored a career-high 14 points versus LBSU (12/6) and has chipped in 13 points twice (at USC, 12/22 and vs. Howard, 12/29). Teahan is 12th in the Big 12 in three-point field goal percentage at 37.3 and 15th in three-pointers made at 1.6.

--Junior KEVIN YOUNG scored seven points at Texas Tech (1/11) and again against Iowa State (1/14). He also pulled down seven rebounds at Texas Tech. 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 seven times this season. In 2011-12, Young is shooting 58.5 percent (24-for-41) from the field.

Taylor Climbing the Charts

Kansas senior Tyshawn Taylor continues to etch his name into the Kansas career lists. A four-year starter, Kansas is 111-17 (86.7 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 107 all-time KU starts are just one shy of cracking the KU top 12. Statistically, against Duke, Taylor became the 54th player in school history to record 1,000 points.

He currently sits 31st with 1,247 points. He is 10th on the KU all-time assists list with 487. Taylor also ranks 21st with 141 career steals and his 38.6 percent career three-point percentage is 17th best at Kansas.

Up Next

Kansas hits to road to play at Iowa State on Saturday, Jan. 28 at 1 p.m. on ESPN. The Jayhawks overcame a 12-point second-half deficit to defeat the Cyclones 82-73 on Jan. 14 in Allen Fieldhouse. Kansas will then host Oklahoma on Wednesday, Feb. 1 at 8 p.m. on ESPNU before traveling to Columbia to face Border Showdown rival Missouri on Saturday, Feb. 4 at 8 p.m. on ESPN.




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