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March 6, 2012

KU looks to defend postseason title

2012 Big 12 Championship

Big 12 Conference regular-season champion Kansas (26-5, 16-2) enters the 2012 Phillips 66 Big 12 Championship as the No. 1 seed for the ninth time in the 16-year history of the league. KU won its eighth straight, 12th Big 12 and NCAA-leading 55th conference regular-season championship in 2012. Kansas will face the winner of the No. 8 Oklahoma-No. 9 Texas A&M game Thursday, March 8 at 2 p.m. at Sprint Center in Kansas City. The Sooners and Aggies will play Wednesday, March 7 at 6 p.m. Kansas is two-time defending Phillips 66 Big 12 Championship champions and has won 12 conference tournament titles, including five of the last seven and eight of the 15 Big 12 Championships. Since the Big 12's inception in 1997, Kansas is 14-1 in its first games, 13-2 in the quarterfinals, 9-4 in semifinals and 8-1 in championship games.

About Kansas

No. 3 Kansas is 16-0 at home, 8-2 in road games and 2-3 on neutral courts this season. KU's current eight-game winning streak is the second longest of the season. KU averages 74.8 points per game and allows 61.2 for a +13.6 scoring margin, which ranks second in the Big 12. KU leads the Big 12 in rebound margin at +6.3 and field goal percentage defense at 38.2, blocked shots at 5.6 and is second in assists per game at 15.6.

The Jayhawks are led by 2012 ESPN.com National Player of the Year and Big 12 Player of the Year Thomas Robinson, who is the only player in the conference to average a double-double this season with 18.0 points and 11.9 rebounds per game after his fourth-straight double-double with 25 points and 14 rebounds against Texas (3/3). A four-time Big 12 Player of the Week and one time Oscar Robertson National Player of the Week this season, Robinson posted 13 double-doubles in 18 conference games in 2012 and has eight DDs in his last 10 contests.

His league-leading 22 double-doubles and his 11.9 rpg average rank second nationally. An All-American candidate, senior guard Tyshawn Taylor has scored 22 or more points in each of his last three games and averages 17.2 ppg for the season. A two-time Big 12 Player of the Week and All-Big 12 First Team selection, Taylor led KU in league scoring in 2012 with an 18.6 ppg. He leads KU with 152 assists and 53 three-pointers made in 2011-12.

Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year and All-Big 12 Third Team selection, Jeff Withey averages 9.2 points and 6.3 rebounds for the season and had a solid conference campaign in which he is scored 10.3 points and pulled down 6.6 rebounds per game. Named the Big 12 and USBWA national player of the week on Feb. 13, he leads the conference with 3.2 blocked shots per game and led the league with 3.6 blocks per game in 2012.

A lockdown defender, junior guard Travis Releford, who was named the Big 12 Player of the Week on Jan. 9, averages 8.9 ppg in league play and 8.6 in all games. Junior guard Elijah Johnson leads Kansas with 46 steals to complement his 8.9 scoring average. Johnson is second on the team with 50 three-pointers made and 118 assists.

Senior guard Conner Teahan, an Academic All-Big 12 Second Team honoree, is third on the team with 47 three-pointers this season, including a 4-for-4 effort from beyond the arc against then-No. 3 Missouri on Feb. 25. Teahan averages 6.3 points per game. Junior forward Kevin Young (3.5 ppg, 2.7 rpg), sophomore forward Justin Wesley (1.4 ppg, 1.8 rpg) and freshman guard Naadir Tharpe (0.9 ppg, 19 assists) are also KU 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, 138-64, including a 72-61 win at Oklahoma on Jan. 7 and an 84-62 win in Lawrence on Feb. 1 this season. Since 2006, the Jayhawks have won nine straight against the Sooners. Since the inception of the Big 12, Kansas is 17-4 against Oklahoma - 15-2 in regular-season play and 2-2 in the Big 12 Championship. KU last faced OU in the 2007 Big 12 quarterfinals in Oklahoma City, a Kansas 64-47 win en route to the championship title. Bill Self is 10-3 all-time against OU, including 10-1 while at Kansas.

The Kansas-Texas A&M Series
Kansas and Texas A&M would meet for the 21st time in a series that dates back to 1967. KU leads the overall series 19-1 and has won the last eight 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 18-1 against A&M. Bill Self is 11-3 all-time against A&M, including 11-1 while at Kansas.

Kansas in the Phillips 66 Big 12 Championship

--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 31-7 in the event, while Oklahoma (20-12), Oklahoma State (20-13) and Texas (20-15) are second with 20 wins each.

--With a 17-3 (85.0 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 nine times (1997-98-2002-03-07-09-10-11-12), 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 14 of its 15 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 13-2 in quarterfinal contests.

--Kansas has reached the semifinals in 13 of the 15 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.

KU 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 M&I Kansas City Shootout on Dec. 19, 2011, marked KU's 275th game all-time in Kansas City, and its 16th in Sprint Center. KU is 13-3 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. KU played 104 games in Kemper Arena with an 80-24 record. KU is 198-77 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.

--Kansas has played at least one regular-season game in Kansas City in 22 of the last 24 seasons, including every year Sprint Center has existed.

Team Notables

--Kansas leads the Big 12 in field goal percentage defense at 38.2, which is seventh nationally. 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 leads the conference in rebound margin at +6.3. The Jayhawks have led the Big 12 in rebound margin in each of the last five seasons, all under Bill Self.

--Kansas also leads the Big 12 in rebound defense (30.8) and blocked shots (5.6). KU also ranks in the top three in scoring (second at 74.9), scoring defense (second at 61.2), scoring margin (second at +13.7), field goal percentage (second at 48.4), rebounding (third at 37.1), assists (second at 15.6), steals (third at 7.4) and assist-to-turnover ratio (third at 1.2).

--Kansas' 22-game home court winning streak leads the Big 12 and is tied for fourth nationally. The 22-game streak followed a school-record 69-game home court winning streak. KU is 91-1 in its last 92 games at Allen Fieldhouse.

--KU has tied or outrebounded 25 of 31 opponents this season, including 10 of the last 14 games. KU has 11 games with a +10 rebound margin, including a season-best 50-21 (+29) vs. Oklahoma State (2/11).

--Six different Jayhawks - Thomas Robinson, Tyshawn Taylor, Elijah Johnson, Conner Teahan, Travis Releford and Jeff Withey - have led Kansas in scoring through 31 games.

--KU has shot a higher percentage than 29 of 31 opponents this season. KU shot 56.3 percent against Texas Tech (2/18) and has shot 50 percent or better in five of its last 10 games and 13 times this season.

--Kansas has blocked five or more shots in 15 games this season, including a season-high 13 against Florida Atlantic (11/30). KU had 12 blocked shots against Long Beach State (12/6) and Texas A&M (1/23) and 10 versus Iowa State (1/14).

--After its 87-86 overtime win against No. 3 Missouri (2/25), Kansas is 5-3 against ranked teams in 2011-12, 31-11 versus ranked foes since 2006-07 and 40-21 against ranked foes under Bill Self (since 2003-04).

--Kansas' 19-point deficit overcome against Missouri was the largest since KU was down 22 points to Texas on March 11, 2007, in the Big 12 Championship title game.

--Kansas has 152 dunks to its opponents' 50 through 31 games. Thomas Robinson leads KU with 65 dunks, while Jeff Withey has 34.

Player Notables

--Junior THOMAS ROBINSON, who has four-straight double-doubles after his 25 points and 14 rebounds against Texas (3/3), was named the 2012 National Player of the Year by ESPN.com, Sporting News and ESPN.com All-American First Team, the consensus 2012 Big 12 Player of the Year and All-Big 12 First Team selection. He posted 13 DDs in 18 conference games. Robinson has scored 20-plus points on 11 occasions in 2011-12. A four-time Big 12 Player of the Week and one time Oscar Robertson National Player of the Week this season, Robinson had career highs with 30 points and 21 rebounds against North Dakota (12/31). Robinson is the only player in the Big 12 Conference this season that is averaging a double-double with 18.0 ppg and 11.9 rpg. His 22 double-doubles rank second on KU's single-season list and, like his 11.9 rebounds per game, lead the Big 12. Both are second nationally. Robinson's 18.0 points are tied for second in the league and he ranks second in field goal percentage (53.1) and ninth in blocked shots (1.1).

--Senior TYSHAWN TAYLOR has scored 20 or more points in each of his last three games, including 22 points against Texas (3/3) and 27 points at Oklahoma State (2/27). A 2012 All-Big 12 First Team honoree and All-American Third Team selection by The Sporting News, he has 11 20-point games in 2011-12. Taylor scored a career-high 28 points in back-to-back games against Iowa State (1/14) and Baylor (1/16). A two-time Big 12 Player of the Week (1/16, 3/4), he is second on the team with 17.2 points per game and led KU in conference game scoring at 18.6 ppg. In all games, Taylor leads KU with 152 assists, 53 three-pointers made and a 43.1 three-point field goal percentage. Taylor's 17.2 ppg average is fourth in the Big 12. Also in the league, he is fourth in field goal percentage at 48.9, fourth in three-point field goal percentage at 43.1, 12th in three-pointers made at 1.7, sixth in assists at 4.9 and ninth in assist-to-turnover ratio at 1.4. 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.

--Junior JEFF WITHEY averaged 10.3 points, 6.6 rebounds and 3.6 blocked shots in Big 12 play and 9.2 ppg, 6.3 rpg and 3.2 blocks in all games this season. The 2012 Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year and an All-Big 12 Third Team selection, Withey was named the Phillips 66 Big 12 Player of the Week and the Oscar Robertson National Player of the Week after he scored a career-high 25 points at No. 6 Baylor (2/8) and had 18 points and a career-high 20 rebounds against Oklahoma State (2/11). Withey has scored in double figures in 10 of his last 15 games, including four double-doubles. Withey leads the Big 12 with 3.2 blocked shots per game, which ranks seventh nationally. His 65 blocked shots in league play set a new conference season record. Withey has multiple blocks in 13 of his last 18 games. His 6.3 rebound average is ninth in the Big 12, while his 81.8 free throw percentage is eighth in the conference.

--Junior ELIJAH JOHNSON has 20 assists and just three turnovers in his last five games. He tied his season high with eight assists, and no turnovers, against No. 3 Missouri (2/25). Johnson scored 21 points at Texas A&M (2/22) which were just two shy of his career-high 23 against UCLA (11/22) earlier this season. He has 12 games with 10 or more points this season. Johnson is second on the team with 50 three-pointers made and has made multiple threes in three of his last four games and 14 times this season. He has started all but one game this season for KU (Senior Night), is the team leader with 46 steals and is second on the team in assists with 118. Johnson is ninth in the Big 12 in assists at 3.8, fourth in steals at 1.5, fifth in assist-to-turnover ratio at 2.1 and 13th in three-pointers made at 1.6.

--Junior TRAVIS RELEFORD, the Big 12 Player of the Week on Jan. 9, pulled down seven rebounds at Texas A&M (2/22) and has scored in double figures 14 times this season. He is fifth on the team in scoring with 8.6 ppg in all games and scored 8.9 ppg in Big 12 contests. Releford opened Big 12 play with his first career double-double, recording 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). A lockdown defender, Releford has 36 steals this season.

--Senior CONNER TEAHAN scored 12 points against No. 3 Missouri (2/25) on 4-for-4 shooting with all shots from three-point range. The four threes tied his career high, which he has done three times this season, and his 12 points were a conference career high. He has made 47 three-pointers in 2011-12, which is third most on the team. In his first career start, Teahan 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). He ranks 15th in the Big 12 in three-point field goal percentage at 36.7 percent. Teahan was named to the Academic All-Big 12 Second Team on Feb. 16.

--Junior KEVIN YOUNG led Kansas in blocked shots with four against No. 3 Missouri (2/25). He also pulled down a personal KU best eight rebounds against the Tigers. Young averages 10.8 minutes per game. He scored 10 points on 5-of-7 shooting against Texas Tech (2/18). It marked the third time this season Young has scored in double figures. His best scoring performance of the season came against then-No. 2 Ohio State (12/10) with 14 points on 6-of-8 shooting. He has pulled down four or more rebounds eight times this season. In 2011-12, Young is shooting 53.4 percent (39-for-73) from the field.

In the Polls

Kansas is ranked No. 3 in the Associated Press and the ESPN/USA Today Coaches polls released March 5. This is Kansas' ninth appearance in the Top 10 of either poll in 2011-12. KU has been ranked in each of the last 65 Associated Press polls dating back to the 2008-09 season. Included are 48 times when the Jayhawks have appeared in the AP Top 10. KU has been ranked in each of the last 66 coaches' polls with 51 appearances in the Top 10. Kansas has faced six currently-ranked teams and is 5-3 against ranked foes (at tip) in 2011-12.

Kansas Well Represented on All-Big 12 Teams

Kansas national player of the year candidate Thomas Robinson, All-American nominee Tyshawn Taylor, junior center Jeff Withey and head coach Bill Self highlight the 2012 All-Big 12 Men's Basketball accolades as selected by the head coaches, it was announced Sunday, March 4.

Robinson is the 2012 Big 12 Player of the Year, while Withey is the conference's defensive player of the year. Taylor and Robinson were unanimous All-Big 12 First Team selections, while Withey was a third-team all-conference choice and a member of the Big 12 All-Defensive Team. Self was named co-Big 12 Coach of the Year along with Iowa State's Fred Hoiberg. Conference coaches were not allowed to vote for their own schools in their selections.

Robinson's honor is the seventh time that a Kansas men's basketball athlete has won Big 12 Player of the Year. Robinson joins former Jayhawk greats Raef LaFrentz (1997 and 1998), Drew Gooden (2002), Nick Collison (2003), Wayne Simien (2005) and Marcus Morris (2011) in earning Big 12 Player of the Year honors. It marks the 14th time in school history a Jayhawk has been named his conference's player of the year. Withey joins Mario Chalmers (2007 and 2008) and Cole Aldrich (2010) in earning Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year.

Self is named the top coach for the third time in the last four seasons and fourth time overall after leading KU to its school-record eighth consecutive Big 12 regular season crown. He also earned Big 12 Coach of the Year accolades in 2006, 2009 and 2011 and his four Big 12 Coach of the Year honors are more than any other mentor in the 16-year history of the league.

Associated Press released its All-Big 12 team on March 5 and Robinson was the player of the year and Taylor joined him on the all-conference first team. Withey was an honorable mention selection.

Conference Titles

With its eighth-straight Big 12 regular-season championship and Gonzaga not winning the 2012 Big West title, Kansas is now the nation's active consecutive conference regular-season champion leader. Kansas' 55 conference regular-season titles are first among NCAA Division I schools.

Taylor To Join Elite Company

Senior Tyshawn Taylor continues to etch his name into the all-time Kansas career lists. A four-year starter, Kansas is 121-19 (86.4 percent) during Taylor's time in Lawrence with four Big 12 regular-season titles, two Big 12 Championship crowns and trips to the NCAA Sweet 16 and Elite Eight. His 119 all-time KU starts are eighth all-time. Statistically, against Duke, Taylor became the 54th player in school history to record 1,000 points. He currently sits 22nd with 1,467 points. He is eighth on the KU all-time assists list with 541. Taylor also ranks 16th with 158 career steals and his 39.0 percent career three-point percentage is 16th best at Kansas. Taylor is only the third player in KU history with the combination of at least 1,400 points, 500 assists and 150 steals in his career. He is in the company of KU greats Darnell Valentine (1,821 points, 609 assists, 336 steals) and Kirk Hinrich (1,753 points, 668 assists, 206 steals).

Robinson Named to National Player of the Year Lists

Kansas junior Thomas Robinson was named a John R. Wooden Award finalist on March 6, by The Los Angeles Athletic Club. Selected by the Wooden Award National Advisory Board, the list is made up of 15 student-athletes.

On March 4, Robinson was named the ESPN.com National Player of the Year. He was on the outlets All-American First Team. Senior teammate Tyshawn Taylor was ESPN.com All-American Third Team.

On Feb. 29, Robinson was named to the Naismith Men's College Player of the Year Midseason Watch List, announced by the Atlanta Tipoff Club. Robinson is one of 30 players from around the country named to the prestigious watch list. The Naismith Men's Basketball Player of the Year Award presented by AT&T Midseason 30 Watch List was compiled by the Atlanta Tipoff Club's Board of Selectors, which based its criteria on player performances from the 2011-12 college basketball season. The Naismith Trophy, presented by AT&T, will be awarded at the 2012 NCAA Men's Final Four in New Orleans.

On Feb. 6, Robinson was named one of 20 players by the U.S. Basketball Writers Association for its 2012 Oscar Robertson Trophy Midseason Watch List. Members of the association's board of directors chose the players to be included on the list as contenders for the Oscar Robertson Trophy, to be presented to the national player of the year by its namesake in New Orleans at the USBWA's College Basketball Awards Breakfast on March 30.

Up Next

Following the Big 12 Championship, Kansas will learn its NCAA Tournament fate on Sunday, March 11. The selection show will air on CBS at 5 p.m.



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