No. 3 Kansas (11-1) opens Big 12 play on the road when it travels to TCU (11-1) Friday. The 8 p.m. game will be televised on ESPN2.
Kansas’ 11-game winning streak ranks seventh longest in NCAA Division I. The Jayhawks are coming off a 71-53 win at UNLV on Dec. 22 in their first true road game of the season. TCU, which is receiving votes in the latest USA Today Coaches’ Poll, has won its last three-straight games after its 74-42 win against Bradley on Dec. 21.
Of Kansas’ NCAA-leading 59 conference regular-season titles, 16 have come in the Big 12, including an unprecedented 12-straight from 2005 to 2016.
Kansas has won 25-straight conference openers dating back to the 1991-92 season with 10 of those in Allen Fieldhouse and 15 on the road. The last time KU lost a conference opener was at Oklahoma, 88-82, on Jan. 8, 1991. This will be the eighth time in Bill Self’s 14 seasons at KU that the Jayhawks have opened Big 12 play on the road.
Kansas is vying to finish December undefeated for the second-straight season and seventh time in the Bill Self era. KU averages 86.6 points per game and has scored 89 or more in six of its last seven contests. KU has a +19.1 scoring margin. Kansas is second in the Big 12 and sixth nationally with a 51.7 field goal percentage. KU leads the league with a 41.3 3-point field goal percentage, which is 14th in NCAA Division I. KU averages 41.2 rebounds per contest with a +7.1 rebound margin. The Jayhawks also average 18.1 assists, 7.7 steals and 5.9 blocked shots per game.
Two-time Big 12 Player of the Week in 2016-17, senior G Frank Mason III has led Kansas in scoring in nine of 12 games this season. He has six 20-point efforts, including two 30-point outings and has scored 18 or more points in all but two games this season. Mason is averaging 19.7 points per game, which ranks second in the Big 12. Mason also leads KU in 3-point field goal percentage at 50.0 percent. His 5.8 assists per game lead the Big 12 and his 26 3-pointers are third on the team, one behind sophomore G Devonte’ Graham and junior G Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk. Freshman G Josh Jackson is coming off a 21-point, nine rebound performance at UNLV (12/22) that earned him Big 12 Player of the Week honors. Jackson leads Kansas in rebounds with 6.5 per game. Also a two-time Big 12 Newcomer of the Week, Jackson averages 15.6 points per game and is second on the team with 19 steals. His 15.6 points per contest lead the Big 12 freshman class. Jackson’s 18 blocked shots are tied for the team lead with fellow freshman Udoka Azubuike, who injured his wrist in practice on Dec. 20 and will be out the remainder of the season. Azubuike averaged 5.0 points and 4.4 rebounds in 11 games for KU this season. Graham is Kansas’ third-leading scorer at 12.6 points per game. He leads KU with 21 steals and is tied for the team lead with 27 3-pointers made. Graham’s 4.4 assists per game average is second on the team and sixth in the Big 12. Mykhailiuk has started the last two games which included a season-high 20 points at UNLV (12/22). He has averaged 16.0 points in his last three games and is scoring 11.1 ppg for the season. Senior C Landen Lucas is coming off a season-high 12 rebounds at UNLV (12/22). He is tied for second on the KU team with 5.6 rebounds per game to complement his 5.7 scoring average.
Sophomore G Lagerald Vick has started five games this season and is averaging 8.7 points and shooting 52.6 percent from the field. Sophomore F Carlton Bragg Jr., has also started five games this season and is tied with Lucas for second on the team with a 5.6 rebound average. Bragg averages 7.2 points per outing. Freshman F Mitch Lightfoot (1.3 ppg, 1.4 rpg) and junior F Dwight Coleby (1.3 ppg, 2.1 rpg) are also KU regulars off the bench.
TCU is 11-1 on the season, equaling the second-best start in school history with the 1930-31 team. TCU opened 12-0 in 2014-15. The Horned Frogs are coached by Jamie Dixon who is in his first season at TCU and is 339-123 in his 14th season overall. TCU is 9-0 at home this season, averages 79.9 points per game and has a +16.7 scoring margin. TCU pulls down 38.2 rebounds per game with a +6.4 rebound margin. The Horned Frogs make 7.4 3-pointers per game and also average 17.6 assists, 9.0 steals and 4.7 blocked shots per contest.
TCU has a balanced scoring attack as its top five players average between 10.8 and 9.2 points per game. Junior G Alex Robinson leads the team with 10.8 points per game. He also leads TCU with 66 assists and 25 steals. He has made 14 3-pointers this season, good for third on the team. Freshman G Jaylen Fisher is next in scoring at 10.5 points per game and he is also second on the team with 16 3-pointers, 52 assists and 16 steals. Junior F Vlad Brodziansky averages 10.4 points and 5.1 rebounds per game. He is second in the Big 12 with 27 blocked shots for a 2.3 per-game average. Junior G Kenrich Williams is the only player in the Big 12 averaging a double-double with 10.4 points and a league-leading 10.0 rebounds per game. His nine blocked shots are second on the team and he has made 12 3-pointers. Freshman G Desmond Bane has started nine games this season and averages 9.2 points per contest. Sophomore F JD Miller is a starter who scores 8.5 points and pulls down 3.6 rebounds per game. Other TCU regulars include senior G Brandon Parrish (6.8 ppg, 3.7 rpg, team-high 18 3-pointers), senior F Karviar Shepherd (6.1 ppg, 3.8 rpg, nine starts) and junior G Malique Trent (3.8 ppg).
Though this is just the 14th conference meeting between Kansas and TCU, the men’s basketball series between the two schools dates back to 1952 when the Jayhawks defeated the Horned Frogs, 68-64, on March 21 in the NCAA Midwest Regional at Municipal Auditorium in Kansas City, Missouri. Kansas is 12-1 against TCU and has won eight straight against the Horned Frogs. Three series games have been on neutral floors with Kansas winning all three contests: the 1952 game, a KU 94-78 win vs. TCU on Dec. 20, 1997, at Kemper Arena in Kansas City, Missouri, and a KU 64-59 win in the quarterfinals of the 2015 Big 12 Championship at Sprint Center in Kansas City. KU swept a home-and-home series with TCU in 2003 and 2004 with an 85-66 win in Fort Worth on Dec. 1, 2003 and a 93-74 victory on Dec. 9, 2004 in Allen Fieldhouse. As members of the Big 12, KU leads the series 8-1, including a 4-1 record in Fort Worth. Kansas head coach Bill Self is 16-4 all-time against TCU, including 9-1 while at Kansas. TCU head coach Jamie Dixon will be facing Kansas for the first time.
• Freshman G Josh Jackson (21) and junior G Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk (20) both notched 20-point scoring efforts. It is the second time this season a Kansas duo has scored 20 or more points in the same game. The other occurrence was on Nov. 21 against UAB, when Jackson scored 22 points and senior G Frank Mason III scored 20.
• Jackson led the Jayhawks in scoring for the second-straight game and third time overall this season.
• KU’s 18-point victory is the sixth victory with a scoring margin of 15 or more points this season.
• Kansas held UNLV to 20 first-half points for the least points in a half scored by a KU opponent this season.
• Senior C Landen Lucas grabbed a season-high 12 rebounds, tying the most by Jayhawk this season for the third time.
• Mason recorded two steals to move into 22nd on KU’s career steals list with 134, passing Brady Morningstar’s 133 form 2007-11.
• Mason also dished out eight assists for his 10th game of the season with five or more assists.
• Kansas has held its opponent to a shooting percentage below 50 percent in all 12 games this season to date.
• Kansas leads the Big 12 and ranks sixth nationally in 3-point field goal percentage at 41.3 percent. KU also ranks in the upper half in the Big 12 in win-loss percentage (tied second at 91.7), scoring (third at 86.6), scoring margin (fifth at +19.1), field goal percentage (second at 51.7), rebounding (second at 41.2), rebounding defense (fifth at 38.8), rebound margin (third at +7.1), assists (third at 18.1), blocked shots (second at 5.9) and 3-point average (third at 8.7).
• Senior G Frank Mason III has led Kansas in scoring in nine of 12 games this season, including four of the last five KU contests.
• In his last seven games, Mason has averaged 19.8 points, 4.8 rebounds and 6.4 assists.
• Mason leads the Big 12 with 5.8 assists per game. He ranks second in the conference in scoring at 19.7 ppg and is tied for third in 3-point field goal percentage (.500), seventh in field goal percentage (.545) and seventh in 3-pointers made (2.2).
• In his last four games, freshman G Josh Jackson’s stat line reads: 18.8 ppg, 8.8 rpg, seven assists, nine blocked shots and five steals.
• Junior G Devonte’ Graham and junior G Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk are tied for the team lead with 27 3-pointers made this season and their 2.3 3-pointers made are tied for third in the Big 12.
• Mykhailiuk has averaged 16.0 points in his last three games with seven 3-pointers made and seven steals. He is 18-for-33 (54.5 percent) from the field in that span, including 7-for-15 (46.7 percent) from 3-point range.
• Graham has five steals in his last two games and seven games with multiple steals this season. His 21 steals are tops on the KU team.
IN THE POLLS
Kansas remained ranked No. 3 in both the Associated Press and the USA Today Coaches’ polls, released Dec. 26. KU entered the 2016-17 season No. 3 in the AP poll and No. 2 in the coaches’ poll.
Kansas has been ranked in each of the last 148 AP polls dating back to the 2008-09 season, which is the longest active streak in NCAA Division I.
Kansas was ranked in the preseason for the 25th time in time in the 28-year history of the coaches’ poll. The No. 2 preseason ranking marked the sixth time KU has been preseason No. 2 or higher in the coaches’ poll.
The AP ranking marked the highest preseason rank for the Jayhawks since entering the 2009-10 season No. 1. This is the fourth-straight season KU has been ranked No. 5 or higher by the AP preseason poll. KU was No. 4 last season in the AP preseason poll and No. 5 in 2014-15 and 2013-14. It is also the seventh time in the last eight seasons that the Jayhawks have entered the season No. 7 or higher by the AP.
BIG 12 MEN
Baylor 0-0 12-0
Kansas 0-0 11-1
Kansas State 0-0 11-1
TCU 0-0 11-1
Texas Tech 0-0 11-1
West Virginia 0-0 11-1
Oklahoma State 0-0 10-2
Iowa State 0-0 8-3
Oklahoma 0-0 6-5
Texas 0-0 6-6
West Va. at OSU, ESPN2, 3
Texas Tech at Iowa State, ESPNEWS, 5
Baylor at Oklahoma, ESPN2, 6
Texas at Kansas State, ESPNEWS, 7
Kansas at TCU, ESPN2, 8
Oklahoma at TCU, ESPNU, 8
Kansas State at Kansas, ESPN2, 8
West Va. at Texas Tech, ESPNEWS, 8:15