LAWRENCE, Kan. – No. 4/3 Kansas, the 13-time defending Big 12 regular-season champion, will face No. 5/4 Kentucky (2-0) in the State Farm Champions Classic Tuesday night at 8:30 p.m. (Central) at United Center in Chicago on ESPN. The Jayhawks and Wildcats will meet for the seventh time since the 2011-12 season, with KU claiming each of the last two match-ups. Dan Shulman (play-by-play), Dick Vitale (analyst) and Maria Taylor (reporter) will call the action.
- Kansas will face Kentucky in the State Farm Champions Classic at United Center in Chicago. The event started in 2011 and KU is 2-4 in the event with both wins against Duke.
- Last year, Kansas pulled a first by defeating all three Champions Classic participants. The Jayhawks defeated Duke, 77-75, in the actual Champions Classic, Kentucky, 79-73, in the SEC/Big 12 Challenge and Michigan State, 90-70, in the NCAA Tournament’s second round.
- With Bill Self being enshrined in the 2017 class of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, all four coaches in the Champions Classic have been inducted into the Hall.
- These are the top-two winningest programs in NCAA Division I college basketball with Kentucky first at 2,239 wins and Kansas second at 2,218 victories. The blue-blood programs have also combined for 31 Final Fours with Kentucky at 17 and Kansas at 14.
- KU head coach Bill Self was a graduate assistant at Kansas under Larry Brown in 1985-86. Kentucky coach John Calipari was an assistant coach at Kansas from 1982-85.
- KU leads the NCAA in conference men’s basketball titles with 60, including the last 13-straight Big 12 titles. Kentucky is second with 48 SEC titles.
- Both schools’ facilities are named after Kansas greats. Kentucky’s Rupp Arena is named after Adolph Rupp, a KU graduate who played at Kansas in 1923 under coach F.C. “Phog” Allen, of which Allen Fieldhouse is named.
- KU senior Devonte’ Graham is KU’s top returning scorer (13.4 ppg) and was selected as the Big 12’s Preseason Player of the Year. He was also named to the Preseason All-Big 12 Team and was joined on the list by senior guard Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk and redshirt-sophomore guard Malik Newman.
- Kansas head coach Bill Self is one win from tying Roy Williams for second on the all-time win list for KU coaches. Self is 417-88, while Williams was 418-101 in 15 seasons from 1989-2003. Phog Allen is No. 1 at 590-219.
Kansas opened the 2017-18 season with a 92-56 win against Tennessee State on Nov. 10 in Allen Fieldhouse. Junior guard Lagerald Vick led KU with 23 points while senior guard Devonte’ Graham and freshman guard Marcus Garrett each recorded double-doubles. Graham had 10 points and a career-high 12 assists, while in his college debut, Graham had 10 points and 10 rebounds.
Kansas returns two starters and six letterwinners from last season’s 31-5 team, which won the Big 12 race with a 16-2 conference record. Graham and senior guard Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk return as regular starters. Mykhailiuk had 15 points in the opener against Tennessee State (11/10). Lagerald Vick was also in the rotation last season with six starts. Sophomore center Udoka Azubuike, who had 13 points and six rebounds in the opener, had six starts in his 11 games played before an injury ended his 2016-17 season.
Expect to see returning sophomore forward Mitch Lightfoot’s minutes increase. He averaged 3.9 minutes last season and logged 17 in the opener to go along with six points and five rebounds. Sophomore guard Malik Newman, who sat out last year after transferring from Mississippi State, had 12 points and four rebounds versus Tennessee State. Look for freshman forward Bill Preston, a 2017 McDonald’s All-American, to also play a significant role this season. Preston missed the Tennessee State contest.
Graham is the 2017-18 Preseason Big 12 Player of the Year, as selected by the league coaches, while Newman is the league’s preseason newcomer of the year. Graham was a preseason all-conference first-team selection and Newman and Mykhailiuk were on the preseason league honorable mention team. Additionally, Graham is one of 20 listed on the preseason Bob Cousy Point Guard of the Year Watch List and one of 32 on the Oscar Robertson Trophy Watch List, with both awards won by KU’s Frank Mason III in 2016-17. Newman is one of 20 listed on the Jerry West Shooting Guard of the Year Watch List entering 2017-18. Graham and Newman were named to the 50-member Naismith Trophy Watch List as well.
Located in Lexington, Kentucky, with an enrollment of 30,761, Kentucky is 2-0 on the season after its 73-69 win against Vermont on Nov. 12. The Wildcats are coached by former Kansas assistant John Calipari who is 251-53 in his ninth season at UK and 654-191 in his 26th season overall. Preseason ranked No. 4 in the USA TODAY Coaches and No. 5 in the Associated Press polls, UK returns one starter and six letterwinners from last season’s 32-6 team which won the SEC with a 16-2 league record.
Kentucky is young with 12 players listed as freshmen or sophomores. Through two games the Wildcats hold a 7.0 scoring margin, averaging 73.0 points per game. UK is outrebounding foes 37.0 to 33.0 for a plus-4.0 margin. Redshirt-freshman guard Hamidou Diallo leads the team in scoring at 17.0 points per game. He has made a team-high three 3-pointers. Sophomore forward Wenyen Gabriel comes off the bench and leads the team with 7.5 rebounds per game. He also has a team-high four blocked shots in two games and is averaging 4.5 points per game. Freshman forward Kevin Knox is second in scoring (11.5 ppg), rebounding (7.0 rpg) and with four steals. Freshman forward P.J. Washington scores 11.0 points per contest, while freshman guard Quade Green scores 9.5 points per game. Freshman guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander has a team-high seven assists and six steals through two games. He averages 8.5 points per contest. Freshman forward Nick Richards (6.0 ppg, 3.5 rpg) has also started both games for UK this season. Sophomore forward Sacha Killeya-Jones (5.0 ppg) rounds out the UK regulars.
Kentucky leads the all-time series with Kansas, 22-8, and this will be the fourth-straight season these two teams have met and the sixth time since 2011-12. Kansas has won the last two meetings with both being part of the Big 12/SEC Challenge: 90-84 overtime in 2016 in Allen Fieldhouse and 79-73 in 2017 at Rupp Arena. In 2011-12, the two teams met twice with Kentucky claiming both wins: 75-65 in the Champions Classic at Madison Square Garden and 67-59 in the NCAA title game in New Orleans. On Nov. 18, 2014, then-No. 1 Kentucky defeated Kansas 72-40 in the Champions Classic in Indianapolis. Prior to 2011-12, the two teams last met in the second round of the 2007 NCAA West Regional in Chicago with Kansas defeating Kentucky, 88-76. The two teams had a home-and-home series in 2005 and 2006 with KU winning in Lexington 65-59 on Jan. 9, 2005, and 73-46 the following season (Jan. 7, 2006) in Allen Fieldhouse. The series dates back to 1950, a 68-39 UK win in Lexington. Kansas’ single-game record of 150 points came against Kentucky in a 150-95 win over Rick Pitino’s Wildcats on Dec. 9, 1989 in Lawrence. Kansas coach Bill Self is 5-4 against Kentucky, 5-3 while at Kansas. Kentucky coach John Calipari is 3-5 versus Kansas.
A KANSAS WIN WOULD…
Make Kansas 2-0 for the first time since the 2013-14 season and the eight time under Bill Self … Make Kansas 3-4 in the Champions Classic, including 1-2 against Kentucky in the event … Make the KU-UK series 22-9 in favor of Kentucky yet match Kansas’ longest winning streak in the series (2005-07) … Make Self 418-88 while at Kansas, tying him for second on the KU coaching list with Roy Williams (418-101) … Make Self 625-193 for his career … Make Kansas 2,219-841 all-time.
A KANSAS LOSS WOULD…
Make Kansas 1-1 for the fourth-straight season and eighth time under Bill Self … Make Kansas 2-5 in the Champions Classic, including 0-3 against Kentucky … End a KU two-game winning streak against Kentucky and make the series 23-8 in favor of UK … Make Self 417-89 while at Kansas and 624-195 as a head coach … Make KU 2,218-842 all-time.
CHAMPIONS CLASSIC HISTORY
Beginning in 2011, the State Farm Champions Classic is a neutral site doubleheader series featuring men’s basketball powers Kansas, Duke, Kentucky and Michigan State. The inaugural Champions Classic was held at Madison Square Garden in 2011 followed by the Georgia Dome in 2012 and the United Center in Chicago in 2013.
Kansas is 2-4 in the Champions Classic, while Kentucky is 4-2 and Duke and Michigan State are 3-3. In 2011, Kansas and Kentucky’s Champions Classic meeting also became the matchup for the 2012 NCAA National Championship title game in New Orleans. The Wildcats defeated the Jayhawks, 75-65, in the Champions Classic. In 2012, KU fell to Michigan State in Atlanta, 67-64. KU won its first game in the Classic with a 94-83 win against Duke in Chicago in 2013. In 2014, No. 1 Kentucky defeated Kansas 72-40 in Indianapolis. In 2016, Kansas lost to Michigan State, 79-73, in Chicago, and defeated Duke, 77-75, in Madison Square Garden last year. KU will face Michigan State in Indianapolis in 2018 and Duke in New York City in 2019.
TENNESSEE STATE LEFTOVERS
- The win gave KU its 44th-consecutive home-opening win inside Allen Fieldhouse dating back to the 1973-74 season.
- Kansas out rebounded Tennessee State opponent by a margin of +22. Last year, KU has three games of 20 or more in rebound margin.
- The Jayhawks were 36-for-60 from the floor shooting 60 percent, which included 46 points in the paint and 42.9 percent in 3-point field goals.
- Kansas started the game by making all nine of its first field goal attempts.
- In his first regular-season appearance as a Jayhawk, freshman Marcus Garrett completed a double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds. Garrett becomes the first Jayhawk to record a double-double in his KU debut since David Padgett had 13 points and 10 rebounds vs. Tennessee Chattanooga (11/21/03).
- Senior guard Devonte’ Graham recorded his first career double-double with 10 points and a new career high of 12 assists. He was three rebounds shy of a triple double.
- Graham moved into 44th on the KU career scoring list, currently with 1,085 points.
- Junior guard Lagerald Vick’s 23 points tied his career high, last vs. Long Beach St. (11/29/16). Vick also tied his career high with three assists.
- Sophomore center, Udoka Azubuike, was nearly perfect from the field shooting 6-for- 7 with 13 points. It marked only his second game of scoring in double figures.
- Sophomore Mitch Lightfoot was 2-for-2 from beyond the arc and tied his previous career high with five rebounds, last vs. UMKC (12/6/16).
KANSAS NO. 3 & NO. 4 IN PRESEASON POLLS
Kansas men’s basketball enters the 2017-18 season No. 3 in the USA TODAY Coaches’ poll released Oct. 30 and No. 4 in the Associated Press poll announced Nov. 1.
Kansas has been ranked in each of the last 162 AP polls dating back to Feb. 3, 2009, which is the longest active streak in NCAA Division I. The AP ranking marks the fifth-consecutive year the Jayhawks have been preseason ranked fifth of higher and the third straight at No. 4 or higher. Under 15th-year and Hall of Fame head coach Bill Self, this is the 12th time that Kansas enters the season ranked seventh or higher in the Associated Press preseason poll and historically, the No. 4 ranking marks the 20th time since the 1992-93 season that Kansas will enter the season seventh or higher. Last season, KU entered the year No. 3 nationally in the Associated Press poll and ended at No. 3.
This is the fourth-straight year the Jayhawks have opened the season in the top five in the coaches’ poll. Kansas is ranked in the preseason for the 26th time in time in the 29-year history of the coaches’ poll. The No 3 ranking marks the eighth time KU has been preseason No. 3 or higher in the coaches’ poll. Additionally, it is the 12th time in the Self era the Jayhawks have been preseason seventh or higher, including each of the last six seasons. In 2016-17 Kansas opened the year No. 2 in the preseason coaches’ poll and ended No. 4.
All four teams in the Nov. 14 Champions Classic are ranked in the top four of the coaches’ poll with No. 1 Duke, No. 2 Michigan State, No. 3 Kansas and No. 4 Kentucky. Last year, Kansas pulled a rarity and defeated the three other Champions Classic teams during the season.
PRESEASON ALL-BIG 12
Kansas guards Devonte’ Graham, Malik Newman and Svi Mykhailiuk each garnered recognition on the 2017-18 Preseason All-Big 12 Team as voted on by the league’s men’s basketball coaches, the conference office announced Oct. 12.
Graham was named the 2017-18 Preseason Big 12 Player of the Year, while Newman was dubbed the league’s preseason newcomer of the year. Graham was also a preseason all-conference first-team selection, while Newman and Mykhailiuk securing preseason honorable mention honors. Coaches were not allowed to vote for their own student-athletes in the selection process.
PRESEASON BIG 12 POLL
For the 16th time in the 22-year history of the Big 12, Kansas men’s basketball has been selected as the preseason favorite to win the conference regular-season championship as the league released its coaches’ preseason poll Oct. 18.
Coaches were not allowed to vote for their own teams in the poll and KU received a unanimous nine first-place votes and a total of 81 points. West Virginia was second in the poll receiving 71 points, followed by TCU (64). Three teams – Texas (49), Baylor (47) and Oklahoma (43) – were clumped in spots 4-6, followed by Texas Tech (36), Kansas State (27), Iowa State (22) and Oklahoma State (10).
Kansas has won, or tied for, 17 of the 21 Big 12 regular-season titles, including the last 13 consecutive, a streak which ranks tied for first all-time in NCAA Division I history with UCLA (1967-79).
Historically, the preseason favorite has gone on to finish first in the regular season 14 times, which does not include 1996-97 as a coaches’ poll was not conducted. Kansas has been the preseason favorite in 13 of its 17 Big 12 regular-season titles, missing 1996-97 (no poll), 2005-06 (third) and 2010-11 (second).
PRESEASON NATIONAL HONORS
Kansas guards Devonte’ Graham and Malik Newman have both been named to preseason watch lists by the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. Graham is one of 20 candidates for the 2018 Bob Cousy Point Guard of the Year Award, while Newman is one of 20 on the Jerry West Shooting Guard of the Year Award. A national committee comprised of top college basketball personnel determined the watch lists for each award.
Named after Hall of Famer and former Boston Celtic and Holy Cross guard Bob Cousy, the annual honor, now in its 15th year, recognizes the top point guard in NCAA Division I men’s basketball. Graham is vying to become the second-straight Jayhawk to win the award as Frank Mason III was KU’s first-ever Bob Cousy Point Guard of the Year Award winner last season.
Named after Hall of Famer and 1959 NCAA Final Four Most Valuable Player Jerry West, the annual honor, in its fourth year, recognizes the top shooting guard in Division I men’s college basketball.
On Nov. 6, the USBWA named Graham one of 32 on the Oscar Robertson Trophy Watch List, an award also won by Mason last season.
KANSAS SIGNS TWO
Guard Devon Dotson and forward/center David McCormack have signed National Letters of Intent (NLI) to play with Kansas, KU announced Nov. 11.
A native of Charlotte, North Carolina, Dotson (6-foot-2, 175 pounds) is ranked No. 17 by Rivals.com, No. 24 by 247Sports.com and No. 26 by ESPN100.
As a junior, Dotson averaged 24.4 points, 6.8 rebounds and 5.1 assists per game at Providence Day School for coach Brian Field. In 2016-17, the Chargers won their fifth-straight CISAA conference title and were nationally ranked for the fourth-consecutive season. As a sophomore, Dotson helped guide Providence Day to the 3A state championship. This past summer, Dotson averaged 19.0 points, 5.2 rebounds, 3.4 assists and 2.5 steals per game for Team Charlotte AAU.
From Norfolk, Virginia, McCormack (6-foot-10, 285 pounds) is playing his senior year at Oak Hill Academy in Mouth of Wilson, Virginia. He is ranked the No. 4 center in the 2018 class. Overall, he is No. 33 by ESPN100, No. 35 by Rivals.com and No. 39 by 247Sports.com.
McCormack averaged 10.6 points and 8.6 rebounds a game at Oak Hill his junior season and 14.8 points (on 60 percent shooting) and 9.8 rebounds for Team Loaded AAU last spring and summer. McCormack played for Norfolk (Va.) Academy his sophomore year of high school.
THIS DAY IN KU BASKETBALL HISTORY: KANSAS IS 4-0 ALL-TIME ON NOV. 14
Nov. 14, 1997: Senior Raef LaFrentz led all scorers with 22 points as the second-ranked Jayhawks defeated Santa Clara, 99-73, inside Allen Fieldhouse. LaFrentz made eight of his 12 attempts from the field, while grabbing a game high 19 rebounds. Junior Paul Pierce scored his 1,000th career point, recording 18 for the game. Kansas also had three other players score in double figures. Billy Thomas scored 16 points, while both Ryan Robertson and Eric Chenowith finished the game with 14 points each. KU went on to finish 35-4 in 1997-98, won the Preseason NIT, the Big 12 regular-season title with a 15-1 record and the Big 12 Tournament at Kemper Arena in Kansas City.
CELEBRATING 120 YEARS IN 2017-18
Kansas Athletics will host numerous events throughout the 2017-18 season to celebrate 120 years of KU men’s basketball and other Jayhawk basketball milestones. The first celebration will be for 120 years of Kansas basketball. It will be held Saturday, Feb. 3 when KU hosts Oklahoma State in Allen Fieldhouse. Players, coaches and staff from every era of KU basketball will be recognized during the game; the weekend’s festivities will also celebrate the 30-year anniversary of KU’s 1988 NCAA National Championship team.
The 2017-18 season marks the 10th anniversary of the 2008 NCAA National Championship team, which will be honored when KU hosts West Virginia on Saturday, Feb. 17. That weekend, which is also the NBA All-Star Game weekend, KU will retire the jersey of former Jayhawk All-American Cole Aldrich.
Additionally, plans are in place to retire the jersey of 2010 Consensus All-America First-Team selection Sherron Collins on KU’s ESPN Big Monday game against Oklahoma on Feb. 19.
BILL SELF INDUCTED INTO NAISMITH BASKETBALL HALL OF FAME
Kansas head coach Bill Self, along with 10 others, was officially enshrined into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame at a ceremony on Sept. 8 at Springfield Symphony Hall in downtown Springfield, Massachusetts.
Joining Self in the evening’s enshrinement festivities were the other 10 Class of 2017 inductees: Zack Clayton (player, posthumous), Nick Galis (player), Robert Hughes (coach), Mannie Jackson (contributor), Tom Jernstedt (contributor), Jerry Krause (contributor, posthumous), Tracy McGrady (player), Rebecca Lobo (contributor), George McGinnis (player) and Muffet McGraw (coach).
Self becomes the 19th person associated with Kansas basketball to be inducted, the last being coaching legend John McClendon, who was inducted in 2016 for the second time. As only the eighth coach in KU history, Self is the fifth KU mentor to be inducted into Hall joining James Naismith, Dr. F.C. “Phog” Allen, Larry Brown and Roy Williams. Kansas has the highest percentage of coaches in the Hall of Fame, 63 percent, than any other school. KU’s five matches North Carolina’s five for the most inducted in college coaching with St. John’s third with four.
In 2016-17, Kansas made a single-season record 318 3-pointers, besting the previous school-record mark of 304 treys from just one season earlier. In both years, the Jayhawks shot better than 40 percent from beyond the arc.
Including 2016-17, Kansas has won 17 of the 21 Big 12 regular-season titles (includes ties), including the last 13, which is tied for the NCAA record. Kansas’ 60 conference titles are the most in NCAA Division I. Kentucky is second with 54 and Penn third at 37. KU’s 13-straight league titles are the longest active streak in NCAA Division I and the longest streak in school history. Kansas is now tied with UCLA, which from 1967-79, also won the NCAA record of 13 straight, which was under two coaches. Kansas’ current run has been under head coach Bill Self.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR IN 2017-18
- Bill Self needs just two more wins to move to No. 2 on Kansas’ all-time wins list. Self, enters the season with 416 victories as the head coach at KU. Roy Williams amassed 418 wins in his 15 seasons in Lawrence. Phog Allen is the Jayhawks’ all-time wins leader, tallying 590 victories in his 39 seasons.
- With a 247-48 (83.7 percent) record since 2010, Kansas is the winningest program, by percentage, this decade: 1. KANSAS (247-48, 83.7%); 2. Gonzaga (239-47, 83.6%); 3. Kentucky (249-53, 82.5%); 4. Wichita State (233-53, 81.7); 5. Duke (238-56, 81.0%).
- The Jayhawks are pursuing their 14th-conseuctive Big 12 regular-season championship. A 14th-league title would break UCLA’s NCAA record mark of 13-consecutive conference championships from 1967-79.
- Should Kansas advance to the 2018 NCAA Tournament it would be its 29th-consecutive NCAA tourney appearance. The current 28 straight is the NCAA Tournament longest consecutive appearance streak with North Carolina (1975-2001) second at 27.
- Senior G Devonte’ Graham ranks seventh on KU’s career 3-point field goal list, currently with 186 career 3-pointers. Jeff Boschee holds the school record at 338-career treys and Billy Thomas is second with 269.
- Graham also enters the season at 45th on KU’s career points list with 1,075. If he maintains his career average (10.4 ppg) for the regular season, he would reach approximately 1,400 career points, which would move him near the top-25 of KU’s all-time scorers.
JAYHAWKS TAKE PART IN SHOWDOWN FOR RELIEF
The Showdown for Relief, the Oct. 22 charity exhibition basketball game between the universities of Kansas and Missouri at Sprint Center in Kansas City, Missouri, generated $2.011 million for victims of recent natural disasters in the United States, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Kansas won the exhibition, 93-87.
The donations are a combination of ticket sales ($1.15 million), the Pay-per-View stream ($768,000) and text-to-give contributions ($68,000). Donations from other entities totaled approximately $25,000, bringing the total donation to some $2.011 million. The funds will be directed to “One America Appeal for Hurricane Relief,” a joint appeal launched by all five living former U.S. Presidents. The following organizations will benefit from the game: the Houston Harvey Relief Fund, the Rebuild Texas Fund, the Florida Disaster Fund, Unidos Por Puerto Rico and the Fund for the U.S. Virgin Islands.
On the floor the old conference rivals did not upset the capacity crowd of 18,951 in the first KU-MU battle since 2012. Kansas built an eight-point lead, 27-19, midway through the first half behind five 3-pointers from senior Devonte’ Graham. Graham ended the contest with 25 points and 10 rebounds, all defensive. He was one of five Jayhawks in double figures for the game along with sophomore guard Malik Newman with 17 points, sophomore center Udoka Azubuike with 16, junior guard Lagerald Vick with 13 and freshman forward Billy Preston with 12.
BIG 12 RUN NO CAKEWALK
Kansas ended 2016-17 ranked No. 4 in the NCAA Rating Percentage Index (RPI) and its strength of schedule was 19th nationally. In Self’s first 14 seasons, KU has ranked fifth or higher in the final RPI 10 times, including each of the last eight years.
Kansas returns home to host South Dakota State, Friday, Nov. 17, at 7 p.m. in Allen Fieldhouse. The game will be televised on Jayhawk TV. Kansas won the only meeting with SDSU, 85-72, on Dec. 4, 1984, in Allen Fieldhouse. Coming off an 18-17 record in 2016-17, South Dakota State is the Summit League preseason favorite for 2017-18.