LAWRENCE, Kan. – Kansas (27-7, 13-5 Big 12) will open the 2018 NCAA Championship as the No. 1 seed in the Midwest Region on Thursday, March 15 when the Jayhawks take on the No. 16-seeded Penn Quakers (24-8, 12-2 Ivy) at the INTRUST Bank Arena in Wichita. The game, set for 1 p.m. (CT), will be televised on TBS with Brad Nessler (play-by-play), Steve Lavin (analyst) and Evan Washburn (reporter) calling the action.
Kansas will have open practice in the venue on Wednesday, March 14, from 12:30-1:10 p.m.
- Kansas is making its 47th NCAA Tournament appearance and has a 103-45 record in the event. The Jayhawks have advanced to 30 Sweet 16 contests, 14 Final Fours and three of their five national championships have been in NCAA Championship format (1952, 1988, 2008).
- Kansas’ 29-consecutive NCAA Championship appearances, beginning in 1990, is the active longest streak and the longest consecutive in NCAA tourney appearances history.
- Since seeding in the NCAA Tournament began in 1979, Kansas has been a No. 1 seed 14 times, including each of the last three seasons (’86, ‘92, ’95, ’97, ’98, ’02, ’07, ’08, ’10, ’11, ’13, ’16, ’17 and ’18).
- This is the ninth-straight season that the Jayhawks have earned a No. 1 or No. 2 seed. In head coach Bill Self’s 15 seasons, KU has never been seeded lower than a four seed.
- This season, Kansas is 17-3 against the 2018 NCAA Tournament field.
- Kansas has played four games in the NCAA Tournament in Wichita with a 4-0 record. The last time KU was in an NCAA Tournament game in Wichita was 1981.
- Kansas has won its last 11 NCAA Tournament first-round games, a string which started in 2007.
- Senior G Devonte’ Graham, the 2018 Big 12 Player of the Year, is the only player in NCAA Division I averaging 17.0-plus points, 7.0-plus assists, 1.6-plus steals and fewer than 3.0 turnovers per game. Graham is third nationally in assists per game at 7.5.
- Kansas saw a big haul of Big 12 postseason awards, with all five starters being named to at least one of the all-league teams. Bill Self was named the league’s co-Coach of the Year for the eighth time in his 15 seasons at KU and the second-straight year.
- Kansas won its NCAA-record breaking 14th straight, 18th Big 12 and NCAA-leading 61st overall conference regular-season title in 2017-18.
- Last week, KU won its 15th overall and 11th Big 12 Championship title. The Jayhawks have won eight league tournaments in the Bill Self era.
Kansas (27-7, 13-5) is ranked No. 4 in the Associated Press and No. 3 in the USA TODAY Coaches’ polls, released March 12. Kansas leads the Big 12 in 3-point field goals made at 10.1 per game, which is 20th nationally, 3-point field goal percentage (40.3, 13th nationally), 3-point field goal percentage defense (32.7) and is tied for first in scoring margin (10.6, 21st nationally). KU also ranks in the top three in the Big 12 in scoring (third at 81.5), field goal percentage (second at 49.8, ninth nationally), assists (second at 17.0, 13th nationally) and assist-to-turnover ratio (second at 1.5, 15th nationally).
The 2018 Big 12 Player of the Year and on every national player of the year watch list, senior G Devonte’ Graham averaged 18.7 points per game in Big 12 play and is scoring 17.3 in all games, which is third in the Big 12. An All-Big 12 First Team selection who has been named to three All-America first teams, Graham leads the Big 12 in assist-to-turnover ratio (2.7) and is second in the conference in assists (7.5), sixth in free throw percentage (83.4), fourth in 3-point field goals made (2.9), seventh in 3-point field goal percentage (41.2) and fifth in steals (1.6). Senior G Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk, an all-league second-team honoree, is second in the Big 12 in 3-point field goal percentage (45.3, 13th nationally) and third in 3-point field goals made (3.1) as he is the only player in the conference to rank that high in both 3-point stats. Mykhailiuk is averaging 15.1 points per game, which is 10th in the Big 12.
Sophomore C Udoka Azubuike, an All-Big 12 Third Team selection, leads the country in field goal percentage at 77.4 percent and is 42-for-49 (85.7 percent) from the field in his last seven games. He has seven 20-point games this season. Azubuike has five double-doubles on the season, two in Big 12 play, and ranks 14th in the league in scoring at 13.7 points per game. Azubuike’s 7.1 rebound average is sixth in the conference. Azubuike did not play in the Big 12 Championship due to a knee injury but is expected to play in the NCAA Tournament.
Redshirt-sophomore G Malik Newman was the 2018 Big 12 Championship Most Outstanding Player after averaging 24.0 points, 4.3 rebounds and making 15 3-pointers in Kansas’ title run. Also the 2018 Big 12 Newcomer of the Year, is averaging 13.1 points for the season, which is 17th in the conference. He is pulling down 4.9 rebounds per game.
Junior G Lagerald Vick, an honorable mention all-conference honoree, is averaging 12.0 points per game, which is 24th in the conference. He pulls down 4.9 rebounds per game and has made 49 3-pointers this season.
Freshman G Marcus Garrett averages 4.4 points and 3.5 rebounds per contest. He has started seven games this season and plays 19.7 minutes per contest. Sophomore F Mitch Lightfoot is second on the team with 50 blocked shots. He is averaging 3.9 points and 3.0 rebounds per game and leads KU with 15 charges taken this season. Freshman F Silvio De Sousa (3.7 ppg, 3.1 rpg) led Kansas with a 9.7 rebound average in the Big 12 Championship. He also averaged 10.0 points per game and shot 77.8 percent from the field in KU’s tourney title run
Penn (24-8, 12-2 Ivy League) heads to the NCAA Tournament after claiming the Ivy League Tournament title, an impressive addition to its 2018 Ivy League regular-season championship. The regular-season title, which Penn tied for with Harvard, marked the team’s 26th and first since 2007. Penn is coached by Steve Donahue who is in his third season at Penn with a 48-40 record and was named the 2018 Ivy League Coach of the Year. Overall, Donohue is 248-254 in his 17th season.
Penn averages 76.4 points and has a plus-7.8 scoring margin. The Quakers pull down 37.7 rebounds per game with a plus-1.7 rebound margin. Penn leads the Ivy League in scoring margin (7.8), 3-point field goal percentage defense (29.2, second in NCAA Division I), field goal percentage defense (41.3), assist-to-turnover ratio (1.3) and defensive rebounds (29.1, fourth nationally). The Quakers also average 15.4 assists, 5.9 steals and 2.8 blocked shots per game.
Four Quakers score in double figures and are led by sophomore G Ryan Betley, who scores 14.4 ppg. Betley is the team’s top 3-point threat after averaging 2.5 threes per game and shooting 38.9 percent from beyond the arc. Sophomore F A.J. Brodeur, an All-Ivy League First Team selection, is the team’s top rebounder at 7.1 per game and adds 13.1 ppg. Brodeur is also the team’s most efficient scorer, making over 54 percent of his field goal attempts.
Aside from a 12-2 conference slate, Penn will enter postseason play with wins in seven of its last eight outings. The Quakers’ last loss came on March 3 at Yale, 80-79.
THE KANSAS-PENN SERIES
This series dates back to 1997 and Kansas has won all three meetings. The Jayhawks defeated the Quakers, 89-71, on Feb. 8, 1997, in the Franklin Bank Classic in Washington, D.C. The following season, KU defeated Penn, 61-56, on Nov. 17, 1998, in Philadelphia. Penn then made a return trip to Lawrence with Kansas winning, 105-59, on Jan. 4, 2000, in Allen Fieldhouse. Kansas coach Bill Self is 1-0 against Penn, having defeated the Quakers, 78-71, on Nov. 22, 2001, in Las Vegas, while he was head coach at Illinois. Penn head coach Steve Donahue has faced Kansas before when he was at Cornell (2000-01 to 2009-10). The Jayhawks edged Cornell, 71-66, on Jan. 6, 2010, in Allen Fieldhouse.
A KANSAS WIN WOULD…
Make Kansas 28-7 and give KU 28 victories for the third-straight season and ninth time in the 15-year career of head coach Bill Self … Give KU its 12th-straight NCAA Tournament first-game victory which started in 2007… Make KU 33-2 in its last 35 NCAA Tournament round-of-64 games, beginning in 1981 … Make KU 4-0 all-time against Penn … Make KU 13-3 away from Allen Fieldhouse this season … Make Kansas 104-45 all-time in NCAA Tournament games … Make Bill Self 444-95 while at Kansas, 651-200 all-time and 44-18 in the NCAA Tournament (34-13 while at KU)… Make Kansas 2,245-848 all-time.
A KANSAS LOSS WOULD…
End Kansas’ season at 27-8 … End a Kansas 11-straight first-game NCAA Tournament win streak … Make Kansas 13-4 away from Allen Fieldhouse this season … Make Bill Self 443-96 while at Kansas, 650-201 all-time and 43-19 in the NCAA Tournament (33-14 while at Kansas)… Make Kansas 2,244-849 all-time.
BIG 12 CHAMPIONSHIP LEFTOVERS
- The title was Kansas’ 15th overall and 11th Big 12 postseason championship and its second in the past three seasons (2016).
- Kansas improved to 27-7, giving KU 27 wins for the fourth-straight season and the 11th time in the last 12 years, beginning in 2006-07.
- The victory over West Virginia made KU 12-4 in games not played Allen Fieldhouse this season.
- In the last four KU-WVU meetings, the Jayhawks have outscored the Mountaineers 100-45 over the final eight minutes of the second half, including a 20-7 closing run in Saturday’s title contest.
- Kansas’ 15 3-pointers tied its own tournament single-game record. The Jayhawks also hit 15 treys against Texas in the 2008 final.
- KU’s 72.0 percent (18-of-25) shooting from the field in the second half marked the fourth time the Jayhawks have shot 70 percent or better in half this season.
- Kansas moved to 13-0 this season when shooting 50 percent or better from the field. In Bill Self’s 15 seasons the Jayhawks are 237-9 when connecting on more than half of its shots.
- In its three games of the Big 12 Tournament, the Jayhawks shot 53.5 percent (92-of-172), which was the second-best shooting performance by a team in the event.
- With Malik Newman and Devonte’ Graham’s selections to the All-Tournament team, Kansas now has 29 selections to the all-tournament squad in the 22-year history of the league.
- Senior G Devonte’ Graham was named to the All-Tournament team for the second time after averaging 14.3 points and 10.0 assists in his three outings last week.
- With his career-high 13 assists against West Virginia, Graham set a Big 12 tournament final record. His 30 assists for the week were good for third-best in tournament history.
- Graham eclipsed the 600 assist plateau with his 13 dimes, now with 604 career helpers and is five from tying Darnell Valentine for fifth on the school’s all-time assists list.
- Graham holds the mark for second-most assists in a season by a Jayhawk with 254 on the year. He is 24 assists shy of the single-season record of 278 set by Cedric Hunter in 1985-86.
- Graham logged 40 minutes for the 16th time this season and now has 4,301 minutes played in his career. That sits him third on the all-time list and is just 46 minutes shy of Frank Mason III’s 4,347 minutes for second-most in KU history.
- Graham’s 1,277 minutes on the year are the fourth-most by a Jayhawk in a single season.
- RS-Sophomore G Malik Newman was named the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player which marks the 10th time in the Big 12’s 22-year history that a Jayhawk has walked away with the award.
- Newman averaged 24.0 points per game over the three-day event and shot 62.5 percent (25-of-40) from the field. His 72 points tied for the fifth-most in a single tournament and the most ever by a Jayhawk, topping Paul Pierce’s former mark of 67 points set in the 1998 tournament.
- Newman’s 15 3-pointers made in the tournament are the second-most in tourney history and his 68.2 (15-22) 3-point percentage was the third-highest mark in the event for players who saw a minimum of three games.
- Senior G Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk made four 3-pointers against West Virginia and passed Billy Thomas for No. 3 on KU’s single-season 3-point field goals list, now with 106. He is five shy of tying Terry Brown’s single-season record of 111 threes set in 1990-91.
- Freshman F Silvio De Sousa tallied his first-career double-double with 16 points and 10 rebounds vs. WVU.
- De Sousa went a perfect 8-of-8 from the field, marking the fourth time a Jayhawk has been perfect this season with a minimum of five attempts. Udoka Azubuike has the other three instances.
- With his 11 rebounds, De Sousa posted two double-digit rebounding efforts in the Big 12 Championship.
KANSAS VS THE NCAA TOURNAMENT FIELD
Kansas has faced 12 NCAA Tournament teams in 2017-18 with a 17-3 record. Those include No. 3 seed Texas Tech (1-1), No. 5 seed West Virginia (3-0), No. 5 seed Kentucky (1-0), No. 6 TCU (2-0), No. 7 seed Texas A&M (1-0), No. 9 seed Kansas State (3-0), No. 10 seed Texas (2-0), No. 10 seed Oklahoma (1-1), No. 11 seed Arizona State (0-1), No. 11 seed Syracuse (1-0), No. 12 seed South Dakota State (1-0) and No. 16 seed Texas Southern (1-0).
Kansas is the No. 1 seed for the 14th time since the NCAA Championship started seeding in 1979: 1986-92-95-97-98-2002-07-08-10
KANSAS IN WICHITA FOR THE NCAA TOURNAMENT
Kansas has played four games in the NCAA Tournament in Wichita with a 4-0 record. The Jayhawks first played in the city in 1971 at the Wichita State’s Levitt Arena, defeating Houston (78-77) and Drake (73-71) to advance to the Final Four in Houston, where KU finished fourth. In 1981, KU returned to the Levitt Arena, defeating Mississippi (69-66) and Arizona State (88-71) in the Midwest Sub-Regional. KU lost its following game to Wichita State in New Orleans in the first game of the Midwest Regional.
KANSAS IN THE NCAA TOURNAMENT
- This year marks Kansas’ 47th NCAA Tournament appearance.
- Kansas’ 29-straight NCAA Tournament appearances, from 1990-2018, is the nation’s longest active streak and the best all time. North Carolina is second with 27 straight from 1975-2001.
- Under head coach Bill Self, Kansas is 33-13 (71.7 percent) in the NCAA Tournament with nine Sweet 16s, seven Elite Eights, two Final Fours, one NCAA National Championship and one NCAA runner-up finish.
- The average seed under Self is 1.9 with eight No. 1 seeds, three No. 2 seeds, two No. 3 seeds and two No. 4 seeds. Kansas has been a No. 1 seed in the last three NCAA Tournaments and has been a 1 or 2 seed each of the last nine events, starting in 2010.
- In the last 16 NCAA Tournaments, Kansas has a 42-15 (73.7 percent) record with one NCAA National Championship (2008), four Final Four (2002-03-08-12) and nine Elite Eight (2002-03-04-07-08-11-12-16-17) appearances.
- Kansas’ 47 NCAA Tournament appearances are tied for third nationally: Kentucky (56), North Carolina (49), UCLA (47).
- Kansas sports an all-time NCAA Tournament record of 103-45. The Jayhawks’ 103 wins trail only Kentucky (124), North Carolina (123) and Duke (108).
- The Jayhawks will play their 149th NCAA Tournament game on Thursday. The Jayhawks’ 148 games in the event rank third all-time in NCAA history, behind Kentucky (174) and North Carolina (168).
- KU’s NCAA Tournament winning percentage of 69.6 percent ranks sixth all-time for a minimum of 20 games played.
- Kansas coach Bill Self is making his 20th-consecutive appearance in the NCAA Tournament as a head coach, which is fifth-best consecutive string in tourney history by a head coach: 23 Dean Smith (1975-97), 23 Mike Krzyzewski, (1996-2018), 21 Tom Izzo (1998-2018), 20 Bill Self (1999-2018), 20 Roy Williams (1990-2009), 17 Rick Barnes (1996-2012). Self, Krzyzewski and Izzo are the only active streaks.
- KU is one of eight schools that have won at least three NCAA Tournaments. The Jayhawks won the NCAA crown in 1952, 1988 and 2008. The other schools are: UCLA (11), Kentucky (8), North Carolina (6), Indiana (5), Duke (4), Connecticut (4) and Louisville (3).
- Kansas has appeared in the Final Four 14 times, making KU one of just six schools to reach the Final Four 10-plus times: North Carolina (20), UCLA (17), Kentucky (17), Duke (16), KANSAS (14) and Ohio State (11).
- Kansas has won 12 games in the Final Four, which is tied for fifth best all-time: UCLA (25), Kentucky (20), North Carolina (18), Duke (17), KANSAS (12) and Indiana (12).
- Five different Jayhawks have been named NCAA Championship Most Outstanding Player, including B.H. Born in 1953 and Wilt Chamberlain in 1957, who both won the award even though KU lost in the title game. Clyde Lovellette (1952) and Danny Manning (1988) also won the honor. Mario Chalmers won the Most Outstanding Player Award for the 2008 NCAA Championship.
- In 2007-08, Kansas became the fourth school to win a BCS game, and then play in the Final Four the same academic year. The 2007 KU football team won the FedEx Orange Bowl and the men’s basketball team captured the NCAA National Championship. Other schools to accomplish the feat include Ohio State (1999), Wisconsin (2000) and Florida (2007).
- When Phog Allen’s 1952 team won the NCAA title, Allen was 66 years old. That was the oldest age for the head coach of a championship team until Jim Calhoun (68) of Connecticut won in 2011. Allen became the fourth coach to win the NCAA National Championship at his alma mater, a feat that has been accomplished 14 times.
- Kansas won the NCAA Tournament in 1988 as a No. 6 seed. Jim Valvano’s 1983 N.C. State team also won the tournament as a No. 6 seed. Only two other teams has won the tournament with a lower seed – Villanova in 1985 as an eight seed and Connecticut as a No. 7 seed in 2014. In the 1990s, the lowest seed to win the tournament was the 1997 Arizona team, which captured the title as a No. 4 seed. The Wildcats upset Kansas, the top seed, in the Sweet 16.
CRADLE OF TOURNAMENT COACHING LEGENDS
There are 11 head coaches who have advanced to the NCAA Tournament who graduated from the University of Kansas. In fact, the 126 combined NCAA Tournament wins by those coaches are easily the most by graduates of any one school: Phog Allen (KU 1906, 10-3), Tad Boyle (KU 1985, 1-4), Tim Carter (KU 1979, 0-2), Frosty Cox (KU 1930, 2-4), Jerod Haase (KU 1997, 1-1), Dick Harp (KU 1940, 4-2), Danny Manning (KU 1991, 0-1), Ralph Miller (KU 1942, 5-11), Adolph Rupp (KU 1922, 30-18), Dean Smith (KU 1953, 65-27) and Mark Turgeon (KU 1987, 8-8).
THIS DAY IN KANSAS BASKETBALL HISTORY
Kansas is 11-3 all-time on March 15
March 15, 1957: Kansas won its 800th all-time game with a 73-65 overtime win against SMU in Dallas. The victory advanced Kansas to the West NCAA Regional final. Gene Elstun’s 20-foot jumper with 32 seconds left tied the game at 59-59 and headed to overtime. KU All-American Wilt Chamberlain scored 36 points and pulled down 22 rebounds. He scored 19 of KU’s last 24 points as Kansas handed SMU its first loss in Moody Coliseum. KU went on to advance to the Final Four and the NCAA title game in Kansas City, falling to North Carolina 54-53 in triple overtime at Municipal Auditorium.
JAYHAWKS WELL REPRESENTED ON ALL-BIG 12 TEAMS
Highlighted by Big 12 Player of the Year Devonte’ Graham, conference regular-season champion Kansas is well represented on the men’s basketball 2017-18 All-Big 12 Team selected by the conference coaches, the league announced March 4. Graham was the unanimous selection for Big 12 Player of the Year, while redshirt sophomore Malik Newman is the Big 12 Newcomer of the Year and Bill Self the co-Big 12 Coach of the Year, along with Chris Beard of Texas Tech. Graham was an All-Big 12 First Team selection, while senior Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk is a second team honoree. Sophomore center Udoka Azubuike is third team and junior Lagerald Vick honorable mention. Newman was also named to the Big 12 All-Newcomer Team. Coaches were not allowed to vote for players from their own team.
Historically, Graham is the 12th Jayhawk to be named his conference’s player of the year. This is the ninth time a Kansas student-athlete has earned the distinction in the 22-year history of the Big 12 Conference. With Frank Mason III winning the 2017 honor, this is the seventh time in league history a school has been named the Big 12 player of the year in consecutive seasons with Kansas holding four of those occasions.
Newman is the ninth Jayhawk to be named his conferences’ newcomer of the year and the first in the Big 12 era. Mykhailiuk, Azubuike and Vick are appearing on the All-Big 12 Team for the first time in their career.
Kansas has now won 18 of the 22 Big 12 regular-season titles (includes ties), including the last 14, which is an NCAA record. Kansas’ 61 conference titles are the most in NCAA Division I. Kentucky is second with 54 and Penn third at 37 (pre-2017-18). KU’s 14-straight league titles, all under head coach Bill Self, is the longest active streak in NCAA Division I and the longest streak in school history.
KANSAS CONFERENCE REGULAR-SEASON TITLES
61 (*Tied for the championship)
Missouri Valley Intercollegiate Athletic Association (13) – 1908-09-10-11-12*-14*-15-22*-2
Big Six (12) – 1931-32-33-34-36-37*-38-40*-41
Big Seven (5) – 1950*-52-53-54*-57
Big Eight (13) – 1960*-66-67-71-74-75-78-86-91*
Big 12 (18) – 1997-98-2002-03-05*-06*-07-08*
Here are some “nuggets” from the current Kansas conference regular-season championship streak:
- Kansas has won the title outright 10 times and shared it four times (2005, 2006, 2008 and 2013). Overall, Kansas has won 18 of the 22 Big 12 regular-season titles, with those four being the only ties.
- In the current 14-year streak, including the four ties and the two-game edge in 2018, Kansas has won the Big 12 regular-season title by an average of 1.4 games. Twice, in 2009-10 and 2016-17, Kansas won the Big 12 regular-season title by four games.
- In the 14-year streak, the Jayhawks have clinched at least a share of the title six times on the road – 2006 (at Kansas State), 2008 (at Texas A&M), 2009 (at Texas Tech, though it was a loss), 2011 (at Missouri), 2013 (at Baylor, though it was a loss) and 2018 (at Texas Tech).
- When the streak began in 2004-05, current senior Devonte’ Graham was nine years old, while fellow senior Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk was six.
- In 2005, George W. Bush was beginning his second term as the 43rd President of the United States. Barrack Obama, the 44th President, would serve two terms and current Commander-In-Chief, Donald Trump, the 45th President, recently completed his first year in office, giving the streak three sitting U.S. commanders.
BIG 12 RUN NO CAKEWALK
Kansas once again finds itself near the top of the nation in the latest NCAA Rating Percentage Index (RPI). In Self’s first 14 seasons, KU has finished fifth or higher in the final RPI 10 times, including each of the last eight years. This season the strength of the Big 12 is quite prevalent. Kansas leads the league in RPI at fifth nationally and in strength of schedule at No. 2 (through games of March 11).
RECORD BOOK REVIEW
Here are some things to keep an eye on as several Jayhawks continue to make an impact on the career and single-season KU record books:
- This year’s KU has crushed the single-season 3-point record, currently at 345. The previous record was 318 set by last year’s squad.
- Senior Svi Mykhailiuk recently became the 60th player in KU history to score 1,000 points, currently at 1,125, which is 45th. He is the 15th player in Bill Self’s 15 seasons at Kansas to reach the milestone.
- Mykhailiuk is third on the KU single-season 3-point field goals made list with 106. He is five from “Downtown” Terry Brown KU single-season record with 111 treys in 1990-91.
- Against Texas (2/26), senior Devonte’ Graham became the 15th player in KU history to record 1,600 career points. He currently sits 15th at 1,663. Graham is the third player in school history to tally 1,600 points, 600 assists and 190 steals in a career. Darnell Valentine and Kirk Hinrich are the only other Jayhawks to hit those numbers.
- In the Oklahoma contest (2/19), Graham moved into second on the KU career 3-point field goals made list, currently at 284. Jeff Boschee (1999-2002) holds the season record at 338.
- Sophomore Udoka Azubuike is primed to become the most-efficient shooting Jayhawk in a single season. His 77.4 shooting clip is more than 12 percentage points better than Mark Randall’s record mark of 64.6 percent achieved during the 1988-89 campaign.
KANSAS CLAIMS 300TH BIG 12 WIN
Kansas’ win against Oklahoma (Feb. 19) gave KU its 300th Big 12 regular-season victory. In 22 seasons, the Jayhawks have amassed a record of 302-63 for an 82.7 win percentage. Only Texas (225) and Oklahoma (213) have claimed more than 200 victories in the Big 12 since the league’s inception in 1996-97. Now in its 22nd year as a Big 12 member, Kansas has won 18 regular-season league championships and has never finished lower than fifth in the final standings.
POSTSEASON ACCOLADES ROLLING IN FOR GRAHAM
Kansas senior Devonte’ Graham has begun to collect a wide variety of postseason honors as the 2017-18 season begins its final month. The senior made the first two steps in becoming Kansas’ 23rd player to be a consensus First Team All-American, earning a spot on The Sporting News’ All-America First Team and the USBWA All-America First Team. Below is the ever-growing list for Graham’s postseason honors attained after the conclusion of the regular season (in chronological order):
- Big 12 Player of the Year (Big 12, Associated Press)
- All-Big 12 First Team (Big 12, Associated Press)
- Bob Cousy Point Guard of the Year Award Finalist (1 of 5)
- The Sporting News First Team All-American
- USA TODAY All-America First Team
- USBWA District VI Player of the Year
- USBWA All-District VI Team
- NCAA.com First Team
- Big 12 All-Tournament Team
- USBWA All-American First Team
- Citizen Naismith Trophy Finalist (1 of 4)
KANSAS VS TOP-25 TEAMS
With its 81-70 win against No. 18 West Virginia in the Big 12 Championship title game, Kansas improved to 6-3 against ranked foes this season. Under Bill Self, Kansas is 88-44 against AP-ranked opponents. In his 15 seasons at KU, Self’s Jayhawks have collected four wins or more over top-25 ranked foes in 12 of those seasons, which includes a 33-15 record from 2014-present.
Kansas’ record against top-10 ranked opponents is even more impressive. KU is 15-3 against foes ranked inside the top-10 of the AP poll since 2013-14. This number includes the Jayhawks’ victories over Kentucky, at West Virginia and at Texas Tech this season. Since Bill Self’s first season, the Jayhawks are 13-2 against AP top-10 teams inside Allen Fieldhouse, which includes KU’s current streak of nine-straight home victories against top-10 foes.
KU FROM DOWNTOWN
Kansas leads the Big 12 with 10.1 3-point field goals made per game, which is 20th nationally, and 3-point field goal percentage at 40.3, which is 13th nationally. Kansas made 10 or more 3-pointers in eight conference games and 16 total in 2017-18. For the season, the Jayhawks are 14-2 in games where they have made 10 or more threes.
This season’s team is the third KU squad to make 300 3-pointers in a season and the current Jayhawks have crushed the single-season school record for 3-pointers made, 345, and attempted, 857, surpassing last year’s record-setting marks of 318 made and 787 attempted. Three of the last eight Jayhawk squads have averaged more than seven treys per game, with both of the last two KU teams hitting an average of eight or more threes per contest.
DEVONTE’ + SVI = THREES
The senior pairing of Devonte’ Graham and Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk has established itself as one of the top long-range shooting duos in KU history. This year, the two Jayhawk guards have combined for 204 of KU’s 345 3-pointers, which is 59.1 percent of the team’s threes. The prolific outside shooting from these two is nothing new as they continue to move up the all-time KU 3-point charts.
Since the advent of the 3-point line prior to the 1986-87 season, no other Kansas duo has tallied more threes over a three-year stretch than the 480 that Graham and Mykhailiuk have combined for since the 2015-16 season. At Oklahoma (1/23), Graham and Mykhailiuk passed Jeff Boschee and Kirk Hinrich as the most prolific 3-point shooting twosome in school history. Boschee and Hinrich amassed 405 treys while they played together from 2000-02.
Graham and Mykhailiuk are also among the most-accurate Jayhawk pairs. They have teamed up to shoot 41.7 percent from beyond the arc in that same three-year span, the third-best mark among KU teammates who have combined for 700 or more attempts. Brandon Rush and Mario Chalmers boast the best-combined percentage with a 42.7 percent (385-of-901) clip coming during their three seasons in Lawrence from 2006-08.
Udoka Azubuike ranks first in NCAA Division I in field goal percentage at 77.4 percent and he is the only player shooting 70 percent or better with a minimum of five shots made per game. Azubuike is on pace to break the Big 12 single-season record of 69.3 percent, set by Ricardo Ratliffe of Missouri in 2011-12.
History has shown that it isn’t easy to lead the nation in a statistic. In fact, checking the NCAA Records Book of annual leaders, only twice has a Jayhawk led the country in a season stat and both were KU All-Americans. KU legend Clyde Lovellette led the NCAA in scoring average in 1951-52 at 28.6 points per game. More recently, Thomas Robinson led the country in double-doubles with 27 during the 2011-12 season. Under Lovellette’s leadership KU won the 1952 NCAA National Championship, while Robinson led the Jayhawks to a runner-up finish in 2012.
With a minimum of 175 attempts, the Kansas single-season field goal percentage record is 64.6 percent by Mark Randall in 1988-89. Last year, Landen Lucas shot 63.1 percent from the field, which ranks fourth on the KU single-season list. On the NCAA level, with a minimum of five makes per game, there have been only 12 players who have shot 70 percent or better in a season, with the most recent being Devontae Cacok of UNC-Wilmington, who set the NCAA record last season (2016-17) at 80.0 percent.
Should Kansas win, it would face the winner of the No. 8-seed Seton Hall vs. No. 9-seed N.C. State game on Saturday, March 17 (time and TV TBD).
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