News, notes and quotes on No. 2 KU's matchup at Texas Tech tonight at United Spirit Arena in Lubbock…
K-State returns nine letterwinners and two starters off last season's team, which went 29-8 and 11-5 in the Big 12. KSU (14-7, 2-4 in Big 12) has lost four of its last six games and is 0-3 on the road in Big 12 play. The Wildcats are coming off a 69-61 home victory over Baylor on Monday.
Senior guard Jacob Pullen leads the attack with a team-high 17.9 points per game and also team-best 63 assists and 29 steals. He's followed in scoring by sophomore guard Rodney McGruder (11.2 ppg, team-high 6.7 rpg), senior forward Curtis Kelly (10.5 ppg, 5.2 rpg), junior forward Jamar Samuels (9.6 ppg, 5.9 rpg), and freshman guard Will Spradling (6.1 ppg).
KSU is averaging 73.5 points per game and allows 64.6. The Wildcats are shooting 43.8 percent from the field, 36.6 percent from three-point range, and 60.6 percent at the free-throw line. They're holding opponents to 40.5 percent shooting and 35.1 percent from beyond the arc, while outrebounding foes 40.3 to 31.5 boards per game.
SELF ON THE CATS
KU coach Bill Self is concerned about K-State's offensive rebounding.
"They do a lot of things well, but the thing they probably do as well as anything is the percentage of rebounds that they get back (on their missed shots)," Self said. "I am sure they are leading the country in that. I think it's well over 40 percent, so we need to keep that around 25 percent if at all possible. Hopefully our first shot defense will be good."
Self said he's a big fan of Pullen.
"He's a lot like (former KU standout guard) Sherron (Collins)," Self said. "I don't know if Jacob will go down as the winningest player ever at Kansas State, but you shouldn't evaluate Jacob on his statistics. You should evaluate him just like you did with Sherron, on wins. He's willed that program in many, many ways. He's one of my favorite players in the league."
"A BIG GAME"
The Jayhawks are hyped about playing their Sunflower rival with ESPN College GameDay in the Phog.
"It's a big game," senior guard Tyrel Reed said. "College GameDay is going to be there and a lot of fanfare. It's going to be a great atmosphere to play in. K-State was picked to win the league to start out so they're definitely a capable team and a good team, so we're going to have to be focused and ready to play."
"Even if they haven't played up to everyone's expectations this year so far, that doesn't mean anything," senior guard Brady Morningstar added. "They can still play with any team in the country."
BACK TO PRACTICE
The Jayhawks practiced Thursday night and Friday after attending the funeral of Thomas Robinson's mother, Lisa, on Thursday morning in Washington, D.C.
"One thing that we have to do is get back to some normalcy," Self said. "(Thursday) night was a good start because I got after them pretty good. I think they said, ‘OK, things are back to normal.' We need to have a routine that we follow. I think we are all creatures of habit, especially athletes and athletic teams, and we haven't had any routine."
All the coaches and players felt grateful they were able to attend the funeral and support Robinson.
"We just all wanted to be there for Thomas," Reed said. "It was definitely a tough thing to see and really heartfelt and saddening, but it was the right thing for us to be there."
KU leads the all-time series (dates back to 1907) with KSU 180-90, including 81-35 in Lawrence (40-18 in Allen Fieldhouse). Self's KU teams have posted a 15-2 record over their Manhattan rival. Kansas has won five straight and 10 of the last 11 meetings, while winning four straight and 15 of the last 16 meetings in Allen Fieldhouse.
Clyde Lovellette holds KU's record for most points against K-State in Lawrence with 33 during the 1951-52 national championship season. The Jayhawks' highest point total versus the Wildcats in Lawrence was 103 during the 2001-02 Final Four season in their 103-68 victory.
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