Frank Martin (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)
KU big man Cole Aldrich, fresh off a dominant performance vs. Missouri on Wednesday, might just need his 'A' game again Saturday, and the Jayhawks square off with the Wildcats in Manhattan.
Cole Aldrich is playing his best basketball of the
season as No. 2 Kansas prepares to play at Kansas State, which already
has knocked off a No. 1.
The Jayhawks have been on a pretty good roll since
they coughed up the top ranking with a 76-68 loss at Tennessee on Jan.
10. They've won five in a row, including an 84-65 rout of Border Way
rival Missouri on Big Monday.
Aldrich flirted with a triple-double against the
Tigers, finishing with 12 points, 16 rebounds and seven blocks.
"Cole was great," said Kansas coach Bill Self.
Said Missouri forward Justin Safford: "His
presence kind of altered guys' shots, and guys were hesitant to go into
Aldrich's performance came two days after he had
19 points and 11 rebounds at Iowa State, which, by his own admission,
felt like a welcome-back moment after some (relative) struggles this
But neither Aldrich nor the Jayhawks (19-1, 5-0)
can rest for too long in the Big 12. Kansas has to recharge quickly for
Saturday's game against the Wildcats. Kansas State beat then-No. 1
Texas 71-62 in Manhattan on Jan. 18.
The Wildcats enter the week ranked No. 11 and
feature one of the top backcourts in the Big 12 with Jacob Pullen and
Denis Clemente, though both have been slumping recently with their
outside shots. The Jayhawks certainly play the kind of defense to
stifle that pair -- KU allows opponents to shoot only 35.9 percent
overall and 31.6 percent from behind the arc.
KU needs to establish its interior dominance with
Aldrich and red-hot Marcus Morris (among others on the deep Kansas
"Tough game. Hard game," Morris said of K-State
matchup. "It will be a dogfight."
Kansas is 24-2 against Kansas State in the Big 12
KANSAS 84, MISSOURI 65: The Tigers hung around for
several minutes, but then Kansas hit the accelerator and used its
superior inside game to take control. The Jayhawks took a 50-30 edge
into the halftime break when Brady Morningstar's 3-point heave at the
buzzer went off the backboard and around the rim before falling.
KU out-rebounded Missouri by 22 -- and that was
just in the first half. The final advantage was 56-28, which more than
offset the 23 turnovers the Jayhawks committed against the Tigers'
Kansas showed off its enviable depth, with six
players scoring at least nine points ... and none was named Sherron Collins. The star guard had a rare off night with 2-of-11 shooting and
six points, but the Jayhawks didn't need his scoring as they easily ran
their home winning streak to 54 games.
--The future intentions of G Tyshawn Taylor became
a hot-button issue as the sophomore guard was removed from Kansas'
starting lineup and briefly posted an item on his Facebook account
implying a possible transfer. Entering Big 12 play, Taylor said he
wasn't aware of his role on the team. He logged just 13 minutes in a
Jan. 23 win at Iowa State but scored seven points and grabbed five
--After getting burned for 42 points by Iowa State
F Craig Brackins in last year's matchup in Hilton Coliseum, Kansas
limited the junior to just 13 points and one rebound on Jan. 23. Credit
F Marcus Morris for much of the defensive work. Morris later shared
some of the good-natured banter he exchanged with the ISU star.
ON THE SPOT: Can F Marcus Morris stay hot? The
sophomore has been sizzling since Big 12 play started, averaging 18.8
points and 7.8 rebounds per game. He is shooting 65.5 percent in five
conference games and has shot at least 50 percent in 11 of the last 13
games. He and Cole Aldrich and twin Markieff Morris will be in for a
rugged game Saturday at Kansas State, which out-rebounded Texas by nine
on Jan. 18.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "We played really well (at Iowa
State). We played out of foul problems. We had a new guy (F Jeff Withey) jump on the scene I never would have given a chance if we
hadn't had foul problems." -- Kansas coach Bill Self.
STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
SEASON RECAP: Questions have lingered about
chemistry within the Kansas roster throughout the season, but the
Jayhawks played well in wins against Baylor and Iowa State. Kansas
needed a sound effort to turn back the hot-shooting Bears, who ended a
91-game string by KU for holding opponents to worse than 50 percent
shooting. G Sherron Collins took over the game late and remains a
steady constant, while F Marcus Morris continues to exert himself as
one of the most improved players in the Big 12.
PLAYER ROTATION: Usual Starters -- F Marcus
Morris, C Cole Aldrich, G Xavier Henry, G Brady Morningstar, G Sherron
Collins. Key Subs -- G Tyshawn Taylor, F Markieff Morris, G Tyrel Reed,
F Thomas Robinson.
Kansas 89, Texas Tech 63
Kansas 81, Baylor 75
Kansas 84, Iowa State 61
Kansas 84, Missouri 65
at Kansas State, Saturday, Jan. 30
at Colorado, Wednesday, Feb. 3
vs. Nebraska, Saturday, Feb. 6
at Texas, Monday, Feb. 8
IN FOCUS: After Missouri, the Jayhawks' other
arch-rival, Kansas State, looms, though Kansas has won 25 of its last
26 games in Manhattan. The Wildcats' recent home win against No. 1
Texas is proof they can pose trouble for a highly ranked opponent.
--Junior C Cole Aldrich had 16 rebounds against
Missouri on Monday, giving him 711 for his career. He became the 15th
player in Kansas history to reach the 700 milestone for rebounding.
--Junior G Tyrel Reed came off the bench to match
his career scoring high with 14 points in 19 minutes against Missouri.
He poured in all four of his 3-point attempts and was 5 of 6 from the
--G C.J. Henry, who missed the game at Iowa State
on Jan. 23 after suffering a severely bruised tailbone in a hard fall
on his back in practice, did not play against Missouri on Monday.
Kansas coach Bill Self said "we're nervous he may be out an extended
period." Henry has averaged 3.6 points in 11 appearances this season.