ESPN’s Big Monday once again rolls into Allen Fieldhouse Monday night to showcase Kansas (America’s Team) (14-1, 2-0) vs Baylor (11-4), 3-0). Since the Big 12 was formed in 1996-97, Kansas is 45-16 all-time on Big Monday (25-1 at homes, 20-15 on the road). Kansas Head Coach Bill Self is 26-8 on Big Monday, and Kansas has won 18 straight Big Monday games inside Allen Fieldhouse – 14 of those wins with Self on the sideline. The game is the 799th regular season game inside the mecca of college basketball with number 800 coming against Oklahoma on January 26th.
The Bears are 3-0 in Big 12 play after their 51-40 win over TCU on Saturday. Baylor averages 76.8 points per game while allowing 65.2 points per game. The Bears are hitting 47.3% of their field goal attempts which makes them second in the Big 12 to Kansas’ 49.7%. Guard Pierre Jackson, who was picked as the Big 12′s Preseason POY, leads the Bears, and the conference, with 19.2 ppg. Jackson is also the leading three point threat and leads the Bears in assists at 6.3 per game. Freshman big man Isaiah Austin is next at 14.6 points per game and is tied with forward Cory Jefferson with 8.4 rebounds per game. If you haven’t seen Austin play – he is a threat to score from anywhere on the court and can force Withey to leave the lane which will put pressure on Kansas to rotate on defense and snag defensive rebounds. Jefferson is third in scoring for the Bears at 14.3 ppg. Guard Brady Heslip averages 8.9 ppg, and is a close second in made three point attempts to Jackson. A.J. Walton chips in 6.9 ppg and leads the Bears in steals.
Kansas is 18-3 in the series versus Baylor, including 9-0 in Lawrence. Since the Big 12 was formed, Kansas holds a 16-3 record vs Baylor and has won three of the last four games.
Freshman Ben McLemore leads the Jayhawks at 16.4 ppg, which also ranks first amongst all Big 12 freshmen and second overall in the Big 12. His 33 point performance vs Iowa State last Wednesday is second only to Danny Manning’s 35 in 1985 for points in a game by a freshman. McLemore is also KU’s leading three point threat and is second on the team in steals. Center Jeff Withey leads the Jayhawks in rebounds and blocks per game. Withey averages 13.4 ppg, 8.3 rpg and his 4.8 bpg ranks second in the country. Guard Travis Releford averages 13.2 ppg and has hit 80% or better in 8 of his last 12 games from the field. That’s good in case you’re wondering. In his last 12 games, Releford is shooting 73.6% from the field, including 62.1% from three. His 63.6% from the field overall leads the Jayhawks. Guard Elijah Johnson averages 9.8 ppg to go along with his team leading 5.5 assists per game, including a 10 assists performance against Iowa State last Wednesday night. Kevin Young has gone for double doubles in two of his last three games, and is far from averaging just that with 8 ppg and 7.1 rpg.
Up next for Kansas is a road trip to Austin, Texas to face the Longhorns. Tip is Saturday afternoon at 1 pm.
Some people think that it wouldn’t be any fun to like Baylor.