American University (4-8) at (6) Kansas (10-1)
Saturday, December 29, 8 p.m. (et)
The Sports Network
By Scott Haynes, College Basketball Senior Editor
FACTS & STATS: Site: Allen Fieldhouse (16,300) -- Lawrence, Kansas. Television: Jayhawk TV. Home Record: American 2-2, Kansas 7-0. Away Record: American 2-6, Kansas 1-0. Neutral Record: American 0-0, Kansas 2-1. Conference Record: American 0-0, Kansas 0-0. Series Record: Kansas leads, 1-0.
GAME NOTES: The sixth-ranked Kansas Jayhawks put a couple of lengthy win streaks on the line on Saturday, as they close out the 2012 portion of their schedule at home against the American University Eagles.
Bill Self's Jayhawks enter this contest with a 10-1 overall record. The lone loss came on Nov. 13 against Michigan State. The team has reeled off nine wins since, including a 74-66 road win at nationally-ranked Ohio State last weekend. Kansas returns to the friendly confines of the Allen Fieldhouse, where the team has won 28 straight games (second-longest active streak in the nation).
Jeff Jones' Eagles are just 4-8 on the season and bring a three-game losing streak into this contest. American is facing its second straight ranked opponent after dropping a 65-48 decision to local rival Georgetown on Dec. 22.
This is just the second time that these two teams have met. The first meeting took place in 1988, as Kansas recorded a 90-69 romp in Lawrence.
The Eagles struggled with the Hoyas last weekend, as American converted just 26.6 percent from the floor overall, draining just 16 field goals in the lopsided loss. Despite turning the ball over just seven times, American was outrebounded 42-30. Daniel Munoz led the team in scoring with 15 points. Stephen Lumpkins chipped in 10 points in the losing effort.
Scoring has been hard to come by for the Eagles, who rank 338th out of 345 Division I programs at a mere 55.1 ppg. Lumpkins has been one of the rare reliable offensive threats on the team, shooting .509 from the field and leading the team with 15.5 ppg. Munoz is the only other player currently in double figures at 10.0 ppg and also serves as the team's top distributor (3.5 apg).
The Jayhawks have found a great deal of success at both ends of the floor. The team enjoys an impressive +18.3 scoring margin, averaging 77.5 ppg on .493 shooting, while limiting foes to just 59.2 ppg, while ranking fifth nationally in field-goal percentage defense (.347). Kansas has also dominated in the paint, averaging 8.2 blocks and 7.4 steals per game. Redshirt freshman Ben McLemore has made an immediate impact, leading the team in scoring at 16.5 ppg. Senior center Jeff Withey is one of the nation's top pivots, averaging 14.1 points, 8.3 rebounds and 5.0 blocks per game. Senior guards Travis Releford (12.8 ppg) and Elijah Johnson (9.9 ppg, 5.0 apg) provide valuable depth.
It was yet another stellar performance by Withey in the paint and superb perimeter scoring from McLemore that led the Jayhawks to a rousing victory over a nationally ranked foe in the team's first true road game of the season. McLemore led four Jayhawks in double figures with a game-high 22 points. Withey finished with 14 points and 10 rebounds, while Johnson and Releford added 13 and 11 points, respectively. Kansas shot 51.0 percent from the floor in the game, while holding the hometown Buckeyes to a mere 30.8 percent effort.
The Eagles are in way over their heads in this one. With a lack of offensive punch, this one could get out of hand in a hurry. Expect the Jayhawks to jump out to a big lead early on and cruise to yet another win in front of the hometown faithful.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Kansas 87, American 44
12/29 10:40:54 ET