KU, K-State prepare for Sunflower Showdown

Sitting atop the Big 12 standings, No. 8/9 Kansas (18-5, 9-1) will play its third of four ESPN Big Mondays at Sunflower Showdown rival Kansas State (16-7, 6-4) at 8 p.m. (CT). KU has a two-game lead over Texas, 7-3 in the Big 12 while K-State is tied for fourth at 6-4. Kansas is coming off an 83-69 win against West Virginia on Saturday in Lawrence. Kansas State defeated No. 15 Texas 74-57 on Saturday in Manhattan. Kansas has won its last 11 games on ESPN Big Monday dating back to the 2010-11 season when it lost at Kansas State 84-68 on Feb. 14, 2011. KU is 51-16 all-time on ESPN Big Monday, including 32-8 under head coach Bill Self.

Kansas averages 79.3 points per game and has a +9.9 scoring margin. KU has outrebounded 19 of 23 opponents, including eight of 10 Big 12 contests, and holds a +7.2 rebound margin. KU boasts a league-best 50.3 field goal percentage and has shot 50 percent or better in five of its last seven games. In all, KU has outshot 20 of its 23 opponents in 2013-14. KU also ranks in the top four in the Big 12 in scoring offense (fourth, 79.3), scoring margin (third, +9.9), rebound margin (second, +7.2), assists (second, 16.0) and blocked shots (second, 6.0).

Coming off a team-leading 19 points against West Virginia, freshman G Andrew Wiggins leads Kansas with a 16.0 scoring average, the best among Big 12 freshmen and eighth overall in the conference. He has made 29 threes this season, including a half-court shot in KU’s win at Baylor (2/4), and is the team leader with 24 steals. Wiggins’ 6.0 rebound average is third on the team and 15th in the conference. Sophomore F Perry Ellis is next in scoring at 13.0 points per game, good for 16th in the league. Ellis has six 20-point games on the season with his last being 20 points versus Iowa State (1/29). His 6.7 rebound average is second on the team and 11th in the Big 12. He pulled down a career-high 14 rebounds at TCU (1/25) and had 10 boards and 14 points for his third double-double of the year at Baylor (2/4). Freshman C Joel Embiid has a team-high 60 blocked shots, which ranks second on the all-time KU freshman list. A two-time Big 12 Newcomer of the Week and the Wayman Tisdale National Freshman of the Week (1/21), Embiid’s 2.6 blocked shots per game average is second in the conference. Embiid is third on the team with 18 steals, while his 7.8 rebounds per game are a team best, lead the Big 12 freshman class and rank sixth in the conference. Embiid is shooting 62.0 percent from the field, which would lead the Big 12 had he made 5.0 per game. He is averaging 10.9 points per game and has six double-doubles on the season after his 11 points and 12 rebounds versus West Virginia (2/8). Freshman G Wayne Selden, Jr., scored 17 points against West Virginia (2/9) and has three 20-point scoring games this season, all in league play. He earned National Freshman of the Week accolades by multiple outlets (1/10), is scoring 10.5 ppg in all games and his 30 three-pointers are second on the team while his 60 assists are second. Junior G Naadir Tharpe scored 22 points at Baylor (2/4) and had his first career double-double with 12 points and 12 assists versus Iowa State (1/29). Tharpe earned Big 12 and Oscar Robertson National Player of the Week accolades (1/21) and is scoring 9.3 points per game. His 5.1 assists rank third in the Big 12 and his 2.7 assist-to-turnover ratio is also third. Tharpe has made a team-best 34 three-pointers this season.

Freshman G Frank Mason averages 6.3 points per game and is third on the team with 57 assists. Sophomore FJamari Traylor leads KU with a 72.3 field goal percentage and is averaging 4.2 points and 3.5 rebounds per contest. Other contributors off the bench include senior F Tarik Black (4.0 ppg, 2.8 rpg), freshman G Brannen Greene (2.3 ppg), freshman G Conner Frankamp (1.8 ppg) and redshirt freshman F Landen Lucas (1.7 ppg). Black, a transfer from Memphis, scored 11 points versus West Virginia (2/8), his most points scored in Big 12 play this season.

Located in Manhattan, Kan., with an enrollment 24,378, Kansas State is 16-7, 6-4 in Big 12. The Wildcats are coached by Bruce Weber who is 43-15 in his second season at KSU and 356-170 in his 16th season overall. Kansas State tied Kansas for the Big 12 regular-season title last year in Weber’s first season at the helm. Kansas State averages 68.5 points per game and has a +6.7 scoring margin. The Wildcats lead the Big 12 in scoring defense at 61.8, field goal percentage defense at 39.8 and three-point field goal percentage defense at 29.2. K-State forces 13.0 turnovers per game averages 15.2 assists.

Freshman G Marcus Foster scored 34 points against Texas Saturday and leads KSU in scoring at 14.7 points per game which is 12th in the Big 12. He has made a team-best 50 three-pointers and his 53 free throws made are the most on the team. Junior F Thomas Gipson leads the Wildcats with 6.5 rebounds per game (14th in the conference) and a 58.0 field goal percentage. Gipson scores 11.7 points per contest, just ahead of senior G Shane Southwell’s 10.7 points per game. Southwell leads K-State with 71 assists and 25 blocked shots, while his 22 steals are second-most on the team, as is his 4.7 rebound average. Rounding out the KSU starters are senior G Will Spradling (7.8 ppg, 59 assists and a team-best 28 steals) and freshman F Wesley Iwundu (7.0 ppg, 4.3 rpg). Other contributors for KSU include junior F Nino Williams (5.6 ppg, 3.0 rpg), freshman G Nigel Johnson (4.1 ppg, 31 assists, 16 steals), freshman G Jevon Thomas (3.5 ppg), sophomore F D.J. Johnson (3.2 ppg, 3.6 rpg) and senior G Omari Lawrence (2.7 ppg, 13 steals).

Kansas has won 48 of the last 51 meetings with Kansas State dating back to the 1994 season. KU has won the last six meetings, 13 of the last 14 match-ups and holds a 187-91 all-time series advantage over KSU, which dates back to 1907. Kansas State’s last win in the series was 84-68 on Feb. 14, 2011, in Manhattan. Since the inception of the Big 12 Conference, KU is 40-3 against KSU (32-3 in regular-season battles and 8-0 in the Big 12 Championship). Kansas is 75-45 in games played in Manhattan yet dating back to 1984 KU is 28-2 in its last 30 trips to Manhattan, which includes a mind-boggling 23-2 record in Bramlage Coliseum. Kansas head coach Bill Self is 23-3 all-time against K-State, including 22-3 while at KU. Bruce Weber is 0-5 against Kansas. Last season Kansas and Kansas State tied for the Big 12 regular-season title with 14-4 conference records, yet the Jayhawks swept the Wildcats in head-to-head competition, including a 70-54 victory in the title game of the Big 12 Championship at Sprint Center in Kansas City, Mo.

Earlier this season, then-No. 18 Kansas defeated then-No. 25 Kansas State, 86-60, on Jan. 11 in Allen Fieldhouse. The win was KU’s sixth straight against KSU. KU freshman G Andrew Wiggins led all scorers with 22 points, while freshman G Wayne Selden, Jr., added 20. KU shot 56.1 percent for the game and led 45-28 at intermission after shooting 65.5 percent for the first half.

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