Howard (4-9) at (17) Kansas (8-3)
Thursday, December 29th, 8:00 p.m. (et)
The Sports Network
By Scott Haynes, Senior College Basketball Editor
FACTS & STATS: Site: Allen Fieldhouse (16,300) -- Lawrence, Kansas. Television: JTV. Home Record: Howard 4-1, Kansas 5-0. Away Record: Howard 0-7, Kansas 1-0. Neutral Record: Howard 0-1, Kansas 2-3. Conference Record: Howard 1-1, Kansas 0-0. Series Record: Kansas leads, 1-0.
GAME NOTES: The 17th-ranked Kansas Jayhawks return to the friendly confines of the Allen Fieldhouse, as they welcome the Howard Bison to Lawrence this evening for a non-conference affair.
Bill Self's Jayhawks played their first true road game last week at USC and came out on top by a score of 63-47. The win put some distance between the team and its third loss of the season, an 80-74 setback to Davidson in Kansas City on December 19th. The Jayhawks have won 53 straight games against non- conference opponents in Lawrence and are 5-0 at home this season.
Kevin Nickelberry is in his second season at the helm of Howard. After posting just five wins last year, the Bison already have four victories this season all at home. The team is coming off a thrilling 88-83 overtime victory against Delaware and is 1-1 thus far in MEAC play. Howard has yet to win a game on the road however, going 0-7 in true road games and 0-1 in a neutral site contest.
This is just the second meeting between these two teams. Kansas won the only previous matchup, 100-67 in the first round of the 1992 NCAA Tournament.
With a -8.4 scoring margin, it is easy to see why Howard is currently sitting five games under .500. The team has really struggled in terms of offensive consistency this season, as the Bison are netting just 64.1 ppg and being held just under 40 percent shooting from the floor (.398). Another area of great concern has got to be Howard's penchant for turnovers, as the team is averaging nearly 18 miscues per outing (17.8). Despite the lack of overall scoring punch, Howard does have three players currently averaging double figures, led by Glen Andrews' 14.0 ppg. Calvin Thompson follows at 11.3 ppg, with Mike Phillips completing the trio at 10.2 ppg. Phillips is also the team's leading rebounder with 6.9 caroms per contest. Thompson and Andrews were instrumental in the win over Delaware, combining for 13 points in overtime. Andrews finished the game with a career-high 28 points. Thompson added 16, while Dadrian Collins came off the bench to chip in 11.
Three losses before conference play even begins is not the norm in Lawrence, but that is exactly where the Jayhawks find themselves as the calendar year is coming to a close. The team has shown the ability to win games at either end of the floor this season, but has been more impressive at the defensive end where Kansas is holding foes to just 62.4 ppg and under 40 percent shooting overall (.384). In addition, KU owns a +7.9 rebounding margin. Thomas Robinson is off to a fast start and is one of the Big 12's best frontcourt players. He leads the Jayhawks in both scoring and rebounding, averaging a double-double with 17.4 points and 11.8 rebounds per game. The offense runs through Tyshawn Taylor, who can both score himself (15.3 ppg) as well as get others involved (team-high 58 assists). Elijah Johnson rounds out the top scoring threats for Kansas with 10.3 ppg. In the win at USC, Johnson led four Jayhawks in double figures with 14 points. Conner Teahan added 13 points, while Robinson and Taylor finished with 10 each. Both players nearly posted double-doubles, as Robinson grabbed nine rebounds and Taylor dished out nine assists.
The Jayhawks rarely lose out of conference in Lawrence and Howard certainly lacks the personnel to pull off a monumental upset here. Expect Robinson to once again dominate up front, and for Kansas to cruise to victory.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Kansas 81, Howard 47
12/29 10:38:58 ET