GAME NOTES: The third-ranked Kansas Jayhawks will close out the non-conference portion of their schedule this afternoon in Ann Arbor, as they take on the Michigan Wolverines at Crisler Arena.
The Kansas roster seems to be a revolving door of talent. Despite losing a great deal of talent from last season's successful squad, this year's group looks just as potent. The proof is in the team's unblemished record to this point, a record that was extended to 14-0 with Wednesday's 99-52 waxing of UMKC. It was the team's 68th straight victory in Lawrence. Having enjoyed a great deal of success at home, Kansas will now play six of its next nine games on the road, starting with next week's Big 12 opener at Iowa State.
The Wolverines have already jumped into their conference play, but the early stages of Big Ten action have not been kind to John Beilein's squad. Two of the team's four losses on the year have come against league opponents, including Wednesday's 66-50 setback at Wisconsin.
Michigan won the first five meetings in this series, but Kansas was finally able to break into the win column with last season's 75-64 decision.
Kansas is getting it done in every facet of the game right now, enjoying a +25.9 scoring margin, and a +9.4 rebounding margin. Offensively, the Jayhawks have been sharp, netting 85.6 ppg on a national-best .537 shooting. Brothers Marcus (15.2 ppg, 61 rpg) and Markieff Morris (12.9 ppg, 8.5 rpg) have been a potent frontcourt tandem, while the recent addition of freshman Josh Selby (15.0 ppg) makes this squad lethal.
The Jayhawks made light work of the Kangaroos last time out, shooting a sizzling 55.7 percent from the field, including an 11-of-26 effort from behind the arc. Six Jayhawks finished in double figures, led by Selby's 16 points. Tyshawn Taylor added 15, followed by Elijah Johnson (13 pts), Travis Releford (13 pts), Tyrel Reed (11 pts) and Marcus Morris (11 pts).
The Wolverines are more defensive-minded and the team has enjoyed a great deal of success in that area, holding opponents to a meager 59.6 ppg this year on an even 40 percent shooting. Producing at the offensive end has been a little more challenging, with Michigan averaging 67.9 ppg on 44.2 percent shooting. Sophomore guard Darius Morris fuels the Michigan attack as both a potent scorer (15.1 ppg) and deft distributor (team-high 109 assists). Tim Hardaway Jr. is the only other double-digit threat at this time, at 10.8 ppg. Jordan Morgan (9.09 ppg, 6.5 rpg) is the top option in the frontcourt.
The Wolverines led by two points at the half in Madison this week, but let the game get away from them after the break, as the Badgers distanced themselves down the stretch for a 16-point victory. The loss spoiled a strong outing from Zack Novak, who hit five three-pointers en route to a team-high 15 points. Hardaway added 10 points, while Morris finished with eight.
The Jayhawks aren't exactly a road-tested team at this point in the season, but the superior play at both ends of the floor should continue in Ann Arbor, as Kansas closes out non-conference action with another victory.