Friday , Mar , 09 , 2007 C.Y. Ellis

Kansas and Oklahoma duke it out in Big 12 Tournament

Oklahoma City, OK (Sports Network) – The second-ranked and top-seeded Kansas
Jayhawks begin defense of their Big 12 Tournament title today, as they face off
against the ninth-seeded Oklahoma Sooners in the quarterfinal round from the
Ford Center in Oklahoma City.

For the fifth time in the 11-year history of this event, the Jayhawks are the
top seed, as they won their third regular season title in a row with a 14-2
finish in the Big 12. The team has now posted double-figure wins in league play
in each of the 11 season the conference has existed, a feat accomplished by no
other Big 12 member. At 27-4 overall, Kansas has recorded its most victories
since going 30-8 en route to the Final Four in 2003. In terms of their history
in this event, Kansas has won the most titles (four) as well as games (19), and
it is 9-1 all-time in the quarterfinals. Last season, as the second seed, the
Jayhawks defeated top-seeded Texas, 80-68, to earn its first title since
winning three in a row form 1997-99.

As for Oklahoma, it dropped its last six games of the regular season to finish
just 6-10 in conference. The team, however, was able to regroup and end its
losing ways with a 68-63 triumph over eighth-seeded Iowa State in the opening
round on Thursday. The Sooners, who are now 3-0 in opening-round games, rank
second to Kansas in wins (18) and titles (three) in this event.

As for the all-time series, Kansas holds a comfortable 131-64 lead over
Oklahoma and it has won three of the last four meetings.

The winner of this game will move on to face either Kansas State or Texas Tech
in the semifinals on Saturday.

The Sooners made 5-of-12 shots from long range and more importantly converted
27-of-34 free-throw tries, as they scored a five-point win over Iowa State on
Thursday. Nate Carter led the way with 22 points and nine rebounds, while Tony
Crocker added 15 points and five assists. On the season, Carter leads the team
in scoring with 11.8 ppg and he is also pulling down 5.1 rpg. Longar Longar
adds 10.3 ppg and a team-high 6.9 rpg to the mix, although he was held
scoreless on Thursday. As a collective unit, Oklahoma has been at its best on
defense where it is limiting opposing teams to a mere 59.4 ppg.

The Jayhawks have simply dominated both ends of the court this season, as they
are putting forth a healthy 79.0 ppg behind an efficient 49.4 percent shooting
from the floor, while holding their foes to just 60.7 ppg and a dismal 37.4
percent shooting overall. The team has also had success on the boards,
outrebounding challengers by 8.2 rpg. Brandon Rush, a First Team All-league
member, leads Kansas in scoring with 13.7 ppg and he is also grabbing 5.7 rpg.
Mario Chalmers was a third-team all-league selection and he also earned a share
of the Defensive Player of the Year award. The 2006 Big 12 Tournament MVP,
Chalmers, leads the team in steals with 79 and he is also scoring 12.1 ppg and
dishing out 3.1 apg. Julian Wright joins Rush as a First Team All-conference
choice and he is averaging 12.0 ppg and a team-high 8.1 rpg on the season.
Freshman Darrell Arthur rounds out the double-digit scorers with 10.5 ppg.