Lawrence, KS (SportsNetwork.com) - The 13th-ranked Kansas Jayhawks conclude their non-conference schedule on Sunday, as they play host to the UNLV Runnin' Rebels at the Allen Fieldhouse.
Bill Self's Jayhawks have just two losses on the season, although both came in humbling fashion, in routs to top-ranked Kansas (72-40) and Temple (77-52). The loss to the Owls ended a eight-game win streak for Kansas, but the team was able to find its way back to the win column with last week's 78-72 victory over Kent State in Lawrence. The Jayhawks are 10-2 for the third straight season and have won 14 straight at the Allen Fieldhouse.
Dave Rice's Rebels are sitting at 9-4 on the season. UNLV's biggest win of the season was an upset of previously unbeaten Arizona on Dec. 23 (71-67). However, the team opened Mountain West Conference action on a sour note, falling on the road at Wyoming on New Year's Eve, 76-71.
This marks just the fifth all-time meeting between these two storied programs. Kansas has won all four previous matchups, including the last one, a 75-56 rout in the 2008 NCAA Tournament.
UNLV is a young team, as Rice has utilized five freshmen and two sophomores, along with a couple of seniors mixed in. Despite the team's overall youth, defensive grit has been a real strength. The Rebels are allowing just 63.5 ppg this year and holding foes well under 40 percent shooting (.375). Offensively, the team looks to the potent one-two punch of freshman guard Rashad Vaughn and sophomore forward Christian Wood to lead the way. Vaughn has made an immediate impact, as the 6-foot-6 youngster is tops on the team in scoring at a healthy 17.9 ppg. The 6-10 Wood has been a force up front, averaging a near double- double with 15.7 points and 9.8 rebounds per game. Unfortunately for UNLV, the scoring pool dries up quickly after that, as freshman guard Patrick McCaw is third on the team with a modest 7.4 ppg.
Wood got off to a scorching start against Wyoming, scoring UNLV's first 19 points, but he couldn't sustain the fast start, as he added just 10 points the rest of the way in the team's five-point loss in its MWC opener. Still, Wood finished with a career-high 29 points. Vaughn joined him in double figures with 16 points, but as has been the case all season long, offensive support was a scarcity.
Kansas has struggled at times finding an offensive rhythm and it is reflective in the team's overall numbers. The Jayhawks are shooting a mere .424 from the floor this season, despite utilizing the 3-pointer with solid success (6.2 treys per game). Still, there is no go-to-guy at the offensive end of the floor that can carry the team to victory. Junior forward Perry Ellis leads the squad in both scoring (12.8 ppg) and rebounding (6.4 rpg) this season. He is followed in the scoring column by Frank Mason III (11.9 ppg), who is the only other Jayhawk averaging double figures. Wayne Selden Jr. (8.8 ppg) and Cliff Alexander (8.2 ppg) provide limited depth.
The Jayhawks led by six points at the half against Kent State last time out and shot a scorching 56 percent from the floor over the final 20 minutes to keep the Golden Flashes at bay and pick up their 14th straight home win. Freshman guard Kelly Oubre Jr. led the charge, as he erupted for 20 points on 8-of-12 shooting. Ellis finished with 15 points and eight rebounds, while Mason had a major role with a stat line that included 14 points, five boards and five assists.