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November 19, 2009

KU set to host Arkansas Central

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After getting loads of preseason hype, Kansas didn't have to wait long to be seriously tested for the first time.

Coach Bill Self is hoping a close call in the top-ranked Jayhawks' most recent game will help them learn some lessons as they prepare for what should be an easier victory against visiting Central Arkansas on Thursday night...

Kansas (2-0) has been the near-unanimous No. 1 in the early season thanks to a deep roster that includes preseason All-Americans Sherron Collins and Cole Aldrich along with one of the nation's top freshmen in Xavier Henry.

The Jayhawks cruised to a 101-65 season-opening win over Hofstra on Friday but had to scramble to avoid an upset Tuesday in St. Louis, holding off Memphis 57-55 when the Tigers' potential game-winning 3-pointer missed at the buzzer.

After scoring a freshman school-record 27 points in his collegiate debut, Henry was held to 11 on 3-of-11 shooting. The bigger issue for Kansas was 21 turnovers, including seven by sophomore point guard Tyshawn Taylor, as the team struggled to dictate the pace of the game.

"I thought we really got sped up," Self said. "Some of the plays we made in transition, we really got sped up.

"Hopefully, it'll be a good teaching tool for us."

Some of the Jayhawks' other problems involved Collins' struggles with leg cramps in the second half and the team's inability to shoot 3-pointers. They attempted just five after going 11 of 27 against Hofstra.

But Kansas did see some positive signs, with Aldrich's double-double (18 points, 11 rebounds) leading the club to a 36-25 edge on the boards. The 6-foot-11 center also blocked four shots, and forward Marcus Morris added 10 points for Kansas' only bench scoring.

"I saw (Aldrich) in high school a bunch and I knew he was going to be good," Memphis coach Josh Pastner said. "They do a real good job with their bigs."

While Kansas has promising freshmen Thomas Robinson and Elijah Johnson among its reserves, those players saw little action against Memphis.

Self will likely have more opportunities to mix up his lineup against Central Arkansas, considering the Bears (1-1) are coming off a 71-67 home loss to Tennessee Tech in which they never led.

"There's a mental attempt to do things the way they should be done," Central Arkansas coach Rand Chappell told the school's official Web site. "I think if we stay with that, then it will get better as the year goes on and we'll start to win those kinds of games."

They almost certainly won't win at Allen Fieldhouse. The Bears have met just two Top 25 teams this decade, losing to then-No. 21 Connecticut in 2006 and then-No. 20 Kentucky the next season. Each defeat came by at least 27 points.

Central Arkansas, which lost three starters from a team that went 3-13 in the Southland Conference last season, has never faced Kansas or any Big 12 opponent.



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