KU will announce the status of junior Mario Little (stress fracture lower left leg) today. If Little plays against Kansas State tonight, he cannot ask the NCAA for a medical red-shirt.
“He wants to play. I want him to play if he’s pain free. If not, we should shut him down,” coach Bill Self said. “Today, he tested it as well as he could (in practice). If he is not experiencing any pain, we’ll try it. If he is, we’ll shut him down. We’ll let him sleep on it and figure it out in the morning.”
Self added that Little, “will not be 100 percent when the decision is made. We are rolling the dice a bit. You are rolling the dice no matter what. The doctors are confident in what they are saying. What they are saying is he is getting better every day.”
Minnesota big men: KU sophomore Cole Aldrich, who hails from Bloomington, Minn., sat next to KSU senior Darren Kent, a native of Apple Valley, Minn., on their flights back to Kansas after Christmas break.
“We had an exit row. I got down in the seat and I said (to flight attendant), ‘Oh geez I’ve got to sit by another K-State guy? How did you guys do that?’’’ Aldrich said. “He goes, ‘Man I’ve got to sit by a Kansas guy?’ I said, ‘It’s a good thing we beat you in high school a few times.’ It’s always a great thing to see him because he’s a great guy,” Aldrich added.
Aldrich averages 15.3 points and 9.9 boards; Kent 8.9 points and 6.3 boards.
“It’s all fun because at the end of the day we are still going to be friends,” Aldrich said.
Of going against a fellow Minnesota native, Kent said: “It’s a little weird. He’s been committed to Kansas all three years that he was in high school, so we’ve known he was going there. It just happened that I went here and we met the last two years and it’s kind of fun. He’s really improved from last year to this year,” Kent added. “His size is the biggest key.”
Leader meets with frosh: KU junior Sherron Collins, as promised, met with KU’s freshmen players over lunch in the wake of Saturday’s loss at Michigan State.
“They brought us food here, so we didn’t have to (go out to restaurant),” Collins said with a smile. “I told them we were going to need them. I said, ‘Stop thinking about scoring. The scoring will come. Do what coach asks you to do.’ They understand. They are confident. I don’t think their confidence level is way down. I think they will be all right.”
Injury update: KU’s Marcus Morris is OK after hurting his ankle against Michigan State on Saturday. “Marcus turned his ankle. He bruised his heel. That’s just something he may be uncomfortable a little bit. I can’t see it bothering him,” Self said.
Streaks: KSU last year ended KU’s 24-game win streak in Manhattan. The Jayhawks have won 33 straight games in Allen Fieldhouse.
“We beat them last year, and a lot of people now say it should be no surprise if we go in there and beat them again,” KSU’s Dominique Sutton told the Associated Press. “It’s time for K-State to come up and start getting some wins against KU. (Breaking the streak) would be very big for us. Everybody’s counting us out already in the Big 12.”
“We don’t really think of the streak very often,” KU’s Aldrich said. “It’s not something we want to give up. We want to continue to win at home because it’s such a great place to play.”
KSU’s Frank Martin on the matchup: “They’re going to be mad. We’re going to be mad,” Martin said, realizing both teams are coming off losses. “It’s an in-state rivalry game, so we’re going to have to play well.”
KSU’s Sutton on playing in Allen: “When two teams go at it as hard as we go, it blows the tops off the roofs. It was real loud in there. I thought I went deaf for a moment there (last year).”
Jacob Pullen on the fieldhouse: “From warming up, you couldn’t hear somebody calling you and telling you to change stretches. That’s how loud it was. Hopefully we can really give them a game and come away with a win.”
New big man: Aldrich on the arrival of Jeff Withey, KU’s 7-foot transfer from the University of Arizona.
“It’s going to be fun (practicing against him). We’ve not seen him yet. I heard he’s a great kid, great athlete, great in the classroom. It’s exciting to get another big body here.”
Ty’s take:Frosh Tyshawn Taylor was asked what he knows about the rivalry.
“We talk about it a little bit. I guess we don’t like each other,” Taylor said with a smile. “I heard we are leading in wins right now (KU leads series 173-90). Coach told me they are a really tough team, aggressive. It’s going to be physical. I’m looking forward to it.”