Bragging rights are at stake for Kansas University’s Elijah Johnson and Travis Releford tonight in Allen Fieldhouse.
Johnson’s first cousin, Jay Couisnard, and Releford’s best friend, Michael Gholston, play for UMKC — a Summit League school that will tangle with the Jayhawks in a 7 p.m. tip.
“It’s a big game for me. It’s the first time I get to play a family member since I’ve been in college,” said Johnson, who grew up in Gary, Ind., before moving to Las Vegas in high school.
“We talk all the time, have been around each other all our lives. He’s one of my favorite cousins, actually,” Johnson added of the 6-foot-6 senior from Houston who averages a team-leading 15.9 points per game for the Kangaroos (8-6).
“We talk about it all the time. We just talked about it before I came to practice,” Johnson said of tonight’s matchup. “It’s something my family is looking forward to.”
Johnson’s dad, Marcus, is here for the game.
“I don’t care if it’s just one play. I have to guard him. I have to,” Johnson said with a smile.
Releford’s buddy, Gholston, a 6-foot junior out of Raytown South High, averages 2.7 points a game.
“I’ve been playing ball and knowing him since the fourth grade,” Roeland Park Bishop Miege graduate Releford said. “We talk about ball and how things are going with school and life. It’d be fun for me to guard him and him to guard me. He’s real excited. It’s his first time in the fieldhouse and our first time playing against each other.”
Gholston and Releford have traded texts.
“He has not necessarily guaranteed a win. He’s talked a little trash about how they are going to guard me. I don’t pay any attention to it,” Releford said.
UMKC, which has lost at Wichita State (71-52) and Kansas State (80-64) this season, averages 68.6 points a game while allowing 71.4.
“They’re probably the best backdoor team we’ve played all year long,” KU coach Bill Self said, noting UMKC coach Matt Brown is a former assistant of Michigan coach John Beilein. KU (13-0) travels to Michigan on Sunday.
“If there is a good thing playing UMKC and Michigan, you might as well play them the same week. That way you prepare for not one, but both. They are good. It will be a big game for them (being from K.C.). They’ll be juiced. And it’s a big game for us,” Self added.
Small post man: KU sophomore guard Johnson joked about how he’d love to get some minutes in the post this season.
“Out of all the guards, I’m the one who wants to learn all the post moves and everything, all the positions for the post,” the 6-4 Johnson said with a smile. “I feel I’d get beat up down there, but it’d be real fun. Just to do something different. I’ve never been in the post my entire life. It just sounds fun.”
Recruiting: DeAndre Daniels, a 6-foot-8 senior from IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla., is expected to choose between KU, Kentucky and Texas this week.
“Kansas, Kentucky and Texas are the schools in play, but it would be nothing less than shocking at this point if Daniels ends up anywhere else than Kansas,” wrote Jerry Meyer of Rivals.com.
This, that: New KU AD Sheahon Zenger is expected to attend tonight and speak to the fans. ... KU play-by-play man Bob Davis’ son, Steven, is play-by-play voice of UMKC. Steven is a former KU basketball manager. ... KU is 5-0 all-time versus UMKC. KU prevailed, 71-56, in the last meeting Nov. 16, 2008, in Allen. ... KU has won 67 straight games in Allen. ... KU leads the Big 12 in scoring margin (+24.3), field goal percentage (53.5), three-point field goal percentage (40.0), three-point field goal percentage defense (26.4), assists (18.9) and blocked shots (5.6).