¢ Kansas University sophomore guard Mario Chalmers, who has a severely sprained left big toe, will play tonight, KU coach Bill Self said Friday. Chalmers, who did not play in Tuesday's victory over Emporia State, returned to practice Thursday and has practiced in pain.
¢ Tough opponent: Northern Arizona returns four starters off last year's Big Sky regular-season championship team.
"They shoot the three-pointer well. They have the nation's leading returning three-point shooter (Steve Sir), and they signed a guy that is a great three-point shooter as well (Nathan Geiser)," Self said. "All their big men can step away from the basket and stretch the defense. They run motion that Emporia State and Washburn helped prepare us for, we hope. With their ability to shoot, if they get on a roll, they could shoot nine shots and have 18 points. That is a great equalizer. And there is the great unknown of not having seen them play this year. It's hard to be totally prepared for the first game. They will be in the postseason this year, so I think it will be a great game for us."
¢ KU leads the all-time series, 2-0. The Jayhawks took the last meeting, 84-57, on Nov. 24, 1990, in Flagstaff, Ariz. KU also won, 109-59, on Dec. 12, 1988 in Lawrence.
¢ KU has won four straight season openers and 14 of its past 15. The Jayhawks have won 33 straight home openers.
¢ Self is 72-24 in four seasons at KU and 279-129 overall in 14 seasons as a head coach; Mike Adras 111-94 in seven seasons at NAU.
¢ Northern Arizona University is located in Flagstaff, Ariz. Enrollment is 20,562. Nickname is Lumberjacks and school colors are Blue, Gold and Sage.
¢ The motto for the NAU men's basketball program is "Recruit to Shoot." In 2005-06, NAU was the only team in the country to rank among the NCAA Div. I top 15 in field goal percentage (eighth), three-point field goal percentage (ninth) and free throw percentage (14th).
¢ Sir shot a national-best 48.9 percent (93 of 190) from three last year to lead Div. I in three-point percentage among players with 2.5 threes made per game. He ranked tied for 39th in threes made per game (2.9).
¢ Adras earned a three-year contract extension after being named 2005-06 Big Sky Coach of the Year. The Lumberjacks won the regular season, only to lose to Montana in the conference tourney.