Kansas University junior center Cole Aldrich on Monday earned Big 12 player of the week honors for the first time in his college basketball career.
“Cole is really starting to play,” KU coach Bill Self said of the 6-foot-11, 245-pounder, who averaged 10.5 points off 61.5 percent shooting and 12.0 rebounds in victories over Belmont and Temple.
He shared the award with Baylor’s LaceDarius Dunn, who averaged 20 points and four rebounds in victories over Arkansas and South Carolina.
“Cole’s moving better, looking fresher, stronger,” Self added of the first-team preseason All-American who had been slowed by bronchitis for about a month.
“He went after every ball (in Saturday’s 84-52 victory over Owls). It was fun to watch.”
Aldrich, who ranks seventh in the country in blocks per game (3.8), on Monday was named a midseason Wooden Award finalist with teammates Sherron Collins and Xavier Henry and 28 others.
Still No. 1
The Jayhawks (13-0) remained No. 1 in both the AP and USA Today/ESPN polls on Monday. KU received 56 of the 65 first-place votes in the AP poll and 30 of 31 first-place votes in the USA Today/ESPN poll.
Cornell (12-2), which meets KU on Wednesday in a 7 p.m. tip in Allen Fieldhouse, received 15 points in the USA Today/ESPN poll, which essentially ranks the Big Red 37th in the country. Cornell tallied nine points in the AP poll for a No. 45 overall ranking.
There are just four remaining unbeatens: KU, Kentucky (15-0), Texas (13-0) and Purdue (13-0).
The NCAA’s updated statistics have KU ranked first in scoring margin of victory (29.4 ppg), second in scoring (87.5 ppg) and second in field goal percentage (52.2). KU also ranks first in field goal percentage defense (33.8), third in assists per game (19.8) and fifth in assist/turnover ratio (1.57).
“We’ve done a better job than I’ve led people to believe. We have put a knot on other people’s heads for the most part,” Self, who has been critical of his team’s play in the press, said on Monday’s Hawk Talk radio show.
Tough Ivy League team
Two-time defending Ivy League champion Cornell has impressive wins at Alabama, UMass, St. John’s, Bucknell and La Salle. Cornell’s losses are to Seton Hall and Syracuse. The Big Red rank second in the country in three-point field goal percentage (43.4), while KU is third at 42.9.
Cornell senior forward Ryan Wittman on Monday was named Ivy League player of the week for the fourth time this season. The 6-foot-7 Wittman, the son of former NBA player Randy Wittman, became the school’s all-time leading scorer last week. For the season, Wittman is averaging 18.9 points off 49 percent shooting.
KU-Tennessee set for 3:30
Game time for Sunday’s KU-Tennessee game is 3:30 p.m., Central time, CBS announced Monday. CBS, which also carries the NFL, could not announce the official game time until after the NFL’s playoff matchups had been set.
USC series coming
KU is talking with the University of Southern California about a home and home series, Self said on Hawk Talk. No contracts have yet been signed. If KU does play USC in 2010-11, the game would be in Allen Fieldhouse. KU will play at Michigan and California, meet Ohio and Arizona in the Las Vegas Invitational Nov. 26-27 and a yet-to-be-determined opponent in the one-day Jimmy V. Classic at Madison Square Garden in New York.