A stifling defense has sparked No. 3 Kansas to a 13-game winning streak to start the season, a run it hopes to extend Saturday when it visits Boston College for the first time.
The Jayhawks (13-0) are allowing an average of 58.4 points, and they lead the Big 12 with 11.5 steals and 6.4 blocks per game. They rank fifth in the nation with 20.5 turnovers forced per game, including a season-high 27 in an 86-53 win over Yale last Saturday.
Senior guard Russell Robinson had eight steals and Kansas finished with 18— the team’s most since Bill Self’s first season as coach in 2002-03. Robinson was one steal shy of the school record and he has 35 for the season to rank second on the team to junior guard Mario Chalmers (40).
“That is what Russell does, Russell gets steals,” Chalmers said. “I was hoping he would get that last one so he would (tie) the record, but we have a lot more games for him to do that.”
While Chalmers had 11 points against Yale, senior forward Darnell Jackson led Kansas with 20 on 9-of-12 shooting from the field. Both players are among five Jayhawks averaging double figures in points.
Jackson is shooting 67.4 percent from the field, leading Kansas to the second-best field goal percentage (52.4) in the nation. The team is holding opponents to 38.2 percent.
The Jayhawks are off to the program’s best start since the 2004-05 season, and can match that team’s 14-0 start with a win over the Eagles (10-2, 1-0 ACC).
After playing BC, Kansas has one more game—at home Tuesday against Loyola-Maryland—before opening Big 12 play next Saturday at Nebraska.
“I think our schedule is set up pretty good,” Self said. “… I do think it’s nice to come off the Christmas break and play a quality team on the road and still have a week before your conference schedule gets going.”
BC and Kansas have split their two previous meetings, but the Jayhawks have never played in Chestnut Hill, Mass. The Eagles beat Kansas in the 1969 NIT in New York before the Jayhawks returned the favor in Lawrence, Kan., last season.
Kansas won that game 84-66 behind 22 points from Chalmers and 15 from current junior Brandon Rush. Eagles guard Tyrese Rice was held to 11 points on 2-of-13 shooting, including 1-of-8 from 3-point range.
Robinson and Chalmers hope to again shut down Rice, BC’s top returning player after the graduation of ACC player of the year Jared Dudley. Rice averages 19.7 points, and had 24 in the Eagles’ 81-52 win over Longwood on Wednesday.
But few wins have come so easily for the Eagles recently, even at home. Their three previous games were all struggles at Conte Forum, including an 83-80 loss to Massachusetts on Dec. 12.
After a 10-day layoff, they beat Northeastern 57-55, then barely held off Sacred Heart 80-75 despite shooting 61.0 percent from the field. They haven’t played a ranked team this season.
Kansas, meanwhile, has only played on the road twice, beating Southern California and Georgia Tech, but has won eight in a row on the road dating back to last season.