Bringing in Xavier Henry alone was likely good enough to help Kansas continue its dominance in Lawrence. Adding a strong perimeter defender and an athletic 7-footer certainly isn’t going to hurt.
Following Henry’s best game, the top-ranked Jayhawks only get deeper as they try to extend the nation’s longest home winning streak in a matchup with Michigan on Saturday.
Henry, the top player in coach Bill Self’s outstanding 2009 recruiting class, had a season-high 31 points as Kansas (9-0) beat La Salle 90-65 last Saturday.
The 6-foot-6 guard became the first Jayhawks freshman to reach 30 points since Paul Pierce in 1998. Henry is averaging 18.0 points, 4.1 rebounds and shooting 53.3 percent from 3-point range.
Now Henry will try to lead Kansas to its 48th straight win at Allen Fieldhouse. Henry, the top scorer on a deep team that’s ranked third in the country with 90.3 points per game, is getting even more help.
The Jayhawks add guard Brady Morningstar and center Jeff Withey this week, though Withey isn’t likely to get many minutes anytime soon due to a nagging knee injury.
“Next to (Roy) Halladay going to the Phillies and (Cliff) Lee going to the Mariners, our acquisitions are about as good as anybody’s made,” Self said. “We didn’t have to give anybody up, so that’s good, and certainly we got better by these two becoming eligible.”
Morningstar started 34 games as a sophomore last season and was often assigned to cover the opposition’s best perimeter player. He also shot 42.0 percent from beyond the arc.
Morningstar has spent the first part of this season watching from the bench after being arrested on suspicion of DUI on Oct. 3. Self suspended him for the fall semester.
Morningstar is expected to play right away, likely getting a chance to defend dynamic Michigan guard Manny Harris, averaging 22.2 points.
“Brady, when he’s in the game, will be on him and try to slow him down,” Self said. “I don’t know if you can shut out a guy who’s averaging 22, but he’ll certainly try to slow him down.”
Harris had a season-high 27 points while adding nine rebounds and six assists in a 75-64 win over Detroit on Sunday.
It was a game Michigan (5-4) desperately needed to win after losing four of its previous five. The Wolverines have struggled after opening the season ranked 15th, their first spot in the Top 25 since 1996.
“We were living off the hype in the beginning,” forward DeShawn Sims said. “All the hype is over.”
Sims had a season-high 23 points Sunday after averaging 11.4 in his previous five games, which included losses to Utah, Boston College, Alabama and Marquette.
“I think we’ve played a very difficult schedule,” coach John Beilein said. “I think we were overrated in the beginning. We finished seventh in the Big Ten. It wasn’t like we were a juggernaut last year.”
Michigan is 5-0 against Kansas, winning 86-74 in the last meeting Dec. 30, 1992.