for this game

Kansas hopes to end first-round woes vs. Niagara

Mar 16, 2007 - 1:55 PM Niagara (23-11) at Kansas (30-4) 7:10 pm EDT

CHICAGO (Ticker) -- Kansas enters the NCAA Tournament on a roll.

The top-seeded Jayhawks (30-4) will square off against 16th-seeded Niagara on Friday in a Midwest Region first-round matchup.

Kansas earned an automatic bid by beating Texas, 88-84, in overtime in the Big 12 Conference tournament championship game, extending its winning streak to 11 games.

Although they are making their 18th straight appearance in the NCAAs, and 36th overall, the Jayhawks have failed to make it out of the first round in each of the past two seasons, losing to 13th-seeded Bradley last season and 14th-seeded Bucknell in 2005.

Boasting a balanced scoring attack featuring sophomore guards Brandon Rush and Mario Chalmers and sophomore forward Julian Wright, Kansas outscores its opponents by an average of 17.4 points.

The Jayhawks outrebound their opponents by eight per game while holding them to 37 percent shooting.

"I think this team has the highest ceiling of any team I have coached," coach Bill Self said. "I think that we are still young and we make young mistakes, but we do have a high ceiling. I love this team. I really like how it doesn't matter who it is that has the big game.

"Our go-to-guy changes but I like the balance. They seem to really like each other too. We are, if healthy, equipped to play very well and our depth situation has been very important to us this year."

The Purple Eagles (23-11) earned the right to play Kansas by defeated Florida A&M, 77-69, in Tuesday's play-in game.

Clif Brown scored a career-high 32 points, 24 of which came in the second half to lead the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference tournament champions.

The Purple Eagles have now won 12 games in a row and are making their third NCAA Tournament appearance and second in the last three years. Calvin Murphy led the 1970 squad to three wins in the NCAAs before falling to Villanova in the Final Four.

Junior swingman Charron Fisher averages 21 points for Niagara, which fell to third-seeded Oklahoma in the first round in 2005.

The winner will face either eighth-seeded Kentucky or ninth-seeded Villanova in Sunday's second round.

    --- --- -----
    NIAGARA (16) 27 40 67
    KANSAS 52 55 107 FINAL

    Mar 16 9:17 PM

    NCAA BB (16) NIAGARA 27

    Mar 16 8:04 PM