By Matt Tait.
Senior center Jeff Withey was aggressive on offense, dominant on defense and led the Kansas University men's basketball team to its third straight rout, this one a 87-59 victory against Richmond at Allen Fieldhouse.
Withey finished with 17 points, 13 rebounds and 4 blocks on 7-of-9 shooting in 26 minutes to lead the Jayhawks (9-1) in all three categories.
Withey was far from alone in the scoring display, as KU jumped out to another hot start behind red-shirt freshman Ben McLemore. McLemore opened the game with a three-pointer and scored 10 first-half points on 4-of-5 shooting. KU jumped out to leads of 13-6 and 33-11 and led 39-18 at halftime.
McLemore finished with 14 points on 5-of-9 shooting and chipped in seven rebounds, also in 26 minutes.
Travis Releford added 11 points, Kevin Young chipped in with eight points and nine rebounds and Perry Ellis also added eight. Young and Ellis combined to shoot 8-of-9 from the floor.
One of the bright spots in this one came from sophomore point guard Naadir Tharpe, who finished with 11 points on 4-of-5 shooting (3-of-4 from three-point range) and added three rebounds, three assists, two steals and no turnovers in 17 minutes.
Here's a quick look back at some of the action.
The game turned when: With plenty of time for the Spiders to get back into this one, Withey slammed the door with, of all things, two steals and assists to Travis Releford to start the second half and push KU's lead to 25. The incredible thing about Withey's steals was that they came well beyond the three-point line, not in the paint.
Offensive highlight: With 17:40 to play in the first half and KU on one of its hot-start spurts, Elijah Johnson pushed the ball in transition, drove deep into the lane and dished a no-look pass off to Ben McLemore on his right. McLemore took it from there, flying high above the baseline for a two-handed jam.
Defensive highlight: Darien Brothers found out the hard way that there's more of a shot-blocking presence on this team than Jeff Withey. With 8:00 to play in the first half, Brothers drove left just outside of the lane and tossed up a floater while fading away. Jamari Traylor came from the other side of the lane and swatted the shot attempt out of bounds.
Key stat: The Jayhawks got 29 points off the bench to help bury the Spiders.
Up next: The Jayhawks will travel to Ohio State on Saturday for a 3 p.m. tipoff against the seventh-ranked Buckeyes in a rematch of last year's Final Four contest.
KU closes out the rout.
Tharpe up to 11 points on 3-for-4 three-point shooting.
Some good minutes from Tharpe here.
KU with 20 layups/dunks. Richmond with two.