By Matt Tait
Senior Jeff Withey recorded a triple-double, and the Kansas University men's basketball team needed every bit of the center's 16 points, 12 rebounds and 12 blocks to hold off San Jose State, 70-57.
Withey got into all aspects of the game early in this one. By halftime, he had six points, four rebounds and six blocks, and he picked up the triple-double with an emphatic block of SJSU's Xavier Jones with just under eight minutes to play in the second half.
While Withey was recording stats at will, the Jayhawks were adding to an eight-point halftime lead that was trimmed to six in the opening seconds of the second half. KU responded with an 18-0 run to push its lead to 24, but then went ice cold and watched James Kinney (30 points) and the Spartans rip off a 16-0 run to get back within eight with 5:16 remaining.
KU (5-1) got some much-needed points at the free throw line and SJSU (2-3) cooled off as the two raced to the finish line.
Here's a quick look back at some of the action.
The game turned when: Kansas responded to a three-pointer from SJSU guard D.J. Brown with 4:13 to play in the first half with a 9-1 run that more than doubled the Jayhawks' lead, from 31-24 to 40-25, in less than three minutes. That gave the Jayhawks a little separation and an 18-0 run to open the second half gave them a more comfortable margin.
Offensive highlight: This one came right at the end, as Ben McLemore picked up a lead pass after another block by Withey and rocked home a windmill jam that brought the house down. Until that point, the other big rim-rattler of the night came right off the bat as Elijah Johnson controlled the opening tip from Jeff Withey and quickly threw a lob over the top to a high-flying McLemore to give KU a stylish 2-0 lead at the 19:49 mark of the first half.
Defensive highlight: This one was not so much a single highlight as it was a collection of them. Withey showed he was ready to block some shots early on, as he had six blocks in the first half and four in the game's first 10 minutes.
Key stat: In the first half, KU held the Spartans to just 31-percent shooting. That number included a 3-for-9 clip from three-point land, though, and the Jayhawks actually blocked more SJSU two-point field goal attempts (eight) than the Spartans made (seven) in the game's opening 20 minutes.
Up next: The Jayhawks will return to Kansas City, Mo., site of their recent CBE Classic title, on Friday to take on Oregon State at 7 p.m. at Sprint Center.