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Saturday, December 8, 2012

Keegan

Opinion: Ben McLemore also stands out when blending in

The fieldhouse gets up for a breakaway jam from Kansas guard Ben McLemore during the first half on Saturday, Dec. 8, 2012.

The fieldhouse gets up for a breakaway jam from Kansas guard Ben McLemore during the first half on Saturday, Dec. 8, 2012.

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Podcast episode

Press Conferences & Post-Game Interviews

KU coach Bill Self talks after win over Colorado

KU coach Bill Self talks after the Jayhawks' 90-54 victory over Colorado on Dec. 8, 2012.

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Podcast episode

Press Conferences & Post-Game Interviews

Travis Releford, Kevin Young and Ben McLemore

Kansas players Travis Releford, Kevin Young and Ben McLemore talk after the Jayhawks' 90-54 victory over Colorado on Dec. 8, 2012.

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Box score

KU-Colorado

His highlight film centers on high-flying, reach-back dunks and soft-falling three-point shots, yet so early in Kansas University red-shirt freshman Ben McLemore’s basketball development, he already does so much more to influence the outcome of a basketball game.

McLemore relied on just one dunk and two three-pointers during his 24-point effort that included five rebounds, two assists (three actually, but one mistakenly was credited elsewhere) and two steals in Saturday afternoon’s 90-54 annihilation of Colorado in Allen Fieldhouse.

Driving more without forcing it resulted in McLemore’s shooting 11 free throws, 10 of which he made. He looked like a player in the process of understanding how to blend in without sacrificing aggressiveness.

To watch such a loud talent play background music when the situation called for it raises the question of whether he has studied a role player closely to expand his game. He has, and his name is Travis Releford.

“He’s a great player,” McLemore said. “I love Travis. He knows what his role on the team is. He knows what he has to bring to the team to make the team better. He’s also a senior. He’s been through a lot. I love his game. I love his personality. He definitely can guard. And offensively, he knows it’s going to come to him. I just love watching Travis play.”

McLemore began practicing with Kansas second semester last season and wasn’t allowed to play in games until this season. He began studying Releford well before that.

“I can definitely learn a lot from him and all the seniors,” McLemore said. “I told Travis when I got here, before boot camp started, ‘I’m going to be watching you. I’m going to be everywhere you are just because I want to learn a lot from you. You’ve been here a lot longer than me.’”

McLemore’s the prodigy in an otherwise all-senior starting five that combined for 15 assists, five turnovers and seven steals Saturday.

“Right now, I get advice from Travis, advice from Jeff (Withey), advice from Kevin (Young), advice from Elijah (Johnson),” McLemore said.

McLemore, the most talented basketball player to show up at Kansas in decades, was involved in a memorable play Saturday with each one of his co-starters, not one of those plays a dunk or three-pointer.

They all came after a spectacular play in which he needed no help. McLemore received credit for a steal when he stripped the ball from Spencer Dinwiddie, tipped it over his head and ran it down to give Kansas a 12-3 lead.

“I tipped it over him so he wouldn’t get possession of it and went down and got the easy bucket,” McLemore said, making it sound as easy as it looked.

The margin grew to 18-3 when Johnson made his man pick up his dribble in the lane, enabling McLemore to step in front of a pass and take it all the way to the other end for a contested layup made at high speed.

Early in the second half, McLemore had the ball in transition, stopped at the free-throw line and delivered a spot-on bounce pass to Releford for a dunk that expanded KU’s lead to 52-22. On that play, McLemore looked about as close to a second-option point guard as Kansas has on the roster.

The rout grew to 63-29 when in such ultra-quick fashion McLemore cut to the hoop and Withey kissed a perfectly angled bounce pass off the floor for an easy bucket. Not many 7-footers can make that pass. Then McLemore threw a perfect lob to Kevin Young to make it 65-29, a play on which Releford (10 points, six assists, no turnovers) received the credit for the assist in the official game statistics.

“On the play before, he was talking to me and saying, ‘I’m going to keep running, so look for me.’ We got a break and I saw him, so I just tossed it up to him, and we got two points,” McLemore said of Young. “The crowd just got into it and made us keep rolling.”

The student section of the crowd got into it long before the center jump.

The enthusiasm coach Tad Boyle has injected into the Colorado program showed itself in the form of a strong showing of CU students who scored tickets for Saturday’s game.

This was not lost on Kansas students, whose adrenaline was inflated by the sight of enemy colors. KU’s students brought their best energy, and the team they worshipped turned it up a notch. Crowd and players sustained the concert atmosphere for two hours.

As far as suspense, not even Jim Ryun in his prime could have run a mile in the time between when the game tipped off and it ended. It certainly wasn’t a bad game for the many football recruits in the crowd to witness.

“If you’re going to play basketball in college, there’s no better setting than playing a Saturday afternoon game in Allen Fieldhouse with the light shining through the windows,” KU coach Bill Self said.

Having the privilege of watching a young star such as McLemore shining brighter every week only enhances the experience.

Comments

Rian Ankerholz 1 year, 4 months ago

Just a note: In the cover photo, look at how many open mouths there are --- and staid lower section fans jumping to their feet in anticipation of BMac's dunk. Kansas Basketball fever is contagious. It thrives as a result of our knowledgeable, dedicated, and enthusiastic fanbase. We are some of the luckiest fans in the world to be able to attend games in our hallowed sanctuary of roundball, watching new talent bloom, and watching established players share their experience. Make no mistake, if there is a bigscreen in the sky, then Wilt and Phog tune in together for KU home games to check on what they wrought.

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Jim Jackson 1 year, 4 months ago

Why aren't we playing 'Rio more? He's got much better upside than Tharpe.

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midwest_muser 1 year, 4 months ago

Fearless prediction (or thinly veiled and unwanted advice for HCBS) By March, AW3 will be in the rotation and Nadir Tharpe will not. Tharpe will get enough minutes to prevent total atrophy in case EJ is injured, otherwise Trav is the backup point for 5 mins per game. AW3 can learn his role a lot more quickly than Tharpe can become a useful PG.

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gimmetheclaw78 1 year, 4 months ago

Nice article, Keegs. So nice to see that a kid, so highly skilled, also has the desire and the humility to be a student of the game. It's also great to see Travis apparently embracing his role of a mentor. I wonder if he sees himself as a future coach. He certainly seems to have a remarkably high level of comprehension of the game, with all it's subtleties.

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William Blake 1 year, 4 months ago

BMac is on the edge of learning how to really beat his man to the hole... Everyone knows he has speed... but that isn't enough by itself to dominate this game. What BMac does have that can dominate the game is instant speed! Speed on a dime!

When BMac learns to slow down some of his moves with hesitations, stutters and fakes he'll learn to freeze his man and (at that moment) have his man beat to the rim, or the spot on the floor where he wants to score from because there aren't many players out there with the ability to go from "stop-to-mach" like BMac!

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Mel Clare 1 year, 4 months ago

Decades? Wow..................not sure I agree with this one.........

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LAJayhawk 1 year, 4 months ago

BMac is now shooting 86.1% from the line. As much as he will continue to get there throughout the season, that may be his most important stat.

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David Brown 1 year, 4 months ago

The Colorado fans were loud before the game. However, during the second half when the game was a rout, the KU student section cheered (jeered?) at them, "We can't hear you! We can't hear you!" A great day to be in the Fieldhouse and witness the 'Hawks.

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KansasComet 1 year, 4 months ago

Ben McLemore is faced with a difficult decision. He may be considered a freshman as far as eligibility, but this is his second year of college. He may be half way home to earning his degree. For selfish reasons, (no pun intended) I would love for him to stay at least another year. I would not be surprised if he stays for another year and further pursues his degree. Having that 3rd year out of the way would make it easier for him to pick up the rest as a professional athlete.

Anyway, I have enjoyed his time here, and he doesn't even have 10 games under his belt. Looking forward to seeing how the rest of this season shakes out.

As I have stated before, Andrew White III just has something about him. It's like he visualizes things in his mind before they happen. He smoothly positions himself before he takes that "money" jumper. I think he will go down as one of the best shooters of the basketball we have ever had. He just needs more minutes. Some may think he is still not ready. I still maintain that he has been ready from the start. I love his attitude, while he patiently waits for his chance to contribute. I have a feeling that he will get his chance come conference time.

Oh yeah, one more thing before I go. Jaybate, believes that Brady Morningstar could start for this current Jayhawk team. Why, I will never know? I have an opinion about anyone that was known for feeding the post and moving the ball well. That means he didn't want the ball to begin with, kind of like "hot potato".

Anyway, great win by a Kansas team that is destined to return to the top 5, where they belong. At the beginning of the season, I was upset when N.C. State was ranked above us. I said they were overrated and unproven. I don't think I was too far off.

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bennybob 1 year, 4 months ago

Self's got another scholarship to offer this year. Mclemore is a lottery pick!

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ccarp 1 year, 4 months ago

Loved the lob to the lube!

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Michael Luby 1 year, 4 months ago

I think Trav deserves some credit as a back up PG too considering his asst/to line was better than EJ's and EJ seemed to play better off the ball.

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lawerencejayhawk 1 year, 4 months ago

Best performances from the Kansas-Colorado game from the stats:

Ben McLemore- 30 mins, 6 for 16 from the floor, 2 for 6 from 3, 5 rebounds, 10 for 11 from the free throw line, 24 points.

Kevin Young- 20 mins, 8 for 9 from the floor, 8 rebounds, 2 assist, 2 steals, 16 points.

Andrew White- 8 mins, 3 for 5 from the floor, 2 for 3 from 3 & 8 points.

KU fans best in America.

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milehighhawk 1 year, 4 months ago

Jim Ryun....mile time....niner

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Jason Keller 1 year, 4 months ago

Best player in decades? I might agree...

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Jayhawk470 1 year, 4 months ago

Early on, I thought Perry Ellis ought to be in the starting five instead of Ben McLemore; but I take it back. B-Mac has earned his starting spot. I do hope we can get Perry going, though. He's a talented player, but he still has some work to do.

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