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Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Keegan

Opinion: KU-Ohio State will be must-see TV

Kansas guard Ben McLemore flushes an alley-oop dunk against Richmond during the second half on Tuesday, Dec. 18, 2012 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas guard Ben McLemore flushes an alley-oop dunk against Richmond during the second half on Tuesday, Dec. 18, 2012 at Allen Fieldhouse.

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Podcast episode

Press Conferences & Post-Game Interviews

KU coach Bill Self talks after Richmond win

Kansas coach Bill Self talks after the Jayhawks' 87-59 victory over Richmond on Dec. 18, 2012.

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Podcast episode

Press Conferences & Post-Game Interviews

Elijah Johnson, Naadir Tharpe and Jeff Withey

Elijah Johnson, Naadir Tharpe and Jeff Withey talk to reporters following the Jayhawks' 87-59 victory over Richmond on Dec. 18, 2012.

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Box score

KU-Richmond

One last tomato can laid to waste in front of an adoring crowd, the Kansas University basketball team looked ready for the challenge of stepping into the ring with another highly ranked national-championship contender.

In playing outrageously good defense in the first half and sharing the ball so unselfishly all the way, Kansas had no trouble burying Richmond, 87-59, Tuesday night in Allen Fieldhouse.

Afterward, nobody on the winning side had any illusions as to the enormity of the next challenge.

“We’ve done a good job holding serve at home and playing with energy,” Kansas coach Bill Self said. “Now we’ll find out how good we are, though. Let’s be serious: The season starts Saturday.”

In Columbus, a main event that features No. 9 Kansas against a No. 7 Buckeyes squad seeking to avenge losses from a season ago in Allen Fieldhouse and in the Final Four in New Orleans, where giant rats ran around the press room like they owned the place.

Senior point guard Elijah Johnson, who left 16,300 tongues hanging with a wicked cross-over dribble that resulted in him setting up freshman Perry Ellis for an easy bucket, knows Kansas can’t prove itself without getting the job done away from the nation’s most significant homecourt advantage.

“I feel like that’s the only thing we haven't done,” Johnson said. “We've played on a neutral floor. We've played at home. We've played great shooting teams. We've played good driving teams. I feel like the only thing we haven't done is go to somebody else's house and try to bring the pain.”

Richmond knows all about the pain Johnson referenced. Peter Parker would have had trouble scoring for the Spiders the way mobile 7-footer Jeff Withey, his eyes never losing the ball, his arms spanning the globe, made the lane a don’t-even-think-about-it zone.

Stat of the day, even better than Kansas going on an 18-0 run that spanned eight minutes and 16 seconds: Richmond made three shots inside the three-point line in the first half. That’s three two-point field goals in 20 minutes, which translates to one dusted spot on the Withey family trophy case for national defensive player of the year honors.

How Withey’s defense and the team’s terrific ball movement at the other end withstand the hostility brought by the 19,200 spectators who will pack the Schottenstein Center will be revealed Saturday.

Regardless of the outcome, there is a great deal to like about the latest Kansas top 10 basketball team. For one, it seems drama-free. No bad body language. Nobody seeming to play favorites. No glory hogs. No ballhogs. Nobody comes off as if he is forcing the right words out of his mouth when saying nice things about a teammate.

When the team’s best player has an ego unaltered by the constant worship thrown the way of college basketball stars, that doesn’t hurt in developing strong team chemistry. When the best player so rapidly and constantly improves during his senior season, that challenges teammates to keep pace. Withey’s confidence is soaring and that of opponents withers at the sight of him.

Self sounds confident about his team, but not all of his curiosity about it has been satisfied.

“Now we can go up there and hopefully take a real enthusiastic team up there, hunker down, see how tough we are and find out a lot about ourselves,” Self said. “... We need to have a good three days of preparation and go up there feeling good about ourselves, but understanding that this is going to be a true test of where we are right now. Right now, even though we played better, I still don’t know. This will clear some things up for us.”

Withey will bring the same quick feet and long reach to Columbus. The same starting five — one remarkably talented freshmen and four seniors — will be called onto the floor before the opening tip.

How will the Jayhawks handle the hostility?

“Our guys have so much confidence playing at home, but to me it’s obviously much tougher on the road,” Self said. “You don’t play at home during the NCAA Tournament, so we need to figure out how to do it.”

Tipoff is scheduled for 3 p.m. Three days before Christmas, for a two-hour window, don’t expect long lines at the stores in Lawrence.

Comments

chalmers08 1 year, 4 months ago

I am going to the game also. Driving down from buffalo.

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jaybate 1 year, 4 months ago

jaybate Intelligence Estimate: Buckeyes

Executive Summary: Sound, mature team with a great 3-4 swing player in Deshaun Thomas and likely the best triad of trey shooters KU wills see this year--Thomas (41%), Smith (49%), and Scot (46%). They protect and steal and block a little too. Their disruption stat is a little over 1, which means they get after to you and are hard to rattle. Solid FT shooters at 71%. They average +4.2 rebounding edge and like to get on the offensive glass. Their PG, Aaron Craft isn't shooting well at 38% from the field and 33% from trey, but he's aggressive, annoying and guards hard. OSU relies on 20ppg from Thomas and then balanced scoring from 6 others. They start 6-8 at 4 and 5. Thomas is the handful.

How to Beat Them: Hold Thomas under his average, and deny the trey. Force them inside, and let Jeff reduce their FG percentage.

Can KU Stop Thomas?: Either Travis, Ben, or Kevin have their work cut out for them. Travis should start on him. But the 6-7 Thomas is exactly the kind of guy Travis has trouble with. Thomas has a short neck and 6-6 Travis has a long neck, so Thomas has more than an inch height advantage. Ben could quickly get in foul trouble guarding Thomas, but has the strength and bounce needed to match Thomas. We could also see Kevin, Jamari and Perry on him at times. I like guarding him by committee to keep Thomas out of his comfort zone.

Can KU Deny the Trey: 6-2 Craft is short and not hitting. EJ will be a tough guy for Craft to break out of his slump against. 6-4 Lenzelle Smith will really test Ben on both ends, but Ben under control could deny the trey to Smith and could challenge Smith at the other end. Scott is 6-1 and any of our perimeter guys but Naadir can deny him the trey.

Coaching: the last two years Vlad Matta has copied everything of Self's approach but Self's DNA helix. Expect more of the same, plus some muscle thrown in. But Self already has several schemes to throw at OSU and one will give an edge.

OSU plan of attack: Penetrate and kick out for treys. Take the ball at Withey, then dish, or kick out. Give KU a good roughing up immediately.

KU plan of attack: lock Thomas down, deny them their trey game, keep them off the offensive glass, and run and press and force the OSU bench onto the floor, where they become less efficient scoring. Maybe this is the game where Elijah takes Craft to the hole with two inches on him.

Forecast: Scary to say of KU's first road test, but KU by 10, because KU should be able to take away their trey game, KU should be due from trey, and Jeff should reduce their FG% inside. Also, OSU's only sizeable bigs are wide body Ravenel and 6-11 Williams, neither of whom play more than 18 mpg.

Afterthought: Self is right; this is KU's first real test. Transition every chance, but know OSU wants to slow it down and muddy it up.

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Jayhawk470 1 year, 4 months ago

After brain-farting on the time of the Kansas-Richmond game last night, there's no way in hell I am going to miss Kansas-Ohio State. Especially since I have money on this game with an OSU fan.

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FearlessJayhawk 1 year, 4 months ago

I don't know what it is exactly but there is something different about this team over past teams. It seems that the chemistry is particularly good. They all listen and know what their role is. If they continue to improve, things could get real interesting in March.

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William Blake 1 year, 4 months ago

I have a feeling this game will be decided by the PGs first... the second biggest impact will come from Mr. W.

Question of EJs health will be answered when he faces Craft. One of these guys is going to have his way, and whichever guy that is will be leading his team to victory.

EJ must defend well and control the pace of the game. If he does these two things we are already above 50% for the win. If EJ also does some effective penetration with the ball this game could shock some people with the level of boom we put on the Bucktooths.

From a team perspective I think our biggest threat comes from possible foul trouble. This is our first big game not on a neutral court and we may see a clear difference between our seniors and freshmen. Of particular concern is BMac. He's been a bit loose on the fouls recently and we are going to need him to stay out of foul trouble.

Now would be a good time for TRele to have a solid game on both sides of the court!

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tomkeegslovechild 1 year, 4 months ago

"Peter Parker...." it was just too easy wasn't it Dad? You're better than that...er...well??

1

741hawk 1 year, 4 months ago

My only worry is that we don't seem to play well in afternoon CBS games. Gawd. Hope Vern Lundquist is not doing the game.

And how about Stephen Barto trying to be like the guy who coached him . . . B Knight. I wish he'd just "Shut Up." Any other announcers make you turn off the sound?

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Boouk 1 year, 4 months ago

I'm worried about when Elijah won't be in the game for us. We just have to survive when he's on the bench, and he must stay out of foul trouble. Expect Elijah and Craft to both play about 36-38 minutes.

2

Kevin Huffman 1 year, 4 months ago

I think OSU wins in a nail-biter like our loss to Duke in Maui last year. I'll say Ohio State 68 Kansas 65. I like Craft to be able to penetrate and kick out to Thomas for 3. I'm afraid that we're due a poor offensive game. Some of our recent exploding scores have just been due to the size of Withey where I don't think we'll have that great of an advantage on Sat.

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Tony Bandle 1 year, 4 months ago

"TOMATO CANS"???!!!

The accumulative record of Colorado, Belmont and Richmond prior to their meetings with Kansas were 25-5. I know it's early in the season but these three teams are expected to contend for their league championships.

These facts make the results posted by the Jayhawks even more stunning than the final scores!!

1

deepthroat 1 year, 4 months ago

My neighbor's work has a suite, so I will be enjoying Saturday's game in Cbus in a suite with 3 other suckeye fans...Columbus is an awesome city...except for all of the OSU fans...Rock Chalk!

1

Brianna Zaleski 1 year, 4 months ago

Peter Parker would have had trouble scoring for the Spiders the way mobile 7-footer Jeff Withey, his eyes never losing the ball, his arms spanning the globe, made the lane a don’t-even-think-about-it zone.... Keegan on a roll.... A Kaiser roll.... Sorry, couldn't help myself

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Brianna Zaleski 1 year, 4 months ago

"and in the Final Four in New Orleans, where giant rats ran around the press room like they owned the place.".... What?

2

LakeShawnee 1 year, 4 months ago

My wife and I are making the trip out to Columbus to watch our guys play. So, that "hostile" number will only be, at most, 19,198. Rock Chalk!

5

Steve Corder 1 year, 4 months ago

The tougher the schedule the better prepared they will be in March. Last year proved it. We'll see just how gritty this bunch will be when March rolls around. There's potential, no doubt, but potential doesn't win championships.

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Ralster Jayhawk 1 year, 4 months ago

No one is talking about the fact that Bill Self >>> Thad Matta. Yes, Matta is a nice guy, but so is Bruce Weber...

1

chezlog 1 year, 4 months ago

"Peter Parker would have had trouble scoring for the Spiders the way mobile 7-footer Jeff Withey ..." Great line, Tom.

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riverdrifter 1 year, 4 months ago

Jayhawks are playing much better and should the outcome Saturday not be a happy one (god forbid) I won't be discouraged. What this team is playing like when the daffodils bloom is more important.

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Jeff Soisson 1 year, 4 months ago

I don't want to jinx us, but I love that THE OSU has been playing 'cupcake city' as dickie v would say and we have been playing pretty good opponents. I think (hope) we crush them.

Our 'D' is awesome and thanks to the guys for working hard! We can see it!!!

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Shawn Mansfield 1 year, 4 months ago

Luckily, I have tickets to the game since it's right up the road from me. Hopefully I'll get to see bunch of irritated OSU fans on route to the Chant in Ohio.

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