Saturday, December 22, 2012

Notebook: Elijah Johnson pleased with Jayhawks’ fight in victory

Kansas forward Kevin Young gets excited during a Jayhawk run against Ohio State in the second half on Saturday, Dec. 22, 2012 at Schottenstein Center in Columbus, Ohio.

Kansas forward Kevin Young gets excited during a Jayhawk run against Ohio State in the second half on Saturday, Dec. 22, 2012 at Schottenstein Center in Columbus, Ohio.


Podcast episode

Press Conferences & Post-Game Interviews

KU coach Bill Self talks after Ohio State win

Kansas coach Bill Self talks after his team's 74-66 victory over Ohio State on Dec. 22, 2012.

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Podcast episode

Press Conferences & Post-Game Interviews

Jeff Withey, Ben McLemore

Kansas players Jeff Withey and Ben McLemore talk after the Jayhawks' 74-66 victory over Ohio State on Dec. 22, 2012.

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Box score

KU-Ohio State

— Elijah Johnson sees Saturday’s eight-point victory at No. 7-ranked Ohio State as an early-season statement game.

“(It was) real big,” Kansas University’s senior point guard said of the 74-66 win before 19,049 fans in Value City Arena. “Now we know we’ve got the same kind of team we’ve always had. We will fight back. We will not lay down for anybody.”

The Jayhawks trailed by as many as eight in the first half, yet led, 37-35 at the break. No. 9-rated KU used suffocating defense to hold the Buckeyes to 25-percent shooting the final half (nine of 36; two of 18 from three).

“Yes and we tried to capitalize on it,” Johnson said when asked if he sensed frustration from the home team. “I think we fell apart at the end,” he quickly added. “We’ve got to do a better job on closing games out.”

KU saw a 12-point lead dip to six late, though Jeff Withey saved the day by hitting four free throws in as many tries.

“Coach put it in my head, it’s the best feeling in the world,” Johnson said of winning on the road. “It’s a hard game to play, especially a good program like that. To go to their house and do that, that’s big, that’s big-ball right there.”

The Jayhawks snapped Ohio State’s 39-game nonconference homecourt win streak. The last loss had been to West Virginia on Dec. 27, 2008.

Home for holiday: KU’s players broke for Christmas after the game. Some returned to Lawrence on a charter plane. Other out-of-state Jayhawks remained in Columbus on Saturday night and were to fly out of the Columbus airport to their hometowns Sunday morning. They will reassemble in Lawrence for practice the night of Dec. 26.

Ben to visit brother: KU frosh Ben McLemore said he will visit today his brother, Keith McLemore, who celebrates his birthday on Christmas Day locked up in Potosi Correctional Center in Mineral Springs, Mo.

“I’ll be there just a couple of hours to see him,” Ben said. “Finally, (for the first time) since I’ve been in college. He’s been watching my games. He definitely watched this game so he might even be calling me tonight to congratulate me on the win. I just can’t wait to get home,” the St. Louis native added.

OSU’s Aaron Craft on McLemore: “He’s a great player. He’s surrounded by great players as well. I think sometimes we get caught up in trying to focus on the rest of their action, then you kind of lose him. In the one-on-one situation, he’s 6-6, can shoot over the smaller guys. He got off early. He made a couple shots. Giving a guy like that confidence that has been playing great all year ... that’s tough to stop.”

Turnovers: Johnson had four turnovers against two assists to go with 13 points. He had just one turnover the final half.

“I got used to the ball. We were fumbling it. We got a rhythm with it,” Johnson said. “We realized we’ve got to take care of the ball, adjust to the ball, don’t let the ball adjust to you.”

Streak ends: OSU grabbed its first lead of the game, 24-23, with 8:31 left in the first half. It marked the first time KU trailed in the last seven games. The streak ended at 306 minutes, 5 seconds dating back to the Nov. 15 win over Chattanooga.

Releford on whether this was a statement win: “Yes of course. It’s early. I think we played all right. There’s a lot of stuff we can do better and room for improvement for this team. The sky is the limit for this team now. I feel we’re playing really well.”

Stats, facts: KU’s Naadir Tharpe had three assists against no turnovers while going 2-for-2 from the field (1-1 from three) in 15 effective minutes. ... Kevin Young had 10 rebounds, six points and three assists in 33 minutes. ... KU leads the all-time series vs. OSU, 8-3. ... KU is 10-1 for the third time in the last four seasons and the fifth time in the 10-year Bill Self era. ... KU has won nine straight games. ... KU has won six in a row versus Ohio State. ... KU held Ohio State to a season-low 30.8 shooting percentage, while the Jayhawks shot over 50 percent for the fifth-straight game (51 percent). ... KU’s 3-for-8 (37.5 percent) effot from the free-throw line in the first half tied a season-low (vs. Chattanooga, first half). The Jayhawks went 16-for-22 (72.7 percent) the second half. ... Jeff Withey recorded his second-consecutive double-double (14 points, 10 rebounds). ... Withey collected one block to raise his total to 55 rejections and 220 for his career for fifth all-time on the KU blocks list. ... Withey has now had at least one block in 21 consecutive games. ... Withey grabbed his 400th career rebound with 5:17 left in the first half. He finished with 10. ... Ben McLemore hit three of five threes. He has now connected on multiple threes in five straight games, going 14-for-23 (61 percent) during that stretch. ... McLemore's 22 points mark his fourth 20-plus scoring performance of the year and the 10th straight time he's scored in double figures. ... Travis Releford, the Big 12 free-throw percentage leader, missed his first free throws in more than a month (5-for-6 vs. Saint Louis, 11/20). After going 2-for-4 from the line Saturday, Releford has only missed four free throws all year (28-for-32). ... Saturday’s game marked OSU’s first sellout of the season.


sarcastichawk 8 years, 10 months ago

"To go to their house and do that, that’s big, that’s big-ball right there.” - EJ,

Big?? You've got to be kidding me. This was hardly a true test, Jared Sullinger didn't even play....

REHawk 8 years, 10 months ago

Thad held back his Christmas package until well into the second half this season.

Scott MacWilliams 8 years, 10 months ago

What a great team effort!! I'd call that a statement game, as I thought they would win by about 2 points... To be able to go into a hostile house like that and keep their poise, that is a big job well done.

Of course, it was their biggest crowd of the year. We get that EVERY away game, pretty much. That is, to me, the single greatest mark of respect that KU gets, year in and year out. Everybody knows that a KU game will be a great thing to see, and they can always hope that they will get to see their team be the one to knock off KU.

And when it's over, they can always say, 'there's always next year.'

And we just say? Rock Chalk, Jayhawk!!!

mandomax 8 years, 10 months ago

If you had told me at the beginning of the season that Young would play 33 minutes against the #7 ranked team in the country, I would have laughed in your face.

actorman 8 years, 10 months ago

I think there were some pretty good signs last year of the type of player that KY could be. He provided instant energy off the bench and was a good rebounder in his limited time on the floor. Perhaps I wouldn't have expected him to play 33 minutes, but I'm not that surprised that he's a major contributor.

hawk316 8 years, 10 months ago

Besides his great energy, KY showed early last year that he could really pass the ball. I love the way he's feeding Jeff.

Shawn Otrimble 8 years, 10 months ago

What a great way to go into the Christmas break. Every year, Bill Self amazes me, I believe we have the best head coach in America. Last years team was so fun to watch, and now this year is like watching history in the making with our Jordon like guard Ben MacLemore. I almost wish he wasn't so good so he could stay around another year, but man he can ball. He's gonna be Paul Peirce good in the NBA.

Suzi Marshall 8 years, 10 months ago

I lived in Chicago and held season tickts all through the Jordan years....missed only 3 games. BMac is the closest thing I've seen to MJ, skill wise. However, BMac lacks MJ's radiation of supreme confidence, which he had in himself and demanded from his teammates. Jordan was a "killer" where as BMac seems to be more of a lover. Ben might get Jordanesque results from his teammates because of their affection toward him, not fear. Of couse, without the skill, not of the mental issues would make much difference...for either of them.

Stan Unruh 8 years, 10 months ago

MJ didn't have that confidence his freshman year at NC. BMac is fun to watch and I hope he will stick around one more year.

dylans 8 years, 10 months ago

Jordan's desire to win coupled with his extreme talent makes him truly unique. How many people do you know that are the best in their field that continue to work to get better everyday as if they were the worst? Jordan demanded excellence in himself and his teammates. Unfortunately there will only beone Jordan. Fortunately I was able to watch almost all of his games (I no longer watch a Jordanless NBA). Mclemore is one heck of a player and may be as talented as Jordan, but he seems to have too much love in him to be that nasty of a competitor. And I will enjoy Ben's future success that much more because of his positive and upbeat personality.

John Mueller 8 years, 10 months ago

+1 on Bill Self. We have the best coach in the country without a doubt.

This was a huge win for this team.

When I think about the progression of Jeff Withey as a bball player, I frankly don't know why a kid would consider playing for anyone else if he has an offer from Kansas.

I am just amazed, proud and thankful to watch the transformation of that kid under the leadership of this staff.

Boy, Nadir Tharpe belongs on the court as well.

Love this team! Releford, Elijah, KY is a hustle guy.

Great win!!

Andy Godwin 8 years, 10 months ago

The "top rated" basketball players grow up in their respective environments hearing how good they are all the time. Many don't want to wait their turn and therefore go to a program where they are told they are the best and that they can play now. The reason Self is such a great coach is because he develops talent and build teams. He doesn't have to have five NBA lottery picks out of high school in his starting line up to compete and win. Clearly Self's career winning percentage has improved since he came to KU because the talent level has improved. But his coaching philosophy has never changed. Those players willing to come to KU, work hard, learn how to play team defense, and be patient will get better and better. Andrew, Perry, and Rio (come back Zac) have great talent and will be great college basketball players. They just need to learn from THE best, be patient, and tolerate the growing pains. Witness the improvement of Jeff, Elijah, Travis, and Kevin over the years at KU. Watching Jeff play early on in his career, it was hard to imagine that he would become this good. All of the players should be commented for their hard work. Good luck through the rest of the season.

Mel Clare 8 years, 10 months ago

I hope we do see more of White III, Ellis and Rio in Big XII play against the lower tier teams so they have more experience come tourney time! Tharpe is coming around nicely.

REHawk 8 years, 10 months ago

sniper, I think we will see all 3 of those freshmen get lots of opportunity. Was terrific to watch Tharpe play so steadily in such a bigball contest. Self jumped his bones with a meat axe once, but quickly reinserted him into the game. A very nice coaching touch, sending Rio to the court in last few seconds of first period, to save starters or Naadir from a foul. The 3 freshmen must remain patient and keep learning. They represent a huge portion of the future of winning Jayhawk basketball. Potent talent in abundance.

Marcia Parsons 8 years, 10 months ago

I notice that all the picture captions say the game was played in the Schottenstein Center and the articles say the Value City Arena. Is that a recent name change or something?

Shawn Mansfield 8 years, 10 months ago

I'm not sure what the deal is with the name, I was there and the name was Schottenstein Center, but I'd seen Value City Arena as well, just thought it was the name of the court vs. the building.

REHawk 8 years, 10 months ago

Looked to me as though Self tried to lure them into the paint first half, deny them the paint second half. Matta's stingy pregame prediction, Withey might get "a couple of blocks," proved true; but Jeff's presence was like a raised flyswatter, scaring away pests. He certainly did deny easy access to the bucket.

HawkKlaw 8 years, 10 months ago

Both of the PG's played so well yesterday! I was especially impressed with Naadir. It's hard to argue with his 4:0 asssist to turnover ratio, especially when the rest of the team was just giving the ball away. Plus, he made some pretty nice plays on defense that lead to steals, assists and fast breaks. I know some people here were quick to dismiss Naadir and thought that he'd never play meaningful minutes in important games at KU, but look what he did yesterday. Not to mention, when Elijah was not playing well toward the end of the first half, Bill Self subbed in none other than Naadir Tharpe to right the ship. KU played pretty well from then on out, even regaining the lead before half time. Naadir is no longer a major liability on defense (though he's still not the most lock down defender on the team), and his offensive skills are exactly what KU needs from the backup PG spot this year. It's been fun to watch him develop this year!

Shawn Mansfield 8 years, 10 months ago

I was there and unimpressed with the crowd. It was full but most of the time didn't make much noise. Another KU alumnus and I were commenting on how we could actually have a conversation early in the game.

Brian Skelly 8 years, 10 months ago

I was a student during Roy's early years. I was convinced he was the best coach we could possibly have at KU. I still love Roy, but there is one significant thing that I think of when it comes to Self's teams and Roy's teams.

Self's teams almost always get better as the season goes along. Not every team mind you. But its obvious the way he coaches he try's like hell to build a base and work his way up from there.

I dont ever consciously recall Roy's teams -- with exception of my freshman year / The 91 Final Four team -- that got appreciably better (visibly anyway) as the year progressed. KU used to rip those Thanksgiving tournaments, they'd smoke some good teams during the regular season. They'd still usually be real good come tournament time. But as soon as some of those teams would get smacked around they were done. Uber talented to be sure. But it was staggering how it wouldnt take much to knock one leg out from the table and it came crashing down.

It isnt that Self's teams have been flawless either. But its painfully obvious to anyone who's watched KU over the past two decades that Self's insistence on hard nose defense is far greater than that of his predecessor. A big part of that are the kids he recruits. Roy still recruits great players, and its more traditional in his attempts to get each position. Self tends to get "bigs", "wings", "shoot first point guards". I dont know if one is better than the other. The advantage is lots of times certain pieces are more versatile that way in my mind. It makes both depth and the rotation of players likely easier to manage, at least it appears so. Self seems to prefer kids whom he thinks is mentally tougher than possibly some kids a little more highly rated as well. Obviously both these guys get great, great players.

Robert Robinson 8 years, 10 months ago

I haven't commented on here very many times but I have to say, that game was a blast to watch. I love watching Jeff swat shots, Ben hit threes and releford shut offenses down, but I think KY was the player of the game. his intensity is awesome. he doesn't even have to put points on the board to totally change the game.

Jennifer Nikkila Pressgrove 8 years, 10 months ago

Withey was only credited with one block? I can think of at least two off the top of my head.

onetonhand 8 years, 10 months ago

Two fouls called on clean blocks. One of those fouls called on what should have been a charge.

Steve Brown 8 years, 10 months ago

KY energy guy, great example fun to watch when he doesn't have the ball.

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