Kansas defeats American, 89-57

  • 7 p.m., Dec. 29, 2012
  • Allen Fieldhouse, Lawrence, KS

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Paying heed: Travis Releford hot from three in KU’s 89-57 rout over American

Kansas guard Travis Releford celebrates a three by teammate Ben McLemore during the second half on Saturday, Dec. 29, 2012 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas guard Travis Releford celebrates a three by teammate Ben McLemore during the second half on Saturday, Dec. 29, 2012 at Allen Fieldhouse.


Podcast episode

Press Conferences & Post-Game Interviews

KU coach Bill Self talks after win over American

Kansas coach Bill Self talks to reporters following the Jayhawks' 89-57 victory over American on Dec. 29, 2012.

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Podcast episode

Press Conferences & Post-Game Interviews

Naadir Tharpe, Travis Releford and Jeff Withey

Kansas players Naadir Tharpe, Travis Releford and Jeff Withey talk to reporters following the Jayhawks' 89-57 victory over American.

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Box score


Kansas University defensive stopper Travis Releford has been known to pass up a wide-open shot or two on the offensive end during the course of a basketball game.

“I don’t think about it. Afterward they (teammates) all come up to me and say, 'Trav, I need that assist. You are a good shooter, just shoot it,'" the 6-foot-6 senior guard said after hitting a career-best five three pointers in six attempts in the Jayhawks’ 89-57 rout of American University on Saturday night in Allen Fieldhouse.

“This week in practice, coach (Bill Self) came up to me and said I need to look for my shot more,” added Releford, who went 7-for-8 overall and finished with a game-high 19 points. “My teammates told me to look for it more. They looked for me out there. They got me open. I stepped up and made shots.”

Releford wasn’t the only Jayhawk on fire from three-point land. Elijah Johnson (12 points) hit four of five and Naadir Tharpe (nine points, 12 assists) three of four on a night KU cashed 15 of 24 threes. The 15 makes were one off the school record of 16 set against Baylor on Jan. 25, 2005 in Waco, Texas. It marked the most threes by the Jayhawks since hitting 15 versus Texas in the Big 12 championship game on March 16, 2008.

“I think we fed off each other’s energy. One guy made a shot, the crowd got into it, another guy made a shot,” Releford said. “I felt like whoever shot it next, it seemed like it was going to go in. I think it was based off energy the crowd brought for us,” added Releford, who a week ago was credited for his stellar defensive work against preseason All-American Deshaun Thomas in KU’s victory over Ohio State in Columbus.

“Not at all,” senior center Jeff Withey said, asked if Releford’s offensive production surprised him Saturday. “We know he can shoot. He does it in practice. He has the hot hand. He showed it today,” added Withey, who scored 11 points with four blocks and four rebounds.

The 6-foot-6 Releford is now averaging 13.3 points a game (third on the team) off team-leading 61.7-percent shooting.

He has made nine of his last 11 threes over four games and for the season has cashed 16 of 36 threes for 44.4 percent. He’s also made 28 of 32 free throws for 87.5 percent.

“Travis was on fire,” Self said. “What was he, five of six from three? That’s hard to do. He has shot it well. He was looking for it (shot) tonight.

“We shot the ball unbelievably,” Self added after a game in which KU (11-1) hit 63 percent of its shots to American’s 35 percent. “The one that needed to make some shots was Elijah. He’s been kind of cold from behind the arc. He came out and made shots. They played kind of contain defense. We made them pay (for) doing that and made a lot of shots.”

KU’s final three was an air-ball by walk-on Tyler Self, the son of coach Self. “We are going to call an attorney and see about a name change,” Bill Self joked. “His mother said she still loved him, so I guess that will probably pass.”

Freshman Perry Ellis had 11 points and 10 rebounds to become KU’s first freshman to record a double-double since Thomas Robinson (15 points, 10 rebounds) against Alcorn State in 2009. Frosh Ben McLemore, who was in early foul trouble, had nine points and three boards in 20 minutes.

KU used a 16-2 run (Johnson hit two threes, Releford one) to bust a 7-7 tie and give the Jayhawks a 23-9 lead early. The Jayhawks hit eight threes the first half and held a 53-26 halftime advantage, the outcome never in jeopardy against (4-9) American.

“We played pretty well. Our defensive pressure was actually pretty good even though we didn’t turn them over a lot,” Self said. “We shared the ball and it was good to see a lot of guys get a lot of minutes. Certainly some of our bench guys made the most of it.”

KU will next meet Temple a week from Sunday in Allen Fieldhouse. Game time will be either 12:30 or 3:30 p.m., with CBS to announce the time in coming days depending on its NFL playoff schedule.


Joel Thomas 8 years, 11 months ago

Releford dunking with style. Withey dunking with authority. Tharpe in the zone. Elijah regaining confidence. Ellis developing confidence. Young bouncing. Tyler Self getting lost in the moment. The crowd too. Garrett scheming for his first points.

LeadFarmer 8 years, 11 months ago

Does anyone know if the coaches' kids are on scholarship? I'm not particularly fond of my ticket and apparel (and tuition) purchases funding nepotism if it doesn't bring in someone who will help win. And don't get started on the whole "scout team helps the starters get better". Yes I know this, but that's what walk-ons are for.

Suzi Marshall 8 years, 11 months ago

Alot of people can answer your question, but I won't because it's really none of our business how Self dishes out the scholarships, so long as no rules are broken. Besides, I think it great that the coaches have their kids with them, as long as the balance of the team remains clicking/winning.

79ictjhawk 8 years, 11 months ago

What part of "walk-on" are you not understanding?

David Klamm 8 years, 11 months ago

Hater. No they aren't taking up a basketball scholarship. It seems doubtful any of them will ever earn a scholarship like Moody or Teahan, but they have to meet the same standards as the rest of the scholarship players. Surely they are worthy of scrap time. Who knows if one of them doesn't become a future coach at KU as a result.

Michael Auchard 8 years, 11 months ago

The best coach of the last decade can do whatever he wants as far as recruiting. Also, coaches play their own kids all the time around the country.

If you feel that strongly, I'm sure the program will be just fine without your money. This is weak.

You may also want to read an article every 2 years or so, it's been documented over and over again, ad nauseum, that these guys are walk ons.

Jeremy Paul 8 years, 11 months ago

I think Farmer is actually onto something here. I'd also like to know how each player and coach on the team feels about abortion, climate change, campaign finance reform, and peace in the middle east. If my ticket and apparel (and tuition) is going toward a scholarship to a person who doesn't agree with me politically (ie: they are wrong) then I feel we all deserve to know. It's the American thing to do really.

KansasComet 8 years, 11 months ago

When I read your post, I thought "This will not go over well", thanks for proving me right. You have a right to your own opinion, and that's cool, but you should also know your audience.

Michael Leiker 8 years, 11 months ago

While i'm not concerned about whether they're on scholarship or not, I think it is a poor representation of what KU BBall is all about, best players who want to walk on should be on the team. If they're going to have walk ons, there should be tryouts. I think a lot of young players in KS who would love to walk on and are more talented than coaches sons get the shaft by Self and staff.

archercc 8 years, 11 months ago

I SERIOUSLY doubt Self is using up any viable slots just to put coaches sons on the roster. There isnt a cap on the roster, only the number of scholarships. So if you show up and bring value there is no doubt you would have been put on the team.

Also, regarding tryouts. If you were really concerned you would have done at least a little research and realized that walk-on tryouts were held on October 25th. They are typically held in the fall of every year. All of those Kansas kids could show up and try out.

Michael Leiker 8 years, 11 months ago

I know they do walk on try outs, but slots are taken by less talented players every year because of the way things are run currently, simple as that.

Michael Leiker 8 years, 11 months ago

Do yourself a favor and dont assume everybody who posts on the board is an uninformed idiot because they have a contrary opinion.

TheGiftedOne 8 years, 11 months ago

Just an idiotic post..... obviously they aren't on scholarships and anyone who decently follows the team knows this. Do they really need anyone else to help them win? They have one loss all year.

jayhawkinnc 8 years, 11 months ago

I'm not certain about this, but I think because Self and Roberts are employees of the school, their kids get free tuitions to KU. So, there's no need to give Tyler and Niko scholarships. The kids may not get room and board from the school, but their dads are allowed to pay for that because those are their children.

archercc 8 years, 11 months ago

Like KRichards said, not employees and no free tuition. However, their dads are millionaires from being successful coaches/assistants so that is another reason why dropping 10k a year on tuition might not be a problem.

Scott MacWilliams 8 years, 11 months ago

Sounds like Le(a)d farmer has lead poisoning of the brain.

Tell me Led, you like the smell of glue, too??

jaybate 8 years, 11 months ago

Trav = defensive master craftsman goes thermite from three

EJ = getting it together but questions about his hops persist

Ben = star out of sync

Kevin = opposing 4s just don't like playing him, because irritates them to death

Jeff = left his timing at the beach

Naa = what happens when neural nets grow together

Perry = what happens when neural nets are growing together

Jamari = what happens when neural nets are growing together

AW3 = plateaus happen

Rio = focus too narrow for 3 seconds, focus just right for 3 seconds, focus too broad for 3 seconds, Tyshawn early, but much more aggressive on defense...Rio equals rotation next year.

The Rest = minutes from a blowout but no break through


monkeehawkSL8 8 years, 11 months ago

"Next", I love that. Feel like I'm in a deli in NYC every time I see it. I can smell the hot pastrami, roast beef, the gouda and fresh rye bread.

Jaybate= The Deli-lama.

Andy Godwin 8 years, 11 months ago

The one thing that was concerning was Perry's poor post defense. He got schooled by the American's post players. He might have had a double-double but his lack of defense resulted in more points than he scored. Going into the Big XII season I would be concerned who can reliably back up Jeff defensively. Jamari is a fouling machine and you can see that the opponents change their offensive schemes when Perry and Jamari comes in. Long term if these two post players don't improve defensively there will be key games where KU struggles if Jeff and/or Kevin get into foul trouble.

KJD 8 years, 11 months ago

I thought their were positive signs for Perry's post D play against Colorado. He seemed to put a lot more focus on staying with his man while keeping his angle to the basket sealed and much more energy in his feet. I thought he was very good on the D end in that match up.

On the offensive side I find myself surprised when he passes out of the low post. When he does pass out of a post move it often looks ugly. Seems like he is still wired up in the brain and the skill set in his muscle memory to take it to the rim every time just like a high school scoring machine is coached to do. He seems to want to be successful so much and that is where he was so successful in the recent past (Wichita high school all time scoring leader). He's so damn quick around the rim and has such a nice touch. He often seems out muscled as a freshman or has trouble finding shooting avenues due to being a bit undersized.

mattiesdad 8 years, 11 months ago

Funniest Bill Self quote ever re: Tyler's air ball. Still laughing 10 min later.

leonard 8 years, 11 months ago

LeadFarmers foot hurts and his solution is to put a bandage on his arse.

Here's a should be, at least, a tiny bit informed about your outrage before shooting off your mouth.

KansasComet 8 years, 11 months ago

Really looking forward to next week's game against Temple. Hopefully, we won't be too overconfident and just play our game. The performance I was most pleased with was Ben McLemore's. He scored 9 points and played 20 minutes and it did not seem to bother him one bit. He appears to be the perfect teammate, and that is what we need. Kansas Basketball is team basketball, it is not about one individual. McLemore gets it and I really appreciate it. This game was good for our team because there will come a time when key players will be in foul trouble, and it is good to see how well we respond. I said in the preseason that I thought this team could be better than last year's team. I think this team is more talented, and if they crash the boards and play with the confidence they have demonstrated to date, then there is no telling how far this time can go. They are a pleasure to watch! I am enjoying watching 1st and 2nd year player continue to improve. I am so glad we have a Basketball Program and not a One and Done Factory.

LeadFarmer 8 years, 11 months ago

Sounds like tampons are flying off the shelves on this board.

Jack Wilson 8 years, 11 months ago

National title contender?

-Four senior starters, three being 5th year senior starters.

-The best freshman in the country. POY candidate.

-Final Four and significant tournament experience.

-A team built around defense.

-A game changing shot blocker.

-A team that can win on the road.

-A team that has multiple weapons on offense.

-A backup point guard with real point guard skills.

-A McDonald's all-american off the bench that can score.

-A break glass in case of emergency three point shooter off the bench.

-An athletic in your face defender off the bench, when needed.

-A bench post player that can give fouls and not kill us for stretches.

-The best coach in the country who has already won a national title.

There's your title contender.

jaybate 8 years, 11 months ago

"Is It Ferocious?"

Part 1

Ahh, nothing like hearing you bubbly and effervescent about our prospects on a cold, snowy day, where I am presently.

I like our chances, too.

Still very interested to see how we do against a team with a swatter like Jeff.

UA and Stumpy keep coming to mind. They have two swatters it seems.

A countervailing swatter brings our inside shooting percentage down to the level of the opponents, rather than us always holding that edge.

The team has enough mature players not to lose its composure to a team like Ohio State.

But maturity is not the same as ferocity.

A champion needs both.

Its still hard for me to tell how ferocious this team is, when cornered. Ohio State proved our team could stay composed against a very good team on a hostile floor.

But when they are cornered against a hard nosed team with a significant advantage, say, a player like Kevin Durant, do they fight even harder?

Or do they only like to fight, when the odds are on their side?

Sooner or later each season, a champion must beat a team that holds a distinct advantage over it. To beat such a team, a team must have ferocity in its core.

I am not doubting or criticizing our team. I am saying that we have not yet been tested in quite this way. I thought Ohio State might be such a team, but OSU was short enough that despite their athleticism and toughness, we still held the aces, so long as Travis could control Deshaun and he could.

But what we need to see is a KU team that can go out and beat a team with a Beasley, or a Durant, when those players are not backing down, not having an off night. Maybe not a career night, but a good night. Do our players buckle, because they are not holding their usual advantage.

This is what John Wooden once called competitive greatness. Swagger only gets you so far. Competitive greatness eats swagger and spits it out. Leaves it cowering. Beaten.

When confronted with someone as good as yourself, maybe even a little better, does some intense fire at your core cause you to catch fire and find a way to cut the heart out of such an opponent?

Last year's team was near and dear to my heart, because they had more competitive greatness than any team shy of a champion that I have ever witnessed. I will always believe that had they been healthy against UK, they would have found a way to cut the heart out of UK. But could, woulda, shoulda, never did.

Champions have to have more.

A champion's competitive greatness is sometimes obscured by the high level of talent on the team. But inside every champion beats the heart of a lion, or shall I say the hearts of a pride of lions.

jaybate 8 years, 11 months ago

Part 2

What made Kentucky's team last season so special was not just the amount of talent it possessed. It was that those young talented players had competitive greatness in them. They lucked out meeting KU, when KU was crippled; that's true. But they overcame a horrible shooting night by their star against Withey's great shot blocking and alterations (something that would have KO'ed non champions) and found a way to cut our hearts out.

Same with all of KU's champions. Same with all champions.

You have to have talent. You have to have good match-ups along the way. You have to have some luck. You have to be less injured than your opponents.

But all of the above mean nothing, if you lack the ferocity at the core of the team that causes it to rise above a couple teams with superior players to beat them when they are having a good night, too.

I don't know if there is a good enough team with a good enough player in the Big 12 this year to really test this team before tournament time. There are several that can and one or two that probably will upset this team in conference on an off shooting night. But I don't see a team other than maybe Okie State that can come at us toe to toe and with a player that could go off on us, that would force our team to have to become ferocious to survive.

I think the test of competitive greatness for this team will have to come in the post season and that is always a disadvantage.

KU's '08 team was tested in regular season two straight seasons and had a chance to grow into its competitive greatness.

Four of the starters on this team played against UK last year in the Finals, and they endured the Purdue blood bath last year in the tourney, so we know we have four players with the ferocity. But we need seven, not just four.

If we had a seven tested entering the tournament, I would be predicting this team to win it all. Its that good.

But with only four and three that may not get that sort of exposure until the tournament, it makes predicting much for this team very iffy.

I have to wait and see what they do against a team with a big advantage over them, or against a team that can match Withey's swatting with their own.

This is the only way to know what heart beats inside this team.

It has everything else, as you aptly noted.

But is it ferocious?

KansasComet 8 years, 11 months ago

I am hoping conference play and conference tournament will answer the ferocious question. Good post.

Jack Wilson 8 years, 11 months ago

To be ready for the tournament .. my humble opinion .. options are key. You point out out we need seven, not four. Our bench needs to be ready. Self needs to put them in positions to be tested. You've seen me say this before, but it's cold outside, hot inside, and we're down by 4 with 10 to play in Stillwater .. he needs to let AW3 play instead of Releford for a stretch; or Ellis instead of KY; or Tharpe instead of EJ. Just play them. Yes, we might lose. But it will provide the tests for the bench you suggest. Your concern is with our conference schedule, we might not get enough real tests. I think we will.

I believe in the character of this team, in the character of the players. Kansascomet made a great point on McLemore not being selfish, being content with the others being hot and scoring. I sense a very unique team here. Last season's team proved to be unique in the end. May not have seen it coming. This team is proving to be unique .. lots of moving parts that fit nicely together.

I have yet to see a team that's better than we are. On a neutral floor, there's not a team in the country I'd take over ours right now.

We do need to be tested more. Sure wish MU was still around.

HawkKlaw 8 years, 11 months ago

I agree with everything you said. All season long I've felt like this team has had a really great mix of experience, depth and talent, which bodes really well for winning a national championship.

I used to think that Perry would break the starting rotation this season, but more and more it's looking like he's basically in the same position this year that Naadir was last year. He's still figuring out how to contribute most effectively at KU. That's fine, especially with Kevin Young there to help at the 4 spot. Starting KY over Perry may have been one of the toughest decisions Self will have to make all season. Judging by the 11-1 record, I'd say it was a pretty good call.

Also, we're finally ready to admit that Naadir is, "a backup point guard with real point guard skills," are we, HEM? Lol. It's been a long time coming, my friend!

BrianandKati Robertson 8 years, 11 months ago

Very well put!! We definatly have all the pieces! Very Dangerous team especially come March! Can't wait until March Madness I don't think the Big 12 season will offer us much of a challenge so I can't wait to get to the NCAA tourney. I got the fever BIG TIME!!!!!

jaybate 8 years, 11 months ago

Has it occurred to anyone else that Self told Perry, Jam Tray, and Andrew to go out and foul like hell?

My hunch is this: Self gave these three guys a pep talk before the game. He told them that he didn't care if they all fouled out, so long as they guarded as hard as they could and played as hard as they could. So they all went out and did exactly that. That is why the picture of Self with Jamari walking off after fouling out is a smile, rather than a taunt, or fury. Self knew Jamari went out and got his explosive mojo back, and the fouls didn't matter. Self also didn't go off on Perry about his inconsistent post defense. He praised him for hitting some buckets, going hard on defense, and really polishing the glass! Andrew baking pop tarts? Self let the ride too. He was just happy to see Andrew getting out their and breaking out of himself from time to time.

At Temple, these guys will be back on a short leash, but this kind of therapy at this time of the season was almost certainly the smartest move a coach could make.

Go, Bill, go!!!!

jaybate 8 years, 11 months ago

"Kudos to Fran Dunphy, But Please Don't Let Him Upset Us"

There are many things for a basketball fan to like about Fran Dunphy. Before KU's last encounter with the current quintessence of Phillie Ball, I noted some and am adding a bit more now.

Fran Dunphy played high school ball for Dan Dougherty, the Malvern Prep school boy coaching legend in Pennsylvannia west of Phillie. Phillie Ball.

Fran played for Lefty Ervin at La Salle. Phillie Ball.

Fran assisted Dan Dougherty at Army. Dougherty coached Army briefly between Knight and Consonants. Phillie ball.

Fran assisted Lefty Ervin at La Salle. Phillie Ball.

Fran assisted Gary Williams at American before Williams went on to fame at Maryland. Bud Millikan-Gary Williams ball.

Fran assisted Speedy Morris at La Salle again. Phillie Ball.

Fran assisted Penn's Tom Schneider. Phillie Ball.

Fran's HCed Penn to 310 wins putting Fran second behind Peter Carril's time at Princeton. Phillie Ball.

Fran took over for John Chaney at Temple in 2006, where Fran has 134-65 overall and 69-27 in the Atlantic Ten. Phillie Ball.

Fran can coach.

But there is something more to like about Fran Dunphy.

Fran is the anti-Jay Wright.

Fran is a basketball coach, not a basketball jerk.

Fran apparently schedules KU and so into Temple's Phillie recruiting backyard, because Fran has a pair, because Fran cares about getting two of the great traditions of the college game together in pre conference, and because, apparently, Fran likes to stick it in the eye of Jay Wright, Fran's cross town rival--aka Jay Wrong.

From a midwesterner's perspective, Fran Dunphy is all that is great and good about the great eastern basketball tradition and Jay Wrong is all that is wrong with it.

One day, when the Big 12 expands into the eastern time zone to create an eastern time zone division, I would dearly love it if Fran and Temple were included in, and Jay and Nova were included out.

And I will feel this way even if Fran and his boys put it to us in a week, which they could do, if KU doesn't bring its A-game.

Hats and stocking caps off to Fran Dunphy for continuing to let these two great traditions face off in pre-conference. Both benefit. And kudos for doing it without being a jerk.

Rock Chalk, Fran Dunphy.

Oh, basketball god, please don't let him upset us. :-)

79ictjhawk 8 years, 11 months ago

Thanks Jaydoc. After what game was this recorded?

KJD 8 years, 11 months ago

With those red lockers, Wesley's left hand bandaged up and KU in their road Blue gear I would say it was after the Ohio State game.

Mel Clare 8 years, 11 months ago

That is not bad at 44% considering he started the year at 0 for 12!!!!

Kontum1972 8 years, 11 months ago

BLAH..BLAH ...BLAH.....same old song year after year....we all know how this will end....they will clutch again this year....they will shoot their load too soon....and it will be a silent ride home...again...

Jim Dickerson 8 years, 11 months ago

This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.

texashawk10 8 years, 11 months ago

KU will be clutch again and KU may very well leave a few seconds on the clock after hitting the winning shot and the plane ride back from Atlanta will be quiet while the players are asleep.

theboehr 8 years, 11 months ago

Look at the photo gallery from this game. Are you KIDDING me?!?!?! American U's fans freaking PACKED the place!!! I am jaw-to-the-floor flabbergasted, loss for words right now...

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