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Sunday, February 12, 2012

Keegan

KU big man gets votes of confidence

Kansas forward Jeff Withey pulls in a pass before Oklahoma State defenders Le'Bryan Nash (2) and Brian Williams (4) during the second half on Saturday, Feb. 11, 2012 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas forward Jeff Withey pulls in a pass before Oklahoma State defenders Le'Bryan Nash (2) and Brian Williams (4) during the second half on Saturday, Feb. 11, 2012 at Allen Fieldhouse.

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Press Conferences & Post-Game Interviews

KU coach Bill Self

Kansas coach Bill Self talks to reporters following the Jayhawks' 81-66 victory over Oklahoma State on Feb. 11, 2012.

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KU vs. Oklahoma State

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Kansas defeated Oklahoma State, 81-66, on Saturday, Feb. 11, 2012, at Allen Fieldhouse.

KU vs. Oklahoma State

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It’s inaccurate to say that nothing can boost the confidence of a college basketball player coming off a scoreless game in a tough loss more than a 25-point road outburst against the nation’s sixth-ranked team.

One more powerful confidence booster does exist, and its fingerprints were so easy to spot Saturday afternoon in Allen Fieldhouse. Nothing can make a player believe in himself more than teammates showing they believe in him by going out of their way to feed him the ball.

In the signature play of a first half as dominant as any the Kansas University basketball team has played this season, Thomas Robinson had an open 10-foot lane jumper, but he bypassed it to feed Jeff Withey for a dunk.

The Jayhawks left their edge in the locker room at halftime and held on for an 81-66 victory against Oklahoma State after taking a 51-24 lead at the break.

Despite the lousy second-half play, more good than bad came from this one, most notably the loud statement that Withey has emerged as a serious scoring threat, and teammates welcome it. His confidence clearly fueled by that, Withey turned into a rebounding monster for at least one afternoon. He finished with 18 points, a career-high 20 boards and seven blocked shots.

Even looking for Withey as often as he did, Robinson still managed 24 points and 14 rebounds.

“It makes it a lot easier for me,” Robinson said of Withey’s back-to-back blockbuster efforts. “I feel like I’m not even working to score anymore the way Jeff’s playing. My play deserves nothing. This is on Jeff. He’s playing his butt off right now. He’s definitely the reason we’re playing good right now.”

Originally credited with the basket that bounced off an Oklahoma State player’s head, Robinson had that taken away when the rule book showed it should be credited to the KU team. Robinson took other potential baskets away from himself by looking for Withey.

“Definitely,” Robinson said of looking for the 7-footer. “I know that he’s capable of scoring. He proved that the past two games, and right now he’s on a roll. I felt like it’s my job to keep him on the roll, especially when people are focusing their attention on me a lot. That just leaves Jeff right there.”

Nobody gave Withey the kid-glove treatment after his Missouri no-show.

“At Missouri, I didn’t score at all,” Withey said. “I wasn’t a factor. Coach was really angry about that. He feels like I just let them punk me. The last couple of practices have been tough. He’s been getting on me, getting me to be more physical in practice. He’s a good motivator, and these guys (points to teammates) are, too. I’ve been trying to be more positive and more aggressive.”

Withey never will be a consistently swift finisher because of the way he sometimes gathers himself after offensive rebounds, but earning two free throws is nearly as productive because he’s shooting .851 from the line.

Withey has reached double figures in scoring in eight of the past nine games after doing so in just five of the season’s first 15. His 20 rebounds were the most by a KU player in a Big 12 game since Cole Aldrich had that many Feb. 23, 2009, against Oklahoma.

Withey leads the Big 12 in blocked shots, a function of long arms and impeccable timing.

“I’ve watched a lot of tape, and you just see the progression of him,” OSU coach Travis Ford said. “I think he fully understands he’s playing with the best player in America. I think he’s slowly figured out, ‘Hey, this is a positive for me. This is good. I’m going to feed off this.’ That’s good for Kansas, but bad for us.”

Withey missed a few easy shots, but that didn’t stop him from consistently battling inside to put up shots. His ability to take a physical licking and keep on ticking will face a tougher test Monday night when the Jayhawks travel to Manhattan into as tough an environment as they’ll invade all year.

“K-State’s different than Oklahoma State and Baylor,” Self said. “Baylor plays a certain way, and Oklahoma State plays a certain way, and K-State doesn’t play that way at all. Jeff had a good game against K-State the first time, so he’s capable of going in there and playing well, no question. But there’s going to be a body on him every time he moves. That kind of goes with the territory when you play the Wildcats.”

In the state rivalry game in Allen Fieldhouse, Withey totaled eight points, nine rebounds and six blocked shots. That came one game after he was limited to eight minutes of playing time in a rout of North Dakota State. He responded well to that benching and to the scoreless humiliation against Missouri. He showed Saturday that nothing gets him going quite like a vote of confidence from teammates.

Comments

REHawk 2 years, 2 months ago

Wow! PlasticJHawk and jaybate have guided me in my bumbling attempts to upload this dandy avatar which jb so kindly designed for my lasting LJW posting use. My sincere thanks.

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REHawk 2 years, 2 months ago

Cherry, where do you come up with the word Jealousy? You think Jayhawk posters are actually jealous that Misery dumped affiliation with our league for bigger bucks in the SEC?

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CherryCreekHawk 2 years, 2 months ago

I must say that someday KU fans really need to grow up and get over this silly obsession with Mizzou. Who cares if KU and Mizzou ever play again. Taking the time to sign a petition is a joke.

In fact, this entire crying fit over MU going to the SEC hardly merits any discussion. Insofar as I can tell, the fit is basically the work of some KU people who don't get out much.

And for the record, I am a KU graduate. But the on-going KU jealousy over MU's decision is a sad reflection on how little KU fans seem to think of their own institution.

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sundancewierdo 2 years, 2 months ago

Someone tell me how his no look pass to Kevin Young did not get SC top 10 love?

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sundancewierdo 2 years, 2 months ago

Every time I try to text his name, auto correct changes it to Whitey. That makes me laugh...

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REHawk 2 years, 2 months ago

All summer and early fall, these posts were filled with the word IF regarding Jeff Withey's 2011-2012 performance. IF Withey can produce. IF Withey can take the next step up. IF Withey doesn't spend the season injured. Etc. ad infinitum. What a joy for this squad, coaching staff and fans to see those IFs resolved. After the Missouri game, many posters were back to the IF postulations. IF Thomas and Jeff could just begin working more smoothly in twin tower ball distribution; IF Jeff could just step up as a less passive big man, etc. Now we are seeing our seven footer in a much more active agressive role, with team members working to play to his strengths. Fire has begun to rage in those 84 inches of big man pride and potential. Yeeee-Haw! Rock Chalk!

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Steve Brown 2 years, 2 months ago

FrankMartin will have team fired up, AFH West will be purple land. We thrive in hostile environments, recall we played great in central Mo. 98% of the game.

We take care of business one play at a time.

We will be called for a couple questionable calls, deal with it, they will get some Denman like shots to fall, deal with it, the ball will clank off the unlevel rims a couple times, deal with it.

State will get their runs, expect it, fight for 50.50 balls, get your stops, run our stuff, enjoy the competition, you will not be denied. Tight huddles, you got this.

You are the team where we were 'supposed' to be weak and rebuilding, not any depth not enough experience. Surprise, we have watched you this year and you have enough depth for me and enough experience for me as your record and scoreboard tells the story. Get this the twins are gone the 4.5 star recruits aren't here yet, and so we just win and win, this year reminding me more and more of Danny's senior year, except these guys won't lose half that many games....can we stop the clock and enjoy this season another couple months?

Enjoy the atmosphere and play every possession like it is your last. Hear us from our homes giving your the RH Chant with 2 minutes left, take what it yours, then get out of town.

RCJHGKU.

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Jason Keller 2 years, 2 months ago

This K-State game is a trap. They aren't playing well this season but, rest assured, they will play their best game of the year tomorrow. It's tough being Kansas, you get everyone's best shot.

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George Powell 2 years, 2 months ago

I guess I will state the obvious, but the no look pass over his head and the defender to the open KU player (forgot who ), was beautiful.

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Robert Brock 2 years, 2 months ago

If Jeff needs to "gather himself" he doesn't also need to dribble (when he isn't advancing position) also. He gets the ball stripped. Sometimes Robinson resorts to the same mistake. This stuff must drive Manning insane.

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jhox 2 years, 2 months ago

What's wrong with Elijah? He hit a few first half shots, but the second half he looked like a totally lost Freshman. There have been times this year when I've thought he's been the second best on ball defender on our team, but yesterday he played a lot of matador defense. There was one second half fast break OSU had where his defensive effort would have been embarrassing in an AAU game, let alone an NCAA game. I thought Coach Self was going to have a stroke after that one. At times he looked tired. He had no bounce in his step. He seems to be struggling with confidence handling the ball. At one point the lane opened up for him, he took a jab step and drove to about he free throw line, then aborted. If he's our first option at point next year, we're going to be in trouble.

I expected he would be a guy would would get better and better as the year went on, finally getting his chance to play, but it looks to me like he's regressing. I hope he can get it fixed by March.

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Gene Jackson 2 years, 2 months ago

I watched the game with DVR and as I usually do, when I see a really good play I will replay it and watch it again and sometimes several times. But usually it is only one or possibly two a game. In the first half alone there were a bunch of plays I watched over and over again. What a pleasure. And it wasn't just Robinson. A great effort by the whole team - I just wish it had extended through the entire game.

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yates33333 2 years, 2 months ago

TRob's too humble. He is still The Man!!! Withey is the Phenom!! With they, the man and the phenom, KU rocks. (OK. there's one too many h's).

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Alohahawk 2 years, 2 months ago

Looking forward, the forthcoming games should tell a lot of what to expect from KU during the post season tournaments. If Withey can continue to produce against a rugged, good rebounding K State team, and especially against Mizzery's speed and shooters, then the Jayhawks should have teams thinking twice about double and triple teaming TRob. That is the biggest thing which has limited this team's performance levels (and TRob's stats). Then, any 3 pointers made by any Jayhawk will be icing on the cake.

The final games of this season's conference schedule should be very interesting and exciting.

It also should give a good forecast on what Jayhawk fans can expect for next season. Because KU should have scorers and rebounders in abundance during the 2012 - 2013 season.

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jhawkr 2 years, 2 months ago

I wish a couple of other Jayhawks would drink what WITHEY has been drinking lately .........

I wasn't as impressed with him earlier in the season as some were, but I have to admit there isn't much not to like the past several games. He's stepped up immensely.

His only real fault now is in not being stronger around the bucket to put back some of the easy shots he misses or too easily allows others to alter and make him miss.

Keep eating the RED MEAT Withey and hit Taco Bell late at night, etc. And if the other Hawks have to punch him in the nads in the locker room during pre-game to get him fired up, then by no means stop now !

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Dirk Medema 2 years, 2 months ago

Earlier in the year, it seemed there were too many times that the guards would feed Withey in the post only to have him kick the ball back out without ever making an offensive move. It is so good to see him being aggressive, and even better that he's getting boards now as well. Most teams don't have 1 player with a double-double. How crazy would it be for us to have 2.

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Ferd Magellan 2 years, 2 months ago

It's hard to believe this is only the fifth time Withey has recorded ten or more rebounds this season. If he keeps this up KU is going to win out. All the guards have to do is drop the ball off to Robinson or Withey and get out of the way.

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treed14ku 2 years, 2 months ago

All KU fans need to sign this petition to not play Mizzou again. http://www.gopetition.com/petitions/b... Pass this link on to all your friends on Facebook and Twitter. Our voices matter.

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