Travis Releford exemplifies KU’s thieving ways

Kansas guard Travis Releford, right, gets a hug from teammate Thomas Robinson after KU's win over Oklahoma on Saturday, Jan. 7, 2012, at Lloyd Noble Center.

Kansas guard Travis Releford, right, gets a hug from teammate Thomas Robinson after KU's win over Oklahoma on Saturday, Jan. 7, 2012, at Lloyd Noble Center.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

While talking during a postgame interview just outside the Kansas University locker room Monday night, KU small forward Travis Releford was interrupted by someone behind him.

“Great game,” Baylor coach Scott Drew said, shaking Releford’s hand. “Good luck this year.”

“Thanks,” Releford responded after his 11-point effort in KU’s 92-74 victory.

Much of Releford’s impact came on the defensive end, as he snared two of KU’s eight steals. He has eight steals in his last four games.

“That’s the key to our team,” Releford said. “If we get out and get steals on the defensive end, we can get a score, or a guy can get fouled and shoot free throws. So that’s what we really try to key in on.”

Though Releford said the Jayhawks actually don’t get up and down the court as much in practice, coach Bill Self has made playing fast an emphasis in games.

Releford himself has been especially dangerous in transition, which is partially reflected in his two-point percentage.

The junior has made 61.5 percent of his twos this year (48 of 78), which ranks only behind teammates Kevin Young (63.6 percent) and Elijah Johnson (62.3 percent).

The Kansas City, Mo., native picked up his offense in the second half against Baylor, posting nine points on 4-for-5 shooting after halftime.

“I feel like I stepped it up the defensive end and on offense,” Releford said of his second half. “I made a few shots late. And the two guys I was guarding, I didn’t let get (into) a rhythm.”

Releford has continued his elevated play while still dealing with a right foot ailment. He continues to wear a protective boot when he’s not practicing or playing, which helps take pressure off the outside of his foot.

Though the boot has caused some who have seen him to be concerned, the injury is not significant; Releford has yet to miss a practice or game.

“After I get to playing, my body gets to warm up,” Releford said. “Then I don’t even think about it after that.”

Shabazz update: Shabazz Muhammad, the top-ranked basketball player in the high school recruiting Class of 2012, will make an official visit to Kansas University, Muhammad’s dad, Ron Holmes, told Muhammad, 6-foot-6, 215 pounds out of Las Vegas’ Bishop Gorman High, has a final list of KU, Kentucky, UNLV, UCLA, Duke and Arizona.

“A lot of people have it wrong about Shabazz,” Holmes told the website. “A lot of people have no idea what’s going on. We’re going to officially visit Kansas, and I’ve said that many times. If it works out, I’m going to bring my entire family to Kansas. I always knew Kansas was a great school, but the in-home visit really opened my eyes.”

Not on list: KU senior Tyshawn Taylor has not made the final list of 20 players for the Cousy Award, which is presented to the country’s top point guard. Baylor’s Pierre Jackson and Missouri’s Phil Pressey are on the final list with Shabazz Napier, UConn; Ray McCallum, Detroit; Seth Curry, Duke; Erving Walker, Florida; Scott Machado, Iona; Casper Ware, Long Beach State; Peyton Silva, Louisville; Trey Burke, Michigan; Dee Bost, Mississippi State; Kendall Marshall, North Carolina; Aaron Craft, Ohio State; D.J. Cooper, Ohio; Zack Rosen, Pennsylvania; Ashton Gibbs, Pitt; Scoop Jardine, Syracuse; Damian Lillard, Weber State; Jordan Taylor, Wisconsin; and Tu Holloway, Xavier.

— Assistant sports editor Gary Bedore contributed to this report