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Friday, March 9, 2012

Aggies pick poison, Elijah Johnson makes ’em pay

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Podcast episode

Press Conferences & Post-Game Interviews

KU coach Bill Self

Kansas coach Bill Self talks to reporters following the Jayhawks' 83-66 victory over Texas A&M; on March 8, 2012.

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Podcast episode

Press Conferences & Post-Game Interviews

Elijah Johnson and Thomas Robinson

KU guard Elijah Johnson and forward Thomas Robinson talk to reporters after the Jayhawks' 83-66 victory over Texas A&M; on March 8, 2012.

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Podcast episode

Press Conferences & Post-Game Interviews

Texas A&M's Billy Kennedy, Keith Davis and Khris Middleton

Texas A&M; coach Billy Kennedy and players Keith Davis and Khris Middleton talk to reporters following their team's 83-66 loss to Kansas on March 8, 2012.

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KU vs. Texas A&M

Box score

— Three times now, the Texas A&M; men’s basketball team has tried to limit the production of Kansas University’s all-Big 12 stars Thomas Robinson and Tyshawn Taylor, and three times other Jayhawks have made them pay.

The latest rendition of that same song — Thursday’s 83-66 Kansas victory in the quarterfinals of the Big 12 Tournament at Sprint Center — was more of a encore performance for KU guard Elijah Johnson.

Exactly two weeks ago, Johnson poured in 21 points in a 66-58 KU victory in College Station, Texas. Thursday, Johnson picked up where he left off by scoring a career-high 26 points on 5-of-7 shooting from three-point range to help the Jayhawks advance to today’s semifinals against Baylor.

For the Aggies, whose rugged and rough style served them well during the game’s first 10 minutes, Johnson’s performance reminded them a lot of the last meeting.

“It basically did,” said A&M; big man David Loubeau. “Once he got going, it was kind of hard to stop him.”

Added Aggies guard Dash Harris, who was burdened with the task of doubling Robinson in the post while, at the same time, not straying too far from the three-point line: “Elijah did a great job and I compliment him on his past two performances. They probably helped put them over the top against us two times straight now.”

Asked what it felt like to help on Robinson and watch as the Jayhawks reversed the ball to the wing that Harris had just vacated, the veteran guard described a feeling of desperation.

“You just have to hope he misses the shot,” he said.

Johnson did little of that on Thursday, finishing 8-for-11 from the floor and 5-for-5 from the free throw line. At one point during Thursday’s sloppy first half, Johnson scored eight straight points for the Jayhawks. The first six came from behind the arc and the final two at the free throw line. Johnson’s solo run erased a one-point A&M; lead and put the Jayhawks ahead by seven. His teammates soon hopped on board and, by halftime, the Jayhawks were in complete control.

Although Johnson’s career day once again buried the Aggies, no one in the losing locker room lamented the gameplan — only the fact that it did not work.

“When you have to double the post and stop one perimeter guy from dominating, it’s kind of hard to stop that second perimeter guy,” Harris said.

Johnson’s lights out performance was not the only aspect of Thursday’s game that resembled the last meeting between these two teams. After missing the first meeting between KU and A&M; in Lawrence because of injury, A&M; junior Khris Middleton scored 23 against the Jayhawks at A&M.; He scored 24 on Thursday, on 9-of-15 shooting, marking just the third time all season that he had topped the 20-point mark in a single game.

The Jayhawks (27-5) initially put Robinson on the 6-foot-7 swingman, but later gave that the job to junior Travis Releford, who forced Middleton to hit tough shot after tough shot to reach his total.

Still, as good as Middleton was, it was Johnson and KU’s 10 three-pointers that sank the Aggies (14-18).

“Their guards can shoot,” Middleton said. “And they have really good bigs. That’s basically it. You can’t really double the post like you want to because (Robinson will) just kick it out every time. We just wanted to try to make it hard on the post and contest their threes, but they made most of those, so, it’s tough.”

Comments

s6u6r6f 7 years, 3 months ago

It's nice when players hit personal bests at the end of seasons. Hope Elijah can carry it on. Beat Baylor; beat the slavers; win six more games. Rock chalk.

nuleafjhawk 7 years, 3 months ago

I have to admit - I DO love the name "Dash".

It reminds me of Dash Riprock from the Beverly Hillbillies.

jaybate 7 years, 3 months ago

"Come and listen to my story 'bout a man named Jed, He was a poor mountaineer Barely kept his family fed..."

I know Donna Douglass became a woman of strong faith, but still I wanted to "know" her, even as a boy who did not yet know how to know.

She made Daisy Mae in Lil'Abner seem like a school marm.

When Donna turned on the smile in those phenomenally tight jeans, it made me go all Jethro Bodine.

nuleafjhawk 7 years, 3 months ago

Oh great. Now you got me started.

"Just sit right back and you'll hear a tale, A tale of a fateful trip, that started from this tropic port aboard this tiny ship....."

Between Elly May and Mary Ann from Gilligans Island , TV life was pretty good back in the day!

Alohahawk 7 years, 3 months ago

Ginger never could hold a candle to Mary Ann.

And don't forget Barbara Eden, on "I Dream of Jeannie".

And Shelley Fabares, on "Father Knows Best".

And Goldie Hawn, on "Laugh-In".

And Raquel Welch on, well anything you name, whether she appeared on it or not.

Yep! Those were the days. When there was more story and entertainment substance on TV than there was commercials.

"Keep movin', movin', movin', Though they're disapprovin...."

nuleafjhawk 7 years, 3 months ago

Man - those are great memories!

And Raquel STILL looks good. Not " for her age " good - just good!!

Jayhawk444 7 years, 3 months ago

Reminds me of the little kid in The Incredibles

Alohahawk 7 years, 3 months ago

"Y'all come back now. Ya hear?"

The younger generations, nowadays, don't know what real, corny comedy was/is. That is, unless they watch some of the old reruns.

ccarp 7 years, 3 months ago

EJ! Light it up for tourney MVP! Let's get all 5 starts peaking in March!

HawkKlaw 7 years, 3 months ago

Nicely done Elijah! Must have heard me call him a "role player" yesterday. My bad bro!

And let's not discount what Travis Releford did guarding Middleton. Sure, Middleton had 24 pts, but once Releford was assigned to him he had a really tough go at it. Releford's lock down defense has been so impressive this season. KU wouldn't have 27 wins without him.

Now beat Baylor!

Alohahawk 7 years, 3 months ago

Congrats EJ. Two additional times, if the ref's whistles had blown just a second later, and you would have been 7 of 9 from three point range.

Keep your confidence. You're on a roll, now, and hitting your stride. If every Jayhawk holds up their end, like they have all season, and you hit your 3's, there's no team that can defend against KU.

One game at a time. Next up (and down). - Baylor.

R C J H G K U !!!!!!

brooksmd 7 years, 3 months ago

Great job by EJ coming off the bench.

Alohahawk 7 years, 3 months ago

LOL!

You'd think after announcing the number of KU games he did this season that Booby Knight would recognize EJ's role as a starter. Either Mussy Berger wasn't paying attention to what Knight was saying, or he didn't want to make him look like a dumby. I think it was his inattention.

And one, if not both of the two, called Teahan, "Treyhan", more than once. And it wasn't because they had nick-named him as such.

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