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Saturday, March 24, 2012

Keegan

Jeff Withey helps ice win

Big man’s blocks key as Kansas ‘straps up’ defensively

Jeff Withey, right, blocks a shot by Richard Howell (1) in the firsthalf of KU's game against North Carolina State in St. Louis Friday, March 16, 2012.

Jeff Withey, right, blocks a shot by Richard Howell (1) in the firsthalf of KU's game against North Carolina State in St. Louis Friday, March 16, 2012.

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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' 60-57 victory over N.C. State in the Sweet 16 on March 23, 2012.

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Podcast episode

Press Conferences & Post-Game Interviews

KU players Thomas Robinson and Jeff Withey

KU players Thomas Robinson and Jeff Withey talk to reporters following the Jayhawks' 60-57 victory over N.C. State on March 23, 2012.

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Podcast episode

Press Conferences & Post-Game Interviews

N.C. State's Mark Gottfried, C.J. Leslie and Scott Wood

N.C. State's Mark Gottfried, C.J. Leslie and Scott Wood talk to reporters following their 60-57 loss to Kansas on March 24, 2012.

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KU vs. N.C. State

Box score

— Thomas Robinson sat at his locker Friday night wearing the aches and pains, the bumps and bruises of another physical defense aimed at him.

He looked forward to the ice bath he would take before getting a good night’s sleep. The box score suggested Robinson was the main man in a 60-57 Kansas victory against North Carolina State. He had 18 points, 15 rebounds, two assists and two steals. But Robinson sent the credit for this one a few lockers to his right, where Jeff Withey drew a crowd.

“He was amazing, man,” Robinson said. “A lot of people give credit to John Henson. I take nothing from him, Henson’s a good shot blocker, but I think Jeff deserves credit also.”

Robinson’s right. Withey was amazing.

North Carolina State’s 13-3 lead could have been much bigger if not for Withey blocking a shot on the second, third and fourth Wolfpack possessions.

“When I found out he had seven at halftime, I told him to try to get a triple-double, try to break Cole’s record,” Robinson said.

Withey matched him with 10 blocked shots, including the game-saver with 20 seconds left.

The victory came after a 63-60 squeaker against Purdue. Suddenly, the fast Jayhawks have turned into a Big Ten team, winning ugly.

“Defense wins championships, and coach has been telling us that all this year,” Robinson said. “We’re not the most talented team around, so we can’t rely on scoring like the previous years, so we’ve got to strap up.”

KU’s shooting stats read like those of a team on the wrong end of a 20-point blowout: KU shot .550 from the line, .375 from the field, .071 from three. Robinson and Taylor combined to make nine of 31 field goals and six of 14 free throws.

“We still haven’t been playing good,” Robinson said. “We’re still not playing to the top, how we’re capable of playing. We’re playing defense, but offense, we’re still taking it slow. We’re missing shots.

“Tyshawn’s been in a slump,” Robinson said of Taylor, who has missed 15 of his last 16 three-point shots. “I’ve been in a slump. We could play better, but our teammates are stepping up. Our supporting cast is definitely getting better.”

Conner Teahan, driving to the hoop with good results on a night he missed all three three-pointers, and energetic Kevin Young gave the team big lifts.

Someone wondered if maybe playing in a dome had something to do with the team’s poor shooting. Robinson knew better than to take that excuse.

“We shot bad last week, and it wasn’t a dome,” he said. “It’s cool. We’ll turn it around.”

Taylor said Kansas coach Bill Self let the team know on Day 1 of practice the only shot it had of success was to play great defense. Friday’s game, more than any all season, proved him right. Robinson remembered Self saying that too.

“We’re not deep as we were previous years, we’re not going to win by scoring, so we’ve got to strap up on the defensive end,” Robinson said. “That’s what we’ve got to live on, and I don’t mind. We’ve had to buy into it this year. Previous years, I don’t think we bought into it as much as this year because we had players who could score at any time.”

Robinson relentlessly attacked in traffic, earning trips to the line and getting N.C. State’s bigs into foul trouble. He had very little room with which to work and missed his share of easy shots.

“The bruising and the double-teams and all that, I have to take it,” he said. “It’s part of the game. I’m not complaining about it at all. It’s part of basketball. That’s going to come with it. I’ve been in the tub a lot, and I’ll definitely do it tonight.”

The ice will help him heal. No exact prescription exists for thawing the team’s cold shooting in time for Sunday’s game against North Carolina, a game that sends the winner to the Final Four in New Orleans.

“The lid is going to come off the basket for us eventually,” Robinson said. “We probably have to come out a little better against them. Coming out slow against a team like North Carolina won’t do us too good.”

Comments

Bangkok_Jayhawk 2 years, 7 months ago

Just watched the entire game by clicking REFRESH 200 times on ESPN.com. No way to watch a close game!

I never thought I would see a Bill Self coached team have 5 players with 30 minutes of playing time. This team can do anything IF it doesn't have to rely too much on the bench. That does make me worry a little bit considering that Roy has the Heels playing up tempo basketball which requires stamina.

s6u6r6f 2 years, 7 months ago

I had to watch it on a CBS euro internet feed as AFRTS in my neck of the woods carried only the TBS games. Video a bit choppy at time, but the audio was good. Withey was full on dominant. Let's do that again. Rock chalk.

Jim Roth 2 years, 7 months ago

I drove across the border into the US and checked into a Super-8 so I could see the game on a real TV. During the season ESPN3.com was pretty good, but firstrowsports.eu, where I've watched the last 2 games, leaves something to be desired.

Last year, couldn't we get ncaa.com outside the US? I guess restrictions change once they start charging.

oldalum 2 years, 7 months ago

I don't understand your problem. The KU game WAS a TBS game, at least at my house.

Alohahawk 2 years, 7 months ago

How many #1 and #2 seed games were relegated to the odd channels (TRU and TBS)? KU only had 1 game of 3 on a non-pay station. At least the games were on the internet, but the quality sucks. You can't even tell who the players are. And if the commentators don't identify them, you have to cut back and forth to the box score information to try to see who received a foul, got an assist, or even a rebound. The box score I reverted to didn't even register blocks. Though I could tell Withey had quite a few, I didn't know how many. When the games are broadcast on ESPN, viewing a game on large screen TV's with HD sure makes you spoiled.

George Powell 2 years, 7 months ago

What's really bad is that with KU playing on TRUTV and TBS and not CBS, my parents could not watch the games. They live in Kansas in the country and they do not have satellite, only over the air reception. To me, if you live the state then the local CBS stations should be caring the local the school.

Mkultra 2 years, 7 months ago

Sorry but that is the old system. This is the only way to get ALL of the games on television without having to buy Mega March Madness as it was before. It is not a perfect system but it is as good as they can make it, nothing like jumping between all of the games on the first Thursday and Friday.

WilburNether 2 years, 7 months ago

The NCAA has sold its soul to the vermin in the TV industry.

That would include KU, which has sold its soul to ESPN.

RJ King 2 years, 7 months ago

I'm sure in a game of this magnitude they had an EVS or other replay cam + operator capable of instant replays.

As you know, directors vary in their style. One of the worst call outs is when they miss a great play while still in replay. But it does seem like whoever was directing this game has a very conservative style.

I'm sure you weren't a fan of some of the camera angles either . . . gimmicky at best.

smelliott 2 years, 7 months ago

I agree...bigtoe needs to lighten up and enjoy. I thought at the start of the season that this team would be lucky to recieve a seed higher than 5 in the tourney and would not make it out of the first weekend. They've now accomplished as much as last year's team.Why complain about ugly wins? I'll take 'em thank you and hope the next is even uglier. Although I hope TT heats up a little and we make a few 3's.

Mike Stewart 2 years, 7 months ago

When was the last time KU was blown out by anyone? It doesn't happen too often. UNC, on the other hand, lost to FSU by 33 points earlier this season. The last time KU lost to someone by more than 20 points was 2006 vs Texas. I expect it will be a close game, but it is more likely KU will blow out UNC than the other way around.

brooksmd 2 years, 7 months ago

Maybe you should step back and take a look at what made-up this team at the beginning of the season. This was not a typical KU team. Taylor was the only returning starter, TRob was backup to the MTwins and everybody else who started this year was backup to somebody last year. All of these kids busted their butts this year and with our unusually short bench wore themselves out playing major minutes every game. Personally, I'm proud of this team for what they have achieved and hope their hard work and dedication brings them a NC. But if they don't reach that goal they will be remembered fondly by the majority of the Jayhawk nation. 8str8 and so far Elite 8 in The Dance. WOW, who woulda thunk?

ironhead80 2 years, 7 months ago

I don't feel KU will get beat badly for the fact we are playing roy's team, with all there so called mac D players there still a finesse team and they have not played a mentally plus physical team like KU. I feel like our boys are drained and they need to find away to move forward and play past the fatique. Just like Self said we have not played our best games yet where all the team is playing on all cylinders. Bottom line is we have the best defense and will beat unc by defense.

gthejayhawk 2 years, 7 months ago

+1 I've never been so dissapointed in winning a sweet 16 game. It's very frustrating to watch the guys, especially TT, playing so tight on offense. Towards the end of the game he was passing up shots he usually takes and makes when the game is on the line. I pray that being the "dog" iN the next game will help calm the nerves.

Rock Chalk!!!!

Benjamin Jones 2 years, 7 months ago

"Strap up"? Am I behind on my slang? What is "strap up"?

Alex Berger 2 years, 7 months ago

On the bright side of winning ugly is that now we can't get upset by anyone! Only high seeded teams left. Nothing to lose Jayhawks, go play your hearts out!

actorman 2 years, 7 months ago

Technically that's not true, as we could still conceivably play #4 seed Louisville for the title. But I realize that's not exactly what you meant by upset. And of course losing in the championship game would be nothing to be ashamed of.

Steve Brown 2 years, 7 months ago

Is it more enjoyable to play lousy and win or like in years past play great and lose? If is better to have Tyshawn go into ghost mode and the team survive or to have Sherron play great like a one man show and the team lose?

Clearly something magical is going on, maybe the dream ends sunday, maybe the road continues, play defense, get stops, play as a team, find the open shot, work our stuff, win the 50.50 balls. Enjoy every possession.

Terrence Jones and Harrison Barnes have alot in common, They will both foul out against Kansas this year.

flyingfinn 2 years, 7 months ago

Was in the Jones Dome Friday and will be there Sunday and funny Sherron was in the house too and I'm thinking wouldn't he like to trade places and be on this winning team no matter how bad they played! I don't know if this team has the talent to beat Roy Boy's team but they do have the grit and defense to stay in the game. If we could get out offense rolling we would blow them out, but that currently is a BIG if. Either way go Hawks it has been a remarkable season!!!!

jhawkrulz 2 years, 7 months ago

It kind of interesting to me that people are complaining about not being able to watch the game because they don't have TBS and in some cases haven't had TRU.

CBS paid billions of dollars to get this and I think they are doing a great job of getting all of the games on TV. i use to hate when a team was close, but the region was switching and you couldn't watch the game that was close. Or they do that split screen where you can't see either team.

KU would actually benefit a lot if conference realignment would occur during basketball season rather than the football season.

There is a lot of money in basketball and there will continue to be more and more as ESPN continues to push the regular season more for ratings. They see that as a growth area for ratings and potential money.

I loved watching the games and the mental toughness it has created among our Jayhawks.

Dyrk Dugan 2 years, 7 months ago

the kids definitely come to play every night...they really bring it with the D and energy. They just can't hit right now....maybe it's nerves, the moment, ..these dang double digit seeds making us feel the pressure of not losing.

but all of that is gone now. we're playing Roy's boys, the mighty Tar Heels. Yes, they don't have Marshall, but the reason why they feel the pinch is because Strickland is out too. We must attack the point guard....both offensively and defensively. if we make him work, he could wilt...and i mean wilt big time.

it will be very fun to be the team that's on the hunt in this game...the team that can be the aggressor. Roy doesn't know any other way to play, except what he's become....a shoot first, quick and often team, that fundamentally on the ball handling front and defense, is quite lax.

Bill Self is 2-1 vs. Roy Williams in the NCAA tourney...and the only game he lost, his 4th seed Illini team had a chance with 30 seconds to tie up the 1 seed KU Jayhawks in 2002's sweet 16 round. When he has the equal or better team, he's destroyed Roy.

This precedent should hold tomorrow....but it's all about degree and the confidence of our kids. If we do play aggressive...and be the aggressor and never let up for 40 minutes...we'll win. if we fall back...play not to make a mistake....UNC will win. Because they will run their stuff..and not think twice.

Go Jayhawks!

DCLawHawk 2 years, 7 months ago

Great point about HCBS's record v. Roy. That was one of the reasons I was excited when KU brought Self in to replace Williams. I thought Self's Illini kicked KU's tail in the 2001 tourney (80-64). Let's make that record 3-1. Go 'hawks!

ohmixmaster 2 years, 7 months ago

Great post Mv!!!! Self's teams have been Roy's kryptonite. I, for one hope the trend continues. Here's to hoping Ty and T-Rob's shooting touch returns, Conner getting his confidence back, Jeff keeps doing his best Mutombo impersonation, Young remaining his California cool self, Releford lighting it up on D while attacking the paint, and EJ continuing to prove to everyone why he's the best kept secret in basketball. RCJH!!!!!!!!!! Lets do this Final 4 in '12.

Mike Mainzer 2 years, 7 months ago

I was there in St. Louis and have watched most of their games this year. I've never been more proud of a Kansas team for what they have achieved and accomplished. They've completely surpassed all expectations within conference play and in the tournament. They play with more heart and determination than any KU team since the 08 Nat Champs. While we worry about whether they have the talent to beat a UNC team, UNC has to be fearful since these Hawks have no quit and if they stay close during a game they can pull off the win. Rock Chalk Fellas! We'll see you tomorrow.

ohmixmaster 2 years, 7 months ago

So excited I can't sleep. So what the heck, I'm gonna watch the '08 FF devastation, I mean game. Also, on an unrelated note (can't believe I'm going to say this) I'm gonna root hard for Baylor tomorrow.....would LOVE to see 2 Big 12 teams in the Final Four. Talking even more smack on the Meth Lab U's board, one last time, would be entirely too much fun. Ok, here's the start of the game.........Arthur, turn around jump shot punks Hansbrough for the beginning of what's to come.

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