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Thursday, February 21, 2013

Keegan

Opinion: Seniors Travis Releford, Jeff Withey huge for Kansas

Kansas guard Travis Releford dives to push the ball ahead of Oklahoma State guard Markel Brown to run out the clock against Oklahoma State in double overtime on Wednesday, Feb. 20, 2013 at Gallagher-Iba Arena in Stillwater, Oklahoma.

Kansas guard Travis Releford dives to push the ball ahead of Oklahoma State guard Markel Brown to run out the clock against Oklahoma State in double overtime on Wednesday, Feb. 20, 2013 at Gallagher-Iba Arena in Stillwater, Oklahoma.

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Box score

KU-OSU

— The superstars ordained as NBA players before they step foot on a college campus dominate headlines and mock drafts, but there still is a place for seniors in college basketball. And that place late Wednesday night was Gallagher-Iba Arena, where two exhausted men stood in the winner’s circle after a heavyweight basketball game that couldn’t be settled until two extra rounds were fought.

Fifth-year Kansas seniors Jeff Withey and Travis Releford can’t match teammate Ben McLemore and Oklahoma State’s wide-body freshman point guard Marcus Smart for talent and future earnings, but once the final of four buzzers sounded on a classic (warts and all) double-overtime game, there was no question who deserved the most credit for holding together KU’s push for a ninth consecutive Big 12 title.

Releford played 48 minutes and still he had enough fumes in his engine to race down a ball about to go out of bounds and to Oklahoma State, giving the Cowboys one more shot at winning the game. He got to it and batted it forward to teammate Ben McLemore, and the game was over. Finally. Both teams exerted such effort and played such determined defense it hardly seemed fair that one had to walk away with a loss.

Kansas 68, Oklahoma State 67 in double-overtime won’t soon be forgotten, and all the little things and big ones Releford and Withey did to compensate for a choppy offensive night from both teams were much appreciated by the coach who isn’t afraid to tell it like it is about his team.

“What a great hustle play by Travis to keep that ball from going out of bounds,” Kansas coach Bill Self said. “And it wasn’t out of bounds. It was six inches in. What an unbelievable hustle play by him to pat that ball ahead. We’ve got a happy locker room. We’re going to have a hard time getting home, obviously. We’re not going to get home until 4 or 5 in the morning with the weather. But it’ll be a much sweeter ride now.”

Releford had just four first-half points. He finished with 18 points and six rebounds, made seven of 10 field goals and reminded everyone of what a terrific finisher he is. If he had to go up and under because Oklahoma State’s athletic, relentless defenders left him no other option, he went up and under.

Seniors don’t get fazed easily because they have seen it all and heard it all in all types of tones.

“He made a ton of head-up plays,” Self said of Releford. “Travis wasn’t plugged in at all at half. I really got on him at half. He did a much better job (the rest of the night), did a great job defensively on whoever he was guarding.”

Afterward, Oklahoma State coach Travis Ford couldn’t stop talking about how impressed he was with Withey’s defense on the perimeter, when he hedged a screen and completely fouled up a plan designed to get the winning shot at the end of regulation.

“I’d rather draw him out, make him make plays out there instead of close to the basket, but what a great, great job by him,” Ford said.

Withey totaled 17 points, 14 rebounds and four blocked shots.

Both seniors needed to be at their best because McLemore didn’t score his first points until 10:05 remained in regulation on a follow dunk, and he finished with seven points in 49 minutes. Elijah Johnson played a strong second half but was limited to 32 minutes before fouling out, and Naadir Tharpe couldn’t get anything to drop until hitting his game-winner.

This team’s abundance of seniors can only help Kansas as it tries to lock down at least a share of the conference title with five games remaining. Seniors are poised and hungry.

“Go 1-for-11 from three and 17-of-27 from the line and have five assists,” Self said. “... That’s a remedy for getting blown out on the road against a good team. Somehow, our guys just figured out a way. That was a tough win for us. Guys showed a lot of heart.”

Don’t bother comparing schedules. Kansas became the favorite to win the conference, and it has its seniors to thank for that.

Comments

jjinks 1 year, 2 months ago

I didn't get to see the game but was wondering if any cartwheels were executed. lmao

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Benjamin Jones 1 year, 2 months ago

And is every single copy editor on the copy desk sound asleep? “Go 1-for-11 from three and 17-of-27 from the line and have five assists,” Self said. “... That’s a remedy for getting blown out on the road against a good team." Obviously Self said "recipe," not "remedy." Going 1-for-11 from three isn't a remedy for anything HEY! WAKE UP!!!

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Benjamin Jones 1 year, 2 months ago

Tom, it's "set foot," not "step foot." It's like nails on a blackboard every time I read that malapropism.

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Benjamin Piehler 1 year, 2 months ago

NCAA Tourney is going to be crazy this year... great win for the guys, I had a feeling they would get a W.

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Hoosierhawkfan 1 year, 2 months ago

Great win gentlemen!! Kudos to all. My heart has finally returned to its normal state.

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kuphotog 1 year, 2 months ago

Great game!!! Seniors know how to win. Just shows why college players need to stay at least two years and maybe more as our seniors showed who can come through in the clutch!!

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LngTimeFan 1 year, 2 months ago

I'm liking what I see out of Traylor. He's getting it more and more every game. Perry will too, it's just gonna take him a little more time. We know he can score, and he positions himself for a lot of rebounds, dives for loose balls, etc. He's gonna be fine.

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Jack Wilson 1 year, 2 months ago

The time in life begging Releford to be assertive on offense, to drive, and to get the ball to rack seem well worth it everytime he plays like last night. It's great to see.

Wish he could have that same approach every game .. performances can be up and down .. but the aggressive approach is the key.

He is one of the best finishers at the rim I've ever seen. Solid. Soft. Great angles. Awesome.

1

Ryan Zimmerman 1 year, 2 months ago

The refs last night were pretty awful both ways... The foul they called on McLemore and even EJ on his 5th late in the OT were awful And the announcers were trying to make the Kevin Young "forearm shiver" so much more than it was. He doesn't HAVE to get out of the way ... they were making it sound like it was such a vengeful move

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JayHok 1 year, 2 months ago

Personally I loved seeing how much Self wanted to beat Ford. By beating Ford he not only kept his team in first, he also beat Mizzou and Kentucky all in one night at Ford's home court. Thank you to all Jayhawks who stepped on the floor. Each one of you allowed destiny to reveal itself, a one point victory for KU in Ford's living room. Thank you to all KU players who didn't step on the court and all assistant coaches. Without your hard work in practice and game preparation, destiny could not have revealed itself last night. Onto the preparation for Saturday. RCJ!

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COjayrocks 1 year, 2 months ago

WHERES THE POST-GAME INTERVIEWS AUDIO/VIDEO?????

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Brianna Zaleski 1 year, 2 months ago

Is there any doubt that Travis Releford is the best, non-dunking,finisher in college? Especially when he gets out in the open court, he is very hard to stop and always seems to have the defender on his heels. Very pleased with him last night. Liked how he buckled down (along w/ Withey) and hit his impt ft's after having missed some early. That's the advantage of having exp seniors.

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jawsrecliner 1 year, 2 months ago

Don't want to rain on any parades or be negative, but let's not crown KU yet. We still have to go to Ames, where ISU is undefeated this season. They almost beat us here. Baylor also likes to get up for us when we come to town. I don't want to count any chickens...

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Kurt Eskilson 1 year, 2 months ago

My son and I were at OSU the last time KU lost there, and the fans were ultra-classy. I especially remember being told more than once, "Remember when we beat you last in 2008? Your season went pretty well after that! Good luck in the NCAAs."

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Michael Leiker 1 year, 2 months ago

That was one unhappy fan base walking out of Gallagher-Iba last night. They really felt like they got the raw end of the deal. I was eating it up. 1st trip there for me and it lived up to all my expectations. Best place other than AFH I've seen a game.

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iamakufan 1 year, 2 months ago

Now we need Oklahoma State to take out Kansas State when they go to Stillwater. And we have to take care of our own business including our trip to Ames.

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Luke Kading 1 year, 2 months ago

I'm not trying to be negative, because overall I thought Releford and Withey played well. However, how many times is Travis Releford gonna cross halfcourt against a press and immediatly pick up his dribble? It seemed to happen three or four times last night, and each time he did it he was going so fast that when he stopped he drug his pivot foot and traveled. That shouldn't happen from a senior guard. He should have enough ball handling skills and poise to bring it up every once in a while and keep his dribble. Also, he needs to be ready to shoot when he catches the ball on the perimeter. He is a good shooter, but it seems like he is never ready to catch and shoot. He passed up a handful of good looks last night where he catches it and doesn't even look at the basket. Especially in a game like this where the offense is struggling, he needs to be ready to take good looks when they are there, because he can make those.

As for Withey, again, good overall game, but he missed a couple bunnies in the second half that could have avoided overtime to begin with, with the most obvious coming right before Marcus Smart's three to tie it with about a minut left.

Oh well. Both guys played well and that was a great win against a very good team. Good to see Elijah play well again (minus some bad first half TO's). He is crucial to this team having a shot to win the national championship. He is the best option at driving the lane and getting his own shot.

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ollerfarm 1 year, 2 months ago

Tharpe and Young shot ALL of the shots in both overtimes, except the 3 from the corner by Ben Mc. Releford, Withey and Mc were just watching the two worst players for KU on the floor shoot and miss, with one exception, Tharpe hits with 16 seconds to go.

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Kent Noble 1 year, 2 months ago

I don't know what game you all were watching, Releford was good in regulation, but was nowhere to be found in that double OT!! Him and McLamore left Naadir hanging in OT! Great job Naadir way to get some balls and step up and take that last shot.

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Navyjayhawker 1 year, 2 months ago

Great performance by the seniors! Is it just me or does Traylor look like he has what it takes to be as good or better then T-Rob? That dude is a beast! If he continues to grow over the next couple of years, I see a lottery in his future.

4

Ryan Zimmerman 1 year, 2 months ago

Love you Releford, but you'd have done a lot better if you weren't travelling 3 times and picking up your dribble on the traps

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W Keith Swinehart II 1 year, 2 months ago

Great, story-telling photo leading the article captures the essence of this physical matchup.

1

HawkKlaw 1 year, 2 months ago

This article's title is the understatement of the year. Holy crap, Releford and Withey were everywhere last night drawing fouls, hitting free throws, making defensive stops, hitting big shots, etc. Those two in particular deserve a lot of credit for this win.

Rock Chalk!

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Steve Gantz 1 year, 2 months ago

Not sure if this has been mentioned but the play of EJ was just as important to me as TRel and JW.

1

wrwlumpy 1 year, 2 months ago

“What a great hustle play by Travis to keep that ball from going out of bounds,” Kansas coach Bill Self said. “And it wasn’t out of bounds. It was six inches in. What an unbelievable hustle play by him to pat that ball ahead. We’ve got a happy locker room. We’re going to have a hard time getting home, obviously. We’re not going to get home until 4 or 5 in the morning with the weather. But it’ll be a much sweeter ride now.”

Most of us on this Blog grew up loving and playing basketball. Some of the best moments at any level of play was the bus ride on the way home after a draining victory. Stopping to pick up an order at subway called in by one of the student managers. Driving through the night in the snow, re- watching the game and studying and trying to sleep. which is really hard for those on the team taller than 6'8" with limited leg room.

SENIORS!

Releford played 48 minutes and the picture above shows no lag in energy in the final seconds of the game. Withy dominatied and played with 4 fouls. Elijah fouled out and made all Jayhawk realize how important he is to this team. Then there is Young. When did he become Thomas Robinson the Enforcer in the paint. That pointed shoulder told Marcus Smart not to drive the lane the rest of the night.

Big 12 Conference, time for Seniors.

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hotrodm 1 year, 2 months ago

Releford will be a millionaire, either NBA or Overseas.

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arch007bak 1 year, 2 months ago

Is it just me or does T Boone need to donate some clocks to OSU?

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MinnesotaJay 1 year, 2 months ago

Releford and Withey both have worked their backsides off at KU. They've made themselves into the players they are, and they'll both make a far better than average living playing basketball post-college. Hat's off!

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jaybate 1 year, 2 months ago

"Stillwater, Okla. — The superstars ordained as NBA players before they step foot on a college campus dominate headlines and mock drafts, but there still is a place for seniors in college basketball. And that place late Wednesday night was Gallagher-Iba Arena, where two exhausted men stood in the winner’s circle after a heavyweight basketball game that couldn’t be settled until two extra rounds were fought." --Tom Keegan

One of the five best opening graphs I have read in 59 years of seeking and savoring the best sports writing I can find.

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dfybaby21 1 year, 2 months ago

We'll not mention the officiating in this game (Higgins delivers yet another one for Kansas) and point out that Self had really better cash something in with these seniors, because he has made it pretty clear that he has no faith whatsoever in his bench. Sharpe played a lot of minutes, because someone had to play, but make no mistake, he was awful for the entire game, minus the game winning shot. With 4 senior starters leaving, and McLemore a sure-fire top NBA pick, Self better recruit the top players "by any means necessary" (wink, wink) or else the next couple of seasons are going to be brutal.

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Steve Zimmerman 1 year, 2 months ago

Rele needs to keep driving the ball & shooting layups after layups just like that. He does it beautifully with his swings, long steps & long arms. Especially, when Withey or KY clears the path to the basket. He could've scored 20s had he not missed those FTs. Great job, Travis!!

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jbal32 1 year, 2 months ago

Great job Hawks!!! If BMAC would have been on they would have won by 15 plus!!!!

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Jay Dogger 1 year, 2 months ago

I doubt he will get drafted but it sure seems like an NBA team could use a guy like Releford. Just look at this stats! He makes 60% of his FG shots, 46% from three, and 81% of his FTs. I bet he gets picked up after the draft as a free agent.

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