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Saturday, March 2, 2013

Notebook: KU seniors prepare for final home game; recruit Andrew Wiggins to visit Sunday

The Kansas start give a collective fist bump during a break in action against West Virginia on Saturday, March 2, 2013 at Allen Fieldhouse.

The Kansas start give a collective fist bump during a break in action against West Virginia on Saturday, March 2, 2013 at Allen Fieldhouse.

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Podcast episode

Press Conferences & Post-Game Interviews

KU coach Bill Self talks after win over WVU

Kansas coach Bill Self talks after his team's 91-65 victory over West Virginia on March 2, 2013.

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Podcast episode

Press Conferences & Post-Game Interviews

Ben McLemore, Elijah Johnson, Jeff Withey

Kansas players Ben McLemore, Elijah Johnson and Jeff Withey talk to reporters following the Jayhawks' 91-65 victory over West Virginia on March 2, 2013.

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Press Conferences & Post-Game Interviews

WVU coach Bob Huggins

West Virginia coach Bob Huggins talks after KU's 91-65 victory on March 2, 2013.

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Box score

KU-WVU

Jeff Withey and three of his closest friends will play the final home game of their Kansas University basketball careers on Monday night in Allen Fieldhouse.

“We’re excited. It’s going to be an emotional game and one that we are going to remember for a long time,” the 7-foot senior Withey said after scoring 14 points, grabbing 10 rebounds and blocking nine shots in Saturday’s 91-65 home victory over West Virginia.

“We’re ready for it,” he added of himself, Elijah Johnson, Travis Releford and Kevin Young, “but at the same time we don’t want it to come because it is our last home game. We know that we have to win every game from here on out in order to win the conference (title) and get into our groove for the (NCAA) tournament.”

KU, 13-3 in Big 12 play with two games remaining, remains tied with Kansas State (13-3) for the top spot in the league. Oklahoma State is a game back. KSU won at Baylor on Saturday.

McLemore’s finale too?: Monday also could be the final home game of freshman Ben McLemore, who exploded for 36 points Saturday and has three outings of 30 or more this season.

“The reality of it is Ben and I ... we’re not going to talk about this until the season is over ... he could obviously be running out there the last time, too,” coach Bill Self said. “Even though you don’t talk about it, you know obviously it’s something I’m sure he has thought about as well.”

Asked about the possibility of it being his last game, McLemore, who has been projected to be the No. 1 or 2 pick in the June NBA Draft, said: “We just have to focus on what is in front of us right now. Our focus is just to go out there and play ball. We want to make our seniors happy and have them leave with a great year — their time here at the University of Kansas.”

More than nine?: One media member suggested the ever-active Withey may have had more than nine blocks.

“Our stat crew I know does a great job,” Self said. “I think that one is worth revisiting if possible. It sure seemed that way to me. He got one late they (refs) called a foul. That looked like it might have been clean. He did a great job blocking and altering today.”

Withey had a triple-double earlier this season against San Jose State with 16 points, 12 rebounds and 12 blocks.

Souvenir: Self was presented a ball signifying his 500th coaching victory (against Iowa State) before the game. The fans responded with a standing ovation. Self waved the ball to the crowd.

Wiggins arrives Sunday: Andrew Wiggins, a 6-7 senior forward from Huntington (W. Va.) Prep will arrive on campus Sunday for the start of an official recruiting visit. Wiggins is the No. 1-rated player in the Class of 2013 by Rivals.com. He is considering KU, Kentucky, Florida State and North Carolina.

Individual stats: Withey is tied with Paul Mokeski (1976-79) for 10th all-time on the school double-double list. ... Johnson earned the third double-double of his career and second of the season. Johnson’s 10 assists tie his career high, which he recorded against Iowa State on Jan. 11. ... Johnson is 9-of-14 from three in his last two games, after going 7-of-30 in his previous six. ... Kevin Young’s six points gave him 1,004 for his career. He scored 658 at Loyola Marymount (2008-10) and 346 at Kansas.

Team notes: KU has won 24 games for the eighth consecutive season. KU has 13 conference wins for the eighth straight season. ... KU is 2-0 versus West Virginia all-time. ... KU’s 61.1 three-point shooting percentage (11 of 18) is second-highest this year (15-24 for 62.5 percent vs. American on Dec. 29) ... KU has combined for 199 points in its last two games after scoring 215 in its previous three. ... KU has had players with back-to-back 30-point games for the first time since Danny Manning scored 30 and 37 against Oklahoma and Missouri on Feb. 24 and Feb. 27, 1988. Manning also had a 31-point performance on Feb. 20, 1988 versus Duke to mark the last three-game stretch where KU had a player score 30-points or more. ... KU last scored 90 or more points in two consecutive Big 12 games when it scored 90 against Missouri (Feb. 4, 2008) and 100 versus Baylor (Feb. 9, 2008) in the 2007-08 season. ... KU’s 91 points are the most by a West Virginia opponent this season. ... The Jayhawks’ 29 assists were most since dishing 30 against Towson on Nov. 11, 2011.

Randle wins state: Julius Randle scored 35 points and grabbed 20 rebounds to lead Prestonwood Christian Academy of Plano, Texas, to a 71-66 state-championship win over Nolan on Saturday, USA Today reports. Randle, who is the No. 2-ranked senior in the country, is considering KU, Kentucky, Florida, North Carolina State and Texas.

Comments

Gil Ek 1 year, 1 month ago

Drove 509.6 miles from Dallas the previous weekent to Self's visit to watch Randall play in College Station. Then to Austin to have 30 minute lunch with daughter then back to Dallas. Saturday game was his first full game since foot injury. Had good second half and 10 points as that win put them in the Final Four. Unbelievable physical ability that would look great in Crimson and Blue. I didn't look quite like JayBird but was dressed like a KU billboard sitting a few rows behind the PCA bench. Friends went to the finals and said he was awesome. With Coach Self and Hudy, he could be another lottery pick in a year.

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midwest_muser 1 year, 1 month ago

Dream scenario: Randle and a healthy Zach Peters in Lawrence next fall.

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Eric Baker 1 year, 1 month ago

Hey, Andrew Wiggins' older brother Nick Wiggins plays for Wichita State. Maybe Andrew would want to be reasonably close to his brother for a year?

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Tony Bandle 1 year, 1 month ago

My breakthrough....I didn't believe we would have so many "Coaches Sons" games!!! :)

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jaybate 1 year, 1 month ago

I expected Young to beat out Ellis once KY played a couple games. Perry was only rushed into service, because with EJ not able to score due to injury, more scoring was needed than Kevin could provide. Kevin was better in every other way. Now that EJ can score finally, we'll see see less Perry and more KY, because the team can now better afford KY.

Tharpe is the guy who has made the biggest nonlinear leap and so most exceeded my expectations. His defense is now credible, his trey touch is slowly dialing in, and the team is often stronger for brief butts with him at point and EJ at 2. Not for long bursts, but for short ones.

Naadir is a great breakthrough!

I am also surprised that Ben has lived up to hype on offence, but not quite on defense, though his defense is adequate.

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JakeBarnes 1 year, 1 month ago

I wish Gary or someone would run a poll on which KU starter has had the least anticipated year by contributing the most to KU's strong showing considering his play the previous year. I think it is Young, not Withey, who indicated last year what we might expect this year. Since McLemore didn't play last year he isn't included, but I thought he would have a good year, just not as good as it has been. Of course, Relford has been good but I knew that and Johnson, despite his up and down games, has played about as I thought he would. I never had the slightest inkingly that Young would contribute so much.

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Born_And_Raised_A_KU_Fan 1 year, 1 month ago

On a less pleasant note, some of you who are on Twitter were commenting yesterday that Rio Adams was running his mouth on Twitter again despite being warned about that by Coach Self. Any word on whether further disciplinary action is going to be taken?

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Randy Maxwell 1 year, 1 month ago

What's good for Ben in the short term is to take the money that's on the table. What's good for him in the long run to have a great nba career and get that 2nd contract the important contract is to come back to school and get better. He's not ready. It wil be detremental for his long term career if he leaves

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Machawk 1 year, 1 month ago

Scott Drew will probably sweep in at the last second and snatch Wiggins and Randle so they can play for the most inept coach ever along with their clueless fans. Totally blew the game with KSU last night.

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justinryman 1 year, 1 month ago

There was a play that Withey should get credit for a block on. A wing player got the ball about 10ft away with his back turned to the rim, when her turned he saw Jeff a cmon' and jumped and dropped the ball for a travel.

Is there a stat out there for scaring the ball away? Jeff could lead the nation in that category.

Everyone is talking about the # of assist for KU and it is a great number, but what about team blocks?

1

Born_And_Raised_A_KU_Fan 1 year, 1 month ago

Elijah's jam made #1 on SportsCenter's top 10!

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Michael Johnson 1 year, 1 month ago

if Wiggins is visiting today, does that mean he will of won't be at Mondays game?

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Dee Shaw 1 year, 1 month ago

Having a hard time understanding why Wiggins and Randle wouldn't come here. Why not. Next year we will have a whole new starting 5. Withey, Johnson, Young, Releford and McClemore are all gone. Rio Adams is gone. He will transfer. Talking about coming in and having playing time. We must understand that Randle and Wiggins are one and done players. Why not recruit them and persuade them and sell them on its your team. I really believe KU is the leaders for both players. Yes I am a homer but just look at all the teams involved and KU makes the most sense for playing and winning. I don't know maybe I have drunk to much of the KU kool-aid. Anyone else see what I'm talking about. Do you jeopardize these two players for just one season. According to the experts Wiggins is a complete stud. Next years starting five? Interesting to think about. A complete new team.

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jaybate 1 year, 1 month ago

This team has always had three question marks standing between it and greatness.

Will Elijah's knees get strong enough to play well at point? They have.

Will Naadir become a credible backup point guard? He has.

Will Perry Ellis become a credible rotation big that can play big minutes when a starter gets fouled up, and be productive enough to help the team to a win in the Madness.? To be determined.

Perry has gotten incrementally better, after a deep descent into freshman big hell, but he has yet to hang with a very good player in a money role for 20 minutes as he will likely have to do once in the Madness, if kU were to run for a ring.

The last conference games should give him a few more shots at an incremental improvement, which he did not make yesterday.

The conference tourney's 3 in 3 days format could give shot at a dry run for his role in the Madness.

If he can put together even one solid performance in the conference tourney, he should be ready for his rendezvous with destiny.

And this team should be ready for it's climb to the mountain top.

Go, Perry, go!

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Michael Luby 1 year, 1 month ago

Oh yah, one more thing. It doesnt really matter much if Wiggins doesnt come here. Weve got guys coming in and guys returning who can ball just as well for our perimeter. We really need Randle and Randle needs us. He's got to come to KU!

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Michael Luby 1 year, 1 month ago

This Senior class has really made their mark on KU basketball. It is a mark that will stand the test of time for many many years, regardless of what happens the rest of this season. That being said, I have a great feeling about whats to come. Rock Chalk Seniors and Ben! Thank you in advance for a great season! I thoroughly enjoyed getting a chance to meet you all in person after the Richmond game this season. Ive got a ball with every name and jersey # on it that I will treasure for the rest of my life.
Back in 2008, Kansas had their Senior night against TT. They came out and had a blast and in the process gave the visiting team the biggest loss they had to that point. Come out ready to play monday, have a blast, our fans will be loud, the visiting team will not know what hit them.

1

Scott MacWilliams 1 year, 1 month ago

To the Senior Hawks, Thanks for all your incredible work and dedication during your time here. We have all been so glad that you chose to come the KU and become part of the greatest family in all of basketball.

We will always cheer for you and pull for you wherever you play ball, and in whatever career path you take after you're done playing. Hey, Scooter Barry retired at 40! so you never know how long you can keep at the game, right?

But here's the hard part. You have to play through Senior Night, and it can be really tough. We've seen a lot of great players at AFH over the years, and sometimes they really have a hard time keeping their focus on that night. I don't know what advice to give you, other than we will always, ALWAYS!!! be on your side. So try to just relax and enjoy the game, let it come to you, and everything will be good.

Rock Chalk, Senior Hawks!!!

4

Konkis Dongington III 1 year, 1 month ago

Posted this elsewhere, but it bears repeating here since Randle is mentioned:

In recruiting news Julius Randle just won MVP and a 5A Texas state championship. Apparently Self was out there watching him play yesterday:

http://www.ihigh.com/vypedfw/article_159693.html

Self just met with his coach, not Randle himself. There are a couple of ways to interpret that. I'm not going to jinx anything by enumerating them. When I thought we were close on Cat Barber I called it and he went to NC State. When I thought we were close on Selden, I kept my mouth shut and he committed on the visit. Consider this me keeping my mouth shut about Randle.

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Joel Thomas 1 year, 1 month ago

The worst part of the season is that it's almost over. TCU seems like 10 years ago.

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Steve Zimmerman 1 year, 1 month ago

Withey has made the right decision going to KU. We are so proud of you! EJ will close his senior night with another bang. There's no sign of injury there. Travis has become a lethal defensive-offensive threat - keep it up till we see another trophy comes April. KYoung - he has it all. Thanks for coming to KU! This will be another great & definitely emotional #seniornight. Rock Chalk!

3

Ethan Berger 1 year, 1 month ago

If Randle just won state, then we should have a decision within the next 14 days. Wiggins choosing us would be massive but I doubt it.

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Lance Hobson 1 year, 1 month ago

Not holding my breath for either one of these recruits. These top-ranked one and doners seem to favor UK. That's fine, we do well with the 4-star guys we develop for longer college careers.

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Boouk 1 year, 1 month ago

ESPN's Dave Telep said Randle told him he's down to 3 schools. He thinks they're KU, UK, and Texas.

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Ferd Magellan 1 year, 1 month ago

Ben has no choice. He's going to be very sad at his final KU press conference (like X Henry who was never this talented), but he was ready-made for the NBA. When you factor in the family issues, you not only expect him to go, you want him to make the leap. We have to enjoy him while we have him.

As for Wiggins, do what you do best students. Analysts are describing him as one of the best prospects of the last ten years, just behind LeBron and Durant. He can play one through four, and has the potential to be an all-world defender as a freshman. It wouldn't help our frontcourt situation, but it would make our backcourt arguably the best in the nation, even with a bunch of freshmen.

Don't play attention to the misleading info from UK and FSU fans. He and his coach say he's wide open, so show him why no place compares to KU for a college basketball player.

6

timcampbell 1 year, 1 month ago

Hope Ben stays for one more year, but I think he will follow the money. I know I would.

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