Travis Releford edges out Naadir Tharpe for No. 1 spot

Kansas guard Travis Releford celebrates a three by teammate Ben McLemore during the second half on Saturday, Dec. 29, 2012 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas guard Travis Releford celebrates a three by teammate Ben McLemore during the second half on Saturday, Dec. 29, 2012 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

1. Travis Releford: It's going to be hard for any KU player to have a more efficient night than Releford did Saturday. The senior made seven of eight field goals, which included a 5-for-6 performance from three-point range. Releford posted 19 points, two rebounds, three assists and no turnovers in a 23-minute effort. In his last four games, he has gone 9-for-11 from beyond the arc (82 percent).

2. Naadir Tharpe: It was hard to keep him from the top spot after his breakout performance. The sophomore's 12 assists tied for the 10th-most in a game in KU history (assists were tallied starting in the 1973-74 season), and he registered those without a single turnover. He also went 3-for-4 from three to finish with nine points in 20 minutes with four rebounds. In his last four games, Tharpe has 22 assists and no turnovers.

3. Perry Ellis: KU coach Bill Self called this Ellis' best game, and that showed in the stat line. The freshman notched his first double-double, contributing 11 points (5-for-7 shooting) to go with a career-high 10 rebounds. He also had a pair of blocks and a three-pointer with no turnovers in 17 minutes.

4. Elijah Johnson: Coming into the game, Johnson had made just one of his last nine three-pointers. He broke that slump against the Eagles, knocking down four of five threes to finish with 12 points. He also added four assists to go with one turnover in 24 minutes.

5. Jeff Withey: Quiet night for Withey compared to his teammates, but that didn't stop him from racking up an efficient line himself. He went 5-for-7 from the floor for 11 points to go with four rebounds, four blocks and one turnover in 21 minutes. He also had the highlight of the night, posterizing AU's Tony Wroblicky with a one-handed jam in the first half.

6. Ben McLemore: Self commented after the game that McLemore never was able to get in the flow of the game, and part of the reason for that was the freshman picking up two quick fouls. McLemore had nine points on 2-for-4 shooting and made all four of his free throws in 20 minutes. His best play might have been a first-half assist to Releford, as McLemore passed up an open three to get Releford a wide-open one. You don't see many future lottery picks that unselfish in college.

7. Kevin Young: KU played so well that Young's six-point perfect shooting night (3-for-3 on field goals) places him seventh. Young also had four rebounds, one assist, one block, two steals and no turnovers in 17 minutes. The senior is now 8-for-8 from the floor in KU's last three games.

8. Rio Adams: Outside of a traveling violation, the freshman was solid in his 11 minutes. He had two points, an assist and a steal and provided good defensive pressure.

9. Jamari Traylor: Traylor showed the quickness to deny passes on the perimeter, but he struggled defensively in the lane, getting a little too aggressive with his block attempts. The freshman had three points, five rebounds, two steals and two turnovers and five fouls in his 21 minutes.

10. Andrew White III: Tough game for the freshman, who struggled with his ball-handling and decision-making. In 14 minutes, he had three of KU's 11 turnovers. White added four points on 2-for-5 shooting to go with one rebound. Season Standings
1. Jeff Withey (81 points)
2. Ben McLemore (80 points)
3. Travis Releford (79 points)
4. Elijah Johnson (70 points)
5. Naadir Tharpe (56 points)
6. Kevin Young (52 points)
7. Perry Ellis (48 points)
8. Jamari Traylor (38 points)
9. Andrew White III (21 points)
10. Rio Adams (16 points)
11. Justin Wesley (7 points)



jhawkrulz 1 year, 3 months ago

Tharpe is the MVP...without the dishes to Releford for 4 of the 5 open threes, Releford's night wouldn't have been quite as impressive. I'd give Kudos for Rele's defense, but I think the entire team played lockdown D.

The one shot from the 3 that Releford missed was not a dish from Tharpe.


BucknellJayhawk3 1 year, 3 months ago

Why is EJ getting so much draft love but not Travis Releford? Am I wrong to think this? He's been pretty good this year.


Jason Roberts 1 year, 3 months ago

Unlike my Lakers, I am very impressed with how well the Jayhawks are taking care of the ball. In spite of the competition, having only 11 turnovers in a game is solid work. The extra playing time for Adams and White may pay off in Big 12 play if and when the time comes that they are needed.

Most Improved Player so far on my list has to be Naadir Tharpe. He's going to allow the 'Hawks to be able to put a smaller lineup on the floor against those teams that play accordingly.

With Justin Wesley coming back into the mix in the next week or so this will be a dangerous team in Big 12 play and, more importanly, the NCAA Tournament. No one will wan to play a team that is 9-10 players deep, unselfish and well-rested.


jaybate 1 year, 3 months ago


May I suggest you shift to a weighted point score approach.

Production in a game against Ohio State should count more to season rankings than production in a game against American.

You could weight the games scores as follows:

Top Ten team x 1.0

Top Ten to Twenty team x .90

Major x .80

Strong Mid Major x .70

Weak Mid Major x .5

This would make the season's rankings much more indicative of player performance.

Keep up the good QA work.


Underdog777 1 year, 3 months ago

Travis did contribute more than Naadir. But Naadir had a performance much higher than his average. Travis is bring it every night and it is expected too. Travis's average performance this year will give him a top 3 rating for any game.


Eybea Opiner 1 year, 3 months ago

Too much credit given for points. Tharpe is the MVP without doubt.


William Blake 1 year, 3 months ago

I'd have to give Travis and Naadir, both, the top spot. Hard to deny either.

It was great to see the team play so well with BMac mostly on the pine. His only real competition this year is against the ref's whistle.

I don't think I'd want to play for Temple right now...


Alohahawk 1 year, 3 months ago

ESPN Top 10 Plays of the Day: Releford made #7 (after Withey's block and Young's outlet pass to a streaking Travis), and Withey made # 2, for his posterization of Wroblicky (as he's fed the ball coming down the middle of the lane). However, not a word that KU even won the game.

Note: ESPN had lot's of coverage of junk bowls and lower ranked BB games (UNC vs UNLV, and Syracuse game, Etc.). But with the exception of the two top ten highlights listed above, still waiting for any mention/coverage of #6 ranked KU's game vs American.


Joel Thomas 1 year, 3 months ago

I'd put Tharpe one, especially considering his recent run. Self would say it's more about the quality of the shot, versus whether it goes in.


Ferd Magellan 1 year, 3 months ago

Tharpe is the player of the game. No question.


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