Big man takes top spot for KU against TCU


Kansas center Jeff Withey smiles with the rest of the starters during a break in action in the second half on Saturday, Feb. 23, 2013 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas center Jeff Withey smiles with the rest of the starters during a break in action in the second half on Saturday, Feb. 23, 2013 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

1. Jeff Withey: After getting taken out of his game by TCU in Fort Worth (12 points, six field-goal attempts), Withey responded by taking over for stretches Saturday. The senior posted a team-high 18 points on 7-for-12 shooting, adding six rebounds and three blocks to go with two turnovers in 26 minutes. A huge defensive challenge awaits Withey, as his ball-screen defense will be tested Monday against Iowa State.

2. Ben McLemore: McLemore said afterwards that he liked his 360 and windmill dunks better, but his one-handed posterization of a TCU player at the end of the half should still earn a spot in SportsCenter's Top Ten. The freshman scored 14 points, making four of 10 field goals, two of six threes and four of four free throws. He also had three assists and two steals with no turnovers.

3. Kevin Young: After the game, KU coach Bill Self said Young was approaching Tyshawn Taylor territory, becoming a player who makes hard plays look easy and easy plays look hard. Young's energy was terrific in the first half, though, and he finished with six points on 3-for-4 shooting with eight rebounds in 22 minutes. Defensively, he added two blocks and two steals.

4. Travis Releford: Has KU ever had a better finisher in transition? It's hard to think of one the way Releford has played this season. The senior provided a typical "Releford" line: 12 points, 4-for-5 shooting, one assist and one steal to go with two turnovers in 30 minutes.

5. Perry Ellis: Scored on an array of post moves and provides KU with its best scoring threat off the bench. The freshman notched 12 points on 5-for-8 shooting with four rebounds and no turnovers in 15 productive minutes.

6. Elijah Johnson: Played well on a day when a lot of his teammates also played well. Johnson had seven points on 2-for-5 shooting with four assists, two steals and just one turnover in 29 minutes. The senior now has just four turnovers in his last three games.

7. Jamari Traylor: Showed a nice turn-around jumper in making his only field-goal attempt. The freshman still turns it over too much, but he does try hard. Traylor also came away with two steals in his 12 minutes.

8. Naadir Tharpe: Tharpe's shooting slump continued Saturday. He missed all four of his field goals and now has made just 31 percent of his twos (15 of 48) and 19 percent of his threes (nine of 48) in Big 12 play. Tharpe did make both of his free throws and added four assists to go with two turnovers in 17 minutes.

9. Rio Adams: Had a steal and a missed shot in his one minute.

10. Justin Wesley: Had two rebounds and a turnover in three minutes.

11. Andrew White III: Went 0-for-2 from the floor and 1-for-2 from the free throw line with a turnover in seven minutes. Season Standings
1. Jeff Withey (217 points)
2. Ben McLemore (208 points)
3. Travis Releford (199 points)
4. Kevin Young (159 points)
5. Elijah Johnson (143 points)
6. Naadir Tharpe (136 points)
7. Perry Ellis (114 points)
8. Jamari Traylor (92 points)
9. Andrew White III (43 points)
10. Rio Adams (28 points)
11. Justin Wesley (17 points)

Big 12 Standings
1. Jeff Withey (126 points)
2. Ben McLemore (119 points)
3. Travis Releford (113 points)
4. Kevin Young (100 points)
5. Naadir Tharpe (75 points)
6. Elijah Johnson (68 points)
7. Perry Ellis (62 points)
8. Jamari Traylor (51 points)
9. Andrew White III (20 points)
10. Rio Adams (13 points)
11. Justin Wesley (10 points)


Robert Brock 6 years, 4 months ago

So who leaves - Adams, White, both, or neither?

Jack Wilson 6 years, 4 months ago

This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.

Jack Wilson 6 years, 4 months ago

This is very puzzling. So now you're censoring comments about a player transferring? I simply stated my belief that Adams was going to transfer, and that Tharpe had won the battle for the scholarship. What is this site for? I noted the number scholarships, cited Self saying 8 would be available, and made no negative comments about the player?

Do you censor coach Self for saying on November 22 that 8 scholarships would be available when that would require a transfer or players leaving?

Jesse -- seriously, what's with the removal of this comment?

hawk_of_ages 6 years, 4 months ago

I'm saying neither till I hear otherwise. I don't like people taking the foregone conclusion that someone's transferring out every year. Transfers used to be incredibly rare at KU.

Boouk 6 years, 4 months ago

In his 65 minutes this season Adams still hasn't made a shot beyond 15 feet.

Alec White 6 years, 4 months ago

Stop crying. You're taking an incredibly small sample size and I bet he hasn't taken more than 5 or 6 shots "beyond 15 feet". If shooting wasn't your strength, would you, as a freshman, try and launch up long-distance shots in your limited minutes to impress your coach?

Bill knows what he's doing. He let Rio vent a bit, probably gave him a similar talking to that he gave to Russell and Tyshawn when they felt like leaving. As long as he stays, I'd bet anything he becomes a great player when it's all said and done.

Boouk 6 years, 4 months ago

If he improves his attitude and shooting in the offseason he could be great. Hopefully I'm wrong here, but I think Rio transferring is the more likely than him improving and becoming the player he can be in a KU uniform.

Dirk Medema 6 years, 4 months ago

Coach Self didn't "let" Rio do anything. Rio chose to, and Coach Self let him know it was a bad, the wrong choice. It seems like the off-the-court version of RussRob choosing not to enter the last minutes of a game his freshmen year. Rio faces the question - Do I go the way of RussRob, stay at KU, work on my game, get better over time, and become a champion with a minor pro career and periodic reunions of the nations best program, or do I go the path of Royce Woolridge, transfer to a minor program, play even fewer minutes next year, spend 3 years starting putting up big numbers in losing efforts before graduating and fading into the 8-5 world while continuing to "dominate" the local athletic club league?

Scott Smetana 6 years, 4 months ago

Ellis "provides the best scoring option off the bench." Maybe true against a weaker opponent with little bigs. Against a tough defense, give me Tharpe anyday.

LAJayhawk 6 years, 4 months ago

I agree with this, but at the same time, Releford had some very lazy passes and didn't value the ball well yesterday. He wound up with only 2 turnovers, but that's not a true indicator of how he kind of fell asleep for stretches offensively. I think that has to be factored into it all as well. It's also much easier to be a consistent shooter when one very rarely creates his own offense out of the half court set. Travis finishes in transition as well as anyone in the country, but he cannot create offense when we need it. That usually falls to EJ, Tharpe and sometimes BMac. If everyone played the way Travis often plays offensively, we'd have lost a lot more than 4 games.

But, yes, I do agree with you that he has been very consistent on both ends and has, perhaps, been our most important player this year.

Dirk Medema 6 years, 4 months ago

Perry was doing little when the minutes were meaningful vs. The runaway that EJ created through the others. Even Jamari is essentially a better option off the bench these days, because Perry still is not playing with D1 intensity and strength. EJ still has not returned to his Jr form, but still better than the freshman.

Dirk Medema 6 years, 4 months ago

The limited minutes for Rio would seem to indicate that he hasn't brought the right energy since his post-tweet discussion with Coach Self. I hope he gets his head right, because I think he can be the same contributor in year 3-4 (4-5) that our current/past 4-yr players have been.

TommieSmithElbow 6 years, 4 months ago


Regarding your comment: "Has KU ever had a better finisher in transition?"

Two words: Rex Walters. He either finished the play (virtually all the time) or was fouled. The times were extremely rare that we came away without points when he took it to the basket in transition. (I live out west and watch tons of Gonzaga games, and whenever Rex is on with USF, I always think of that particular skill, and how mentally tough he was for us. How I wish he was leading this team!)

At the same time, I don't want to diminish the fine job that Travis has done!

By the way, the absolute best person I ever saw was James Worthy in college. He was like "I'm taking this ball to the hoop and there is nothing you can do", and then did just that!


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