Elijah Johnson takes over against Iowa State
1. Elijah Johnson: So who saw that coming?* Johnson, who had made 38 percent of his twos and 27 percent of his threes during Big 12 play, single-handedly won the game for KU late, scoring a career-high 39 points on 13-for-22 shooting with 6-for-10 shooting from three-point range. The senior had KU's final eight points in regulation — two tough threes then two high-pressure free throws with 4.9 seconds left to tie it — then scored seven of the first 10 in overtime. In the final minutes, Johnson was getting to the rim off the dribble whenever he wanted to. He also added seven assists to go with three turnovers in 37 minutes.
2. Travis Releford: On a night when Ben McLemore was nearly invisible, Releford halted numerous ISU momentum swings by aggressively taking and making outside shots. The senior made six of 12 field goals and five of nine three-pointers to finish with 19 points — his highest total in a Big 12 game this season. Releford added four rebounds, three assists and two steals to go with three turnovers in 42 minutes.
3. Kevin Young: Young has struggled with his shot most of the season, but when KU needed him Monday, he was able to come through with mid-range jumpers to keep the defense honest. Young notched 13 points on 6-or-8 shooting, which included 4-for-6 shooting on two-point jumpshots. Young also had nine rebounds, an assist and turnover in 23 minutes before fouling out.
4. Jeff Withey: The good news for KU? No one on ISU could guard Withey. The bad news? Withey could guard no one on ISU. The 7-foot center was once again exposed by a team that forced him to play defense on the perimeter, as freshman Georges Niang (seven assists, no turnovers) was the focal point for the Cyclones' offense while going against KU's big man. Withey still had a stretch where he took over offensively, finishing with 13 points on 5-for-7 shooting with 10 rebounds to go with two assists and four turnovers. KU already should start praying to the basketball gods that its round of 32 opponent is a team with a traditional 5-man.
5. Perry Ellis: One of his best games in Big 12 play, if not his best. The freshman provided scoring for KU when it was battling foul trouble, as he made two of five field goals and four of four free throws for eight points. Ellis also had six rebounds and no turnovers in his 15 minutes.
6. Naadir Tharpe: Hit a couple big threes, which isn't insignificant considering he was shooting 19 percent from three in his previous Big 12 games. Tharpe had nine points on 3-for-7 shooting, which included 2-for-5 accuracy from long range. He also had four assists to go with three turnovers in 26 minutes.
7. Ben McLemore: Is this the start of a disturbing trend? In KU's two biggest conference games, McLemore has been a no-show, as he scored seven points while attempting just six field goals in 38 minutes. He had four assists compared to just one turnover, but the Jayhawks need much more out of him if they hope to hit their ceiling in March.
8. Jamari Traylor: Had a rebound, block, steal and missed field goal in eight minutes.
KUsports.com Season Standings
1. Jeff Withey (224 points)
2. Ben McLemore (212 points)
3. Travis Releford (208 points)
4. Kevin Young (167 points)
5. Elijah Johnson (153 points)
6. Naadir Tharpe (141 points)
7. Perry Ellis (120 points)
8. Jamari Traylor (95 points)
9. Andrew White III (43 points)
10. Rio Adams (28 points)
11. Justin Wesley (17 points)
Big 12 Standings
1. Jeff Withey (133 points)
2. Ben McLemore (123 points)
3. Travis Releford (122 points)
4. Kevin Young (108 points)
5. Naadir Tharpe (80 points)
6. Elijah Johnson (78 points)
7. Perry Ellis (68 points)
8. Jamari Traylor (54 points)
9. Andrew White III (20 points)
10. Rio Adams (13 points)
11. Justin Wesley (10 points)
* — Actually my best friend Mike saw it coming. Here's his text to me earlier Monday: "I have a feeling tonight is going to be EJ's night ... I feel like he is going to bust out of it today ... you know me and my psychic random thoughts." I'll let him make the bets next time we're in Vegas.