Jeff Withey's defensive rebounding, passing stand out in win over Texas


1. Jeff Withey: Was efficient offensively and a big reason Texas posted a season-low offensive rebounding percentage (18 percent). The KU center also played a big part in getting KU easy buckets, blocking or altering shots before throwing the ball ahead to start KU's effective fast breaks. Withey posted 14 points on 4-for-6 shooting with nine rebounds (seven defensive) to go with four assists, three blocks, a steal and two turnovers in 32 minutes.

2. Ben McLemore: His defense was shaky at times, but the freshman came through with crucial baskets at important moments. McLemore finished with a team-high 16 points, knocking down six of 10 shots and two of three three-pointers (KU only had three treys as a team). McLemore also had six rebounds, two steals, an assist and block to go with four turnovers. After the first few minutes, he didn't appear to be hampered by his sprained right ankle in the least.

3. Travis Releford: The senior always seems to pick up his defensive pressure in the second half, and that happened against Saturday. Releford also hit four crucial free throws in the final minutes, including two with 7 seconds left that sealed the game. He finished with 12 points on 4-for-8 shooting with four rebounds, two assists, two steals and two turnovers.

4. Naadir Tharpe: The game changed late when KU coach Bill Self elected to go small, which moved Tharpe to the point-guard spot. KU's defense picked up the intensity after that, and KU allowed just 10 points in the game's final 10 minutes. Tharpe had five points — including a touch-all-of-the-rim-before-spinning-in three — on 2-for-6 shooting with an assist, steal and turnover in 17 minutes.

5. Kevin Young: Self said afterwards it was the worst game Young had played in a long time, and partly because of that, the senior was not in during the game's final minutes. The senior's stat line still looked good, though: six points, 2-for-3 shooting, three rebounds, two steals, one block and two turnovers in 22 minutes.

6. Perry Ellis: Gave KU some great minutes early in the second half scrapping for loose balls while muscling up against bigger players. Ellis had four points on 1-for-4 shooting but also grabbed six rebounds in just 12 minutes.

7. Andrew White III: Missed a three and grabbed two rebounds in four minutes.

8. Elijah Johnson: His wild shots in the first half almost single-handedly put KU in a hole, and the senior never came out of the funk, finishing 1-for-11 from the floor with six points. He did make four important free throws, but against a team that doesn't force many turnovers, the senior had more giveaways (three) than assists (two). KU's point-guard issue has certainly not resolved itself in the month of January.

9. Jamari Traylor: Missed both field-goal attempts, made one of two free throws and had two rebounds in eight minutes. Season Standings
1. Jeff Withey (125 points)
2. Ben McLemore (123 points)
3. Travis Releford (118 points)
4. Elijah Johnson (99 points)
5. Kevin Young (91 points)
6. Naadir Tharpe (81 points)
7. Perry Ellis (68 points)
8. Jamari Traylor (56 points)
9. Andrew White III (30 points)
10. Rio Adams (16 points)
11. Justin Wesley (9 points)


Boouk 6 years, 5 months ago

Withey's up and under move late in the game against Ridley was awesome. When we weren't making shots from the perimeter we should've thrown it to him in the post instead of hoisting contested jumpers.

John Randall 6 years, 5 months ago

"dedication of the players Self brings in." Talent too, but every B12 team has that in abundance.

Coach Self is better than other coaches at two things:

• recognizing what a player has between between his neck and his crotch,

• establishing a relationship both player and coach can respect and cherish.

ParisHawk 6 years, 5 months ago

Tharpe 4 spots ahead of EJ: who would have predicted that, in any game?

EJ's underwhelming season would be a much bigger worry if Tharpe hadn't come through.

jgkojak 6 years, 5 months ago

I think EJ will come through and turn it on soon.

John Randall 6 years, 5 months ago

You are too easily underwhelmed. EJ doesn't score half what he could, but he does a lot of everything and does score enough when we need it – like a leader and teammate would.

AsadZ 6 years, 5 months ago

Great coaching move by Self to go small and very encouraging to see Tharpe performing during clutch time.

I am now feeling more comfortable with Naa at the point than EJ

aerohawk 6 years, 5 months ago

At what point is a point guard supposed to say to himself, "Hey, I'm not shooting it well tonight, maybe I'll try and facilitate others making baskets."

Robin Smith 6 years, 5 months ago

when coach isn't asking you to take those shots

I guarantee you he does what coach asks him and doing exactly what he is doing is in the best interest of the team, even though he is off.


John Randall 6 years, 5 months ago

Good thought, Robin. Even the missed shots put the opponent on notice that don't dare cheat the defense away from him. Taking good shots that opponents feel lucky to see miss will continue to keep them honest and have them sucking wind in crunch time.

TommieSmithElbow 6 years, 5 months ago

Kevin and Elijah should both be at the bottom. Kevin's line was misleading. How many times did his man throw long entry passes for driving baskets, or shoot some wide open killer baskets? His alligator arms of a ball right in front of the basket. There was a reason that Bill was screaming at him, and that he was sitting on the bench. Perry had much more passion and effort, and should be ranked ahead of him. He didn't have many successes, but he had far less failures.

There will be other nights (hopefully better ones), but both Elijah and Kevin HAVE to do better as leaders. Their shortcomings lately are starting to be trends, not exceptions.

Young's best play of the night was "spectator" on the sidelines cheering on the team's comeback (see "Julian Wright in the stands of Mario's Miracle").

Come on guys, you can do better! (Then again, I'm sure Bill is STILL "telling" you that.)

TommieSmithElbow 6 years, 5 months ago

That's my best laugh of the day. Thanks! (p.s. just a bit)

texashawk10 6 years, 5 months ago

I'm wondering what a starting line up of Tharpe, EJ, McLemore, Releford, and Withey would be able to do. For the past few games, Young and EJ have been complete liabilities on offense and the light seems to have come on for Tharpe running the point now. Seems like that line up would cause nightmares for opponents and force teams to quit doubling Withey all the time.

Daniel Cuellar 6 years, 5 months ago

Interesting lineup, and I don't completely disagree, but I feel like Young has contributed a lot more in the past 5 or 6 games then Elijah has. Yesterday I started thinking we need to start Tharpe at PG and have EJ come off the bench. I think he could contribute a lot off the bench. Plus I keep thinking back to how much better Sasha Kaun played his senior year when he came off the bench due to Darnell Jackson's drastic improvement.

John Randall 6 years, 5 months ago

How soon we forget that Darnell starting was Kahn's suggestion to coach Self. He understood they were comparable as starters, but he (Sasha) was more capable of handling the other role. As soon as Jamari/Perry are ready to carry it off, I think we'll see Kevin back where he is more comfortable and effective.

Todd Mobray 6 years, 5 months ago

Reminds me a lot of the kinds of teams Self had at Illinois.

KGphoto 6 years, 5 months ago

Perry is gonna start getting those rim rollers to fall in eventually, but his rebounding looked fierce yesterday. He was fighting. I also think Ellis is way more athletic than he usually shows. I wonder if Hudy is starting to seep into his game. He's looked strong and bouncy lately.

jgkojak 6 years, 5 months ago

What's up with Wesley?

I know he was injured - but it would seem like he's more badly needed this year- even though he got some solid minutes at times last year.

John Randall 6 years, 5 months ago

As long as Perry/Jamari keep up their development, Justin doesn't match their potential. In a four-big rotation, the slow early season due to injury simply left him the spare tire in the trunk. A number of scenarios might bring him charging to the rescue. Tough for him, but a luxury for the team.

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