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Travis Releford gives complete effort in win over Kansas State

1. Travis Releford: Kansas coach Bill Self said afterwards that Releford had one of his best games as a Jayhawk. The senior darted through numerous screens to chase down Kansas State leading scorer Rodney McGruder, holding him to 13 points on 4-for-12 shooting. Releford also was his normal efficient self on the offensive end, making five of six shots (and two of three three-pointers) to lead KU with 12 points to go with three assists, one steal and no turnovers.

2. Jeff Withey: Playing with the flu, Withey hit what Self called the game's biggest shot, putting in a jump-hook over the top of Kansas State's Jordan Henriquez to push KU's advantage late in the second half. Withey also was the biggest reason KSU had one of its worst games on the offensive glass, pulling down seven defensive rebounds. Withey posted a double-double with 11 points on 3-for-6 shooting with 10 rebounds.

3. Ben McLemore: Though he sat out most of the first half with two fouls, McLemore took over a stretch in the second half, lifting KU with a three-pointer an a long two off scramble plays. McLemore finished with 11 points, five rebounds, two blocks and a steal to go with three turnovers.

4. Perry Ellis: Ellis helped save KU in the first half when Withey picked up two fouls. The freshman was aggressive in scrums and efficient with his shot, going 3-for-4 from the floor for eight points with four rebounds in 18 minutes. The only negative for him was the free throw line, where he made just two of six shots.

5. Naadir Tharpe: Hit the game's two biggest free throws, making both ends of a one-and-one with 22 seconds left to extend the Jayhawks' lead to five points. Though Tharpe made just two of seven field goals and missed all four of his three-point tries, he posted two assists against just one turnover with a steal in 18 minutes.

6. Kevin Young: Though his line was ugly, Young made two important plays. One was an offensive rebound around Shane Southwell, which led to a McLemore three, and the other was a stickback before the first-half buzzer that pushed KU's lead to four. Young missed too many bunnies, making just one of six field goals to end with three points, six rebounds, two assists and one turnover in 30 minutes.

7. Elijah Johnson: Though Johnson hit the game-clinching free throw with 3 seconds left, his struggles continue. The senior point guard had five of his team's 13 turnovers, which makes 25 turnovers in his last six games; in three of his last six games, he's had five turnovers or more. Johnson's shooting didn't help his line either, as he attempted a team-high 10 field goals while making just three (which included 1-for-3 accuracy from three-point range). Johnson added four rebounds, four assists and two steals in 35 minutes.

8. Rio Adams: Won the Gary Bedore coin flip to take eighth place. Played two minutes with no other stats.

9. Jamari Traylor: Lost the Gary Bedore coin flip to take ninth place. Played two minutes with no other stats.

KUsports.com Season Standings
1. Jeff Withey (134 points)
2. Ben McLemore (131 points)
3. Travis Releford (128 points)
4. Elijah Johnson (103 points)
5. Kevin Young (96 points)
6. Naadir Tharpe (87 points)
7. Perry Ellis (75 points)
8. Jamari Traylor (58 points)
9. Andrew White III (30 points)
10. Rio Adams (19 points)
11. Justin Wesley (9 points)

Comments

Chandler James 1 year, 11 months ago

Hey Jesse, I remember in years past that the rankings would keep a conference season only part of overall rankings. Is there are reason its not happening this year?

Jesse Newell 1 year, 11 months ago

I don't think we had it last year either, but if there's enough interest, I can compile that the next time I put up rankings on Saturday.

actorman 1 year, 11 months ago

I'd like to see that, if it isn't too much trouble. I mean it's not like you have anything else to do these days ...

Adam Evans 1 year, 11 months ago

Great call CJ. I remember that back when the twins played. I know it's probably more work than you'd like, but I'd enjoy seeing that again too Jesse. And thanks for all the hard work again, as always, so far this season Jesse.

Suzi Marshall 1 year, 11 months ago

I've always been an EJ fan but these turnovers and poor shooting is wearing thin. AWIii should be ready when the bell rings.

KGphoto 1 year, 11 months ago

The Prophet will make plays when it counts. His time is near.

When everything is on the line, and the pressure has guys locking up, he will shine.

Alec White 1 year, 11 months ago

This echoes my sentiments exactly. Elijah is a cool customer, one who never wavers in the spotlight. I think his laid-back attitude really helps him excel at times where other, more consistent players would falter. Also, it does appear he is getting healthier and regaining his explosiveness; he seems to be blowing by his man with ease now. It's just he can't seem to make the proper point guard decisions once he gets in the paint.

I really like how we pull out close games over and over again (although a blowout on Saturday would be nice). Like Coach Self always mentions, a hostile road environment against an elite squad is the closest you can get to matching the feel of a tight tourney game. The fact we can repeatedly win these dogfights really has me liking our chances to win 6 in a row come March/April.

KGphoto 1 year, 11 months ago

Exactly. 6 in a row requires many things, and he is building those things up in his new position. Point guard (Floor General). His new task is not filling a stat sheet. Rather ciphering a blend for the old, grizzled, battle-hardened vets, and the shiny new rookie hotshot (The modern weapon of choice.) and delivering the coup de grace when the time comes. Rough statistical performances mask the wisdom being acquired as a floor general. He has the man hours, the one-and-done experience, the medals and the scars. Now he is at the helm. Field Marshal Self promoted him at the beginning of the season, and even though Marshal Self has utilized Tharpe to assist... EJ is still the floor general. (God I sound like a jaybate wannabe. lol. JB can you rewrite this please? I don't know how I got here, but I'm in foreign territory with the war analogies.)

Let's not overlook that he's had two key plays in the last two key victories, foreshadowing a relentless March... on April.

Suzi Marshall 1 year, 11 months ago

I completely agree EJ will shine when needed. His continued turnovers and poor shooting just irratating.. Turnovers are expected from a PG trying to make plays. It's the really dumb ass ones he needs eliminate. He is far to good a player (and shooter...and finisher) to allow this to continue. The Hawks will fly high when EJ gets his act together.

Todd Mobray 1 year, 11 months ago

Any theories on why Rio got a couple of minutes instead of AW3?

Robin Smith 1 year, 11 months ago

His ability to put pressure on the defense with his dribble and speed

Scott Smetana 1 year, 11 months ago

Nice evening for the Relefords over the Wildcats! Trevor led the way over Calisleazy!

Robin Smith 1 year, 11 months ago

I have no concerns regarding Elijah.

Despite the poor shooting and some turnovers, he is strong and calm, a great leader; he has been doing what needs to be done for KU to win and to improve.

17-1, that's it.

KGphoto 1 year, 11 months ago

Mac is an ideal NBA 2. Travis is a useful, backup NBA 2. Which is much more than he was when the season started.

Joel Thomas 1 year, 11 months ago

So everyone is down on Elijah, but let's not forget everyone else's slumps on this team. Let's also not forget that scoring has been down in several recent games, and that is not all on Johnson. Just remember when Tyshawn was turning over the ball essentially every other possession last year (or maybe I'm just remembering the Duke game). It's true Johnson is more of a combo guard, but there's no way you sit him. Even if you think he should sit, it's not going to happen.

Back to the down scoring. These Big 10 scores are a bit of an eye sore, but in at least two of those games, UT and KSU, I'd say the scores are attributable to the other team's focus on defense (UT) and a slower tempo (KSU).

Back to not forgetting. This team has lost just once and despite flirting with some losses, they haven't looked particularly bad in those games.

Jason Wilson 1 year, 11 months ago

I don't really have any problem with EJ's performance. This team is much better with him on the floor. He's made a lot of great drives and blown by some people in the last few games... that's great. Unfortunately, he hasn't been able to finish. That'll happen, I'm not worried about it.

He just needs to keep on doing what he's doing.

justanotherfan 1 year, 11 months ago

I'm still wondering about EJ's health. Last night was the first time I've seen him attack the rim with an explosive move as opposed to a change of pace move (when he missed the dunk down the stretch). That's a sign that he's getting his bounce back, but he's not quite there yet, otherwise he would have finished the slam.

Missing that explosiveness is hindering his jumpshot and his ability to drive and penetrate, which are holding down his shooting percentage and contributing to the higher turnovers.

Tony Bandle 1 year, 11 months ago

Is my crystal ball fogging up or do I see an increase in floor time for Perry at Kevin's expense, even to the point of eventually Kevin being the first guy off the bench like last year and Perry starting??!!

Scott Smetana 1 year, 11 months ago

Yep. Hard to sub a Freshman vs. Senior, but Ellis is improving by the minute. The harder minutes to find are for Tharpe, who is playing amazing!

justanotherfan 1 year, 11 months ago

I'd like to see more consistency first, but Perry has always been the more talented of the two. It's just a question of whether he can put it together consistently and be effective for 20+ minutes every night, or if last night was a peak amongst a sea of valleys.

Luke Kading 1 year, 11 months ago

I wish Jeff Withey would go to that jump hook more often instead of that sweeping runner-hook he always tries. You are 7 feet tall and don't have that quick of footwork on offense. When he does that, he brings the ball down to his waist where guards can strip it, and even when he gets it off, it doesn't really seem to go in most of the time. Last night's jump hook over Henriquez looked so much better, and if you can get that shot off over a good shot blocker like Henriquez, you can probably get it off against pretty much anybody else in the country.

My two cents

Scott Smetana 1 year, 11 months ago

Exactly why we need Ellis. We need that inside threat. Young is a good rebounder and passer, but don't think he has time to develop his moves to the rim. Great player, though. Love his energy and smile. Smiles are good for a team. DBlock's were the best. BMac's aren't bad. They portray a coolness under pressure.

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