Jeff Withey's defense shuts down red-hot Romero Osby

Kansas center Jeff Withey extends to defend against a shot from Oklahoma forward Romero Osby during the first half on Saturday, Jan. 26, 2013 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas center Jeff Withey extends to defend against a shot from Oklahoma forward Romero Osby during the first half on Saturday, Jan. 26, 2013 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

1. Jeff Withey: The senior center remains as the team's most valuable player because of his impact on the defensive end. Oklahoma's Romero Osby hadn't shot worse than 50 percent in any of his last 10 games. Against Withey, Osby was 4-for-16 from the floor, mustering just 12 points despite attempting the most shots he's taken this season. Withey also was impressive in help defense, contributing four blocks to go with three steals. Offensively, Withey posted 13 points on 6-for-11 shooting with nine rebounds in 34 minutes.

2. Ben McLemore: I'm not in the camp that McLemore needs to shot more shots just to shoot more shots. If he can see the rim from the three-point line, though, he might want to consider firing way. McLemore showed off his ultra-quick release in the second half, making three of four treys before finishing with a game-high 18 points on 5-for-10 shooting (3-for-5 from three overall). The freshman has now made 46 percent of his three-pointers this year (36 of 79) yet isn't even the team leader in long-range attempts (Elijah Johnson, 81).

3. Travis Releford: Followed a rough first half with a solid second half and was KU's best distributor. He also was part of the cavalry that bothered OU sharpshooter Steven Pledger (10 points, 4-for-8 shooting) on the defensive end. Releford filled up his stat line, posting 10 points, five rebounds, five assists, a block and a steal to go with three turnovers.

4. Kevin Young: Another game that Young didn't always look great but still managed to give KU solid statistical production. He continues to be an underrated rebounder, as he pulled down five caroms in just 21 minutes. He also had six points (3-for-7 shooting) and three steals to go with two turnovers.

5. Perry Ellis: Like Young, Ellis was a big factor on the glass in his limited time, pulling down five rebounds in 14 minutes. He also made a strong move, working through contact to put in a short jumper over a bigger defender. Ellis had two points on 1-for-2 shooting with a block and no turnovers. In 276 minutes this year, Ellis has turned it over just 11 times.

6. Naadir Tharpe: After finding himself deep in coach Bill Self's doghouse following some out-of-control drives in the first half, Tharpe bounced back with an impressive six minutes in the second half. His second-half numbers: eight points, 1-for-2 shooting, 1-for-1 three-point shooting, 5-for-6 free throw shooting, two assists, no turnovers. His final total was eight points on 1-for-5 shooting, but his free throw and assist contributions (four assists to two turnovers) make that number more a little easier to overlook.

7. Elijah Johnson: Had two horrible decisions against Oklahoma's second-half press, with Self saying afterwards that holding the ball above one's head when being trapped is a mistake that a senior point guard should not make. With his four turnovers Saturday, Johnson now has led the Jayhawks in turnovers in five of their last seven games. He hit a crucial three late and finished with eight points, but 3-for-8 from the floor and 2-for-6 from three still isn't an efficient line. Johnson tied for third on the team with just two assists in 26 minutes and also hurt his team by picking up two cheap fouls in the first half, which forced Self to use his bench for extended minutes.

8. Jamari Traylor: Lots of positives, only one negative for the freshman. Traylor made his only field goal, posted two points and had three rebounds and a block in 10 minutes. The lowlight was his free throw shooting, as neither of his two attempts were particularly close.

9. Rio Adams: When he first stepped on the court, Adams had one great defensive possession, sticking to his man while forcing a tough jumper that missed badly. After that, though, he committed a foul after getting beaten on a drive and missed his only shot in three minutes. Season Standings
1. Jeff Withey (144 points)
2. Ben McLemore (140 points)
3. Travis Releford (136 points)
4. Elijah Johnson (107 points)
5. Kevin Young (103 points)
6. Naadir Tharpe (92 points)
7. Perry Ellis (81 points)
8. Jamari Traylor (61 points)
9. Andrew White III (30 points)
10. Rio Adams (21 points)
11. Justin Wesley (9 points)

Big 12 Standings
1. Jeff Withey (53 points)
2. Ben McLemore (51 points)
3. Travis Releford (50 points)
4. Kevin Young (42 points)
T5. Naadir Tharpe (31 points)
T5. Elijah Johnson (31 points)
7. Perry Ellis (29 points)
8. Jamari Traylor (20 points)
9. Andrew White III (7 points)
10. Rio Adams (5 points)
11. Justin Wesley (2 points)



Kent Richardson 1 year, 2 months ago

I know that an all american first team doesn't always have a true center included. but after watching Indiana and Puke play only a couple of times I wouldn't trade Jeffhey.


Ralster Jayhawk 1 year, 2 months ago

Nice comments. The worries I had about Rio's playing time got calmed when I realized Self very likely made his behind-the-scenes patented RosterSpaceSpinMove by punting Milton Doyle once Rio was cleared to enroll & be eligible. (See Quintrell, Micah, +/-Zach). Anrio is not going anywhere, and seems to simply be a green Self frosh, with big upside. We will need him next year, as he will be integral to next year's "tough" guardplay in addition to Naa. I dont think Frankamp will be able to play both ends of the floor initially due to offensive plays learning curve and defensive unknowns. Im sure he could be a spot shooter from Day 1, not doubting that, but his mpg will be about like AW3's, who was in mainly to use his 3gun, but again, doesnt know the offense fully, thus hampers offensive end fluidity. Also, the frosh simply must get playing familiarity with their teammates, as team D concepts require trust and knowing each other's tendencies. On-ball D is a self-focus, technique thing, while team D is an experience + philosophy learning curve. Occasionally some player like Chalmers or RussRob are just ridonkulous anticipators out of the box. My point: It all gets better in SelfBall with playing time/experience (much like icthawk316's point above). Rio will be awesome, I can tell just by watching him. Tharpe is beginning to surprise me on D, but still on his own curve. Offensively, I just LIKE Tharpe's swagger. I do not mind his good-looking 3att if it is acceptable to Self in the shot-clock timeframe...


Ron Franklin 1 year, 2 months ago

Point guard play is really starting to worry me. Elijah & Tharpes inability to get to the paint and draw fouls is a problem. McLemore's glaring weakness (no handles cannot create for himself) is not good. I'm saying this in light of greatness and a deep March & April run. This team is very very good and their defense is fantastic, and I enjoy watching them. But I like to think the team can play for a National Title every year. Without improved guard play, I just don't think they will have what it takes this year.

Do you remember how many games Ty got them back into last year with his ability to draw fouls? They really need that.

I know I'm focusing on the negatives right now. My bad.


Kye Clark 1 year, 2 months ago

Love what we're seeing out of Ellis lately. I know it's kind of weird to be stoked about a guy getting 2 points, but the move he made was strong, he's rebounding with tenacity, and his defense is quite a bit better than what we might expect from a wiry freshman.


William Blake 1 year, 2 months ago

Jeff was outstanding! For a second I thought I saw a drop of blood under his schnoz. I guess that was just wishful thinking.

I give Ben the green light anywhere on the court, especially when he's squared his shoulders to the basket. This phenom has a realistic chance to score from 30 ft, off a bad pass and with a guy in his face. I'm not saying he should become a gunner... that goes against Jayhawk principles... but I'm not complaining on any shot he wants to take.

I liked Naadir in this game. He had some nice penetration and passing in the post. We are going to need him in March, and he's coming along nicely.

Glad Rio got a few minutes in prime time. We've got to keep him in Lawrence... He's going to be something special soon.

Elijah.... don't worry about him. He chalked up another Hawk victory... and that's what counts. He did have one nice blow-by score.

I'll continue to say this... it is time to start Perry and bring Kevin in off the bench. Perry needs more minutes so he can be useful in March. Kevin will play better, too, because he's the perfect profile of what you want as a sixth man. I thought both of these guys had solid games today. We need a solid rebounder from the 4, and Perry is now eclipsing Kevin on the boards. They had matching numbers today, but Perry got his in less minutes.

Trav Jamaal Wilkes Releford continues to show he has the smoothest finish at the rim in college basketball today (or for that matter, since Wilkes played). I'd watch 40 minutes of any basketball if it includes at least one Trav finish at the rim.

We didn't have an outstanding offensive game.... but we controlled this game for 40 minutes, and that is about as impressive as it gets. This game was never in question, even the announcers said several times it seemed like KU was up by 25 or so.

Solid performance!


iamakufan 1 year, 2 months ago

Anyone know why Justin Wesley has not played since before his injury?


dylans 1 year, 2 months ago

Thanks for the big12 split, Jesse.


actorman 1 year, 2 months ago

Elijah had a rough game. I would have put Jamari ahead of him, for those turnovers alone.


Boouk 1 year, 2 months ago

I'm surprised Adams has became our 2nd perimeter player off the bench instead of White.


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