Jeff Withey bails out KU 'D,' takes top honor

Kansas center Jeff Withey rejects a shot by Temple forward Rahlir Hollis-Jefferson with minutes remaining in the second half on Sunday, Jan. 6, 2013 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas center Jeff Withey rejects a shot by Temple forward Rahlir Hollis-Jefferson with minutes remaining in the second half on Sunday, Jan. 6, 2013 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

1. Jeff Withey: Withey scored just eight points on 3-for-10 shooting, but his defense was so overwhelming he still earns the No. 1 spot. Temple coach Fran Dunphy marveled multiple times at Withey's effort in the postgame press conference. "We were at the rim a lot late, and Withey just would not let us finish," Dunphy said. KU coach Bill Self later said Withey "bailed us out of everything." Withey just missed a triple-double, finishing with eight points, 11 rebounds and nine crucial blocks. The senior also influenced many other Temple twos while adding three assists to go with two turnovers in 33 minutes.

2. Kevin Young: Was KU's best player in the first half and its most clutch player in the second half. The senior scored a team-high 16 points on 5-for-10 shooting, but his best offensive plays came at the free throw line, where the 56-percent shooter made six of six, with all those coming after halftime. Young also added 10 rebounds, two assists and a block to go with a turnover in 29 minutes.

3. Travis Releford: Self said he blasted Releford for his poor play at halftime, but the coach also admitted the senior couldn't have played much better in crunch time for KU. Releford had a huge three to help ice the game and put KU up seven with 37 seconds left and scored 14 points on 5-for-5 shooting with 2-for-2 accuracy from three. He added four rebounds to go with an assist and two turnovers before fouling out in the final minute. Even with the impressive offensive numbers, it was probably the worst defensive game of the year for the normally reliable guard.

4. Ben McLemore: His clutch play came with 2:42 left, as he recorded KU's only steal and finished on the other end with a dunk to put KU back on top, 58-57. The Jayhawks didn't trail after that. Also, don't overlook that Self trusted McLemore to guard Temple's leading scorer Khalif Wyatt in the final two minutes with the game on the line. McLemore finished with 13 points on 5-for-12 shooting with five rebounds in 38 minutes.

5. Elijah Johnson: Played out of control for most of the first half before looking like his attacking, 2012 NCAA Tournament self late in the second half. Took it to the rim twice in a row for layups to turn a 54-50 Temple lead into a 54-54 tie with under seven minutes left. The senior had too many turnovers (five) but also posted nine points on 4-for-10 shooting with nine assists in 37 minutes.

6. Naadir Tharpe: Solid game for the backup point guard, who helped fill in for Releford when he had foul trouble. In 19 minutes, Tharpe contributed six points on 2-for-3 shooting (1-for-2 from three) with an assist and two turnovers.

7. Perry Ellis: Despite an 0-for-4 shooting effort, Ellis seems to be gaining confidence and aggressiveness as the season goes along. He had two points, five rebounds and a block with no turnovers in 10 minutes.

8. Jamari Traylor: The freshman seems to still be a step behind on both ends. Traylor notched a point, two rebounds and a turnover in eight minutes.

9. Andrew White III: Self said White "didn't screw up" when subbing in during an important time in the second half, and the coach meant it as a compliment. White was part of the 3 trillion club Sunday, posting three minutes to go with no other statistic. Season Standings
1. Jeff Withey (91 points)
2. Ben McLemore (87 points)
3. Travis Releford (86 points)
4. Elijah Johnson (76 points)
T5. Naadir Tharpe (61 points)
T5. Kevin Young (61 points)
7. Perry Ellis (52 points)
8. Jamari Traylor (41 points)
9. Andrew White III (23 points)
10. Rio Adams (16 points)
11. Justin Wesley (7 points)



Alohahawk 1 year, 3 months ago

Just some thoughts:

Ben MC. made the steal near the end of the game and drove in for a 'soft' dunk, not a pound it hard, thunder dunk. To me, that showed maturity. There have been a number of occasions in the past when a Jayhawk drove for an easy dunk only to blow it, because they tried to do an ESPN 'top ten' dunk. It was crunch time and two points meant more than an aerial display. Good job, Ben.

And, on their final possession (5 seconds left), a Temple player (forget who?) was driving toward their basket for a possible score/layup. However, Jeff was between him and the basket. Instead of even attempting a shot, the Owl just dribbled out of bounds for a turnover. Withey would have had an easy block, so Temple all but took away what would have been Withey's 10th block. Of course, as usual, there were other sure blocks that a teammate's foul prevented adding one or two more to Jeff's total. I wonder if Self's staff keeps track of how many altered shots Jeff has which aren't blocks. I almost fell over laughing when an Owl was driving the baseline, but seemed to see Jeff 5 feet in front (Gulp!), and he did a quick turnaround/backout. Great game, Jeff.


REHawk 1 year, 3 months ago

Not to debunk the Newell rankings, but how can it be determined that any of our players broke from the pack to lead the list yesterday. That game was won by senior experience and the sound steady substituting and coaching of Bill Self and staff.


REHawk 1 year, 3 months ago

I've a take on two little nuggets for the 2013-14 returning Jayhawks. When the team can't seem to purchase a foul call, POUND THE BALL TO ELLIS! And, Rio Adams, adopt the intense mindset to prove once again to Jayhawk fans that our players with speed and length can manage mutltiple steals in even the tightest of contests. Those were two crucial missing cogs in the machinery of Jayhawk play yesterday. Not saying that Adams is yet ready for this brand of competition; but when his skills catch up to the speed of the game, I suspect that he will grow to reproduce the level of steals we saw during the RussRob/Chalmers years. KU steals were woefully missing in this Temple game.


Kent Richardson 1 year, 3 months ago

Ben Mc ignited the crowd, Travis hit the 3, the Prophet tied it with the two drives, Young is clutch at the line but Withey was the final reason. Perfect ratings.


Ferd Magellan 1 year, 3 months ago

It's amazing that someone can finish with 9 points, 9 assists and 5 rebounds and only be fifth on the list.

We are spoiled.


phogphan2000 1 year, 3 months ago

Jesse, the only reason Traylor might have seemed a "step behind" was 'cause he covered for everybody else on the defensive end. Good stuff out of JamTray, best effort out of Ellis so far, Tharpe looked like a starting PG when out there, all in all too many turnovers by everyone and missed opportunities to feel good about the team today.


milehighhawk 1 year, 3 months ago

"Three trillion club" <----- Nice work, Jesse.


William Blake 1 year, 3 months ago

I give the nod to "Nitro" (KY) for top honors because of his energy and stats. In the beginning of the game he was in on about every single play.

Stats don't do him justice because half of what he does there isn't a stat for... like weak-side help, keeping balls alive that would otherwise go the other way, disrupting opposing offense, etc etc etc. I would love to see my point proven by a break down of every time he challenged shots or got in the paint and touched the ball (attempting to rebound). I bet he was in on 25 possessions where he got an extra touch from hustle. What is that worth on the bottom line? I'm doubtful we would have won this game without Nitro. He shot 6 FTs... equaling what any 3 other Hawks did from the line (says it all). The only other player who performed well enough to be added to that category is Jeff.

I thought most of the team played soft. Until the end of the game, Nitro and Naadir appeared to be the only guys sweating on our team. How does that work... 40 minutes of sweat-free basketball? Once, I had a couch who rated players' sweat in the game and it was a good tool he used to keep guys moving. If you were in for a couple of minutes and didn't crack a sweat, you were given the opportunity to remain that way on the bench for the rest of the half.

26 team rebounds? How does that happen? Maybe we slide half (or more) of those over to Nitro's line.

There was way too much "spectator ball" going on in this game... guys watching the ball shot while standing flatfooted. When the ball leaves the shooter's hand that is the time to position for the rebound and we weren't doing much of that on the offensive end (where we were out-rebounded). And most of the time, our players know who is going to pop it ahead of the defense, so should have a jump at inside position. That stuff drives me crazy.

But it turned out as good as possible without suffering a loss because CS always likes to crack the whip right before conference play and I'm sure several guys will get the whip from this performance (and deservedly so).


BainDread 1 year, 3 months ago

How can Young not be ahead of Tharpe in the season standings?


Steve Kubler 1 year, 3 months ago

I would like to have seen Tharpe moved up a few spots. His stats are not so great but with Travis sitting early he provided a steady presence while EJ was throwing the ball away. One of his two TO's was ugly I will admit but over all he steadied the boat at a time when it was needed badly.


Dirk Medema 1 year, 3 months ago

I don't think Traylor is a step slow as much as half a step out of sync. It is good to realize that this is still his first season. Tharp and each of the sr starters should give plenty of encouragement to what the future holds for him. Love the energy he brings from the bench.


OakvilleJaybateNightmare 1 year, 3 months ago

Ben needs to work on keeping his man in front of him... He's athletic enough to block their shot from behind but that's not good defense. Also, I would like to see him slash more and get to the foul line. Seriously, ever since I watched that draft video for him, those weaknesses have become soooo obvious. Bottom line, he could go to the NBA after one year but he would benefit by coming back. Those two "problem" areas are not something that can be cleared up by the end of the season.


Boouk 1 year, 3 months ago

If I'm Self, I'd either add Andrew White to the rotation or replace Traylor with White.


John Randall 1 year, 3 months ago

KY was definitely the player of the first half, and TRel of the second. Jeff was the most notable player all game long - both for his presence and for his absence. Aside from those three, Jayhawks were outplayed by a narrow margin, or at least held even, which is no insult – there were certainly two teams on the floor today. Failure to dominate wasn't the fault of KU, just refusal of the Owls to let it happen. The better team won, but by no more than they should.

It wasn't fun, by any means, but playing from behind for much of the second half with AFH at half volume is good experience. Especially good when the final outcome is the right one for the right reasons.


Joel Thomas 1 year, 3 months ago

How many tips did Young just miss? Still, good game from him.


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