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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.

KUsports.com 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)

Comments

Joel Thomas 1 year, 9 months ago

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

jhawkrulz 1 year, 9 months ago

Although I would agree that KY could improve his "tips", I would say when he has the ball for a bunny he is very consistent with making those.

He did an incredible job of getting to the ball to make the backwards dunk...if he made that, I think they would have had to put a new roof on AFH.

Curtis Stutz 1 year, 9 months ago

Definitely gets player of the game honors if he finishes the reverse yam, no doubt, still might deserve them with the clutch FT shooting late.

David Leathers 1 year, 9 months ago

If he made that dunk, it would have been ESPN's #1 for sure.

KGphoto 1 year, 9 months ago

I think that was the quote from thousands of KU fans right after it happened. I know I said it.

John Randall 1 year, 9 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.

Dirk Medema 1 year, 9 months ago

Travis sat for the middle of the 2nd half. Doesn't seem right to call someone the player of the half when they miss half of it.

eastcoasthawk 1 year, 9 months ago

He was massive on defense but I certainly wish he would be massive on offense. Agree with the absence part. Glad to see I wasn't the only one bothered by his lack of offense against physical bigs.

Boouk 1 year, 9 months ago

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

Dale Stringer 1 year, 9 months ago

So you're going to have a 2/3 play the 4 spot?

Boouk 1 year, 9 months ago

Considering the foul trouble our guards sometimes get in and White's progress, I would have 5 perimeter players in our rotation.

Curtis Stutz 1 year, 9 months ago

Traylor plays the 5, so get real, AW3 isn't coming in at center, Traylor is out there to be the defensive presence when W is out.

Curtis Stutz 1 year, 9 months ago

It's bad enough for Ellis he rarely if ever gets to play alongside Withey, now you want to put on the added pressure of making him the only post defender on the court, not smart kD.

Boouk 1 year, 9 months ago

I didn't say White would play Traylor's position. I meant our rotation would have 5 perimeter players and either 3 or 4 bigs.

Dirk Medema 1 year, 9 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.

Steve Kubler 1 year, 9 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.

BainDread 1 year, 9 months ago

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

BainDread 1 year, 9 months ago

To answer my own question, I forgot he started the season with a broken hand, missed the first game, and played limited minutes for a couple of weeks.

milehighhawk 1 year, 9 months ago

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

Curtis Stutz 1 year, 9 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.

actorman 1 year, 9 months ago

I think the five turnovers might have something to do with that. And most of them weren't exactly forced turnovers, either; in fact KU as a whole had way too many lazy passes that anyone could see coming from a mile away.

Kent Richardson 1 year, 9 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.

REHawk 1 year, 9 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.

741hawk 1 year, 9 months ago

Another aspect of the "missing cog" is our inability (or lack of effort) to drive the lane. That results in less opportunities at the rim and less foul shots.

REHawk 1 year, 9 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.

Alohahawk 1 year, 9 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.

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