Travis Releford stellar on both ends against North Carolina
1. Travis Releford: Releford held North Carolina's leading scorer in conference play, Reggie Bullock, to a season-low-tying five points on 1-for-7 shooting. The senior Releford was just as good offensively, leading KU with 22 points on 9-for-13 shooting. No shot was bigger than his second-half three, which gave KU its first trey of the NCAA Tournament and seemed to loosen up the Jayhawks' shooters (KU made five of eight threes in the second half). Releford added eight rebounds and three steals to go with two turnovers in 38 minutes.
2. Jeff Withey: The senior was dominant in two areas: rebounding and changing shots defensively. As expected, UNC's James Michael McAdoo's lack of shooting range allowed Withey to camp in the lane, and the center affected shot attempts all night, finishing with five blocks (though it seemed like he had at least a couple of uncredited swats as well). Withey added 16 points (6-for-11 shooting) with a season-high 16 rebounds in 36 minutes. The one negative in his game was turnovers, as he had five giveaways, which included a few errant outlet passes.
3. Naadir Tharpe: Switching in Tharpe for Ben McLemore in the second half (and leaving him out there) was a great coaching move by Bill Self and was a big reason KU pulled away. Though Tharpe had some silly plays (lane violation, flashy behind-the-back pass on a 3-on-1 break), his good plays definitely outweighed the bad ones, as he finished with 12 points on 3-for-6 shooting, which included 3-for-4 accuracy from three-point range. The sophomore added two assists to go with three turnovers in 27 minutes.
4. Kevin Young: Had some careless passes — two at the beginning of the second half immediately come to mind — but Young still played with bounce, grabbed rebounds and did a nice job of sticking with UNC's outside shooters. The senior just missed a double-double with 10 points on 4-for-7 shooting with nine rebounds in 34 minutes. Though he had five turnovers, Young played a valuable role for KU, stepping up as the versatile player needed to help defend UNC's four-guard lineup.
5. Elijah Johnson: For a while in the first half, KU was performing better with Johnson on the bench. The senior played better in the second half, though, and had a low-turnover number (two) considering the swarming defense UNC plays. The senior still struggled from the floor, making one of six shots for five points with four assists and two turnovers in 28 minutes. Through two NCAA games, Johnson has made two of 11 field goals with six assists and five turnovers.
6. Perry Eliis: Didn't play much, contributing three points on 1-for-3 shooting with two rebounds in eight minutes.
7. Ben McLemore: Was benched for most of the second half because of ineffective play, which reminded me of the KU-Kansas State game in 2010 when Self benched Xavier Henry for most of the second half/overtime for the same reason. For the second straight game, McLemore looked completely out of it, with the best example coming at the start of the second half when the freshman fumbled away an easy lob pass for a turnover. McLemore was 0-for-9 from the floor and 0-for-6 from three-point range. His two points were a season low, while his 24 minutes tied his lowest mark this year.
8. Andrew White III: Won the tiebreaker for eighth place. Played one minute with no other stats.
9. Jamari Traylor: Lost the tiebreaker for eighth place. Played one minute with no other stats.
10. Rio Adams: Had two fouls and one turnover in a minute.
KUsports.com Season Standings
1. Jeff Withey (294 points)
2. Ben McLemore (269 points)
3. Travis Releford (262 points)
4. Kevin Young (223 points)
5. Elijah Johnson (201 points)
6. Naadir Tharpe (186 points)
7. Perry Ellis (174 points)
8. Jamari Traylor (117 points)
9. Andrew White III (55 points)
10. Rio Adams (39 points)
11. Justin Wesley (24 points)
Big 12/Postseason Standings
1. Jeff Withey (203 points)
2. Ben McLemore (180 points)
3. Travis Releford (177 points)
4. Kevin Young (164 points)
T5. Elijah Johnson (125 points)
T5. Naadir Tharpe (125 points)
7. Perry Ellis (122 points)
8. Jamari Traylor (76 points)
9. Andrew White III (32 points)
10. Rio Adams (24 points)
11. Justin Wesley (17 points)
NCAA Tournament Standings
T1. Jeff Withey (19 points)
T1. Travis Releford (19 points)
T3. Perry Ellis (13 points)
T3. Kevin Young (13 points)
T3. Naadir Tharpe (13 points)
6. Ben McLemore (11 points)
7. Elijah Johnson (9 points)
8. Jamari Traylor (4 points)
9. Andrew White III: (3 points)
10. Rio Adams (1 point)