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Archive for Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Fabulous fill-in: KU’s Elijah Johnson makes most of starting opportunity

Kansas guard Elijah Johnson (15) puts up a three-pointer over the Oklahoma State defense during the second half. Johnson, starting in place of suspended Tyshawn Taylor, had 15 points in KU’s 92-65 victory Monday, Feb. 21, 2011 in Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas guard Elijah Johnson (15) puts up a three-pointer over the Oklahoma State defense during the second half. Johnson, starting in place of suspended Tyshawn Taylor, had 15 points in KU’s 92-65 victory Monday, Feb. 21, 2011 in Allen Fieldhouse.

February 22, 2011

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KU vs. Oklahoma State

Kansas players Elijah Johnson, Marcus Morris and Thomas Robinson discussed KU's victory over Oklahoma State on Monday, Feb. 21, 2011 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Press Conferences & Post-Game Interviews

KU coach Bill Self

Kansas coach Bill Self talks to reporters following the Jayhawks' 92-65 victory over Oklahoma State on Feb. 21, 2011.

Newly suspended Tyshawn Taylor slapped his replacement in the starting lineup on the backside as Elijah Johnson checked out with a couple of minutes left in Kansas University’s 92-65 rout of Oklahoma State on Monday night in Allen Fieldhouse.

“Attaboy,” Taylor said to a grinning Johnson, who had scored a career high 15 points off 5-of-6 shooting, including 4-for-4 from three.

Johnson kept that smile on his face in the postgame interview room as he discussed perhaps his best game as a Jayhawk.

“I found out right before we came out of the locker room,” Johnson said of learning he’d open at point guard for Taylor, who coach Bill Self said has been suspended indefinitely for violating team rules.

Self wouldn’t get specific in a press release reporting the suspension or after the game.

What were Johnson’s feelings upon learning he’d be introduced as a starter for just the second time his sophomore season?

“That it was a challenge and I’d be ready for it,” Johnson said.

“I try not to think about it. I just want to be ready when my number is called,” added Johnson, who played a whopping 30 minutes.

“I knew it’d be called more often because we need somebody to fill his spot. But I didn’t talk much about it before the game. I prepare the same way every day, whether I get two minutes or 35 minutes. I just try to be ready to play.

“I thought I did well, but there’s stuff I can improve on,” he continued. “I went 3-3 (actually three assists, two turnovers). I threw the ball away a couple of times, two to three unforced turnovers I felt we could have had four more points there.”

Johnson — he was overshadowed a bit by Marcus Morris, who had 27 points, and Thomas Robinson, who scored six points and grabbed six rebounds just 10 days after undergoing knee surgery — was most proud of his defense.

Johnson opened on OSU sharpshooter Keiton Page, who scored eight points off 2-of-11 shooting. Page had three points the first half as KU blazed to a 52-28 lead.

“It’s all I really cared about tonight,” Johnson said. “I didn’t care about starting or scoring or nothing. I knew Tyshawn wouldn’t be here to stop him, so I knew I had to be there. I knew it’d reflect on me (badly) if I didn’t (slow him). I didn’t want that bad name. I wanted to make a statement, kind of like against Pullen (Jacob, whom Johnson guarded with some success at K-State, with Pullen scoring most of his 38 off Taylor).”

The fact Johnson started was something of a fluke.

Self had decided to open at the point with Josh Selby (seven points, three assists, 20 minutes), but those plans switched.

“Josh was at shootaround and didn’t have his special orthotic. It was in his other shoe at his mother’s,” Self said. Selby wears an orthotic in his right shoe to help soothe the pain of his stress reaction.

“We decided to go live 10 minutes, and he couldn’t go live, so that’s when we decided to go with Eljah. It was a good decision because I thought Elijah played great.

“We haven’t had good point-guard defensive play consistently like we should. This was by far the best anybody has done being sound on a guy. I thought he played smart and did a good job defensively.”

As far as the future, Self said, “Hopefully this will be a confidence boost for him moving forward. I will not make any brash statements who will be starter the rest of the season, but the ball is definitely in his (Johnson’s) court. He has a chance to be if he continues to perform like that.”

He was more than happy to praise Johnson on a night the Jayhawks improved to 26-2 overall and 11-2 in the league.

“Look at how Elijah stepped up. You talk about making the most of an opportunity,” Self said. “I’m hoping he can bottle that. He’s not always going to make shots, but that was the best defense without gambling that anybody has played on the other team’s point guard in a long time.

“I think he (Johnson) is a little hesitant. He plays not to screw up. He has a tendency to get in his own way sometimes. He’s been good, though. Even at K-State when he got the technical for screaming after his dunk, he was by far the best perimeter player in that game. Making shots covers up a lot of ills, but I thought he was good, even if the ball didn’t go in the hole tonight.”

Morris exploded for 17 points the first half off 6-of-9 shooting (2-for-3 from three) as hot-shooting KU led, 52-28, at halftime.

He was the only Jayhawk in double figures in the initial half, though five players had five or more points, including Robinson, who just 10 days after surgery to repair a torn meniscus had six points and three boards in seven minutes.

Johnson had six points the first half with two assists and one turnover the first half.

KU hit 56.3 percent of its first-half shots to 45.5 percent for OSU. Marshall Moses scored 16 of the ’Pokes’ 28 points.

Moses finished with 27 points as OSU hit 42.9 percent of its shots to KU’s 54.4.

Marcus Morris scored seven points and Markieff five as KU led, 12-8, at 15:54.

Robinson entered at 13:34, immediately hitting a jumper and free throw as KU built a 24-17 lead at 12:05.

Up 24-19, KU went on runs of 12-0 and 18-2 to grab a 42-21 lead, effectively putting the game out of reach with 4:54 left in the first half. Marcus Morris had seven points (he also missed a dunk), Little five and Robinson and Johnson three in the 18-2 run.

KU will meet Oklahoma at 3 p.m. Saturday in Norman, Okla.

Interactive Timeline

2010-11 KU men's basketball timeline

Comments

tyson travis 3 years, 8 months ago

Congrats to EJ for a good job as starter, and to TRob for coming back so soon after surgery, just pace yourself, man, we'll need you in the long run, and for your own long-term welfare you don't need to re-injure yourself. What's with Josh leaving his special orthotic device at his mom's house? He knew he needed it to practice and play, this sounds like "the dog ate my homework." Tyshawn and Josh need to get their heads screwed on a bit tighter to make important contributions to the team into (I hope) April.

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KEITHMILES05 3 years, 8 months ago

Perhaps the reason EJ has played timid and looking over his should is because Self yanks him when he commits one error. How is he to learn unless he plays through mistakes? Taylor has had HUGE bonehead plays yet he gets to play and play. Be consistent coach.

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Gregory Newman 3 years, 8 months ago

Thank you!!! KEITHMILES05 He had been doing Brady like that to. I thought I was the only one that has watched that senario. TT is not a basketball player he's an athlete.

My question is why is it that there are 3 coaches that had played guard and hasn't taught TT to dribble drive with his knees bent. He drives too tall that is why he loses the ball or gets it rippped. Plus I'm sick of that stupid OH-PLEASE-GO-IN-FLOATING-DUCK-SHOT.

Teach him the mid-range pull up jumper with a real release. 3 coaches that played guard and he's still a mess. Releford is the real deal but yet again one turn-over then yank. SELF said before the game that "This Team is Weird" I say no it is not quit coaching with favortism and that 1950's Hank Iba Okie-State crap. He came from Eddie Sutton a Kansas man who loved to run. If Aaron Affalo doesn't leave early UCLA cuts the nets in 08 and don't give me that Wright kid. UCLA 68 Kansas 55

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just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 3 years, 8 months ago

Self is pretty quick to yank anyone who makes a bone-headed play-- including Taylor.

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onceajhawkalwaysajhawk 3 years, 8 months ago

EJ showed he can play under pressure...That was the most fluid this team has been all season and EJ guarded a very tough player like a pro! Seeing a point guard moving when he doesn't have the ball was very refreshing.. Was it me or did TT actually look relieved that he wasn't playing?? He sure was having a good ole time wacthing from the bench...Very strange behavior, but hey it's TT.

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sundancewierdo 3 years, 8 months ago

I liked that TT looked interested in the game. He cheered for his teammates and had fun on the bench during a highlight filled win at home. That isn't a bad thing even if you are suspended. Whether or not he plays again this season is up to him. If he had hung his head and not been involved, I would have been even more disappointed in him than I already am. I'm glad He seemed to have a decent attitude...

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just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 3 years, 8 months ago

Taylor will be back. He's hardly been a perfect player, but he's still the fastest player on the team, and on balance, he's done much more more good than harm-- if not, they'd have lost way more than two games so far this season.

I predict he'll be back by the A&M game.

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akt2 3 years, 8 months ago

Smoke and mirrors on TT. Everybody is taking the ruse at face value. If you all only knew the real story

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