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

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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.

KUsports.com 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)

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