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Jeff Withey shines, KU guards struggle against WKU

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Jeff Withey (5) drives to the basket in the second-half of the Jayhawks 64-57 second-round win against Western Kentucky Friday, March 22, 2013 at the Sprint Center in Kansas City, Mo.

Jeff Withey (5) drives to the basket in the second-half of the Jayhawks 64-57 second-round win against Western Kentucky Friday, March 22, 2013 at the Sprint Center in Kansas City, Mo. by Mike Yoder

1. Jeff Withey: Easily Kansas' best player offensively and defensively. Withey once again feasted on a team that wasn't ready for his impact defensively, as he contributed seven of KU's nine blocks. The senior also was efficient when he received it in the post, scoring a game-high 17 points on 7-for-9 shooting. He added six rebounds and an assist to go with three turnovers in 30 minutes.

2. Travis Releford: Playing good but not great was enough to be KU's second-best player Friday night. The senior guard posted 11 points on 4-for-6 shooting, adding a nice pass in the post to Withey for his only assist to go with a turnover. Releford led KU with 37 minutes.

3. Perry Ellis: When nothing was going right offensively for KU, Ellis provided a boost with a couple nice spin moves in the post. The freshman didn't play as well late, missing a bunny and also hesitating on a mid-range jump shot — one that he would have, without thinking, stepped up and made in last week's Big 12 tournament. Ellis posted nine points on 3-for-7 shooting with seven rebounds, a steal and no turnovers in 12 minutes.

4. Ben McLemore: One of his worst games of the year. McLemore looked fazed and had about as many head-scratching plays against WKU on Friday as he'd had the whole season. One time, he chased down a loose ball at the other end of the court only to unnecessarily slide with both feet out of bounds before clumsily trying to call timeout. Having said that, he still made crucial free throws at the end, putting in seven of eight freebies to finish with 11 points (2-for-5 shooting) with six rebounds, two assists and four turnovers.

5. Kevin Young: Gave KU one of its few highlights, rebounding his own miss before going up for a reverse jam. Young's passes Friday seemed to be either brilliant or awful ... and there wasn't much in between. The senior had five points on 2-for-4 shooting with team-highs in rebounds (eight) and steals (two), but he also tied for the team-high with four turnovers in his 26 minutes.

6. Naadir Tharpe: Like McLemore, he didn't play well, but he did hit clutch free throws. Without Tharpe's 4-for-4 effort from the line in the final minute, the game could have gotten a lot closer than it already was. The sophomore showed poor judgment when rushing up shots, though, including one forced jumper that he took during a 1-on-3 break with no rebounding help. Tharpe had four points (0-for-3 shooting) with three assists and two turnovers in 20 minutes.

7. Jamari Traylor: Made one of two shots for two points in seven minutes.

8. Elijah Johnson: Didn't do anything to convince fans and analysts that KU's guard play — widely considered the Jayhawks' biggest weakness — is improving. Johnson scored five points on 1-for-6 shooting (0-for-2 from three) and made some horrible decisions against WKU's press, which included one leaping, overhead pass from one side of the court to the other that was easily intercepted by WKU in the final minutes. Johnson finished with two assists and three turnovers in 36 minutes.

KUsports.com Season Standings
1. Jeff Withey (285 points)
2. Ben McLemore (265 points)
3. Travis Releford (252 points)
4. Kevin Young (216 points)
5. Elijah Johnson (195 points)
6. Naadir Tharpe (178 points)
7. Perry Ellis (169 points)
8. Jamari Traylor (115 points)
9. Andrew White III (52 points)
10. Rio Adams (38 points)
11. Justin Wesley (24 points)

Big 12/Postseason Standings
1. Jeff Withey (194 points)
2. Ben McLemore (176 points)
3. Travis Releford (167 points)
4. Kevin Young (157 points)
5. Elijah Johnson (119 points)
T6. Naadir Tharpe (117 points)
T6. Perry Ellis (117 points)
8. Jamari Traylor (74 points)
9. Andrew White III (29 points)
10. Rio Adams (23 points)
11. Justin Wesley (17 points)

NCAA Tournament Standings
1. Jeff Withey (10 points)
2. Travis Releford (9 points)
3. Perry Ellis (8 points)
4. Ben McLemore (7 points)
5. Kevin Young (6 points)
6. Naadir Tharpe (5 points)
7. Jamari Traylor (4 points)
8. Elijah Johnson (3 points)

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