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Travis Releford tops ratings; KU’s point guards struggle

Kansas players Travis Releford, left, and Jeff Withey scramble for a tie up with Michigan forward Glenn Robinson III during the second half on Friday, March 29, 2013 at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas.

Kansas players Travis Releford, left, and Jeff Withey scramble for a tie up with Michigan forward Glenn Robinson III during the second half on Friday, March 29, 2013 at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas. by Nick Krug

1. Travis Releford: KU's best player in the NCAA Tournament fittingly was the Jayhawks' best player against Michigan. The senior was excellent in transition, locked down on Trey Burke when given that assignment and was aggressive attacking the rim. In his final game, the senior posted 16 points on 6-for-10 shooting with five rebounds, six assists and one steal to go with one turnover in 42 minutes. He finished with 965 career points.

2. Jeff Withey: Had to defend two players most of the game, as KU's guards consistently were stuck on ball screens, leaving Withey to play the role of Superman. He did his best while also scoring at will early against Michigan's Mitch McGary. Withey finished with 12 points on 6-for-11 shooting with eight rebounds and five blocks to go with one turnover in 39 minutes. His 49 NCAA Tournament career blocked shots were one behind Tim Duncan's NCAA record of 50.

3. Ben McLemore: The freshman made up for a cold start with hot shooting late, finishing with a team-high 20 points on 8-for-15 shooting, which included 4-for-8 accuracy from three. Had a defensive rebound hit him in the hands with 32 seconds that would have iced the game with KU leading by five, though. He dropped it, Michigan put in a layup, and the miracle comeback continued.

4. Kevin Young: Young scored 12 points on 6-for-6 shooting, but he didn't seem to give KU the energy plays he normally does. Young also failed to get out to Trey Burke on the game-tying three with four seconds left in regulation. After the double-screen, that was his man. Young added seven rebounds and an assist to go with a turnover in 29 minutes.

5. Perry Ellis: Shook off a slow start, as two early traveling calls didn't keep him from being aggressive later. The freshman attacked Michigan's undersized four men, scoring eight points on 4-for-7 shooting with five rebounds and three assists in 15 minutes.

6. Jamari Traylor: Made his only shot and had an assist and two blocks in five minutes.

7. Naadir Tharpe: Though Tharpe played well enough in the first half after Elijah Johnson picked up three fouls, his final shooting line wasn't pretty. The sophomore made just one of eight field goals, including two (tough) three-pointers that would have won the game at separate buzzers for KU. Tharpe finished with two points, seven assists and one steal to go with two turnovers in 32 minutes and too often left Withey on an island when he got stuck to McGary screens.

8. Elijah Johnson: When Johnson was struggling mid-season, KU coach Bill Self stuck with him in the starting lineup. At that point, the coach had to know he was hitching his postseason hopes on the belief that the senior could snap out of his funk in the NCAA Tournament. It never happened. Johnson had three critical turnovers in the final 3:27 of regulation that allowed Michigan the chance to come back from a 10-point deficit. In overtime, he hitched up ill-advised shots and had another turnover that led to a runout for UM. Then on the game's final possession, he passed up on what looked to be an open layup in favor of a kickout to Tharpe. It was no secret that KU's glaring weakness was guard play this season, and it finally caught up to KU on Friday. Johnson had 13 points on 4-for-8 shooting with no assists and five turnovers in 24 minutes. He also picked up a flagrant foul in the first half after a low hit on Michigan's McGary.

Final KUsports.com Season Standings
1. Jeff Withey (303 points)
2. Ben McLemore (276 points)
3. Travis Releford (272 points)
4. Kevin Young (230 points)
5. Elijah Johnson (204 points)
6. Naadir Tharpe (190 points)
7. Perry Ellis (180 points)
8. Jamari Traylor (122 points)
9. Andrew White III (55 points)
10. Rio Adams (39 points)
11. Justin Wesley (24 points)

Final Big 12/Postseason Standings
1. Jeff Withey (212 points)
2. Ben McLemore (188 points)
3. Travis Releford (187 points)
4. Kevin Young (171 points)
5. Naadir Tharpe (129 points)
T6. Elijah Johnson (128 points)
T6. Perry Ellis (128 points)
8. Jamari Traylor (81 points)
9. Andrew White III (32 points)
10. Rio Adams (24 points)
11. Justin Wesley (17 points)

Final NCAA Tournament Standings
1. Travis Releford (29 points)
2. Jeff Withey (28 points)
3. Kevin Young (20 points)
T4. Perry Ellis (19 points)
T4. Ben McLemore (19 points)
6. Naadir Tharpe (17 points)
7. Elijah Johnson (12 points)
8. Jamari Traylor (9 points)
9. Andrew White III: (3 points)
10. Rio Adams (1 point)

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Travis Releford stellar on both ends against North Carolina

Kansas guard Travis Releford (24) shoots in a second-half three that help propel the Jayhawks to a 70-58 win against North Carolina Sunday, March 24, 2013 at the Sprint Center in Kansas City, Mo..

Kansas guard Travis Releford (24) shoots in a second-half three that help propel the Jayhawks to a 70-58 win against North Carolina Sunday, March 24, 2013 at the Sprint Center in Kansas City, Mo.. by Mike Yoder

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)

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Jeff Withey shines, KU guards struggle against WKU

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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Jeff Withey flummoxes Kansas State once again

Kansas center Jeff Withey defends against a shot from Kansas State guard Angel Rodriguez during the second half of the Big 12 tournament championship on Saturday, March 16 2013 at the Sprint Center in Kansas City, Mo.

Kansas center Jeff Withey defends against a shot from Kansas State guard Angel Rodriguez during the second half of the Big 12 tournament championship on Saturday, March 16 2013 at the Sprint Center in Kansas City, Mo. by Nick Krug

1. Jeff Withey: After three games, Kansas State is still no closer to solving the defensive riddle that is Jeff Withey. Though KU's senior center had only one block, he altered numerous shots and was the big reason KSU made just 15 of 36 shots from two-point range (42 percent). Withey also came up big on the defensive glass against a strong offensive rebounding team, contributing 17 points (5-for-9 shooting), nine rebounds (seven defensive) and two assists with two turnovers in 34 minutes.

2. Perry Ellis: Though Withey took Most Outstanding Player honors, Ellis' play in the last two games certainly put him in the conversation. Ellis was key during a second-half run that put the game away, finishing with 12 points on 5-for-6 shooting with six rebounds in just 14 minutes. KU coach Bill Self said after the game that Ellis "looks like a different guy from a confidence perspective."

3. Kevin Young: Saved KU's sluggish offense in the first half, as he posted seven rebounds, six rebounds (three offensive) and two assists before halftime. The senior didn't appear hampered by a lower right leg injury, finishing with nine points (4-for-8 shooting) and nine rebounds with three assists to go with two turnovers in 27 minutes.

4. Travis Releford: After the game, Self said Releford "did an unbelievable job" defensively on KSU's Rodney McGruder, who finished with 18 points on 7-for-15 shooting. Self also said many times when McGruder scored, it was the result of a switch and, therefore, not Releford's fault. The senior added six points on 3-for-7 shooting and had three of KU's seven steals.

5. Naadir Tharpe: When Elijah Johnson struggled at point, Tharpe stepped in to provide needed stability for KU at that position. It also ended up being one of his best shooting nights of the year. Tharpe scored a career-high 12 points on 4-for-6 three-point shooting, making four threes for the first time in his career. He also added two assists to go with one turnover in 19 minutes.

6. Ben McLemore: McLemore was quiet offensively, scoring a season-low five points on 2-for-7 shooting. The rest of his line was OK, though: three rebounds, three assists, one block and one steal to go with a turnover.

7. Elijah Johnson: Was careless in the first half, then let those mistakes affect his play after that. The senior scored nine points on 3-for-9 shooting, but he had just three assists to go with six turnovers. His three-game hot streak seems like a distant memory, as in his last four games, he's made 12 of 40 shots (30 percent) with as many assists as turnovers (16).

8. Jamari Traylor: Missed his only shot but also had an impressive block in his two minutes.

9. Rio Adams: Played in the final seconds. Winner of the three-man KUsports.com lottery for ninth place.

10. Andrew White III: Played in the final seconds. Second place in the three-man KUsports.com lottery for ninth place.

11. Justin Wesley: Played in the final seconds. Loser in the three-man KUsports.com lottery for ninth place.

KUsports.com Season Standings
1. Jeff Withey (275 points)
2. Ben McLemore (258 points)
3. Travis Releford (243 points)
4. Kevin Young (210 points)
5. Elijah Johnson (192 points)
6. Naadir Tharpe (173 points)
7. Perry Ellis (161 points)
8. Jamari Traylor (111 points)
9. Andrew White III (52 points)
10. Rio Adams (38 points)
11. Justin Wesley (24 points)

Big 12/Postseason Standings
1. Jeff Withey (184 points)
2. Ben McLemore (169 points)
3. Travis Releford (158 points)
4. Kevin Young (151 points)
5. Elijah Johnson (116 points)
6. Naadir Tharpe (112 points)
7. Perry Ellis (109 points)
8. Jamari Traylor (70 points)
9. Andrew White III (29 points)
10. Rio Adams (23 points)
11. Justin Wesley (17 points)

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Bench play a highlight for KU against Iowa State

Kansas guard Naadir Tharpe hangs for a shot past Iowa State center Percy Gibson and teammate Jamari Traylor during the first half of the semifinal round of the Big 12 tournament on Friday, March 15, 2013 at the Sprint Center in Kansas City, Missouri.

Kansas guard Naadir Tharpe hangs for a shot past Iowa State center Percy Gibson and teammate Jamari Traylor during the first half of the semifinal round of the Big 12 tournament on Friday, March 15, 2013 at the Sprint Center in Kansas City, Missouri. by Nick Krug

1. Perry Ellis: The more he plays, the more teams will have to start respecting KU's 4 man offensively, which in turn should open up some room for Jeff Withey in the lane. Ellis scored in a variety of ways Friday, which included pinning his defender deep for layups and shooting jumpers over the top. The freshman scored a career-high 23 points on 10-for-12 shooting, adding six rebounds and two steals to go with no turnovers in 28 minutes.

2. Naadir Tharpe: Attacked ISU's defense well, especially in the first half. Tharpe finished with eight points on 4-for-6 shooting, which included perfect 4-for-4 two-point accuracy. He also had eight assists — tying for his second-highest mark this season — with a steal and just one turnover in 21 minutes.

3. Elijah Johnson: Though he didn't have a good shooting game, Johnson still posted 14 points (4-for-12 on field goals) and seven assists to go with five turnovers. Other than a late giveaway, the senior managed KU's late possessions well, breaking the press and also nailing a deep three late in the shot clock to put KU up 17 with 2:25 left.

4. Kevin Young: Played with great energy — especially on the offensive glass — before his playing time was limited because of a leg injury. In just 10 minutes, Young had four points on 2-for-3 shooting with six rebounds (four offensive). He also added an assist and a block with no turnovers.

5. Jeff Withey: A rare inefficient scoring night for Withey, who shot under 50 percent from the floor for the first time in six games. The senior still posted 14 points on 5-for-12 shooting with six rebounds in 29 minutes.

6. Ben McLemore: The freshman shot it well — making four of five shots and two of three three-pointers for 10 points — and also led KU in rebounding with seven boards. That still didn't make up for a sloppy night offensively, as he posted a season-high six turnovers.

7. Travis Releford: Releford found some openings in transition early, but he never could get his three-pointers to fall. The senior made just three of nine shots and one of six threes, ending with nine points and six rebounds to go with two assists and two turnovers in a team-high 36 minutes.

8. Jamari Traylor: Solid production in limited time, as Traylor scored six points with help from 4-for-4 free throw shooting (he now has made 13 straight free throws). The freshman also had a rebound, two blocks and no turnovers in 10 minutes.

9. Justin Wesley: Recorded no stats in one minute at the end of the first half.

KUsports.com Season Standings
1. Jeff Withey (265 points)
2. Ben McLemore (253 points)
3. Travis Releford (236 points)
4. Kevin Young (202 points)
5. Elijah Johnson (188 points)
6. Naadir Tharpe (167 points)
7. Perry Ellis (152 points)
8. Jamari Traylor (108 points)
9. Andrew White III (51 points)
10. Rio Adams (36 points)
11. Justin Wesley (24 points)

Big 12/Postseason Standings
1. Jeff Withey (174 points)
2. Ben McLemore (164 points)
3. Travis Releford (151 points)
4. Kevin Young (143 points)
5. Elijah Johnson (112 points)
6. Naadir Tharpe (106 points)
7. Perry Ellis (100 points)
8. Jamari Traylor (67 points)
9. Andrew White III (28 points)
10. Rio Adams (21 points)
11. Justin Wesley (17 points)

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KU’s big men battle for No. 2 spot behind Ben McLemore

Kansas guard Ben McLemore looks to maintain possession against Texas Tech players Daylen Robinson, left, and Toddrick Gotcher during the second half of the second round of the Big 12 tournament on Thursday, March 14, 2013 at the Sprint Center in Kansas City, Missouri.

Kansas guard Ben McLemore looks to maintain possession against Texas Tech players Daylen Robinson, left, and Toddrick Gotcher during the second half of the second round of the Big 12 tournament on Thursday, March 14, 2013 at the Sprint Center in Kansas City, Missouri. by Nick Krug

1. Ben McLemore: An elite shooter when he has his feet set on the perimeter. McLemore helped KU get off to a good start with hot shooting, posting a game-high 24 points on 8-for-12 shooting, which included 4-for-8 accuracy from three-point range. The freshman also added four rebounds, an assist and steal to go with a turnover.

2. Kevin Young: In a game where three guys could make a claim for the second spot, Young takes it with an efficient line. In 21 minutes, the senior made all three of his field goals to finish with nine points, which tied for the second-most among KU's regulars. Young also had three assists, two rebounds, a block and a steal to go with a turnover.

3. Jeff Withey: For the second straight game, Withey only shot three field goals but made all of those attempts. Withey struggled early against the physical Jordan Tolbert inside, but he also scored KU's final five points of the first half to give the Jayhawks some breathing room at the break. The senior added four rebounds, three blocks, two assists and a steal but also had a team-high four turnovers.

4. Perry Ellis: Another encouraging step for the freshman, who posted eight points (3-for-5 shooting) with a team-high seven rebounds. He also had one assist and no turnovers in 14 minutes.

5. Travis Releford: Quiet game for Releford, who scored six points on 2-for-4 shooting with five assists and three turnovers in 31 minutes.

6. Jamari Traylor: Didn't miss a shot, making both of his field goals and all three of his free throws to finish with seven points in 11 minutes. He also had no turnovers.

7. Elijah Johnson: Led KU with three steals, but he wasn't efficient offensively on an afternoon when his team shot 66 percent. The senior made two of six field goals for four points with four assists and two turnovers.

8. Naadir Tharpe: Angered KU coach Bill Self with some poor passes, but the sophomore's final line wasn't bad: five points, 2-for-3 shooting, three assists, two turnovers and two steals in 13 minutes.

9. Rio Adams: Great game for Adams, and the only reason he's not higher on this list is that his offensive production came when the game was already decided. Still, scoring 11 points in five minutes on 4-for-5 shooting (2-for-2 three-point shooting) is tough to do regardless of the circumstances.

10. Andrew White III: The freshman doesn't hesitate to fire up threes, and that's a positive since his main purpose on the floor is to produce offensively. White made two of three three-pointers to finish with six points in six minutes. That ends a mini-slump, as he'd missed seven threes in a row before Thursday.

11. Justin Wesley: Made both field goal attempts, had two rebounds and two assists to go with a turnover in five minutes.

KUsports.com Season Standings
1. Jeff Withey (259 points)
2. Ben McLemore (248 points)
3. Travis Releford (232 points)
4. Kevin Young (195 points)
5. Elijah Johnson (180 points)
6. Naadir Tharpe (158 points)
7. Perry Ellis (142 points)
8. Jamari Traylor (105 points)
9. Andrew White III (51 points)
10. Rio Adams (36 points)
11. Justin Wesley (22 points)

Big 12/Postseason Standings
1. Jeff Withey (168 points)
2. Ben McLemore (159 points)
3. Travis Releford (147 points)
4. Kevin Young (136 points)
5. Elijah Johnson (104 points)
6. Naadir Tharpe (97 points)
7. Perry Ellis (90 points)
8. Jamari Traylor (64 points)
9. Andrew White III (28 points)
10. Rio Adams (21 points)
11. Justin Wesley (15 points)

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Perry Ellis one of few positives for KU against Baylor

Perry Ellis (34) splits defenders for a layup in KU's 81-58 loss to the Baylor Bears Saturday in Waco.

Perry Ellis (34) splits defenders for a layup in KU's 81-58 loss to the Baylor Bears Saturday in Waco. by Mike Yoder

1. Ben McLemore: The freshman's best road game ended up being his last one. McLemore led KU with 23 points on 8-for-16 shooting, which included 5-for-9 shooting from three-point range. A few of those threes were impressive too, including one where he jumped to catch a pass from the lane, landed, and immediately sprung up to drain a three. McLemore added three rebounds and two assists but also had a team-high four turnovers.

2. Perry Ellis: If you're looking for a positive for KU, Ellis was definitely it. The freshman easily had his best game in Big 12 play, looking sure of himself offensively against a good shot-blocking team in Baylor. The freshman finished with 12 points on 5-for-7 shooting with three rebounds, two assists, one steal and no turnovers in 22 minutes.

3. Jeff Withey: One of KU coach Bill Self's frustrations after the game was that Withey was only able to get three shots up. The senior made all of them, posting eight points with eight rebounds in 34 minutes. While battling foul trouble, Withey had a few nice defensive stretches, adding four blocks to go with an assist and two turnovers.

4. Elijah Johnson: After three great games, Johnson struggled Saturday, making just three of 13 shots and one of six threes. He finished with 10 points, two assists and three turnovers, but his biggest issues were on the defensive end, where he was one of a few Jayhawks who couldn't do anything to keep Baylor guard Pierre Jackson in front of him.

5. Travis Releford: Releford has now scored two points or less in two Big 12 games: at TCU and at Baylor. When he doesn't score, KU usually doesn't play well. Releford contributed just two points on 1-for-6 shooting, adding three rebounds and two assists to go with two turnovers. Like Johnson, he wasn't able to slow down Pierre Jackson defensively.

6. Jamari Traylor: Missed a shot, but had two rebounds, an assist and a block in six minutes.

7. Kevin Young: The senior was shut out for the first game this season. He never seemed to get into the game after picking up two early fouls, missing both of his field-goal attempts, which included an alley-oop. Young also had two rebounds and a turnover in 15 minutes.

8. Naadir Tharpe: The sophomore didn't give KU a boost when he went in, making just one of six field goals for two points. He had an assist and no turnovers in 13 minutes.

9. Justin Wesley: Had a foul and no other stats in two minutes.

10. Rio Adams: Made one of four free throws and had a turnover and two rebounds in two minutes.

11. Andrew White III: Missed both three-pointers he attempted and had a foul in two minutes.

KUsports.com Season Standings
1. Jeff Withey (251 points)
2. Ben McLemore (238 points)
3. Travis Releford (226 points)
4. Kevin Young (186 points)
5. Elijah Johnson (176 points)
6. Naadir Tharpe (155 points)
7. Perry Ellis (135 points)
8. Jamari Traylor (100 points)
9. Andrew White III (50 points)
10. Rio Adams (34 points)
11. Justin Wesley (22 points)

Big 12 Standings
1. Jeff Withey (160 points)
2. Ben McLemore (149 points)
3. Travis Releford (141 points)
4. Kevin Young (127 points)
5. Elijah Johnson (100 points)
6. Naadir Tharpe (94 points)
7. Perry Ellis (83 points)
8. Jamari Traylor (59 points)
9. Andrew White III (27 points)
10. Rio Adams (19 points)
11. Justin Wesley (15 points)

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KU’s senior bigs take top spots

Kansas center Jeff Withey signals "three" after hitting one against Texas Tech during the first half, Monday, March 4, 2013 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas center Jeff Withey signals "three" after hitting one against Texas Tech during the first half, Monday, March 4, 2013 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

1. Jeff Withey: Withey's first — and probably only — career three-pointer was the highlight of an efficient night. The center posted a team-high 22 points on 8-for-9 shooting, adding nine rebounds and four blocks in just 25 minutes. He also had no turnovers and has scored in double figures for 14 straight games.

2. Kevin Young: The senior played his most athletic contest in his final home game. Young was dunking alley-oops with one hand, both hands and over his head in a 14-point effort that included 5-for-6 shooting accuracy. The box score credited him with three dunks and a pair of layups. Young also had six rebounds, two blocks and two steals in 24 minutes.

3. Elijah Johnson: Every lob he throws seems to be exactly where it needs to be. Johnson posted double figures in assists for the second straight game, notching 12 assists, which included nine in the first half. The senior also had seven points on 3-for-8 shooting to go with a steal and two turnovers in 30 minutes.

4. Travis Releford: Scored 13 points on just three field-goal attempts, making two of three shots and eight of 10 free throws. The senior also added five rebounds, two assists, a steal and no turnovers.

5. Ben McLemore: His outside shots weren't falling (0-for-5), but McLemore still managed to put in 13 points with help from 5-for-9 two-point shooting. Like Releford, he had five rebounds, two assists, one steal and no turnovers.

6. Perry Ellis: Ellis showed an ability to get to the free throw line with aggressive moves. He finished with six points (6-for-7 free throw shooting) with seven rebounds and two turnovers in 13 minutes.

7. Naadir Tharpe: Quiet night for Tharpe, who was held scoreless for just the third time this season. In 14 minutes, Tharpe had a rebound, an assist and two turnovers, which included an alley-oop pass to Jamari Traylor that landed somewhere near the stands.

8. Andrew White III: Missed a shot and had two rebounds in seven minutes.

9. Rio Adams: Made one of two free throws and had a rebound and three fouls in six minutes.

10. Justin Wesley: Had no points, a rebound and a foul in four minutes.

11. Jamari Traylor: Rough night for the freshman, who had five of KU's 15 turnovers despite playing just 13 minutes. Traylor had two points on 1-for-2 shooting with a rebound, steal, block and three fouls.

KUsports.com Season Standings
1. Jeff Withey (243 points)
2. Ben McLemore (228 points)
3. Travis Releford (220 points)
4. Kevin Young (182 points)
5. Elijah Johnson (169 points)
6. Naadir Tharpe (152 points)
7. Perry Ellis (126 points)
8. Jamari Traylor (95 points)
9. Andrew White III (50 points)
10. Rio Adams (33 points)
11. Justin Wesley (20 points)

Big 12 Standings
1. Jeff Withey (152 points)
2. Ben McLemore (139 points)
3. Travis Releford (135 points)
4. Kevin Young (123 points)
5. Elijah Johnson (93 points)
6. Naadir Tharpe (91 points)
7. Perry Ellis (74 points)
8. Jamari Traylor (54 points)
9. Andrew White III (27 points)
10. Rio Adams (18 points)
11. Justin Wesley (13 points)

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Ben McLemore easy pick for No. 1

Kansas guard Ben McLemore puts up a three in the corner against West Virginia during the second half on Saturday, March 2, 2013 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas guard Ben McLemore puts up a three in the corner against West Virginia during the second half on Saturday, March 2, 2013 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

1. Ben McLemore: The freshman scored 36 points on just 15 field-goal attempts, making 12 of 15 shots and seven of nine free throws. With the outburst, McLemore broke KU's freshman scoring record set 28 years earlier (to the day) by Danny Manning. McLemore looked like an NBA player shooting jumpers, and in a few short months, he will be. McLemore added seven rebounds, four assists and a steal to go with two turnovers in 30 minutes.

2. Jeff Withey: The senior was robbed of a triple-double by a ticky-tack foul, but he still had a suffocating defensive performance. Withey had 14 points on 7-for-8 shooting while making three of his four two-point jumpshots. He also had 10 rebounds and nine blocks in his 32 minutes.

3. Elijah Johnson: Fresh off a 39-point game against Iowa State on Monday, Johnson looks like a completely different player confidence-wise. He also looks bouncier, as evidenced by his alley-oop and-one off a high feed from Naadir Tharpe in the second half. Johnson posted his second double-double of the year with 12 points and 10 assists to go with four turnovers. He also had a game-changing hustle block in the first half and never hesitated to shoot three-pointers, making three of his four long-range tries.

4. Naadir Tharpe: Johnson isn't the only KU guard that's played well recently. Tharpe quietly had a great game for KU, posting eight points with six assists and no turnovers in 19 minutes. His points didn't come off a lot of shot attempts either, as he was 3-for-5 from the floor and 2-for-2 from three-point range. It was only the second time in Big 12 play this year that Tharpe has shot better than 50 percent from the floor.

5. Kevin Young: Young provided KU with his normal hustle plays, diving three times in a row to force a jump-ball in the first half while also finishing three different lobs with slams. The senior, who scored his 1,000th career point, posted six points on 3-for-4 shooting with two rebounds, four assists, three blocks and two steals to go with a turnover in 28 minutes.

6. Travis Releford: If Releford had to pick a game to go cold from the three-point line, this would have been a good one to pick. The senior had a rare inefficient night, contributing six points on 2-for-8 shooting that included 0-for-3 accuracy from three-point range. He also had no rebounds for the first time this season.

7. Andrew White III: Had two points on 1-for-3 shooting with three rebounds, which is good production considering he played only two minutes.

8. Rio Adams: Made one of two field goals and finished with two points, though he did miss a pair of free throws in three minutes.

9. Justin Wesley: Two rebounds and a missed free throw in four minutes.

10. Perry Ellis: After an encouraging effort against Iowa State, Ellis didn't play well against a physical team in West Virginia. The freshman had two points, missed both of his field-goal attempts and added two rebounds to go with a turnover in just seven minutes.

11. Jamari Traylor: Missed three field goal attempts — including two rushed shots right under the rim — and also committed four fouls in four minutes.

KUsports.com Season Standings
1. Jeff Withey (233 points)
2. Ben McLemore (222 points)
3. Travis Releford (213 points)
4. Kevin Young (173 points)
5. Elijah Johnson (161 points)
6. Naadir Tharpe (148 points)
7. Perry Ellis (121 points)
8. Jamari Traylor (95 points)
9. Andrew White III (47 points)
10. Rio Adams (31 points)
11. Justin Wesley (19 points)

Big 12 Standings
1. Jeff Withey (142 points)
2. Ben McLemore (133 points)
3. Travis Releford (127 points)
4. Kevin Young (114 points)
5. Naadir Tharpe (87 points)
6. Elijah Johnson (85 points)
7. Perry Ellis (69 points)
8. Jamari Traylor (54 points)
9. Andrew White III (24 points)
10. Rio Adams (16 points)
11. Justin Wesley (12 points)

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Elijah Johnson takes over against Iowa State

Kansas head coach Bill Self gives a congratulatory pat to Elijah Johnson after the Jayhawks' 108-96 overtime win over Iowa State on Monday, Feb. 25, 2013 at Hilton Coliseum in Ames, Iowa.

Kansas head coach Bill Self gives a congratulatory pat to Elijah Johnson after the Jayhawks' 108-96 overtime win over Iowa State on Monday, Feb. 25, 2013 at Hilton Coliseum in Ames, Iowa. by Nick Krug

1. Elijah Johnson: So who saw that coming?* Johnson, who had made 38 percent of his twos and 27 percent of his threes during Big 12 play, single-handedly won the game for KU late, scoring a career-high 39 points on 13-for-22 shooting with 6-for-10 shooting from three-point range. The senior had KU's final eight points in regulation — two tough threes then two high-pressure free throws with 4.9 seconds left to tie it — then scored seven of the first 10 in overtime. In the final minutes, Johnson was getting to the rim off the dribble whenever he wanted to. He also added seven assists to go with three turnovers in 37 minutes.

2. Travis Releford: On a night when Ben McLemore was nearly invisible, Releford halted numerous ISU momentum swings by aggressively taking and making outside shots. The senior made six of 12 field goals and five of nine three-pointers to finish with 19 points — his highest total in a Big 12 game this season. Releford added four rebounds, three assists and two steals to go with three turnovers in 42 minutes.

3. Kevin Young: Young has struggled with his shot most of the season, but when KU needed him Monday, he was able to come through with mid-range jumpers to keep the defense honest. Young notched 13 points on 6-or-8 shooting, which included 4-for-6 shooting on two-point jumpshots. Young also had nine rebounds, an assist and turnover in 23 minutes before fouling out.

4. Jeff Withey: The good news for KU? No one on ISU could guard Withey. The bad news? Withey could guard no one on ISU. The 7-foot center was once again exposed by a team that forced him to play defense on the perimeter, as freshman Georges Niang (seven assists, no turnovers) was the focal point for the Cyclones' offense while going against KU's big man. Withey still had a stretch where he took over offensively, finishing with 13 points on 5-for-7 shooting with 10 rebounds to go with two assists and four turnovers. KU already should start praying to the basketball gods that its round of 32 opponent is a team with a traditional 5-man.

5. Perry Ellis: One of his best games in Big 12 play, if not his best. The freshman provided scoring for KU when it was battling foul trouble, as he made two of five field goals and four of four free throws for eight points. Ellis also had six rebounds and no turnovers in his 15 minutes.

6. Naadir Tharpe: Hit a couple big threes, which isn't insignificant considering he was shooting 19 percent from three in his previous Big 12 games. Tharpe had nine points on 3-for-7 shooting, which included 2-for-5 accuracy from long range. He also had four assists to go with three turnovers in 26 minutes.

7. Ben McLemore: Is this the start of a disturbing trend? In KU's two biggest conference games, McLemore has been a no-show, as he scored seven points while attempting just six field goals in 38 minutes. He had four assists compared to just one turnover, but the Jayhawks need much more out of him if they hope to hit their ceiling in March.

8. Jamari Traylor: Had a rebound, block, steal and missed field goal in eight minutes.

KUsports.com Season Standings
1. Jeff Withey (224 points)
2. Ben McLemore (212 points)
3. Travis Releford (208 points)
4. Kevin Young (167 points)
5. Elijah Johnson (153 points)
6. Naadir Tharpe (141 points)
7. Perry Ellis (120 points)
8. Jamari Traylor (95 points)
9. Andrew White III (43 points)
10. Rio Adams (28 points)
11. Justin Wesley (17 points)

Big 12 Standings
1. Jeff Withey (133 points)
2. Ben McLemore (123 points)
3. Travis Releford (122 points)
4. Kevin Young (108 points)
5. Naadir Tharpe (80 points)
6. Elijah Johnson (78 points)
7. Perry Ellis (68 points)
8. Jamari Traylor (54 points)
9. Andrew White III (20 points)
10. Rio Adams (13 points)
11. Justin Wesley (10 points)


* — Actually my best friend Mike saw it coming. Here's his text to me earlier Monday: "I have a feeling tonight is going to be EJ's night ... I feel like he is going to bust out of it today ... you know me and my psychic random thoughts." I'll let him make the bets next time we're in Vegas.

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