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Jeff Withey’s defensive rebounding, passing stand out in win over Texas

1. Jeff Withey: Was efficient offensively and a big reason Texas posted a season-low offensive rebounding percentage (18 percent). The KU center also played a big part in getting KU easy buckets, blocking or altering shots before throwing the ball ahead to start KU's effective fast breaks. Withey posted 14 points on 4-for-6 shooting with nine rebounds (seven defensive) to go with four assists, three blocks, a steal and two turnovers in 32 minutes.

2. Ben McLemore: His defense was shaky at times, but the freshman came through with crucial baskets at important moments. McLemore finished with a team-high 16 points, knocking down six of 10 shots and two of three three-pointers (KU only had three treys as a team). McLemore also had six rebounds, two steals, an assist and block to go with four turnovers. After the first few minutes, he didn't appear to be hampered by his sprained right ankle in the least.

3. Travis Releford: The senior always seems to pick up his defensive pressure in the second half, and that happened against Saturday. Releford also hit four crucial free throws in the final minutes, including two with 7 seconds left that sealed the game. He finished with 12 points on 4-for-8 shooting with four rebounds, two assists, two steals and two turnovers.

4. Naadir Tharpe: The game changed late when KU coach Bill Self elected to go small, which moved Tharpe to the point-guard spot. KU's defense picked up the intensity after that, and KU allowed just 10 points in the game's final 10 minutes. Tharpe had five points — including a touch-all-of-the-rim-before-spinning-in three — on 2-for-6 shooting with an assist, steal and turnover in 17 minutes.

5. Kevin Young: Self said afterwards it was the worst game Young had played in a long time, and partly because of that, the senior was not in during the game's final minutes. The senior's stat line still looked good, though: six points, 2-for-3 shooting, three rebounds, two steals, one block and two turnovers in 22 minutes.

6. Perry Ellis: Gave KU some great minutes early in the second half scrapping for loose balls while muscling up against bigger players. Ellis had four points on 1-for-4 shooting but also grabbed six rebounds in just 12 minutes.

7. Andrew White III: Missed a three and grabbed two rebounds in four minutes.

8. Elijah Johnson: His wild shots in the first half almost single-handedly put KU in a hole, and the senior never came out of the funk, finishing 1-for-11 from the floor with six points. He did make four important free throws, but against a team that doesn't force many turnovers, the senior had more giveaways (three) than assists (two). KU's point-guard issue has certainly not resolved itself in the month of January.

9. Jamari Traylor: Missed both field-goal attempts, made one of two free throws and had two rebounds in eight minutes.

KUsports.com Season Standings
1. Jeff Withey (125 points)
2. Ben McLemore (123 points)
3. Travis Releford (118 points)
4. Elijah Johnson (99 points)
5. Kevin Young (91 points)
6. Naadir Tharpe (81 points)
7. Perry Ellis (68 points)
8. Jamari Traylor (56 points)
9. Andrew White III (30 points)
10. Rio Adams (16 points)
11. Justin Wesley (9 points)

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Ben McLemore gives complete performance against Baylor

Kansas guard Ben McLemore holds up a three before Baylor guard A.J. Walton after hitting one late in the second half to widen the Jayhawks' lead on Monday, Jan. 14, 2013 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas guard Ben McLemore holds up a three before Baylor guard A.J. Walton after hitting one late in the second half to widen the Jayhawks' lead on Monday, Jan. 14, 2013 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

1. Ben McLemore: The freshman stood out for more than just his offense Monday. McLemore led KU in points (17), rebounds (eight), steals (three) and was one off the team lead in blocks (two). He was tough inside, hustled for rebounds and wasn't afraid to scrap in the pile for loose balls. KU coach Bill Self said McLemore should only be out a few days with his sprained ankle, which is obviously good news for the Jayhawks going forward.

2. Elijah Johnson: The best game the senior has had in quite a while. After picking up two early fouls, Johnson found a rhythm Monday, scoring 12 points on 4-for-8 shooting (1-for-3 from three) with three rebounds in 25 minutes. He was aggressive on drives when he needed to be, which included a late-clock drive, layup and subsequent three-point play. He also defended well, serving as the primary defender that held BU's Pierre Jackson to a 2-for-12 shooting night. Johnson added an assist and steal to go with two turnovers.

3. Travis Releford: Very active defensively while shutting out BU's Brady Heslip on 0-for-3 shooting (0-for-1 from three). Releford had a pair of steals and was solid offensively, posting 10 points on 2-for-6 shooting with 6-for-6 accuracy from the free throw line. The senior added five rebounds, two assists and a block to go with two turnovers.

4. Jeff Withey: Didn't have a great game offensively, but he helped set the tone defensively by blocking shots and challenging everything at the rim. The senior posted eight points on 3-for-10 shooting to go with three blocks (seemed like more), one assist, one steal and two turnovers in 33 minutes.

5. Kevin Young: Couldn't get any of his close shots to go, but he still hustled his way to seven rebounds in 19 minutes. His high energy also forced at least two turnovers, as two Baylor players carelessly stepped out of bounds while Young was challenging them for rebounds. The senior had four points on 2-for-8 shooting with two blocks and a steal.

6. Perry Ellis: KU coach Bill Self was happy with the freshman's aggressiveness Monday. Ellis made just three of nine shots, but he still had six points and seven rebounds in 21 minutes. Because Ellis can score — off jump shots or the dribble — opponents have to come out to guard him, which means more open space for Withey when Ellis plays. The Wichita native added two assists, two blocks and a steal with two turnovers.

7. Jamari Traylor: The freshman somehow racked up three blocks in just seven minutes. He also had two points (1-for-1 shooting) with three rebounds.

8. Naadir Tharpe: Not his best game offensively, but he still deserves credit for playing good defense on Jackson, especially in the first half when Johnson went out with two fouls. Tharpe had two points on 1-for-6 shooting, missed all four of his threes and added just one assist with three turnovers.

9. Andrew White III: Had one rebound in three minutes.

KUsports.com Season Standings
1. Jeff Withey (115 points)
2. Ben McLemore (114 points)
3. Travis Releford (110 points)
4. Elijah Johnson (96 points)
5. Kevin Young (85 points)
6. Naadir Tharpe (74 points)
7. Perry Ellis (63 points)
8. Jamari Traylor (54 points)
9. Andrew White III (26 points)
10. Rio Adams (16 points)
11. Justin Wesley (9 points)

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Kevin Young edges out Travis Releford for top honors

Kansas forward Kevin Young soars in for a reverse jam before Texas Tech guard Ty Nurse during the second half on Saturday, Jan. 12, 2013 at United Spirit Arena in Lubbock, Texas.

Kansas forward Kevin Young soars in for a reverse jam before Texas Tech guard Ty Nurse during the second half on Saturday, Jan. 12, 2013 at United Spirit Arena in Lubbock, Texas. by Nick Krug

1. Kevin Young: The senior was Kansas' spark plug in the second half, lifting the team's energy with his hustle and also his up-and-under, fast-break dunk with 14:15 left. Young led KU with 14 points on 7-for-9 shooting, adding four rebounds, two steals and no turnovers in 24 minutes. He also showed increased range on his jump shot, as Tech was the second team in a row to sag off him defensively.

2. Travis Releford: After not posting a steal in four straight games, Releford led KU with three steals against Tech. Not only that, he allowed only one three-pointer to Tech's Dusty Hannahs, who entered as the Red Raiders' only real three-point threat. Releford was great in transition, scoring 12 points on 4-for-5 shooting while also making all four of his free throws. He also had three rebounds, an assist and no turnovers.

3. Jeff Withey: The big man rebounded much better in the second half, grabbing five of his seven caroms after the break. His aggressiveness also was rewarded on the offensive end, as he earned 10 free throw attempts (making eight) while attempting just three field goals. Withey's final line was 12 points, seven rebounds and one block with two turnovers in 31 minutes.

4. Ben McLemore: McLemore once again struggled to free himself for shots while also settling for some out-of-rhythm jumpers. He scored well in transition, though, and made it to the line eight times. The freshman posted 10 points on 2-for-7 field-goal shooting (0-for-4 from three) with four rebounds, two assists, two blocks, a steal and turnover.

5. Naadir Tharpe: He made two difficult threes for his only six points, but both were crucial shots that helped KU keep a comfortable lead. In the first half, KU looked better offensively with him at the point, and after playing 19 minutes Saturday, he now has played between 15 and 20 minutes in each of KU's last eight contests. Tharpe finished 2-for-5 from the floor with an assist and a steal to go with two turnovers. He also appeared to work hard this game to pressure his man defensively.

6. Elijah Johnson: Another high turnover game for Johnson, who continued his recent stretch of rough games. With his four-turnover performance Saturday, the senior now has 15 turnovers in his last three games. Johnson played better in the second half, ending with five points on 2-for-6 shooting (1-for-3 from three) with four assists to go with his four giveaways in 35 minutes.

7. Jamari Traylor: The freshman has a knack for getting steals from the forward spot, and that continued Saturday, as he grabbed two steals in his 10 minutes. He missed both of his field goals but added three rebounds without turning it over.

8. Perry Ellis: He has to lead KU in layups that go around the rim before spinning out. Ellis went 0-for-3 from the floor and 1-for-2 from the free throw line to finish with one point. He also had two rebounds and a steal in 13 minutes.

9. Justin Wesley: In his first action since breaking his finger last month, Wesley played two minutes in garbage time.

10. Andrew White III: Missed a three in two minutes.

11. Rio Adams: Had a foul in two minutes.

KUsports.com Season Standings
1. Jeff Withey (108 points)
2. Ben McLemore (104 points)
3. Travis Releford (102 points)
4. Elijah Johnson (87 points)
5. Kevin Young (79 points)
6. Naadir Tharpe (71 points)
7. Perry Ellis (58 points)
8. Jamari Traylor (50 points)
9. Andrew White III (24 points)
10. Rio Adams (16 points)
11. Justin Wesley (9 points)

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Ben McLemore gives Pierce-ian performance against Iowa State

1. Ben McLemore: Was it the best individual performance in Allen Fieldhouse since Paul Pierce scored 31 against Oklahoma? The freshman hit the game's biggest shot — a banked-in three with 1.3 seconds left in regulation to tie it — and ended with 33 points on just 12 field-goal attempts, making six of six threes and seven of seven free throws. That was the most posts by a KU freshman since Danny Manning had 35 on March 2, 1985.

2. Jeff Withey: Made the most of a tough matchup and played a big role in keeping Iowa State below its season average percentage-wise in offensive rebounds. Withey posted 15 points on 6-for-10 shooting with 12 rebounds and three blocks in 38 minutes. The senior also had a crucial steal in the second half that helped end a long KU field-goal drought.

3. Kevin Young: Like Withey, he battled hard on the boards, grabbing 12 rebounds in 30 minutes. He also had 10 points on 5-for-10 shooting to go with an assist, steal and two turnovers.

4. Travis Releford: His biggest play was setting a solid screen in the final seconds of regulation to free up McLemore, who knocked in the game-tying three. The senior wasn't great defensively — posting no steals against a team that was careless coming in — but he did have 12 points on 3-for-6 shooting with 6-for-8 accuracy from the free throw line.

5. Elijah Johnson: Made great decisions to keep KU in it late, driving hard to the rim to get fouled with 21 seconds left then putting in a short shot with 14 seconds left to cut the deficit to one. It's time to start getting concerned about his turnover numbers, though. Johnson had six of KU's 14 giveaways against ISU, which makes 11 in his last two games and 16 in his last four. For a guy that doesn't have the ball in his hands as much as someone like Tyshawn Taylor, that number needs to come down. The senior added 12 points on 4-for-10 shooting (2-for-6 from three) with 10 assists and three steals.

6. Jamari Traylor: Provided crucial scoring in his nine minutes, contributing five points on 1-for-1 shooting with 3-for-4 accuracy from the free throw line. He also had two rebounds to go with an illegal screen foul.

7. Naadir Tharpe: The sophomore took one very ill-advised three that stands out, but I thought many of his field goal tries in the lane were aggressive plays where he didn't make the shot. The final line still looks pretty ugly: eight points, 2-for-11 shooting, 0-for-5 shooting from three with one turnover and one steal in 23 minutes.

8. Perry Ellis: Missed both field goals but made both free throws in his eight minutes.

KUsports.com Season Standings
1. Jeff Withey (100 points)
2. Ben McLemore (97 points)
3. Travis Releford (93 points)
4. Elijah Johnson (82 points)
5. Kevin Young (69 points)
6. Naadir Tharpe (65 points)
7. Perry Ellis (55 points)
8. Jamari Traylor (46 points)
9. Andrew White III (23 points)
10. Rio Adams (16 points)
11. Justin Wesley (7 points)

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Jeff Withey bails out KU ‘D,’ takes top honor

Kansas center Jeff Withey rejects a shot by Temple forward Rahlir Hollis-Jefferson with minutes remaining in the second half on Sunday, Jan. 6, 2013 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas center Jeff Withey rejects a shot by Temple forward Rahlir Hollis-Jefferson with minutes remaining in the second half on Sunday, Jan. 6, 2013 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

1. Jeff Withey: Withey scored just eight points on 3-for-10 shooting, but his defense was so overwhelming he still earns the No. 1 spot. Temple coach Fran Dunphy marveled multiple times at Withey's effort in the postgame press conference. "We were at the rim a lot late, and Withey just would not let us finish," Dunphy said. KU coach Bill Self later said Withey "bailed us out of everything." Withey just missed a triple-double, finishing with eight points, 11 rebounds and nine crucial blocks. The senior also influenced many other Temple twos while adding three assists to go with two turnovers in 33 minutes.

2. Kevin Young: Was KU's best player in the first half and its most clutch player in the second half. The senior scored a team-high 16 points on 5-for-10 shooting, but his best offensive plays came at the free throw line, where the 56-percent shooter made six of six, with all those coming after halftime. Young also added 10 rebounds, two assists and a block to go with a turnover in 29 minutes.

3. Travis Releford: Self said he blasted Releford for his poor play at halftime, but the coach also admitted the senior couldn't have played much better in crunch time for KU. Releford had a huge three to help ice the game and put KU up seven with 37 seconds left and scored 14 points on 5-for-5 shooting with 2-for-2 accuracy from three. He added four rebounds to go with an assist and two turnovers before fouling out in the final minute. Even with the impressive offensive numbers, it was probably the worst defensive game of the year for the normally reliable guard.

4. Ben McLemore: His clutch play came with 2:42 left, as he recorded KU's only steal and finished on the other end with a dunk to put KU back on top, 58-57. The Jayhawks didn't trail after that. Also, don't overlook that Self trusted McLemore to guard Temple's leading scorer Khalif Wyatt in the final two minutes with the game on the line. McLemore finished with 13 points on 5-for-12 shooting with five rebounds in 38 minutes.

5. Elijah Johnson: Played out of control for most of the first half before looking like his attacking, 2012 NCAA Tournament self late in the second half. Took it to the rim twice in a row for layups to turn a 54-50 Temple lead into a 54-54 tie with under seven minutes left. The senior had too many turnovers (five) but also posted nine points on 4-for-10 shooting with nine assists in 37 minutes.

6. Naadir Tharpe: Solid game for the backup point guard, who helped fill in for Releford when he had foul trouble. In 19 minutes, Tharpe contributed six points on 2-for-3 shooting (1-for-2 from three) with an assist and two turnovers.

7. Perry Ellis: Despite an 0-for-4 shooting effort, Ellis seems to be gaining confidence and aggressiveness as the season goes along. He had two points, five rebounds and a block with no turnovers in 10 minutes.

8. Jamari Traylor: The freshman seems to still be a step behind on both ends. Traylor notched a point, two rebounds and a turnover in eight minutes.

9. Andrew White III: Self said White "didn't screw up" when subbing in during an important time in the second half, and the coach meant it as a compliment. White was part of the 3 trillion club Sunday, posting three minutes to go with no other statistic.

KUsports.com Season Standings
1. Jeff Withey (91 points)
2. Ben McLemore (87 points)
3. Travis Releford (86 points)
4. Elijah Johnson (76 points)
T5. Naadir Tharpe (61 points)
T5. Kevin Young (61 points)
7. Perry Ellis (52 points)
8. Jamari Traylor (41 points)
9. Andrew White III (23 points)
10. Rio Adams (16 points)
11. Justin Wesley (7 points)

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Travis Releford edges out Naadir Tharpe for No. 1 spot

Kansas guard Travis Releford celebrates a three by teammate Ben McLemore during the second half on Saturday, Dec. 29, 2012 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas guard Travis Releford celebrates a three by teammate Ben McLemore during the second half on Saturday, Dec. 29, 2012 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

1. Travis Releford: It's going to be hard for any KU player to have a more efficient night than Releford did Saturday. The senior made seven of eight field goals, which included a 5-for-6 performance from three-point range. Releford posted 19 points, two rebounds, three assists and no turnovers in a 23-minute effort. In his last four games, he has gone 9-for-11 from beyond the arc (82 percent).

2. Naadir Tharpe: It was hard to keep him from the top spot after his breakout performance. The sophomore's 12 assists tied for the 10th-most in a game in KU history (assists were tallied starting in the 1973-74 season), and he registered those without a single turnover. He also went 3-for-4 from three to finish with nine points in 20 minutes with four rebounds. In his last four games, Tharpe has 22 assists and no turnovers.

3. Perry Ellis: KU coach Bill Self called this Ellis' best game, and that showed in the stat line. The freshman notched his first double-double, contributing 11 points (5-for-7 shooting) to go with a career-high 10 rebounds. He also had a pair of blocks and a three-pointer with no turnovers in 17 minutes.

4. Elijah Johnson: Coming into the game, Johnson had made just one of his last nine three-pointers. He broke that slump against the Eagles, knocking down four of five threes to finish with 12 points. He also added four assists to go with one turnover in 24 minutes.

5. Jeff Withey: Quiet night for Withey compared to his teammates, but that didn't stop him from racking up an efficient line himself. He went 5-for-7 from the floor for 11 points to go with four rebounds, four blocks and one turnover in 21 minutes. He also had the highlight of the night, posterizing AU's Tony Wroblicky with a one-handed jam in the first half.

6. Ben McLemore: Self commented after the game that McLemore never was able to get in the flow of the game, and part of the reason for that was the freshman picking up two quick fouls. McLemore had nine points on 2-for-4 shooting and made all four of his free throws in 20 minutes. His best play might have been a first-half assist to Releford, as McLemore passed up an open three to get Releford a wide-open one. You don't see many future lottery picks that unselfish in college.

7. Kevin Young: KU played so well that Young's six-point perfect shooting night (3-for-3 on field goals) places him seventh. Young also had four rebounds, one assist, one block, two steals and no turnovers in 17 minutes. The senior is now 8-for-8 from the floor in KU's last three games.

8. Rio Adams: Outside of a traveling violation, the freshman was solid in his 11 minutes. He had two points, an assist and a steal and provided good defensive pressure.

9. Jamari Traylor: Traylor showed the quickness to deny passes on the perimeter, but he struggled defensively in the lane, getting a little too aggressive with his block attempts. The freshman had three points, five rebounds, two steals and two turnovers and five fouls in his 21 minutes.

10. Andrew White III: Tough game for the freshman, who struggled with his ball-handling and decision-making. In 14 minutes, he had three of KU's 11 turnovers. White added four points on 2-for-5 shooting to go with one rebound.

KUsports.com Season Standings
1. Jeff Withey (81 points)
2. Ben McLemore (80 points)
3. Travis Releford (79 points)
4. Elijah Johnson (70 points)
5. Naadir Tharpe (56 points)
6. Kevin Young (52 points)
7. Perry Ellis (48 points)
8. Jamari Traylor (38 points)
9. Andrew White III (21 points)
10. Rio Adams (16 points)
11. Justin Wesley (7 points)

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Road environment no problem for Ben McLemore

Kansas guard Ben McLemore clenches his fists after a bucket and a foul against Ohio State during the second half on Saturday, Dec. 22, 2012 at Schottenstein Center in Columbus, Ohio.

Kansas guard Ben McLemore clenches his fists after a bucket and a foul against Ohio State during the second half on Saturday, Dec. 22, 2012 at Schottenstein Center in Columbus, Ohio. by Nick Krug

1. Ben McLemore: Caught fire early and played with aggressiveness throughout. The freshman posted a game-high 22 points on 8-for-17 shooting, which included 3-for-6 shooting from three. He also had six rebounds, two assists, a block and a steal to go with four turnovers in 36 minutes. His admirers in the Ohio State postgame press conference included guard Aaron Craft and coach Thad Matta.

2. Jeff Withey: Posted a double-double with 14 points and 10 rebounds in 34 minutes. The sign of him being an elite player is that you can immediately tell when he's not in the game. The senior had just one block, but once again, he forced an inside team to play outside-in. Ohio State made just 12 of 34 two-pointers (35 percent), with a few of those makes coming in garbage time.

3. Travis Releford: Did a nice job chasing down Deshaun Thomas defensively, especially in the second half. Thomas finished with 16 points on 4-for-11 shooting (3-for-7 from three), but Releford should be given credit for the fact that Thomas didn't shoot more. The senior guard also was his normal efficient self offensively, posting 11 points on 4-for-5 shooting with a big three in the second half to give KU the momentum for good.

4. Elijah Johnson: Poor first half was followed by a strong second half where KU coach Bill Self said he controlled the game by setting the tempo. The senior finished with 13 points on 4-for-8 shooting (0-for-2 from three) while making it to the free throw line a season-high six times. He also had two assists and four turnovers in 32 minutes.

5. Kevin Young: Provided a big boost late in the first half by getting to the free throw line to break up an Ohio State run. He struggled from the line (4-for-10) but still made his only field goal attempt for six points with 10 rebounds, three assists and three turnovers in 33 minutes.

6. Naadir Tharpe: Provided great minutes in the first half, attacking Ohio State's aggressive defense off the dribble when Johnson wasn't. Tharpe made both of his field goals (including a three) to end with five points, three assists and no turnovers in 15 minutes. The only blemish on his stat line was four fouls.

7. Jamari Traylor: Gave KU some athleticism inside when Withey needed a breather. He notched three points, two rebounds, a block and a turnover in seven minutes.

8. Perry Ellis: Wasn't productive during his two stints in the game. He missed both shots he took, posting no points and three rebounds to go with an assist and a turnover in five minutes. Self still appears to be looking for Ellis' mean streak.

9. Rio Adams: Checked in to save KU's guards from foul trouble, Adams picked up a foul himself, which sent Self's fingers quickly up to massage his temples. Adams had no other statistic in his 0-plus minutes.

KUsports.com Season Standings
T1. Jeff Withey (75 points)
T1. Ben McLemore (75 points)
3. Travis Releford (69 points)
4. Elijah Johnson (63 points)
5. Kevin Young (48 points)
6. Naadir Tharpe (47 points)
7. Perry Ellis (40 points)
8. Jamari Traylor (36 points)
9. Andrew White III (20 points)
10. Rio Adams (13 points)
11. Justin Wesley (7 points)

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Jeff Withey paces KU against Spiders

Kansas center Jeff Withey defends against a shot from Richmond guard Cedrick Lindsay during the first half on Tuesday, Dec. 18, 2012 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas center Jeff Withey defends against a shot from Richmond guard Cedrick Lindsay during the first half on Tuesday, Dec. 18, 2012 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

1. Jeff Withey: Best player for KU in a landslide. The big man not only scored and blocked, he also showed his quickness, picking up his sixth and seventh steals of the year early in the second half near midcourt when anticipating passes. Withey posted 17 points on 7-for-9 shooting with 13 rebounds, four blocks and two assists to go with three turnovers.

2. Naadir Tharpe: The sophomore scored a career-high 11 points while taking just five shots, which included a 3-for-4 performance from three. KU coach Bill Self was more happy with his aggressiveness defensively, as he fought harder through ball screens and gave Elijah Johnson some much needed rest in the first half. Tharpe added three assists, three rebounds and two steals with no turnovers in 17 minutes.

3. Ben McLemore: Foul trouble halted what could have been a huge offensive night for the freshman, who once again was in double digits halfway through the first half. He finished with 14 points on 5-for-9 shooting (2-for-3 from three) with two assists, two steals and a turnover.

4. Travis Releford: Another steady effort for the senior, who once again was at his best in transition. Releford had 11 points on 4-for-5 shooting while making his only three and his only two free throws. He had two assists and two steals to go with one turnover.

5. Kevin Young: Self was steaming a few times because of Young's laziness on getting out to three-point shooters, yet in the end, the box score showed the senior with eight points on perfect 4-for-4 shooting with nine rebounds. Self also said afterwards Young needs to do a better job of getting position early in defensive possessions to make up for his lack of size.

6. Elijah Johnson: Self wasn't happy with Johnson after the game, saying he was still too timid offensively. The coach pointed out a pair of examples in the first half when, after a ball screen, Johnson was matched up with Richmond post player Derrick Williams and didn't even try to drive by him. Johnson was better in the second half and finished with eight points on 3-for-9 shooting (0-for-3 from three) with seven assists and three turnovers.

7. Perry Ellis: Against a smaller lineup, the freshman made scoring in the paint look simple. He posted eight points on 4-for-5 shooting but did little else in his 16 minutes, grabbing no rebounds with no assists, blocks or steals.

8. Jamari Traylor: He tries hard, as evidenced by his hustle to leap into the stands to try to save a deflection from going out of bounds. Traylor's highlight play came on a weakside block, and he added two points, four rebounds and an assist to go with two turnovers and three fouls in 13 minutes.

9. Rio Adams: Still looks like a guy that needs to settle down a bit when he gets in. Adams had a highlight-reel pass and also an aggressive drive for a one-handed dunk, but it looks like he's trying to make something happen every single time he touches it, which might be a bit ambitious. He had four points on 2-for-4 shooting with one assist in six minutes.

10. Andrew White III: Missed all five of his shots — including four threes — in 11 minutes. The freshman still contributed some other ways, notching his third and fourth blocks of the season to go with three rebounds and a turnover in 11 minutes.

KUsports.com Season Standings
1. Jeff Withey (66 points)
2. Ben McLemore (65 points)
3. Travis Releford (61 points)
4. Elijah Johnson (56 points)
T5. Kevin Young (42 points)
T5. Naadir Tharpe (42 points)
7. Perry Ellis (37 points)
8. Jamari Traylor (32 points)
9. Andrew White III (20 points)
10. Rio Adams (11 points)
11. Justin Wesley (7 points)

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Bouncy Kevin Young takes top spot

Kansas forward Kevin Young wrestles for the ball with Colorado defender Andre Roberson (21) teammate Jeff Withey and CU forward Josh Scott (40) during the second half on Saturday, Dec. 8, 2012 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas forward Kevin Young wrestles for the ball with Colorado defender Andre Roberson (21) teammate Jeff Withey and CU forward Josh Scott (40) during the second half on Saturday, Dec. 8, 2012 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

1. Kevin Young: His energy was contagious, and the senior's hustle paid off as he posted a career-high for his KU tenure with 16 points on 8-for-9 shooting. He made the easy and smart plays, with the box score showing seven of his eight makes were either layups or dunks. He also was active on the boards, pulling down eight caroms in just 20 minutes.

2. Ben McLemore: His aggressiveness offensively was most evident in his free throw attempts, as he made 10 of 11 to finish with 24 points. Had a great start to the game, reaching double figures at the 11:15 mark of the first half. McLemore impacted the game in other ways too, grabbing five rebounds to go with two steals in 30 minutes. The only negative was his mid-range shooting, as made just 6 of 16 field goals, including 1 of 7 two-point jumpshots.

3. Travis Releford: Held CU's hobbled leading scorer Spencer Dinwiddie to just four points on 1-for-4 shooting. The senior also posterized CU's Jeremy Adams on a dunk and continues to show an amazing ability to never get blocked on a layup in transition. Releford finished with 10 points on 5-for-8 shooting with six assists and no turnovers.

4. Elijah Johnson: The senior's knee looked much better after a week of working to strengthen it. His explosiveness looked to be back too, especially on the defensive end where he was able to slide quickly to keep his man in front of him. Offensively, he scored 11 points on 4-for-8 shooting and made 3 of 6 three-pointers. He contributed three assists and two steals to go with two turnovers in 25 minutes.

5. Jeff Withey: KU coach Bill Self said Withey "played great" afterwards, and one would have to assume that means the senior's ball-screen defense was much improved. Withey was efficient with his tries, posting eight points on 3-for-6 shooting. He also added seven rebounds, five blocks and two impressive assists in his 23 minutes.

6. Andrew White III: The freshman can shoot, nailing 2 of 3 three-pointers on his way to eight points in eight minutes. Had one turnover on a charge in transition.

7. Naadir Tharpe: Made two shots to beat the shot clock, but his turnover count (four) was too high considering he played only 17 minutes. He had five points, an assist and a steal and was generally a pest to CU's guards on the defensive end.

8. Jamari Traylor: Four points, three rebounds, two assists, a block and a steal in 11 minutes is good. Five fouls in those 11 minutes, though, is not so good.

9. Perry Ellis: Had an increase in minutes (17), but his stats wouldn't indicate that. The freshman had two points, one rebound, one assist, one block, one steal and one turnover.

10. Rio Adams: Self yanked him out for good late in the second half to sub in Evan Manning. Judging by Self's reaction, Adams wasn't doing what he was supposed to defensively. Adams did have two steals in five minutes, but he also had no points and a bad turnover after trying to dribble through too many defenders.

11. Justin Wesley: Had two rebounds in six minutes of garbage time.

KUsports.com Season Standings
1. Jeff Withey (50 points)
2. Ben McLemore (49 points)
3. Travis Releford (45 points)
4. Elijah Johnson (41 points)
5. Kevin Young (31 points)
6. Perry Ellis (30 points)
7. Naadir Tharpe (29 points)
8. Jamari Traylor (27 points)
9. Andrew White III (12 points)
10. Rio Adams (8 points)
11. Justin Wesley (7 points)

— Compiled and written by Jesse Newell.

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Travis Releford edges out other starters for top spot

1. Travis Releford: Was challenged to attack the rim by Kansas coach Bill Self at halftime, and he delivered. The senior was efficient, scoring 20 points on 8-for-10 shooting while posting a team-high seven rebounds. The guard has a natural gift of avoiding shot-blockers when taking layups to the rim. He also added five assists and two steals to go with two turnovers.

2. Jeff Withey: Made the most of a limited number of shot attempts, as he posted 17 points on 7-for-9 shooting. He had only three blocks but still had an impact on Oregon State's shots inside, as the Beavers shot just 39 percent from two-point range (down from 52 percent season average). The senior also showed great conditioning in playing a career-high 37 minutes.

3. Ben McLemore: Had a stellar first half, which included a Jordan-like slam that we'll most likely be seeing on KU pregame videos for years to come. He was limited by foul trouble, though, and made a couple of bad decisions during possessions late in the second half before clinching the game with a pair of free throws with 13 seconds left. He had a team-high 21 points on 8-for-14 shooting, which included 3-for-4 accuracy from three.

4. Kevin Young: The senior seemed to always find the openings on the baseline when his teammates drove to the rim, which led to easy buckets. He scored 10 points on 4-for-8 shooting with four rebounds and a turnover in 23 minutes. He also missed two critical free throws late that could have helped KU seal the game earlier.

5. Elijah Johnson: Had a rough start, turning it over three times in the first four minutes. He settled down some after that but still couldn't keep up with Ahmad Starks defensively, as the OSU guard poured in 25 points, which included a school-record seven three-pointers. Johnson finished with six points, four rebounds, nine assists and four turnovers in 28 minutes.

6. Andrew White III: Self called White his best bench player after the game. The freshman contributed energy off the bench in the form of four points and six rebounds in 13 minutes. White went just 1-for-5 from the floor and had two turnovers, but he seems to be getting more comfortable working within KU's offense.

7. Perry Ellis: He spent the whole night getting chewed by Self, who yelled at him to be more aggressive and get more rebounds. Self even tried to motivate Ellis once by telling him he wasn't providing anything while on the court. Once again, Ellis' numbers look OK (four points, three rebounds, no turnovers in 15 minutes), but Self continues to demand more from the talented freshman.

8. Jamari Traylor: The freshman started the second half, perhaps because he's one of the only guys that plays with the kind of toughness that Self desires. His night wasn't filled with much production, though, as he had no points, two rebounds, a block and a turnover in five minutes.

9. Rio Adams: Heeded his coach's message to attack, going behind his back on the dribble before putting in a bank shot over a defender. He finished with two points, one assist and one turnover in four minutes.

10. Naadir Tharpe: He had a few chances to get in, but because of his defense, he received the quick hook a few times by Self. In eight minutes, Tharpe didn't attempt a shot with one assist and two turnovers.

11. Justin Wesley Played zero-plus minutes in the box score without recording an official statistic.

KUsports.com Season Standings
1. Jeff Withey (53 points)
2. Ben McLemore (48 points)
3. Travis Releford (47 points)
4. Elijah Johnson (40 points)
5. Perry Ellis (32 points)
6. Kevin Young (28 points)
7. Jamari Traylor (27 points)
8. Naadir Tharpe (26 points)
9. Andrew White III (12 points)
10. Rio Adams (9 points)
11. Justin Wesley (7 points)

— Compiled by Jesse Newell and Gary Bedore. Written by Jesse Newell.

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