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Jeff Withey, Travis Releford the top ‘Hawks against Spartans

1. Jeff Withey: KU coach Bill Self said that Withey nearly single-handedly won the game for KU, and that's probably not far off. The senior notched his first triple-double in a regular-season game, posting 16 points to go with 12 rebounds and 12 blocks. The center did a great job offensively of taking his time, diagnosing whether a double-team was coming, then scoring when it didn't. Think about this: When SJSU put up one of its 44 two-point attempts Monday night, that shot had just as good of a chance of being blocked by Withey (12 instances) as it did of going in the basket (12 instances).

2. Travis Releford: Efficient night for the senior, who scored 13 points on 5-for-6 shooting. He showed nice range on a pullup jumper, nice confidence on a stepback three and excellent glide in transition on a leaning two. It was easy to tell when he wasn't guarding SJSU's James Kinney, as the tiny Spartans guard seemed to be scoring on everyone except Releford. The senior added four assists and three blocks to go with a turnover in 37 minutes.

3. Elijah Johnson: Self admitted that Johnson has been playing with a banged-up knee after the game and also said that injury has been hampering the senior's explosiveness. Despite some bad turnovers late, Johnson still contributed 13 points on 4-for-9 shooting while making 3 of 6 threes. He had five assists to go with four turnovers but is struggling on the ball defensively.

4. Kevin Young: Consistently brings energy, which is valuable on this year's team. Though many of Young's patented follow-tips didn't fall, he still posted six points and eight rebounds with an assist, two steals and no turnovers in 20 minutes. He also hit four clutch free throws during KU's second-half field-goal drought.

5. Ben McLemore: Bookended the game with highlight dunks but had a very poor shooting game in between. The freshman made just 5 of 16 shots, which included an 0-for-7 performance from three-point range. He added six rebounds, three assists, two steals and a block to go with three turnovers.

6. Perry Ellis: Had a few good offensive plays but always seems to get yanked for a lack of aggressiveness. The freshman had four points and four rebounds to go with two assists and a turnover in 14 minutes.

7. Naadir Tharpe: His shot selection was questionable at times, and his defense left a lot to be desired, as SJSU's Kinney got quite a few open looks over the KU sophomore. Tharpe finished with two points on 1-for-5 shooting with an assist, steal and two turnovers in 12 minutes.

8. Jamari Traylor: Two points, two boards, two fouls in seven minutes.

9. Andrew White III: Showed good anticipation in grabbing a steal that led to an SJSU intentional foul. Later, though, White didn't communicate well with Tharpe defensively, which led to Kinney being left open for a three. White finished with a point and a foul in four minutes.

10. Justin Wesley: Posted one rebound and two fouls in four minutes.

KUsports.com Season Standings
1. Jeff Withey (44 points)
2. Ben McLemore (40 points)
3. Travis Releford (37 points)
4. Elijah Johnson (34 points)
5. Perry Ellis (28 points)
6. Naadir Tharpe (25 points)
7. Jamari Traylor (24 points)
8. Kevin Young (21 points)
T9. Rio Adams (7 points)
T9. Justin Wesley (7 points)
T9. Andrew White III (7 points)

— Compiled by Jesse Newell and Tom Keegan. Written by Jesse Newell.

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Jeff Withey edges out Travis Releford for top spot

1. Jeff Withey: The senior played his best offensively when KU needed points down the stretch. He tied a career-high with 25 points on 7-for-12 shooting while also hitting 11 of 14 free throws. Defensively, he helped shut down his own man and also others who ventured into the lane with seven blocks in 33 minutes. SLU ended with a worse two-point percentage than three-point percentage mostly because of the seven-footer.

2. Travis Releford: He made Withey's second-half effort possible by forcing SLU to guard him in the first half. He scored 21 of his 23 points before halftime, which included 4-for-6 first-half three-point shooting. He also played great defense on SLU's leading scorer Dwayne Evans, allowing the bulky forward only five field-goal attempts.

3. Ben McLemore: He battled foul trouble in the first half but still ended with an efficient line, posting 11 points on 5-for-9 shooting with six rebounds in 25 minutes.

4. Elijah Johnson: He didn't shoot it well (2-for-7 field goals) but made up for it by delivering accurate passes to teammates. The senior posted nine assists, four rebounds and a steal to go with two turnovers in 34 minutes.

5. Kevin Young: Didn't attempt a field goal, but he still finished with eight rebounds and three assists to go with a turnover in 27 minutes.

6. Naadir Tharpe: He continues to avoid mistakes offensively, posting no turnovers for the third straight game. He made his only three-point attempt to beat the shot clock, finishing 1-for-5 from the floor for three points with four rebounds, two assists and a steal in 22 minutes.

7. Perry Ellis: The freshman once again frustrated KU coach Bill Self at times with his lack of aggressiveness. His line still wasn't bad for nine minutes: four points, 2-for-5 shooting, three rebounds, an assist and steal to go with a turnover.

8. Jamari Traylor: Had no points but two blocks, two steals and two rebounds in 12 minutes.

9. Rio Adams: Didn't return to the game after SLU's Mike McCall Jr. hit a three over him. Immediately after, Self called timeout, went on the court to yell at the freshman, then yanked his thumb back toward the bench. Adams missed his only shot and had a foul in two minutes.

KUsports.com Season Standings
1. Jeff Withey (44 points)
2. Ben McLemore (42 points)
3. Travis Releford (37 points)
4. Elijah Johnson (33 points)
5. Perry Ellis (27 points)
6. Naadir Tharpe (26 points)
7. Jamari Traylor (24 points)
8. Kevin Young (20 points)
9. Rio Adams (9 points)
10. Justin Wesley (6 points)
11. Andrew White III (5 points)

— Compiled by Jesse Newell and Tom Keegan. Written by Jesse Newell.

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Travis Releford, Jeff Withey top ratings against Washington State

1. Travis Releford: The senior broke out of his shooting slump, going 6-for-7 from the floor and 2-for-3 from three to lead KU with 17 points in 23 minutes. The performance came after a lackluster first three games offensively when he was 0-for-11 from three and hadn't made any shots outside of layups. Releford also was 3-for-3 from the line Monday and added an assist with no turnovers.

2. Jeff Withey: His defensive presence had an effect on the Pac-12's leading returning scorer Brock Motum, who finished with 14 points on 6-for-18 shooting. Withey himself posted five blocks, changed many other shots and added eight points on 4-for-8 shooting with six rebounds in 19 minutes.

3. Perry Ellis: Nice bounceback game for him, as he was about as efficient as you can be offensively. He scored 14 points while attempting just three field goals, making all eight of his free throws to go with three rebounds, two assists, a block and a steal in 14 minutes.

4. Ben McLemore: Showed his tremendous athleticism with another putback dunk, leading one KUsports.com poster to nickname him, "StickMac" during our live-game blog. Had 11 points on 3-for-6 shooting (2-for-4 from three) in 24 minutes.

5. Kevin Young: Gave great energy in his first start of the year, contributing four points and 10 rebounds in his 18 minutes.

6. Elijah Johnson: Had a tough shooting night from deep, making just 2 of 8 three-pointers to finish with eight points, four assists and two turnovers in a team-high 26 minutes.

7. Naadir Tharpe: The sophomore forced up one ill-advised mid-range jumper in transition, but other than that, he played a solid game. He had five points on 2-for-5 shooting with four assists and no turnovers in 18 minutes.

8. Jamari Traylor: He picks his spots well in the post, driving to the opposite side of the rim for one layup while banging into a defender to put in a bucket with a foul another time. He finished with five points on 2-for-4 shooting with four defensive rebounds, a block and a steal in 15 minutes.

9. Andrew White III: Made his first three-pointer and finished with five points on 1-for-2 shooting with two rebounds and an assist in nine minutes.

10. Justin Wesley: Had three points, four rebounds and two turnovers in 10 minutes.

11. Rio Adams: Missed all four of his shots in eight minutes.

KUsports.com Season Standings
T1. Ben McLemore (34 points)
T1. Jeff Withey (34 points)
3. Travis Releford (28 points)
4. Elijah Johnson (26 points)
5. Perry Ellis (23 points)
T6. Jamari Traylor (21 points)
T6. Naadir Tharpe (21 points)
8. Kevin Young (14 points)
9. Rio Adams (7 points)
10. Justin Wesley (6 points)
11. Andrew White III (5 points)

— Compiled by Jesse Newell and Tom Keegan. Written by Jesse Newell.

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Ben McLemore, seniors take top five spots in rankings

1. Ben McLemore: KU coach Bill Self asked him to be more aggressive offensively, and the freshman showed more flashes of his potential while shouldering the scoring load for KU on Thursday night. McLemore finished with 25 points, which included a pair of dunks that sent the Fieldhouse crowd into a frenzy and shifted the momentum. He also added eight rebounds, three assists and a steal with a single turnover. Self also revealed afterwards that McLemore continued playing in the second half after having his dislocated finger popped back into place twice.

2. Elijah Johnson: After a dreadful first half, Johnson torched Chattanooga's sagging defense in the second half. Here's the senior's second-half line: 13 points, 5-for-5 shooting, 3-for-3 shooting from three, four assists, one steal, one turnover, 19 minutes. His final total included 18 points, four assists and four turnovers.

3. Jeff Withey: The slow starts are becoming troublesome for Self, but Withey — like Johnson — had a stellar second half. Here's his second-half line: nine points, seven rebounds and five blocks in 19 minutes. His final total was 11 points, 10 rebounds and six blocks in 28 minutes.

4. Travis Releford: KU might not win the game without his tenacious second-half, on-ball defense on Farad Cobb, but Releford's poor offensive performance keeps him from being any higher on this list. The senior finished with two points on 1-for-6 shooting (0-for-5 shooting from three) with six assists, three turnovers, two steals and a block. He's now 0-for-11 this season from three-point range.

5. Kevin Young: Showed great energy in the first half when few other players did. The senior tied for the team lead with four offensive rebounds in his 19 minutes. His final stats included five points (2-for-4 shooting) and seven rebounds.

6. Naadir Tharpe: Hit one of the biggest shots of the game, pulling up for a quick three that pushed KU's lead to 49-43 in the second half. He made just 1 of 6 shots (1 of 5 from three) but did contribute five assists with no turnovers. Still has a long ways to go defensively, as he was guarding UTC's Farad Cobb quite a bit during the freshman's 18-point first half.

7. Rio Adams: Made the most of his four minutes, driving into the lane for an impressive scoop-shot layup. He also had a couple of nice passes, though only one was rewarded with an assist. He finished with two points and a turnover.

8. Perry Ellis: Second straight rough game for Ellis, who still appears to be adjusting to the physicality of Div. I basketball. He had two points and four rebounds to go with a block, steal and turnover in 20 minutes.

9. Jamari Traylor: He started but played only four minutes in the second half. Had an impressive first-half block, but ended with just one point and three rebounds to go with two turnovers in 13 minutes.

10. Andrew White III: Missed his only shot — a three-point attempt — in two minutes.

KUsports.com Season Standings
1. Ben McLemore (27 points)
2. Jeff Withey (25 points)
3. Elijah Johnson (21 points)
T4. Travis Releford (18 points)
T4. Jamari Traylor (18 points)
6. Naadir Tharpe (17 points)
7. Perry Ellis (15 points)
8. Kevin Young (8 points)
9. Rio Adams (7 points)
10. Justin Wesley (5 points)
11. Andrew White III (3 points)

— Compiled by Jesse Newell and Tom Keegan. Written by Jesse Newell.

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Jamari Traylor earns top honors against Michigan State

1. Jamari Traylor: Had the highlight of the night — a vicious, stickback dunk in the first half — and provided consistent play the rest of the time. He flew high for a second-half, fast-break block against the backboard, showed some good post moves and earned KU a couple extra possessions by winning 50-50 balls. He finished with six points on 3-for-5 shooting with four rebounds, three blocks, two steals and just one turnover in 25 minutes off the bench.

2. Ben McLemore: Once again, perhaps his only fault was not being more aggressive. McLemore scored an efficient 14 points on 5-for-7 shooting, adding in three rebounds and three assists to go with three turnovers. Afterwards, KU coach Bill Self said he would have liked to have seen the freshman drive more late in the game.

3. Elijah Johnson: Solid game for Johnson, who penetrated more and had a better shooting night than in the opener. He posted a team-high 14 points on 6-for-15 shooting (2-for-5 from three) and tied for second on the team with four rebounds. He added three steals but had just two assists to go with four turnovers.

4. Jeff Withey: Limited because of foul trouble in the first half, Withey actually had a pretty good second half. He finished with eight points on 4-for-6 shooting, putting in a couple of hooks while going across the lane. He led KU with seven rebounds, and it seemed like the official scorer might have skimped him on blocks (two) while blaming him for a turnover or two that weren't his (four).

5. Travis Releford: He had a chance to be at the top of the ratings before making a couple of poor plays that resulted in turnovers in crunch time. He finished with eight points on 2-for-6 shooting to go with three assists and two giveaways. The senior added four steals, but he also was beaten off the dribble a few times by MSU freshman Gary Harris.

6. Naadir Tharpe: Confidently stepped into a three and made both of his free throws to finish with five points in 13 minutes while posting only one turnover.

7. Justin Wesley: Played well in his limited time, showing nice touch in the lane to make his only field goal. He finished with two points and one rebound in seven minutes.

8. Perry Ellis: The freshman struggled against length, and after getting blocked, he seemed hesitant with his decision-making. Ellis posted four points on 2-for-6 shooting with three rebounds and one turnover in 17 miuntes. Twice in the second half, after poor plays, he was substituted out by Self for Traylor.

9. Kevin Young: Looked rusty defensively in his first game back. He had one point in three minutes, though he did come away with a crucial loose ball with 56 seconds left that led to a three-point play for McLemore.

KUsports.com Season Standings
T1. Jeff Withey (17 points)
T1. Ben McLemore (17 points)
3. Jamari Traylor (16 points)
4. Perry Ellis (12 points)
T5. Naadir Tharpe (12 points)
T5. Elijah Johnson (12 points)
7. Travis Releford (11 points)
8. Justin Wesley (5 points)
9. Rio Adams (3 points)
T10. Andrew White III (2 points)
T10. Kevin Young (2 points)

— Compiled by Jesse Newell and Tom Keegan. Written by Jesse Newell.

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Jeff Withey tops first ratings of year

1. Jeff Withey: He was KU's leading scorer with 17 points, but his biggest impact came on the other end of the floor. He had five blocks and changed numerous other Southeast Missouri shots, leading KU's stifling defense in the first half. Withey also tied a team-high with 12 rebounds, including five offensive boards.

2. Perry Ellis: After his first game, he's probably already established himself as KU's best scorer in the post. The freshman showed an array of moves — including a left-handed baby hook — on his way to 15 points on 5-for-9 shooting. He also posted eight rebounds and no turnovers in 23 minutes.

3. Ben McLemore: Though he wasn't as aggressive as he could have been offensively, McLemore still impacted the game in nearly every way possible. He posted nine points, 12 rebounds, five assists and three blocks with just one turnover. He also won a pair of 50-50 balls that led to layups, which should make his coach happy.

4. Naadir Tharpe: Attacked the paint more often in the second half and also looked confident in his jumper. He posted 10 points on 4-for-11 shooting, which included 3-for-5 shooting from two-point range. The sophomore also added two assists to go with two turnovers in 28 minutes, playing point guard for most of the night with Elijah Johnson held back by fouls and cramps.

5. Jamari Traylor: KU coach Bill Self commented afterwards that he thought Traylor did some good things. The freshman posted five points on 2-for-4 shooting, which included a composed spin move and two in the lane. He also added a rebound, assist, steal and block to go with two turnovers in 16 minutes.

6. Travis Releford: The senior struggled with threes (0-for-5) and turnovers (four), but he still provided some stability when Johnson went to the bench. His best offense was in transition, as he had nine points on 3-for-11 shooting to go with five rebounds in 34 minutes.

7. Elijah Johnson: Didn't look like himself, perhaps because of leg cramps. He also couldn't avoid the whistles, fouling out of the third game of his career after playing just 22 minutes. He posted three points on 1-for-5 shooting, missed all four of his threes and had just one assist.

8. Rio Adams: He's trying hard defensively but might need to back off the aggressiveness just a bit. He had two fouls in five minutes, but he did make both of his free throws for two points.

9. Andrew White III: He ended his team's stretch of 17 consecutive missed threes with a trey late. He posted three points on 1-for-2 shooting in his three minutes.

10. Justin Wesley: He had two rebounds, two fouls and two turnovers in eight minutes.

KUsports.com Season Standings
1. Jeff Withey (10 points)
2. Perry Ellis (9 points)
3. Ben McLemore (8 points)
4. Naadir Tharpe (7 points)
5. Jamari Traylor (6 points)
6. Travis Releford (5 points)
7. Elijah Johnson (4 points)
8. Rio Adams (3 points)
9. Andrew White III (2 points)
10. Justin Wesley (1 point)

— Compiled by Jesse Newell

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