Entries from blogs tagged with “ku”

Iowa State’s style a difficult challenge for Kansas defense

Ames, Iowa — Iowa State has more going for it in tonight’s Big 12 matchup against Kansas than Hilton Magic. The Cyclones’ style of play also is one that can give the Jayhawks trouble.

Every year Bill Self’s Kansas basketball teams rank at or near the top of the nation in field-goal percentage defense. They get there by clogging up the lane with long, athletic bodies. Kansas defenders always help off their man about as well as anyone in the country. It’s a blessing, but against a team like Iowa State it also can be a curse.

The Cyclones flood the floor with long-range shooters from every position. Even if a defender’s scouting report says not to leave his man, that’s easier said than done for players so well drilled on lending help defense.

“I think the way Iowa state plays, and you could go back to Belmont, Richmond, those teams were getting off 32, 36 threes against us and I think a lot of it stems from how we play,” 10th year KU coach Bill Self said. “Even when we pressure we don’t pressure out as much as a lot of people do, especially to shooters. We’ve got to do a lot better job of that. But the biggest thing to me is ball-screen defense. How are we going to guard their open ball screens and not put us in a situation where you have to close out from great distances?”

In KU’s 97-89 overtime victory against Iowa State, played in Allen Fieldhouse on Jan. 9, the Cyclones attempted 38 three-pointers and made 14. Six different players hit at least one three, five players more than one.

Georges Niang, Iowa State’s 6-foot-7, 245-pound freshman center, will try to draw Kansas center Jeff Withey away from the hoop. Niang has hit multiple three-pointers in six games. In the first 1:50 of the thriller in Allen Fieldhouse, Niang gave the visitors an 8-3 lead by hitting two three-pointers and a two-point jumper.

Not that Iowa State is one-dimensional. The Cyclones made 4 of 24 from three against Baylor in Hilton and still won, 79-71. But Baylor isn't Kansas. If KU can keep the Cyclones from getting hot from beyond the arc, a ninth consecutive Big 12 title should come into clear focus for the Jayhawks.

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Big man takes top spot for KU against TCU

Kansas center Jeff Withey smiles with the rest of the starters during a break in action in the second half on Saturday, Feb. 23, 2013 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas center Jeff Withey smiles with the rest of the starters during a break in action in the second half on Saturday, Feb. 23, 2013 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

1. Jeff Withey: After getting taken out of his game by TCU in Fort Worth (12 points, six field-goal attempts), Withey responded by taking over for stretches Saturday. The senior posted a team-high 18 points on 7-for-12 shooting, adding six rebounds and three blocks to go with two turnovers in 26 minutes. A huge defensive challenge awaits Withey, as his ball-screen defense will be tested Monday against Iowa State.

2. Ben McLemore: McLemore said afterwards that he liked his 360 and windmill dunks better, but his one-handed posterization of a TCU player at the end of the half should still earn a spot in SportsCenter's Top Ten. The freshman scored 14 points, making four of 10 field goals, two of six threes and four of four free throws. He also had three assists and two steals with no turnovers.

3. Kevin Young: After the game, KU coach Bill Self said Young was approaching Tyshawn Taylor territory, becoming a player who makes hard plays look easy and easy plays look hard. Young's energy was terrific in the first half, though, and he finished with six points on 3-for-4 shooting with eight rebounds in 22 minutes. Defensively, he added two blocks and two steals.

4. Travis Releford: Has KU ever had a better finisher in transition? It's hard to think of one the way Releford has played this season. The senior provided a typical "Releford" line: 12 points, 4-for-5 shooting, one assist and one steal to go with two turnovers in 30 minutes.

5. Perry Ellis: Scored on an array of post moves and provides KU with its best scoring threat off the bench. The freshman notched 12 points on 5-for-8 shooting with four rebounds and no turnovers in 15 productive minutes.

6. Elijah Johnson: Played well on a day when a lot of his teammates also played well. Johnson had seven points on 2-for-5 shooting with four assists, two steals and just one turnover in 29 minutes. The senior now has just four turnovers in his last three games.

7. Jamari Traylor: Showed a nice turn-around jumper in making his only field-goal attempt. The freshman still turns it over too much, but he does try hard. Traylor also came away with two steals in his 12 minutes.

8. Naadir Tharpe: Tharpe's shooting slump continued Saturday. He missed all four of his field goals and now has made just 31 percent of his twos (15 of 48) and 19 percent of his threes (nine of 48) in Big 12 play. Tharpe did make both of his free throws and added four assists to go with two turnovers in 17 minutes.

9. Rio Adams: Had a steal and a missed shot in his one minute.

10. Justin Wesley: Had two rebounds and a turnover in three minutes.

11. Andrew White III: Went 0-for-2 from the floor and 1-for-2 from the free throw line with a turnover in seven minutes.

KUsports.com Season Standings
1. Jeff Withey (217 points)
2. Ben McLemore (208 points)
3. Travis Releford (199 points)
4. Kevin Young (159 points)
5. Elijah Johnson (143 points)
6. Naadir Tharpe (136 points)
7. Perry Ellis (114 points)
8. Jamari Traylor (92 points)
9. Andrew White III (43 points)
10. Rio Adams (28 points)
11. Justin Wesley (17 points)

Big 12 Standings
1. Jeff Withey (126 points)
2. Ben McLemore (119 points)
3. Travis Releford (113 points)
4. Kevin Young (100 points)
5. Naadir Tharpe (75 points)
6. Elijah Johnson (68 points)
7. Perry Ellis (62 points)
8. Jamari Traylor (51 points)
9. Andrew White III (20 points)
10. Rio Adams (13 points)
11. Justin Wesley (10 points)

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TCU has regressed since win over KU

Ben McLemore (23) tries to turn the corner on defender Garlon Green (33) in the Jayhawks 62-55 loss to Texas Christian University, Wednesday at TCU in Ft. Worth, TX.

Ben McLemore (23) tries to turn the corner on defender Garlon Green (33) in the Jayhawks 62-55 loss to Texas Christian University, Wednesday at TCU in Ft. Worth, TX. by Mike Yoder

Team: TCU
Record: 10-16
KenPom (Ken Pomeroy) Ranking: 284
All statistics from KenPom.com unless otherwise noted

3 Strengths

Getting to the free throw line: TCU has the nation's 57th-best offensive free throw rate, averaging 19.8 free throws per game while playing one of the nation's slowest tempos. That's not always a huge positive for the Horned Frogs, though, as their 58.7 percent free throw percentage is the fourth-worst in the nation.

• Forcing turnovers: In Big 12 play, TCU is fourth in the conference in defensive turnover percentage, creating giveaways on 20.3 percent of opponents' possessions. For the season, the Horned Frogs ranked 120th nationally in the stat (21.2 percent).

Avoiding fouls: TCU is second-best in Big 12 play when it comes to defensive free throw rate, with conference foes averaging just 16.3 free throws per game. For the season, opponents are getting just 18.7 percent of their points against the Horned Frogs from the line (259th-highest split nationally).

3 Weaknesses

Shooting: TCU shoots a high number of two-point jumpshots according to Hoop-Math.com (47 percent of its shots, 16th-highest split nationally) and does it without much success (32 percent; NCAA average is 35 percent). This has crushed the Horned Frogs' two-point percentage, which sits at 42.8 percent (319th nationally). Though TCU is extremely selective with its three-point shots, it still shoots a horrible percentage from there as well, making just 28.7 percent of its long-range tries (330th nationally).

Turnovers: TCU ranks 284th nationally in offensive turnover percentage (22.3 percent), and that number has stayed steady throughout the season. In Big 12 play, the Horned Frogs are last in the conference in turnover percentage, edging out Texas Tech for the bottom spot.

First-shot defense: Big 12 opponents have shot high percentages from both two-point and three-point range against TCU, making 49.7 percent of their twos (eighth in conference) and 39.8 percent of their threes (ninth in conference). Hoop-Math.com shows that TCU also has allowed opponents to take a lot of easy shots, as 37 percent of the field goals against the Horned Frogs this year have come at the rim (NCAA average is 34 percent).

3 Players to Watch

Six-foot-7 small forward Garlon Green (No. 33) had the best game against KU in the first matchup, putting in 20 points on 7-for-13 shooting which included 2-for-4 three-point shooting. KU fans will be happy to know that it took him four games after that to get seven more made field goals, as he went 1-for-12 against West Virginia, 2-for-9 against Oklahoma, 3-for-11 against Iowa State, then 6-for-15 against Texas. Green is a volume shooter (27.1 percent shot percentage, 246th nationally) that shouldn't be based on his numbers, as he's made just 39.4 percent of his twos and 32.3 percent of his threes. Though Green doesn't get to the free throw line often, he is TCU's best shooter there (77 percent).

Six-foot-7 forward Connell Crossland (No. 2) isn't much of a scoring threat, but he is a great rebounder, as evidenced by his game-high 15 rebounds against KU in the first meeting. Crossland actually is a better offensive rebounder (181st nationally) than defensive rebounder (300th nationally), as he's averaged 3.2 offensive rebounds per game over his last six contests. Crossland gets a high percentage of his shots at the rim, which helps his two-point percentage (50.8 percent). He's terrible from the free throw line, though, making 33 of his 73 shots there (45.2 percent).

Five-foot-11 point guard Kyan Anderson (No. 5) is TCU's best perimeter player. Though he takes the second-most shots on the team (24.7 percent, 474th nationally), shooting isn't his best asset. The sophomore is a good passer, posting the nation's 166th-best assist rate, while also providing the Horned Frogs with their best perimeter defender, ranking 330th in steal percentage. Anderson is prone to turnovers, though, and his two-point percentage (43.8 percent) and three-point percentage (33 percent) aren't anything to brag about.

Prediction

After upsetting KU 62-55 on Feb. 6, TCU moved up 29 spots in KenPom's rankings from 278th to 247th.

Somehow, four games later, the Horned Frogs have played poorly enough to move to a ranking below where they were before the KU game (285th).

In other words ... the KU win didn't make TCU any better. In fact, the team has been playing worse.

Sometimes in a mismatch game at the Fieldhouse, KU will have some mercy on its opponent, taking it easy in the second half while having some sympathy for a team that is rebuilding.

Poor TCU. That won't happen Saturday, as the Jayhawks — and their fans — won't be letting up after the Jayhawks get a huge lead with revenge on their minds.

Kansas 77, TCU 45

Hawk to Rock

TCU is a team that turns it over often and allows a lot of layups. That sounds like a game where Travis Releford could thrive. I'll say Releford finishes as a top-two scorer for KU with at least two steals.

Predictions tally
22-4 record, 296 points off (11.4 points off/game)

Hawk to Rock
SE Missouri: Perry Ellis (2nd in KUsports.com ratings)
Michigan State: Jeff Withey (4th)
Chattanooga: Andrew White III (10th)
Washington State: Ben McLemore (4th)
Saint Louis: Perry Ellis (7th)
San Jose State: Travis Releford (2nd)
Oregon State: Jeff Withey (2nd)
Colorado: Elijah Johnson (4th)
Belmont: Kevin Young (6th)
Richmond: Jeff Withey (1st)
Ohio State: Ben McLemore (1st)
American: Jeff Withey (5th)
Temple: Kevin Young (2nd)
Iowa State: Travis Releford (4th)
Texas Tech: Ben McLemore (4th)
Baylor: Jeff Withey (4th)
Texas: Elijah Johnson (8th)
Kansas State: Kevin Young (6th)
Oklahoma: Travis Releford (3rd)
West Virginia: Jeff Withey (2nd)
Oklahoma State: Ben McLemore (1st)
TCU: Kevin Young (3rd)
Oklahoma: Travis Releford (5th)
Kansas State: Naadir Tharpe (3rd)
Texas: Kevin Young (6th)
Oklahoma State: Ben McLemore (7th)
Average: 4.1st in KUsports.com ratings

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Academic All-American Bud Stallworth lends library a helping hand

Last week he was golfing with Moses Malone and other basketball legends in Houston during NBA All-Star Week. He’s back in snow-covered Lawrence and will be mini-golfing indoors tonight to help the Lawrence Public Library Foundation raise money.

If you know anything at all about Bud Stallworth, you know that has been his life in a nutshell: Books, basketball and golf.

Next time you enter Allen Fieldhouse, look at the banner hanging on the north wall, the one that says “Academic All-Americans.” You’ll find his name on it.

If you attend tonight’s Caddy Stacks bash at the vacant library (707 Vermont Street), the friendly, approachable Stallworth will have stories to tell. Ask him to share the one about:

*Meeting and getting to know heavyweight champion and anti-war activist Muhammad Ali, the world’s most famous 20th-century athlete.

*Playing under coach Bill Russell, the greatest champion in the history of basketball, but a better player than coach, according to Stallworth.

*Being recruited to play basketball for his home state’s university by Alabama’s legendary football coach, Bear Bryant, but deciding to come to Kansas instead.

*Teaming with Spencer Haywood in Seattle and Pistol Pete Maravich in New Orleans. If you think Stallworth liked to shoot, ask him about Pistol.

*Playing in the NBA against Wilt Chamberlain, Walt Frazier, Earl “The Pearl” Monroe and so many other greats.

*Scoring 50 points against Missouri on Feb. 26, 1972.

Those are the stories everyone likes to discuss, but Stallworth knows that his parents, both of whom were educators in his small hometown of Hartselle, Ala., were right when they told him books would do even more for him than basketball.

After his NBA career ended, Stallworth owned a couple of restaurants before he moved back to Lawrence and went to work for his alma mater. Stallworth held big jobs for the Med Center and on the Lawrence campus during his 22 years working for KU.

“When the classrooms began crumbling,” as Stallworth put it, he oversaw a budget of nearly $50 million for projects designed to improve the infrastructure.

His degree, he said, did do more for him even than his sweet jumper. Tonight, he’ll showcase his lefty putting stroke.

“I’ve been putting pretty good lately,” said Stallworth, one of the Masters at tonight’s event.

KU athletic director Sheahon Zenger, former Royals pitcher and KU baseball coach Marty Pattin, Firekeeper head pro Randy Towner and Lawrence Country Club assistant pro Kristen Samp are among other Lawrence Masters participating in the event.

A ticket for the Mingle with the Masters pre-party, which begins at 6:30 is $50. Adult open golf begins at 7:30 and costs $35.

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Cliff’s Notes: Bill Self press conference, 2/22/13

Here is the Cliff's Notes version from Self's comments at his press conference today.

Full audio has been posted.

The 115th-year reunion this weekend means something to all the guys that do come back. Before the weather concerns, about 200 former players were signed up to come back. The best part is those guys getting to meet up with their former teammates again.

During KU's three-game losing streak, the team didn't guard well. KU played really good defense against Oklahoma State on Wednesday, especially considering how bad the Jayhawks offense was. KU's defensive rebounding kept it in the game.

TCU is the only team that handled KU from start to finish. TCU was the only game KU didn't have a chance to win. Self has re-watched the tape. KU didn't play well, but TCU was part of the reason for that.

KU forward Jamari Traylor gave the team energy against OSU. He's been a boost in that area. KU is better in half-court sets with other players in at that spot, but Traylor can give KU help with athleticism and defense. His right hand is messed up with a sprained thumb, so KU is thankful he's playing. He's going to be a good player. Traylor's a shorter inside player. He's usually Jeff Withey's backup, which means he usually guards the 5 position.

Self hopes the game-winning shot guard Naadir Tharpe made at the end of the OSU game boosts his confidence. Ben McLemore's shot against Iowa State was a huge shot too, but Tharpe's shot was as big as any for KU this year. Tharpe had to make a play, dribble it then make a jump-hook in the lane. That's not a play that you have 5-foot-10 guys practice.

Self believed the biggest thing Tharpe had going for him out of high school was his intangibles. He's funny. Everyone likes him. He's a cool kid. He showed up to his recruiting visit in a tie, and Self joked that he's lucky to get kids to dress up in hoodies. Self didn't think Tharpe's personality showed through last year as much as he wanted to. It's starting to show through this year.

Self believes the Morris twins will play better now that they're together on the same NBA team.

• Self says when people think about the history and legacy of KU, they should think about two coaches (Phog Allen and James Naismith) and all the players. When Self thinks about the history of the Chicago Bears, he doesn't think about Mike Ditka. He thinks about George Halas. There have been coaches that have started the success at KU. Self doesn't see what he and his staff have done as a big part of the legacy, because other coaches laid the foundation.

Self thinks the way TCU played KU the first time was perfect. It cut off angles in the post and limited transition. TCU whipped KU. No other team has been able to control the game the entire time against the Jayhawks. The Horned Frogs definitely have KU's respect.

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‘Bill Self Shuffle’ the latest dance craze; Bill Simmons bashes Kings for trading T-Rob

A few links on a snowy Thursday in Lawrence ...

• It's being called the Bill Self Shuffle.

Kansas coach Bill Self, in urging his team to get back on defense at the end of the first overtime in Wednesday night's 68-67 double-overtime victory over Oklahoma State, produced a dance move MC Hammer would be proud of.

A GIF of Self's shuffle already has been synced up with MC Hammer's hit, "Can't Touch This," and KU's Douthart Scholarship Hall already has done its own take of the dance during today's snow day.

Here are the highlights from Wednesday night's game from ESPN.

Also, Deadspin has video of the final two possessions in double-overtime, which includes Naadir Tharpe's floater and Travis Releford's hustle play to run the clock out.

• Yahoo! Sports' Jeff Eisenberg discussed Tharpe's game-winning shot, saying ...

Of the 10 shots he attempted prior to Kansas' final possession, Tharpe missed all but one of them, drawing the ire of coach Bill Self and Jayhawks fans watching from home with his rushed perimeter jumpers early in the shot clock. Tharpe also made a key defensive blunder in the final minute of the first overtime, giving up a game-tying corner 3-pointer to Forte after he left the sharp shooter to help on a slashing Marcus Smart.

All was forgiven though when Tharpe redeemed himself ...

KU has moved up to No. 6 in Mark Titus' Power Rankings on Grantland.com.

In the blog post, Titus — one of the funniest sports writers out there — gives his analysis of KU's YouTube Harlem Shake video.

Titus then says this about KU:

I'm not sure about Kansas's chances of winning the national title, but I know this much: No team in college basketball is having more fun this season than the Jayhawks.

Speaking of Grantland, the site's founder Bill Simmons still is in shock at the NBA trade that sent former Kansas forward Thomas Robinson from Sacramento to Houston.

In his email exchange with Zach Lowe, Simmons says this:

You know I'm prone to hyperbole from time to time, but I truly believe this — that's the worst trade anyone's made in years. A lottery team giving up Robinson … I mean … it's unconscionable. No, he wasn't playing that well for the Kings, but can you think of a worse situation for him?

And finally, I couldn't believe when a friend wrote to tell me this classic "Vishal! I'm in the TV!" KU video clip just celebrated its ninth anniversary.

I think most KU fans should remember it, but if not, there's an explanation of what happened in the comments under the video.

One of my favorite parts is at the end, when color man Jon Sundvold just keeps talking after the free throw like nothing happened. I'd have to think he was wondering what the heck was going on as well.

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Travis Releford comes through with crucial plays late for KU

Kansas guard Travis Releford pulls up for a bucket past Oklahoma State guard Markel Brown during the first half on Wednesday, Feb. 20, 2013 at Gallagher-Iba Arena in Stillwater, Oklahoma.

Kansas guard Travis Releford pulls up for a bucket past Oklahoma State guard Markel Brown during the first half on Wednesday, Feb. 20, 2013 at Gallagher-Iba Arena in Stillwater, Oklahoma. by Nick Krug

1. Travis Releford: The senior made so many big plays it's almost hard to remember them all. Taking a charge to pick up Marcus Smart's fifth foul was huge. His defense on Markel Brown on the game's final possession was important, too. Then his hustle play to save the ball from going out of bounds to run out the final seconds secured the win. Releford also put on a layup clinic early, posting a team-high 18 points on 7-for-10 shooting with six rebounds, an assist, steal and three turnovers in 48 minutes.

2. Jeff Withey: Offensive rebounds weren't a factor for Oklahoma State in this game, and Withey was a big reason for that, as the senior notched 12 defensive rebounds while playing through foul trouble. Withey also was clutch at the free throw line, making 11 of 14 to finish with 17 points, 14 rebounds and four blocks to go with just one turnover in 39 minutes.

3. Elijah Johnson: Some back-and-forth jawing with OSU's players seemed to fire Johnson up, and on a night when KU's offense was sluggish, the Jayhawks needed all of the points he provided. Johnson made Smart look silly on a couple of moves to the rim, finishing with 10 points on 5-for-9 shooting with a steal and two turnovers in 32 minutes. Johnson fouled out on a questionable call late in regulation after 32 minutes, and KU missed him after that.

4. Kevin Young: The senior made some poor decisions in half-court sets, but he still managed to get excellent rebounding production in limited minutes (11 rebounds, 27 minutes). The senior posted eight points on 4-for-9 shooting and had a crucial steal, but he also had four turnovers.

5. Naadir Tharpe: As the only ball-handler still eligible to play for KU, Tharpe made a floater with 18 seconds left in double-overtime that KU coach Bill Self called "the biggest play of his life." With the game-winner, Tharpe finished 2-for-11 from the floor with four points. He missed all six of his three-pointers and had three assists to go with four turnovers in 31 minutes.

6. Jamari Traylor: Gave KU some great defensive minutes while Withey was in foul trouble and was especially sound with his ball-screen defense. The freshman scored four points, made one of two field goals and both of his free throws and added four rebounds in 17 minutes.

7. Ben McLemore: When KU needed a play in the overtimes, McLemore was nowhere to be found. Self gave the dreaded, "He wasn't plugged in" quote after the game, but at some point, the freshman has to work harder to create for himself. After going 0-for-8 in the first half, McLemore finished with seven points on 3-for-12 shooting. He did add six rebounds and two steals to go with one turnover in a game-high 49 minutes.

8. Perry Ellis: Had two rebounds, a turnover, and two bad fouls in seven minutes.

KUsports.com Season Standings
1. Jeff Withey (207 points)
2. Ben McLemore (199 points)
3. Travis Releford (192 points)
4. Kevin Young (151 points)
5. Elijah Johnson (138 points)
6. Naadir Tharpe (133 points)
7. Perry Ellis (108 points)
8. Jamari Traylor (88 points)
9. Andrew White III (43 points)
10. Rio Adams (26 points)
11. Justin Wesley (16 points)

Big 12 Standings
1. Jeff Withey (116 points)
2. Ben McLemore (110 points)
3. Travis Releford (106 points)
4. Kevin Young (92 points)
5. Naadir Tharpe (72 points)
6. Elijah Johnson (63 points)
7. Perry Ellis (56 points)
8. Jamari Traylor (47 points)
9. Andrew White III (20 points)
10. Rio Adams (11 points)
11. Justin Wesley (9 points)

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Two factors key for KU against home favorite Oklahoma State

Kansas guard Elijah Johnson watches from the floor as Oklahoma State guard Marcus Smart recovers a fumbled ball by Johnson with seconds remaining in the game on Saturday, Feb. 2, 2013 at Allen Fieldhouse. The turnover nullified the the Jayhawks' comeback effort. At right is Kansas guard Ben McLemore and Oklahoma State guard Markel Brown.

Kansas guard Elijah Johnson watches from the floor as Oklahoma State guard Marcus Smart recovers a fumbled ball by Johnson with seconds remaining in the game on Saturday, Feb. 2, 2013 at Allen Fieldhouse. The turnover nullified the the Jayhawks' comeback effort. At right is Kansas guard Ben McLemore and Oklahoma State guard Markel Brown. by Nick Krug

Team: Oklahoma State
Record: 19-5
KenPom (Ken Pomeroy) Ranking: 16
All statistics from KenPom.com unless otherwise noted

3 Strengths

• Turnovers: Oklahoma State continues to thrive offensively and defensively because of turnovers, ranking first in Big 12 play in offensive turnover percentage and third in defensive turnover percentage. The Cowboys' plus-2.7 turnover margin per game also leads the conference. KU turned it over on 22 percent of its possessions in the last game against OSU, which was the highest mark for the Jayhawks in their last five games.

Drawing fouls: Oklahoma State is one of the best in the conference at getting to the line, posting the third-best free throw rate in Big 12 play. Marcus Smart and Le'Bryan Nash are the two biggest reasons for this, as both rank in the top 200 nationally in free throw rate and fouls drawn per 40 minutes. In case you were wondering, KU is fifth in Big 12 play in defensive free throw rate, meaning it's about average when it comes to allowing opponent free throws.

Defensive rebounding: The Cowboys are No. 1 in conference play in defensive rebounding percentage, controlling 73.2 percent of opponents' misses. KU is actually the Big 12's second-best offensive rebounding team in conference play, so this will be a matchup of strengths on Wednesday night. One interesting subplot will once again be seeing how much OSU's 6-foot-11 center Philip Jurick plays. The senior is an elite rebounder — ranking in the top 15 nationally in offensive and defensive rebounding percentage — but OSU played well without him in there during the first matchup, as a smaller lineup put more pressure defensively on KU center Jeff Withey.

3 Weaknesses

Offensive rebounding: Judging by the first KU-OSU matchup, you'd probably think one the Cowboys' greatest strengths is offensive rebounding. In actuality, that's one of OSU's biggest weaknesses (eighth in offensive rebounding percentage during Big 12 play). When OSU grabbed 45 percent of its misses in the first matchup against KU, it was by far OSU's best offensive rebounding performance and one the Cowboys haven't come close to matching since. A big reason KU struggled on the defensive glass in the first game was an inability to block out Smart, who posted six offensive rebounds in the second half alone.

• Three-point shooting: Oklahoma State is only middle of the pack in the Big 12 when it comes to three-point shooting, making 34 percent of its threes in conference play (fifth in league). Though Markel Brown's hot shooting lit up the Jayhawks early in the first matchup, OSU only finished 8-for-24 from long range in that game (33 percent). The Cowboys have made 33 percent of their three-pointers for the season, and they don't rely heavily on them, getting 25 percent of their total points from threes (237th-highest split nationally).

• Fouling too often: Oklahoma State ranks sixth during conference play in defensive free throw rate. Big 12 opponents are averaging 19 free throws per game against the Cowboys, who — during league play — have played at a faster tempo than any other conference team.

3 Players to Watch

Six-foot-4 guard Marcus Smart (No. 33) scored 25 points in the first matchup and dominated the second half, posting 15 points on 5-for-7 shooting with seven rebounds, two assists and three steals.

Smart is best offensively when he gets to the free throw line, as he makes 78 percent of his free throws and draws 5.7 fouls per 40 minutes (117th nationally). Keep him off the line, though, and he's only a slightly above-average offensive threat. He does rank 153rd nationally in assist rate, but his two-point percentage (48 percent) and three-point percentage (32 percent) are below what you'd expect. A closer look shows Smart doesn't penetrate all the way to the rim often, as only 29 percent of his shot attempts are layups/dunks/tipins.

Smart also is an elite perimeter defender, ranking 10th nationally in steal percentage while also posting a top-500 mark in block percentage.

• Six-foot-3 guard Markel Brown (No. 22) was the hero of the first half for OSU in the first matchup, putting in 22 of his 28 points before halftime on 7-for-10 shooting and 5-for-7 shooting from three-point range. Brown takes the highest percentage of shots for OSU (25.5 percent, 398th nationally), and that's been a good thing for the Cowboys, as Brown has been the team's best outside shooter. The junior has made 41 of 105 threes (39 percent) while also making a high number of his two-point jumpers (41 percent; NCAA average is 35 percent).

C.J. Moore had a good breakdown of how OSU took advantage of KU's ball-screen defense in this blog post, but KU also might be helped in the second matchup by starting with Travis Releford defending Brown instead of Nash. Brown is more the type of player Releford is used to guarding: one that comes off screens to get open looks for jump shots. It is worth noting that Brown has upped his free throw production in Big 12 play, as his 67 free throws rank second on the team behind Smart's 79.

• Six-foot-7 forward Le'Bryan Nash (No. 2) is the weak offensive link in a productive OSU lineup. The former McDonald's All-American has the second-highest shot percentage on the team (23.7 percent), but his numbers don't justify that kind of usage. Nash has made just 46.9 percent of his twos (NCAA average is 47.4 percent) and only nine of 41 threes (22 percent). His best skill, like Smart, is getting to the free throw line, where he's a 77-percent shooter. Nash also has his share of turnovers and isn't a great passer or rebounder. Defensively, he doesn't provide much in the way of steals or blocks, either. If Nash is shooting a jump shot during an OSU possession, KU's defense should consider that a victory whether the attempt goes in or not.

Prediction

Oklahoma State has a couple of significant factors going for it.

For one, KU coach Bill Self is just 2-3 at Gallagher-Iba Arena as the Jayhawks' coach. Also, the betting lines opened with the Cowboys as a 1 1/2-point favorite.

I think there are still two reasons to be optimistic about KU's chances on Wednesday night, one stat-related and one not.

1. Though OSU does a good job of protecting the rim, KU should shoot layups better than it did in the first matchup. Though KU was able to get to the rim frequently in the first game, it made just 10 of 23 layups against the Cowboys (43 percent). For the season, KU has made 64 percent of its shots at the rim (which includes layups/tipins), while OSU has allowed 54 percent shooting at the rim. We'll see if the Jayhawks convert on more of those opportunities Wednesday night.

2. This is new territory for OSU. The Cowboys struggled in a game they shouldn't have at home against Oklahoma, then celebrated the overtime win by ... jumping on fans' shoulders after they rushed the court?

This is a huge game for both teams in the conference standings, and KU has a team with more experience in these types of high-pressure games.

I guess that's what makes me feel more comfortable taking KU in what should be a great game.

Kansas 72, Oklahoma State 70

Hawk to Rock

Taking Ben McLemore as the Hawk to Rock was the right choice in the first KU-OSU game, and I think it'll be a solid pick in this one as well. In a game stocked with future NBA players, McLemore should be able to showcase his athleticism and also his outside shooting. I'll say the freshman leads KU in scoring Wednesday night with 20-plus points.

Predictions tally
21-4 record, 295 points off (11.8 points off/game)

Hawk to Rock
SE Missouri: Perry Ellis (2nd in KUsports.com ratings)
Michigan State: Jeff Withey (4th)
Chattanooga: Andrew White III (10th)
Washington State: Ben McLemore (4th)
Saint Louis: Perry Ellis (7th)
San Jose State: Travis Releford (2nd)
Oregon State: Jeff Withey (2nd)
Colorado: Elijah Johnson (4th)
Belmont: Kevin Young (6th)
Richmond: Jeff Withey (1st)
Ohio State: Ben McLemore (1st)
American: Jeff Withey (5th)
Temple: Kevin Young (2nd)
Iowa State: Travis Releford (4th)
Texas Tech: Ben McLemore (4th)
Baylor: Jeff Withey (4th)
Texas: Elijah Johnson (8th)
Kansas State: Kevin Young (6th)
Oklahoma: Travis Releford (3rd)
West Virginia: Jeff Withey (2nd)
Oklahoma State: Ben McLemore (1st)
TCU: Kevin Young (3rd)
Oklahoma: Travis Releford (5th)
Kansas State: Naadir Tharpe (3rd)
Texas: Kevin Young (6th)
Average: 4th in KUsports.com ratings

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YouTube videos from Kansas’ 73-47 victory over Texas

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Thanks to complete stat line, Jeff Withey takes top honor

Kansas center Jeff Withey soars in for a dunk over the Texas defense during the second half on Saturday, Feb. 16, 2013 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas center Jeff Withey soars in for a dunk over the Texas defense during the second half on Saturday, Feb. 16, 2013 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

1. Jeff Withey: Filled up the stat sheet with 15 points (5-for-11 shooting), 11 rebounds, four steals and two blocks. His four steals matched a season high for KU this year, as Travis Releford and Kevin Young both had accomplished the same feat once. Withey made five of seven free throws and had just one turnover in his 29 productive minutes.

2. Travis Releford: The senior got KU's offense rolling with a pair of three-pointers early and, as we've come to expect, produced an efficient line offensively. Releford tied the team-high with 15 points on 5-for-7 shooting, which included 4-for-5 accuracy from three-point range. The small forward added five rebounds, three assists and no turnovers in 31 minutes.

3. Ben McLemore: Had the highlight of the night, completing a 360 dunk with 4:11 left to cap KU's win. The freshman posted 13 points (4-for-9 shooting) with six rebounds and three assists to go with two turnovers.

4. Elijah Johnson: His best game in a long time. The senior guard appeared to have some of his confidence return, as he was much more fearless with drives and finished better at the rim because of it. Johnson was 4-for-4 on layups (he was only 51 percent on close shots coming in), and that helped him produce a 12-point effort on 5-for-10 shooting. The senior added four assists and a steal to go with just one turnover — his lowest turnover total since the American game on Dec. 29, 2012.

5. Naadir Tharpe: Played well, but his minutes were limited because of Johnson's production. The sophomore posted two points (1-for-3 shooting) with three assists, two steals and no turnovers in 15 minutes. Tharpe's passing has become much better in the past few games, as he's creating easy looks with dribble penetration and dropoff passes.

6. Kevin Young: A good energy game for Young was ruined by his inability to make close shots. The senior was just 2-for-7 on layups, but he still hustled his way to seven rebounds (four offensive) in 28 minutes. Young posted six points (3-for-8 shooting) with two assists, two steals and two turnovers.

7. Perry Ellis: Five points, two rebounds and 3-for-4 free throw shooting from Ellis, who appeared to struggle most when he was in at the same time as Jamari Traylor.

8. Jamari Traylor: The freshman displayed a nice spin move into a left-handed hook shot, but he made too many mistakes during his limited time (nine minutes). Traylor made his only shot but posted three turnovers.

9. Andrew White III: Missed a three-pointer (looked like maybe he was fouled?) and had a turnover in four minutes.

10. Justin Wesley: Had two fouls in four minutes.

11. Rio Adams: Checked in late in the first half, promptly turned it over in the back-court, was yanked and didn't play the rest of the game.

KUsports.com Season Standings
1. Jeff Withey (198 points)
2. Ben McLemore (195 points)
3. Travis Releford (182 points)
4. Kevin Young (144 points)
5. Elijah Johnson (130 points)
6. Naadir Tharpe (127 points)
7. Perry Ellis (105 points)
8. Jamari Traylor (83 points)
9. Andrew White III (43 points)
10. Rio Adams (26 points)
11. Justin Wesley (16 points)

Big 12 Standings
1. Jeff Withey (107 points)
2. Ben McLemore (106 points)
3. Travis Releford (96 points)
4. Kevin Young (85 points)
5. Naadir Tharpe (66 points)
6. Elijah Johnson (55 points)
7. Perry Ellis (53 points)
8. Jamari Traylor (42 points)
9. Andrew White III (20 points)
10. Rio Adams (11 points)
11. Justin Wesley (9 points)

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Expect lots of free throws for KU against Texas

Kansas guard Elijah Johnson tosses a pass from the floor underneath Texas guard Myck Kabongo after a steal during the first half on Saturday, Jan. 21, 2012 at the Frank Erwin Center.

Kansas guard Elijah Johnson tosses a pass from the floor underneath Texas guard Myck Kabongo after a steal during the first half on Saturday, Jan. 21, 2012 at the Frank Erwin Center. by Nick Krug

Team: Texas
Record: 11-13
KenPom (Ken Pomeroy) Ranking: 91
All statistics from KenPom.com unless otherwise noted

3 Strengths

Interior defense: Texas is still one of the best teams in the nation when it comes to two-point defense. Though this area isn't as good as it was earlier in the season, the Longhorns still rank fifth nationally in two-point percentage defense (40.7 percent). This matches up with one of KU's strengths, as the Jayhawks are 37th nationally in two-point percentage (51.8 percent). In the first matchup, Texas held KU to 17-for-40 shooting from two-point range (42.5 percent).

• Myck Kabongo is back: Following a 23-game suspension, Texas' best offensive player Myck Kabongo returned to the lineup Wednesday against Iowa State. The impact was immediate, as the Longhorns scored 1.10 points per possession against the Cyclones — their second-highest output of the entire season. Kabongo — a 6-foot-1 sophomore point guard — immediately stepped into a high-usage role for the Longhorns, posting 14 points with seven assists and four turnovers against ISU. Texas' biggest struggle all season has been scoring, so Kabongo's presence gives the team a huge boost in its area of biggest need.

Interior scoring: Texas has been effective scoring inside during Big 12 play, ranking second in the conference in two-point field goal percentage (49.6 percent). The Longhorns will have this strength tested against KU, as the Jayhawks remain as the top two-point percentage defense team in the nation (38.5 percent).

3 Weaknesses

Three-point shooting: Texas is the conference's worst three-point shooting team during Big 12 play, making just 26.2 percent of its long-range tries. The Longhorns haven't been much better for the entire season, making just 28.9 percent of their treys (324th nationally). Of UT's rotation players, only Ioannis Papapetrou has made more than one-third of his threes this year (38.6 percent, 22 of 57).

Defensive rebounding: Though Texas has been great at first-shot defense, it has had difficulties securing the rebound to end the possession. The Longhorns are last in the conference in defensive rebounding percentage in Big 12 play, pulling down just 63 percent of opponents' misses. KU actually has improved its offensive rebounding during league play, ranking first in the Big 12 in offensive rebounding percentage (35.8 percent).

• Fouling too often: Texas has by far the highest defensive free throw rate in league play, as Big 12 opponents are averaging 27 free throws per game against the Longhorns. That's a bad quality to have coming into Allen Fieldhouse, which tends to bring out a favorable whistle for the home team. KU is first in the Big 12 in free throw rate while averaging 24.6 free throws in its 11 conference games.

3 Players to Watch

• The return of 6-foot-1 guard Myck Kabongo (No. 12) gives Texas its best offensive threat off the dribble. The sophomore posted the nation's 19th-best free throw rate a year ago, pulling off the rare feat of shooting more free throws (172) than field goals (156). Kabongo also is a good distributor (61st in assist percentage in 2011-12) and a solid defender (500th in steal percentage in 2012). Kabongo wasn't a great shooter from the floor last season, making just 42.9 percent of his two and 31.6 percent of his threes. His biggest weakness, though, was turnovers, as his turnover rate was the highest on the Longhorns' rotation players in 2012.

• When not in his coach Rick Barnes' doghouse, 6-foot-4 guard Sheldon McClellan (No. 1) has been Texas' most consistent offensive player. The sophomore has taken 28.6 percent of his team's shots when he's on the floor (143rd nationally), and like Kabongo, he's best at drawing fouls. He's drawn 6.2 fouls per 40 minutes (52nd nationally) and already has shot 144 free throws this year, which is 20 more free throws than the top player on KU (Jeff Withey, 124). McClellan takes advantage of those tries, making 81 percent of his freebies. McClellan is a poor two-point (42.4 percent) and three-point (27.8 percent) shooter, but he remains as an above-average offensive weapon because he rarely turns it over.

• As mentioned above, 6-foot-8 forward Ioannis Papapetrou (No. 33) is Texas' only true three-point shooting threat. The freshman made two of three-pointers in the first matchup against KU and has made 13 of 35 threes (37 percent) in Big 12 play. Papapetrou's height allows him to have a unique skill set, as he's a good shot-blocker (410th nationally in block percentage) and a decent penetrator, drawing 4.6 fouls per 40 minutes (422nd nationally). Papapetrou, who is prone to turnovers, has an interesting shooting split: He's a good two-point jump-shooter (40 percent) but a poor free throw shooter (59.7 percent).

Prediction

Much like the Kansas State game on Monday, KU should receive a huge boost from an amped-up Fieldhouse crowd that is hosting ESPN's Game Day.

That energy helped KU turn up the defensive intensity against KSU, and if the Jayhawks play that way again on the defensive end Saturday night, they shouldn't have any problem with the Longhorns.

Pay close attention to the pace of this game. Texas has a great half-court defense, so slowing the game down benefits the Longhorns, especially considering the Jayhawks are so good in transition.

Look for KU to force turnovers, get some easy points and force the ball inside offensively to draw fouls. With this atmosphere and these two teams' tendencies, it'll be a surprise if KU doesn't get to 30 free throws Saturday night.

Even with Kabongo back, I don't see this as a close game late. In fact, it could play out a lot like Monday's game, with KU starting with an early run before maintaining that lead in the second half.

Kansas 75, Texas 57

Hawk to Rock

Any time I see a poor defensive rebounding team, my immediate reaction is to put Kevin Young in this spot. So I'll go with my gut. Young's minutes have been reduced a bit recently with Self going to a smaller lineup, but this is still is a favorable matchup for the senior, who should have extra spring tonight with a loud Fieldhouse crowd behind him.

Predictions tally
20-4 record, 287 points off (12.0 points off/game)

Hawk to Rock
SE Missouri: Perry Ellis (2nd in KUsports.com ratings)
Michigan State: Jeff Withey (4th)
Chattanooga: Andrew White III (10th)
Washington State: Ben McLemore (4th)
Saint Louis: Perry Ellis (7th)
San Jose State: Travis Releford (2nd)
Oregon State: Jeff Withey (2nd)
Colorado: Elijah Johnson (4th)
Belmont: Kevin Young (6th)
Richmond: Jeff Withey (1st)
Ohio State: Ben McLemore (1st)
American: Jeff Withey (5th)
Temple: Kevin Young (2nd)
Iowa State: Travis Releford (4th)
Texas Tech: Ben McLemore (4th)
Baylor: Jeff Withey (4th)
Texas: Elijah Johnson (8th)
Kansas State: Kevin Young (6th)
Oklahoma: Travis Releford (3rd)
West Virginia: Jeff Withey (2nd)
Oklahoma State: Ben McLemore (1st)
TCU: Kevin Young (3rd)
Oklahoma: Travis Releford (5th)
Kansas State: Naadir Tharpe (3rd)
Average: 3.9th in KUsports.com ratings

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Mock spelling of Kentucky, North Carolina: NIT

Indianapolis — The final NCAA Tournament mock bracket completed this afternoon had the school with the second-most all-time college basketball victories among the field of 68. Kansas, seeded third in the South (Dallas) regional, faces Harvard in its first game in the Sprint Center in Kansas City.

The schools that rank first and third all-time did not make the field. Defending champion Kentucky and perennial powerhouse North Carolina are in the midst of off seasons and if they don’t get their acts together are in danger of missing the real tournament field as well.

After all the numbers were crunched, it came down to something simple. Two of the biggest names in the game fell short in the quality-victories department. North Carolina’s two best: At home against UNLV and on the road against Florida State.

Kentucky’s most impressive victory: At Ole Miss, 87-74. Wildcats freshman Norlens Noel had 12 blocked shots in that one. Noel’s gone for the season and most among us on the mock committee thought that Kentucky had a weak case even without considering that Noel’s injury weakens the defending champion even more.

The top four seeds in each region:

Midwest (Indianapolis): 1. Indiana, 2. Florida, 3. Louisville, 4. Kansas State.

South (Atlanta): 1. Duke, 2. Arizona, 3. Kansas, 4. Georgetown.

East (Washington, D.C.) 1. Miami (Fl), 2. Michigan State, 3. Syracuse, 4. Wisconsin.

West (Los Angeles) 1. Michigan, 2. Gonzaga, 3. Butler, 4. New Mexico.

The often referenced “S Curve” no longer is used by the committee. For example, Kansas was ranked No. 9 on the seed sheet but does not go to the region of the fourth No. 1 seed. Geography takes precedence.

Missouri? It’s seeded eighth in the South, meaning the earliest a fake Border War (squirt guns?) could take place would be in the Elite Eight.

Six Big 12 teams made the field, but it’s a no-no to mention conference affiliation in the committee room. Teams are treated as if all are independents, according to real NCAA selection chairman Mike Bobinski, and are evaulated on their merits. Here’s where the Big 12 teams other than KU landed:

Kansas State: Seeded fourth and faces, ahem, Bucknell in Austin and is in the Midwest (Indianapolis) region. Oklahoma State: Seeded fifth in the West (Los Angeles), facing Alabama in Salt Lake City. Oklahoma: Seeded sixth and plays San Diego State in Kansas City as part of the West regional. Baylor: Meets California in Dayton in a play-in game with the winner facing No. 5 seed Pittsburgh in Austin as part of the East regional.

Iowa State: Facing Virginia in Dayton in a play-in game with the winner facing No. 6 seed Oregon, also in Dayton as part of the East regional.

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Tension will mount in NCAA Tournament selection room

Indianapolis — For one more day of my charmed life I get to be Joe Lunardi with better hair. Except Lunardi just projects the NCAA Tournament field. In tandem with Mike Waters of the Syracuse Post-Dispatch, I get to be one of the 10 tandems filling in for one of the selection committee’s members.

Our final exercise Thursday night involved what's called, "scrubbing the seeds.”

The chairman starts with the No. 1 overall seed, in this case Indiana, compares it to the No. 2, Miami (Fla.), with their credentials put side-by-side on the wall. We didn’t go through the whole field that way, but the tournament committee, which has five days of meetings compared to our two, does. Duke, the third No. 1 seed, survived a comparison against Florida, the fourth No. 1.

After a comparison between Florida and the top No. 2 seed, Michigan State, those schools swapped places. Since Michigan State moved up a spot, it then was compared to Duke, but didn’t get moved past the Blue Devils.

During the scrubbing process, every team moved up a spot gets compared to the team now in front of it and every team that moves down a spot is compared to the team now behind it.

“Some years you’ll see a team just start dropping,” said tournament selection committee chairman Mike Bobinski, Xavier University’s athletic director. “One year a team dropped down an elevator shaft. It dropped about 20 spots.”

Kansas, seeded third, could move up or down during the scrubbing process. Also, since the fake conference tournament final isn’t until today (it’s a KU vs. Kansas State fake final), that result could rock the boat as well.

By the end of today’s session, in a window-less room full of snacks and hacks, we’ll have a mock tournament bracket.

If history is an accurate indicator, the room will grow most tense when the final spot or spots are debated.

Once shown how the bracketing process works, we will be armed to debunk myths, assured David Worlock of the NCAA.

For example, he said if a UCLA-Pittsburgh match-up happens at some point in the tournament, it won’t be because the bracket was rigged for the drama of control-freak (my words, not his) UCLA coach Ben Howland facing his former school.

“CBS does not have any input,” Worlock said. “TNT doesn’t have a say. It just doesn’t happen that way.”

They aren’t in the room.

For one more day, if only in fantasy land, I will have more power than TV networks. I’m in the room, encouraged to speak up. They’re on the outside, eating ice cream.

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Tentative Kansas seeding determined in NCAA Basketball Tournament mock selection exercise

Indianapolis — In this room without windows in the NCAA offices we have taken a first crack at the top three seed lines.

No. 1 seeds: Indiana, Miami, Duke and Florida. No. 2 seeds: Michigan State, Michigan, Arizona (shockingly) and Gonzaga. No. 3 seeds: Syracuse, Butler, Kansas and Louisville.

Now the mock committee breaks for dinner for 35 minutes. (You mean those Reese's bars weren't supposed to be dinner? Uh-oh.)

Interestingly, conference affiliation is not allowed to be mentioned when discussing teams. For example, you can say Gonzaga defeated Oklahoma by 15, Kansas State by 16, Baylor by 7 and Oklahoma State by 1, but pointing out that the Zags are 4-0 against the Big 12 is forbidden.

A tweaking of the seeds could be necessary based on various rules, such as the one that prohibits conference foes from facing each other too early in the tournament.

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Mock NCAA Tournament selection committee member weighs in

INDIANAPOLIS — I’m inside a conference room in the NCAA offices. No, I didn’t buy a car for a recruit, or even a tattoo. I’m not sweating. I’m pretending to be half of Ron Wellman, Wake Forest athletic director and of 10 NCAA Tournament selection committee members. Mike Waters of the Syracuse Post-Dispatch is the other half, the smart half.

We’re pretending the regular season has ended and 13 automatic qualifiers have joined the field, which is the case during the real selection week by Wednesday. We just finished “conference monitoring.”

Each tandem was assigned three or four conferences and you are called upon by the chairman you quickly discuss what teams you think are worthy of consideration. If the league is so weak you’re sure only the automatic qualifier will make the field, you say “AQ” or “one-bid league.” Anyone in the room might be challenged.

Our leagues: Atlantic 10, Big 12, Ohio Valley, Southern.

During the presentation, I suggested the Big 12 should be a six-bid league and that Kansas, Oklahoma State and Kansas State don’t need any discussion. Baylor, Oklahoma and Iowa State merit discussion.

The next step: Every tandem works together to fill out a ballot of all eligible teams, leaving blank teams that deserve no consideration, clicking the “AL” button, standing for at-large (or in slanguage, ‘a lock.’) We click “AL” next to 18 schools, “C” next to 37. The other nine tandems did the same and we’re taking a bathroom break, awaiting the results of which teams will gain entry based on getting enough votes, which schools passed the first cut. The rest hope to make the NIT.

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Cliff’s Notes: Bill Self press conference, 2/14/13

Here is the Cliff's Notes version from Self's comments at his press conference today.

Full audio has been posted.

Texas looked good against Iowa State on Wednesday night. Having Myck Kabongo back makes a difference for Texas from a speed standpoint. Texas performed a lot better offensively. The Longhorns can play faster with Kabongo back. It gives UT another primary ballhandler.

• ESPN GameDay is great. It's an infomercial for your school. KU's fans do a great job of showing up for that. They get excited for this event.

Self was worried about his team's confidence before Monday night. The Oklahoma State shouldn't have shook KU, but it did a little bit. Usually when confidence is shaken, it's on the offensive end. Self saw his team's confidence was low when it couldn't get the lid off the basket in the first half against TCU. Against OU, KU played above average offensively, which was good for Self to see. The coach said he thinks KU fully got its confidence back against Kansas State.

Self says KU gets its leadership by committee this year. That's kind of like the 2007-08 team.

• Elijah Johnson hasn't played the way he knows he can play. A lot of that is making shots. If you make shots, a lot of things change. Johnson is a far superior shooter than what his stats show. Self thinks at the end of the year, his stats will be at a comparable level to last year. Self has confidence that will happen.

When asked if Naadir Tharpe's role will be increased, Self said Tharpe has a pretty big role already. Whether his minutes are 18 or 24 in a game ... that depends on situation. Tharpe has been inconsistent. He's been good one game and not as good the next. He needs to stay aggressive and drive it and let that set up everything else. He's become a good defender. He did a great job guarding KSU's Rodney McGruder in the first half.

Self hopes Mario Chalmers gets to meet with the team. He's not sure of Chalmers' exact plans yet. A lot of guys are coming back. Chalmers is scheduled to get to Lawrence on Friday.

Ben McLemore has been pretty good the entire year. Self would like him to get more looks, but teams are going to do things to try to limit his shots. Self thought McLemore looked terrific on Monday.

There's a reason why little quick guys have so many assists. It's because they force help. KU has to do a better job of doing that. Tharpe was great at it against KSU. Johnson has shown the ability to do that.

When KU recruited Chalmers, the coaching staff thought he was going to be great. That was a really special recruiting class. It took Chalmers a while to get on track and get used to Self. After Chalmers got comfortable, he was great.

Perry Ellis needs to see the ball to go in. He's trying hard, and his attitude is great. If he keeps going like he's going, he'll start making shots.

Self isn't putting pressure on his guys to win the league. He's putting the pressure on the guys to get better.

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Ben McLemore with more dancing on his birthday; Should KU recruit this 2-year-old?

A few links for your Wednesday ...

Kansas guard Ben McLemore has perfected his own dance, showing if off once again in the locker room following the Jayhawks' 83-62 victory over Kansas State on Monday.

Here's the never-ending GIF for those wanting to watch it non-stop, while the clip first appeared in this highlight video from KU Athletics.

• Speaking of KU Athletics, the latest edition of the department's popular series "Pay Heed" is now available online. It's especially interesting to be able to hear what KU coach Bill Self says in the locker room after wins over Texas and at Kansas State.

Oh, and there's another McLemore dancing clip at the very end (6:37 mark) if you're interested.

• More from Monday's game ... FoxSports.com's Sean Keeler says KU looked like a better team when Naadir Tharpe was running the point, making him wonder if KU found its mojo and its point guard in the same game.

ESPN.com's Jason King said KU's win over K-State "was about a mentally fragile team regaining its moxie" at a crucial time.

West Virginia coach Bob Huggins was watching Monday's game, and he used it as an opportunity to challenge his own students on Twitter:

Mountaineer fans check out Allen Fieldhouse on Big Monday.. great atmosphere.. students - how we need our student section all the time

For those who haven't been to the Fieldhouse lately, our own Matt Tait put together a sight-and-sounds video that takes a look at the buzz in the barn before the KU-KSU game Monday.

An amazing trick-shot video here ... from a two-year-old in Derby named Titus Ashby.

KAKE TV had more info on Ashby in this report, with Titus' father saying his son hasn't shown any affiliation toward KU, KSU or Wichita State ... as Titus is still too young to understand those sorts of things.

Have schools ever sent binkies along with recruiting letters?

From last week, this is great stuff from FoxSports.com's Jeff Borzello and Jeff Goodman, who talked to four anonymous coaches who have played KU this season to get their honest takes on the Jayhawks.

There's some really good information in there ... and also a coach who can't stop cursing when talking about KU.

The Kansas City Star's Rustin Dodd gives some insight into the relationship between Ben McLemore and his brother, Keith, who is serving time in a maximum-security prison in Missouri.

FoxSports.com's Reid Forgrave has an interesting feature up about stats expert Ken Pomeroy, who has quit his job as a meteorologist to focus full-time on his basketball statistics. The article also says that Iowa State coach Fred Hoiberg uses Pomeroy as a consultant.

Here's one final shameless plug for Monday's feature on Jeff Withey, who made his grandmother proud and proved to Self that he could play at KU.

And finally, this has nothing to do with basketball or KU, but your life will be better (I promise) once you meet Oklahoma's Sweet Brown.

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Hot-shooting McLemore edges out Withey, Tharpe for top spot

Kansas guard Ben McLemore puts up a three over Kansas State guard Rodney McGruder during the first half on Monday, Feb. 11, 2013.

Kansas guard Ben McLemore puts up a three over Kansas State guard Rodney McGruder during the first half on Monday, Feb. 11, 2013. by Nick Krug

1. Ben McLemore: Kansas coach Bill Self said afterwards that McLemore was more aggressive both shooting and penetrating, and the freshman's line was impressive because of it. McLemore scored 30 points on just 13 field-goal attempts, going 9-for-13 from the floor and 6-for-10 from three. He added seven rebounds and a team-high three steals to go with three turnovers.

2. Jeff Withey: Withey's best moment came after an emphatic slam, as he yelled to the air before tugging at his jersey in a Superman-like pose. The fans went nuts, as they hadn't seen that kind of fire from Withey in his last few games. The senior posted 17 points (5-for-10 shooting) to go with 10 rebounds while adding five blocks to set a new KU career record. Withey added two steals and had no turnovers in 30 minutes.

3. Naadir Tharpe: Self called Tharpe's first half the best half of his career. Not only was the sophomore making great plays off the dribble to post seven first-half points with six assists and no turnovers, he also stuck to KSU's Rodney McGruder defensively to keep him from open shots. Tharpe's second half wasn't as good, but his final total of seven points on 3-for-9 shooting with eight assists, one turnover and one steal in 27 minutes is the best line KU has gotten from a point guard in weeks.

4. Kevin Young: Had a knack for finding the open spaces around the basket to get layups. When he did have some room off the dribble, Young also made the right decision most of the time, pulling up for short jumpers or passing back out when an opening wasn't available. The senior finished with 13 points on 6-for-9 shooting and also had a huge impact on the boards, grabbing nine rebounds (eight defensive) in his 29 minutes. Young also had two assists, a block and steal to go with a turnover.

5. Travis Releford: Looked much more comfortable in a wide-open game. His best move was an old-man drop-step on Will Spradling in transition, with the senior twirling around the KSU guard for a layup with a foul. Releford had 10 points on 4-for-8 shooting with two assists and one turnover. He was limited to 22 minutes because of first-half foul trouble.

6. Jamari Traylor: Missed all three of his field goals, but he also gave KU a couple extra possessions, pulling down three rebounds (two offensive). He had one point and one assist with no turnovers in 12 minutes.

7. Perry Ellis: One rebound, one steal and one turnover in six minutes. The freshman played just one minute in the second half.

8. Andrew White III: Won the coin toss to take eighth over Justin Wesley. Played one minute without recording a statistic.

9. Justin Wesley: Lost the coin toss. Part of the trillion club with one minute and nine other zeroes on his stat line.

10. Elijah Johnson: Once again was a negative-value player for KU. Johnson scored five points on 1-for-6 shooting (0-for-4 from three) and now has shot over 50 percent in just one of KU's 24 games this season. The senior added two rebounds and three assists to go with a team-high four turnovers. His starting spot should be in jeopardy, especially with Tharpe's strong effort Monday.

11. Rio Adams: Didn't play well in a five-minute audition for future minutes. He had a steal and played decent on-ball defense, but he also committed a foul and had two turnovers.

KUsports.com Season Standings
1. Jeff Withey (188 points)
2. Ben McLemore (187 points)
3. Travis Releford (173 points)
4. Kevin Young (139 points)
5. Elijah Johnson (123 points)
6. Naadir Tharpe (121 points)
7. Perry Ellis (101 points)
8. Jamari Traylor (80 points)
9. Andrew White III (41 points)
10. Rio Adams (26 points)
11. Justin Wesley (15 points)

Big 12 Standings
1. Ben McLemore (98 points)
2. Jeff Withey (97 points)
3. Travis Releford (87 points)
4. Kevin Young (80 points)
5. Naadir Tharpe (60 points)
6. Perry Ellis (49 points)
7. Elijah Johnson (47 points)
8. Jamari Traylor (39 points)
9. Andrew White III (18 points)
10. Rio Adams (11 points)
11. Justin Wesley (8 points)

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Friendly fire puts KU basketball 24th on one Associated Press ballot

The man among the 64 Associated Press voters who put Kansas lowest isn’t afraid to acknowledge he has a rooting interest in the Jayhawks. Jason Franchuk has covered BYU for the Provo Daily Herald the past nine seasons and is part of the KU Class of 2001. His wife, Audrey Hickert, is an '02 graduate.

Normally, Jason and Audrey will DVR the KU games and watch them together. Since nothing was normal about KU’s Wednesday visit to Forth Worth, Franchuk didn’t wait. A friend had texted him wondering what was going on in the TCU game.

“I figured Kansas was up 30 and I turned it on to see what was going on,” Franchuk said. “I was shocked. I covered BYU for six years (against TCU) and BYU never came close to losing to TCU.”

Interestingly, Franchuk this season often has voted KU lower than its ranking, which during one long week toppled from fifth to 14th. On his ballot, the Jayhawks fell all the way to 24th. Franchuk’s doubts predated the TCU clunker.

“I think it started with the Iowa State game,” said Franchuk, who loves the form of Ben McLemore's jumper. “They made it to overtime because McLemore banked in a three. I thought, ‘I’m not going to reward a team for a little bit of luck.’ And the Oklahoma State game ... The pass that made me jump out of my seat was when McLemore stood flat-footed and threw it to one of their guys and he took it in for a dunk.”

Franchuk said he was surprised KU’s losing streak didn’t drop the Jayhawks all the way to No. 20. He even ran his ballot by his wife before e-mailing it. Her response: “Oh yeah. The TCU game. You’ve got to penalize them.”

No. 10 Kansas State, four spots ahead of KU in the AP poll, was No. 11 on Franchuk’s ballot and mine. I put KU 16th.

For the most part, polls are a reflection of what has happened so far with stronger emphasis placed on recent results. Las Vegas oddsmakers are concerned strictly with what they think will happen now. Kansas is favored by eight for today's 8 p.m. tipoff in Allen Fieldhouse. That ought to ease some worried minds around here.

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Will Kansas State be able to avoid turnovers in Allen Fieldhouse?

Kansas State guard Shane Southwell signals "three" after hitting one over Kansas forward Kevin Young during the first half on Tuesday, Jan. 22, 2013 at Bramlage Coliseum.

Kansas State guard Shane Southwell signals "three" after hitting one over Kansas forward Kevin Young during the first half on Tuesday, Jan. 22, 2013 at Bramlage Coliseum. by Nick Krug

Team: Kansas State
Record: 19-4
KenPom (Ken Pomeroy) Ranking: 31
All statistics from KenPom.com unless otherwise noted

3 Strengths

Turnovers: Kansas State has been the Big 12's best team in offensive turnover percentage (16.6 percent) and third-best team in defensive turnover percentage (21.4 percent) during league play. Meanwhile, turnovers on both ends have been especially costly for KU during conference play, as the Jayhawks are seventh in the Big 12 in offensive turnover percentage and eighth in defensive turnover percentage during that time. In the first meeting, KU had 13 giveaways to KSU's 10, which was a significant difference considering the game was played at a slow pace (60 possessions).

Shooting confidence: K-State has greatly improved its accuracy in the last month under new coach Bruce Weber. The Wildcats, who rank 218th nationally in two-point percentage (46.4 percent), have made 49 percent of their twos in conference play (second in Big 12). The Wildcats also lead the league in three-point shooting during league play, making 38.6 percent of their long-range shots. Rodney McGruder (45.3 percent), Shane Southwell (39.5 percent) and Will Spradling (38.9 percent) have all posted impressive three-point shooting percentages in their last 10 games.

Limiting three-pointers on defense: KSU continues to be a team that does a good job of preventing three-pointers defensively. Only 27.3 percent of opponents' field goal attempts against KSU are threes (29th-lowest split nationally), while according to Hoop-Math.com, 42 percent of the shots taken against the Wildcats are two-point jumpshots — statistically the worst shot an offense can take.

3 Weaknesses

Drawing fouls: Kansas State has posted the top offensive efficiency in Big 12 play (1.09 points per possession) while getting almost no production from the free throw line. The Wildcats rank last in the conference in offensive free throw rate and have averaged just 15 free throw attempts through 10 league games. With Weber's motion offense, KSU is reliant on jumpshots to score, as 43 percent of its field goal tries are two-point jumpers (NCAA average is 33 percent).

Interior defense: KSU has not challenged inside shots well during Big 12 play. Opponents have made 47.9 percent of their twos in league games (eighth in conference). Part of the reason for this is the undersized lineup that the Wildcats play. Shane Southwell, who played as a guard a year ago, plays most of the team's minutes as an undersized 4, which also creates mismatches for KSU on the offensive end with his ability to shoot.

Fouling too often: KSU has especially struggled in this area in its last 10 games, ranking seventh in the conference in defensive free throw rate. While playing at the second-slowest pace in the conference, the Wildcats have allowed 19.3 free throws per game. KU dominated this facet in the first matchup, shooting 21 free throws to KSU's seven.

3 Players to Watch

Six-foot-4 guard Rodney McGruder (No. 22) remains as K-State's go-to guy offensively. The senior does a great job of working off screens to get open (ESPN's Seth Greenberg has a nice video breakdown of McGruder doing that here), and if he does get free, he's a great spot-up jump-shooter. While taking 28.1 percent of KSU's shots while he's in (173rd nationally), McGruder has kept his efficiency in an elite range by limiting his turnovers (204th-best turnover rate) while making 36 percent of his threes and 49 percent of his twos. KU's Travis Releford did a nice job of chasing McGruder down in the second half of KU's 59-55 victory in Manhattan, and the senior should have the same defensive assignment Monday night.

• KU fans should remember from the first matchup how dangerous 6-foot-6 Shane Southwell (No. 1) can be. The undersized power forward made KU regret leaving him open on the perimeter, as he made five of 11 three-pointers to finish with a team-high 19 points. Southwell is not a threat to score at the rim (only five percent of his shots are from close range), but his strong shooting is not a fluke. Southwell has made 43 percent of his two-point jumpshots this year (NCAA average is 35 percent) and 42 percent of his threes (27 of 65). Southwell also is a good defensive rebounder for his size, ranking 462nd nationally in defensive rebounding percentage.

Five-foot-11 point guard Angel Rodriguez (No. 13) has improved his play recently by limiting his turnovers. The sophomore has just 11 giveaways in his last eight games after turning it over at least twice in his 10 contests before that. Though Rodriguez is still struggling from three-point range (26 of 88, 30 percent), he's been better around the rim, raising his close shot percentage from 35 percent to 41 percent since his team's last game against KU. Rodriguez also remains as an elite passer (27th in assist rate) and strong perimeter defender (261st in steal percentage).

Prediction

So I've been wrong three games in a row, picking the Jayhawks to win against Oklahoma State, TCU and Oklahoma.

It's going to be hard to sound more foolish than that, but I guess I'll try anyway: I think KU will win this one going away.

I probably shouldn't overestimate the advantage the Allen Fieldhouse crowd will give KU, but it's hard not to considering the circumstances. The Jayhawks have lost three straight, KU students have been camping for the game for over a week, and the team's biggest rival is coming to Lawrence.

I'm not sure KSU will be able to avoid an early run from KU. The stats say KSU isn't likely to turn the ball over, but when things get crazy in the fieldhouse, sometimes teams play away from their tendencies.

I'm expecting early defensive energy from KU, a couple of loose-ball steals, a few transition dunks, lots of free throws, and the Jayhawks building a double-digit lead that they don't relinquish.

But hey, I've definitely been wrong before.

Kansas 76, Kansas State 62

Hawk to Rock

In the first game, KSU's guards overplayed defensively, which worked out well because KU didn't attack that pressure well off the dribble. KU's best option to dribble-drive is Naadir Tharpe, so I'll take him as my Hawk to Rock. I'll say Tharpe posts a career-high in points (11 is his high now) while adding four-plus assists for KU.

Predictions tally
19-4 record, 280 points off (12.2 points off/game)

Hawk to Rock
SE Missouri: Perry Ellis (2nd in KUsports.com ratings)
Michigan State: Jeff Withey (4th)
Chattanooga: Andrew White III (10th)
Washington State: Ben McLemore (4th)
Saint Louis: Perry Ellis (7th)
San Jose State: Travis Releford (2nd)
Oregon State: Jeff Withey (2nd)
Colorado: Elijah Johnson (4th)
Belmont: Kevin Young (6th)
Richmond: Jeff Withey (1st)
Ohio State: Ben McLemore (1st)
American: Jeff Withey (5th)
Temple: Kevin Young (2nd)
Iowa State: Travis Releford (4th)
Texas Tech: Ben McLemore (4th)
Baylor: Jeff Withey (4th)
Texas: Elijah Johnson (8th)
Kansas State: Kevin Young (6th)
Oklahoma: Travis Releford (3rd)
West Virginia: Jeff Withey (2nd)
Oklahoma State: Ben McLemore (1st)
TCU: Kevin Young (3rd)
Oklahoma: Travis Releford (5th)
Average: 3.9th in KUsports.com ratings

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