Entries from blogs tagged with “ku”

A look at where KU’s offense is better — and worse — than a year ago

Kansas guard Elijah Johnson takes off up the court past Baylor guard Brady Heslip after a steal during the first half on Monday, Jan. 14, 2013 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas guard Elijah Johnson takes off up the court past Baylor guard Brady Heslip after a steal during the first half on Monday, Jan. 14, 2013 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

The Kansas men's basketball team ranks 17th in Ken Pomeroy's adjusted offensive efficiency — a measure that takes into account a team's points per possession while adjusting for schedule strength. A year ago, the Jayhawks finished 19th nationally in the stat.

So the Jayhawks are following the same offensive formula for success, right?

Actually, what's interesting is that this year's team varies greatly from last year's in the way it produces offense.

Let's take a look. The following chart takes a look at 10 advanced statistical measures: adjusted offensive efficiency, effective field-goal percentage (shooting), turnover percentage, offensive rebound percentage, free throw rate (the frequency a team gets to the free throw line), two-point percentage, three-point percentage, free throw percentage, three-point attempt percentage (the percentage of field goals shot that are three-pointers) and assist percentage.

The red line is the 2011-12 season (final stats), while the blue is 2012-13. The higher up the dot, the better the team's national rank in that category.

All statsitics from KenPom.com.

KU's offense: 2012-13 vs. 2011-12

KU's offense: 2012-13 vs. 2011-12 by Jesse Newell

Enlarge graph

Let's start with the positives for KU: The Jayhawks are a much better shooting team this year, which makes some sense considering they are more balanced offensively compared to a year ago.

What is surprising — especially after I watched passes sail into the stands more than once while covering the team during its August exhibition trip in Europe — is how well the Jayhawks have taken care of the ball. KU has only turned it over on 18.8 percent of its possessions so far, and if that number holds up, it would tie the best mark for a Bill Self team at KU (2007-08 also turned it over on 18.8 percent of its possessions).

Though the Jayhawks' shooting is better — especially on three-pointers and free throws — that hasn't made as much impact as it could because of the team's struggles with offensive rebounds and getting to the free throw line.

KU has grabbed just 32.5 percent of its missed shots this year. If that number stands, it'll be the lowest percentage by a Self team at KU (last year's team was second-lowest at 34.6 percent).

The Jayhawks' free throw rate (37.0) also is on pace to be the lowest in the last five seasons.

Two numbers that remain mostly unchanged from a year ago are three-point attempt percentage and assist percentage. KU once again does not rely a lot on three-point shots, and that's a good strategy to have as an elite team in the NCAA Tournament, as two-point shooting is much more consistent game to game compared to three-point shooting.

Meanwhile, the Jayhawks continue to be a team that shares the ball well, though part of that high assist percentage this year might speak to the fact that the Jayhawks don't have many players that can create for themselves off the dribble.

In the end, KU is having similar offensive success this season compared to last while producing those points in an entirely different fashion.

Though this team doesn't get offensive rebounds or to the free throw line like a typical Self team, it has made up for it by shooting a high percentage while taking care of the basketball better than any Jayhawks team in the past decade.

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Bill Self’s locker room speech after ISU win; Thomas Robinson uninjured following car accident

A few links following Kansas' 61-44 victory over Baylor on Monday night ...

Pay Heed: Episode 10 was released Monday by KU Athletics, and once again, it provides a look inside the locker room, this time following KU's 97-89 overtime victory over Iowa State on Wednesday.

KU coach Bill Self's postgame talk begins about the four-minute mark, as he tells his team it's one of the best three or four wins he's had in the Fieldhouse in his 10 years coaching there.

"I don't know if you guys realize," Self tells his players in the video, "we were dead. Dead."

KU Athletics also has started an "AirMcLemore" website to promote freshman guard Ben McLemore.

Former KU forward Thomas Robinson was involved in a car accident Monday night, according to the Sacramento Bee. Robinson was not injured in the crash.

The blog Rock Chalk Talk takes a funny look at conclusions we can make about each KU basketball player based on what they are doing in the now-famous Ben McLemore dancing GIF.

Some highlights from KU's win over Baylor from KU Athletics.

The Waco Tribune's John Werner started his game story talking about KU's 13 blocks:

With 16,300 fans cramming into Allen Fieldhouse for Monday’s Baylor-Kansas showdown, the ones sitting closest to courtside found themselves in grave danger.

Hard hats and protective vests would have been in order.

The Jayhawks swatted away Baylor shots at an alarming rate, leaving balls flying everywhere.

ESPN's Jason King talked about Allen Fieldhouse — one of the loudest gyms in college basketball — becoming silent after McLemore's injury.

FoxSports.com's Sean Keeler was so impressed with KU's defense that he believes it's almost time to start engraving the Big 12 trophy.

This from Keeler's column:

If this is the second best the Big 12 has to offer (and that's up for debate), then it's high time we put a bow on this bad boy, once and for all, and wrap that puppy up tight. Here you go, Bill Self. League Title No. 9. You're going to need a bigger shelf, buddy.

An interesting stat in C.J. Moore's latest blog post: KU is plus-259 with Jeff Withey on the court this year and only plus-20 when he's on the bench.

Here's more on Self's Oklahoma Hall of Fame induction from The Oklahoman's Jenni Carlson.

KU has moved up to a No. 1 seed in Joe Lunardi's Bracketology on ESPN.

And finally, a picture from our own Nick Krug that might just win an award in the near future. Just wanted to make sure you didn't miss it.

Kansas guard Travis Releford comes away with the ball as both Baylor center Isaiah Austin and teammate Jamari Traylor lock their arms around him during the second half on Monday, Jan. 14, 2013 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas guard Travis Releford comes away with the ball as both Baylor center Isaiah Austin and teammate Jamari Traylor lock their arms around him during the second half on Monday, Jan. 14, 2013 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

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Baylor’s best basketball coach answers to the name Kim, not Scott

Monday night was far from the first time Baylor looked like a collection of talented basketball players thrown together at the last minute and sent to the lions to play against a highly organized, disciplined, talented Kansas team.

It was, however, the first time while I was watching a true team play against an All-Star squad that a thought pitched a tent in my cloudy head: Baylor women’s basketball coach Kim Mulkey, a driven, smart (high school valedictorian), intense leader who commands so much respect from peers and players, could get the Bears to play better basketball and win more games than Scott Drew wins.

No Division I school ever has hired a woman as head coach of its men’s basketball team. Tennessee did once discuss the men’s job with its women’s coach, the legendary Pat Summitt, who retired after last season and is in the early stages of Alzheimer's Disease. During an interview on ESPN Radio in New York City a decade or so ago, I asked Summitt why she did not want to make the jump to the men's game. She said she seriously considered it, but thought she could do a better job of promoting women’s basketball by staying put. We’ll never know if Summitt’s opinion on that matter was on target.

But if Drew decides to take his considerable recruiting talents elsewhere, Baylor would be wise to try what Tennessee tried with Summitt, as classy a coach as there is in basketball.

The women’s game has grown since Summitt decided to stay in it, but its popularity still lags. Something needs to happen to jolt it. UConn coach Geno Auriemma’s recent suggestion to lower the hoops to bring dunking into the game didn’t gain much traction. (He’s not the first one to make such a suggestion, just the smartest). Should Mulkey coach a talented group of men into a national powerhouse, that would gain respect for the women’s game.

It’s no insult to Drew to suggest that Mulkey could do a better job with his players than he does. Mulkey has a great basketball mind, knows how to communicate what she knows in understandable fashion and holds her players accountable without coaching the joy out of the game. Her players show steady improvement.

In fairness, Drew’s recruiting has elevated the program. He has reached the Elite Eight twice, which suggests his laid-back style might result in his teams playing less tight than others during the NCAA Tournament. But his players are not dragged out of their comfort zones often enough to stay on a rapid improvement curve. Still, Drew’s recruiting touch makes him a hot coaching prospect. If he bolts for a fatter wallet, Baylor doesn’t need to leave the building to find his replacement.

As a player, Mulkey won four Louisiana state high school titles, two national titles for Louisiana Tech and an Olympic Gold Medal in 1984. As a coach, she has won two national titles (2005, 2012) and has a team that has a good shot to win a third.

It would take a woman unburdened by insecurity to crash the men’s gate and Mulkey certainly qualifies. She doesn’t shy from the big stage.

A year ago at Big 12 Media Day, the fiery, stylish Mulkey grew her considerable fan base when asked if she would continue to schedule Texas A&M after it left the Big 12 for the SEC, a move A&M’s president compared to a divorce. (Mulkey is divorced).

“My feeling is this: If a man wants to divorce me and says our relationship has no value to him and then asks me if he can sleep with me, the answer is, ‘No,’ “ Mulkey said.

Talk about a memorable moment.

Mulkey loves her current job so much she might never want to change it. But if she ever decides to blaze a trail, stand back and watch her shoot to the top.

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Ben McLemore gives complete performance against Baylor

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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KU’s interior defense will be tested against Baylor

Kansas center Jeff Withey defends as Baylor forward Cory Jefferson scoops a shot from behind the backboard during the first half on Monday, Jan. 16, 2012 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas center Jeff Withey defends as Baylor forward Cory Jefferson scoops a shot from behind the backboard during the first half on Monday, Jan. 16, 2012 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

Team: Baylor
Record: 11-4
KenPom (Ken Pomeroy) Ranking: 29

3 Strengths

Inside shooting: Baylor is most efficient offensively inside, where it's made 53.4 percent of its two-point attempts (25th nationally). Part of the reason for this high success is that the Bears almost never have their shots blocked; just 6.5 percent of their twos have been swatted (19th nationally). BU has lots of size at its two forward positions, ranking 43rd nationally in KenPom's "effective height" measure. This should be one of the biggest keys for both teams in Monday night's game, as KU enters with the top two-point percentage defense in the nation (37.1 percent).

Ball security: Much like Temple, Baylor rarely turns the ball over, giving it away on just 17.4 percent of its possessions (31st nationally). The Bears are helped in this aspect by having two players that are in the top seven nationally in turnover rate: guard Brady Heslip (No. 1, 5.5 percent of ended possessions) and Cory Jefferson (No. 7, 7.1 percent of ended possessions). Playing at an above-average pace, BU has turned it over just 12 times per game and hasn't given it away more than 14 times in any of its last eight contests.

Foul avoidance: Baylor has done a great job of keeping teams off the free throw line, as its defensive free throw rate ranks 36th nationally. Opponents have averaged just 10.2 made free throws per game against the Bears, with BU fouling just 15.5 times per game. Though KU has averaged 32 free throw attempts in its last two games and is playing at home, don't expect the Jayhawks to have as many opportunities at the line against Baylor on Monday night.

3 Weaknesses

Drawing fouls: Conversely, Baylor isn't a team that gets fouled often. The Bears' free throw rate ranks 222nd nationally, and only point guard Pierre Jackson (94) and Jefferson (64) have more than 40 free throw attempts. BU averages just 20 free throws per game and most likely won't get much help from an Allen Fieldhouse crew. KU, meanwhile, has done a nice job of avoiding fouls on the defensive end, ranking 60th nationally in defensive free throw rate.

• Defensive rebounding: Despite having good size, Baylor has struggled on the defensive glass this year, pulling own just 66.9 percent of opponents' misses (218th nationally). This has long been a weakness of coach Scott Drew's teams at BU, as the Bears have ranked in the top 100 of defensive rebounding percentage just once in his 10 seasons (93rd, 2010-11). KU has been poor on the offensive glass so far, though, bringing down just 32.1 percent of its misses (171st nationally).

Forcing turnovers: Baylor has been only an average team at taking the ball away, creating turnovers on 20.9 percent of its defensive possessions (165th nationally). Almost all of BU's steals come from the perimeter, as senior A.J. Walton (89th-best steal rate nationally) and Pierre Jackson lead the team with 30 and 29 steals, respectively. Pay close attention to KU guard Elijah Johnson, who will be going against those BU guards. The senior has been careless of late, turning it over 15 times in his last three games.

3 Players to Watch

Kansas guard Travis Releford wrestles on the floor for a loose ball with Baylor guard Pierre Jackson during the first half on Monday, Jan. 16, 2012 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas guard Travis Releford wrestles on the floor for a loose ball with Baylor guard Pierre Jackson during the first half on Monday, Jan. 16, 2012 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

Five-foot-10 point guard Pierre Jackson (No. 55) is Baylor's best player and a surefire All-Big 12 first-team selection provided he stays healthy. The senior takes on a huge scoring responsibility for the Bears, shooting 27.5 percent of his team's shots when he's in (225th nationally). He's good inside, where's he's made half of his twos, and capable outside, where he's a 36-percent three-point shooter. He's especially dangerous off the bounce, drawing 5.8 fouls per game (114th nationally) while racking up more than six free throws per contest. Jackson also is a gifted passer (34th nationally in assist rate) and a strong defender, coming away with steals on 3.4 percent of opponents' possessions (241st nationally). With the struggles KU has has had keeping opposing guards out of the lane, Jackson could be in for a huge offensive game. Is he too quick for Travis Releford to guard? I'm not sure KU has any good answers (short of playing zone) to counter Jackson's speed and driving ability.

Six-foot-9 forward Cory Jefferson (No. 34) continues to improve and is one of the nation's best scorers in the paint. Hoop-Math.com's latest numbers have Jefferson as an 86-percent shooter on dunks, layups and tipins, which has to be among the highest percentages in the nation in that category. The junior has made 64 percent of his twos (83 of 129) and also is a good free throw shooter, connecting on 49 of 64 shots there (76.6 percent). As mentioned before, Jefferson almost never turns it over, posting just 10 giveaways in 455 minutes. He's also BU's most consistent rebounder — ranking 237th nationally in offensive rebounding percentage and 246th nationally in defensive rebounding percentage — and is a defensive presence, blocking 7.1 percent of opponents' two-point attempts (103rd nationally).

Seven-foot-1 Isaiah Austin (No. 21 with goggles) is tall, but his numbers look more like that of a small forward than a center. The freshman, who is No. 6 in DraftExpress' latest 2013 NBA Mock Draft, actually is a good jump-shooter, making 57 percent of his twos (73 of 128) and 36 percent of his threes (13 of 36). Hoop-Math's numbers indicate he has a decent mid-range game, as he's made a team-high 44 percent of his two-point jumpshots (does not include shots at rim). Austin is not a threat to get to the free throw line, attempting just 39 freebies in 14 games. Austin is also BU's second-best rebounder behind Jefferson, but he's not much of a shot-blocker, rejecting just 3.3 percent of opponents' twos (420th nationally).

(• I'm only supposed to list three players to watch, but not mentioning 6-2 junior guard Brady Heslip [No. 5] would be a glaring omission. He's made just 35.7 percent of his threes (30 of 84) this year after making 45.5 percent (100 of 220) last season, but I'd still consider him as dangerous as they come as far as three-point shooting goes.)

Prediction

There's a lot to like about this Baylor team, especially with Jackson, who should cause all sorts of problems for KU defensively on the perimeter.

It's still hard for me to think the Bears will keep this one close.

BU just hasn't performed that well recently at Allen Fieldhouse. Add to it that this game — an important one in the Big 12 standings — is on ESPN's Big Monday, and this feels like a night where KU should be charged up, even during a four-game-in-nine-days stretch.

The Bears' strength offensively is inside, and if KU center Jeff Withey stays out of foul trouble like he has all season, that obviously provides a huge obstacle.

KU will have to find some way to score in transition, though. As mentioned above, Baylor doesn't turn it over much and also doesn't get many shots blocked, and those are the two main ways KU has started its fast breaks this year.

I think the Jayhawks will find a way, and after watching Baylor play at Allen Fieldhouse in previous years, I'm hesitant to pick a close score until the Bears prove that they're capable of producing one in Lawrence.

Kansas 73, Baylor 58

Hawk to Rock

After playing two games in a row where teams tried to pull him to the perimeter, Jeff Withey will be able to stay in the paint defensively against a team that will try to go big-on-big against him. The Jefferson-Withey battle should be a fun one to watch, but I think Withey will win it, registering a few blocks that will help lead to transition points for KU. Give me a double-double for Withey to go with a strong performance on the offensive glass.

Predictions tally
14-1 record, 196 points off (13.1 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)
Average: 3.9th in KUsports.com ratings

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Best-selling author John Feinstein explains why he voted Kansas No. 1

Best-selling author and GolfChannel and ESPN regular John Feinstein always has the most interesting, independent ballot in the weekly Associated Press poll.

Every voter claims to not care what the nation thinks in filling out his or her ballot. Feinstein proves it weekly with votes that often are quite different from the consensus. This week, Feinstein stands alone in putting Kansas at the top of his ballot. Sports Illustrated's Seth Davis is the lone voter to rank Kansas second.

"Kansas has the most impressive win of the year: At Ohio State, as Michigan found out," Feinstein told me in an e-mail exchange. "Bunch of one-loss teams. I give them the edge because of that."

Nineteen of us put Kansas third and fifth was the most common Kansas ranking, appearing on 26 ballots.

No. 1 Louisville received 36 first-place votes, No. 2 Indiana 13, No. 3 Duke 14 (including mine). Kansas is ranked fourth and Michigan, with one first-place vote, fifth.

Feinstein has written several best-selling sports book, the most famous "A Season on the Brink," a fascinating all-access look at a season of Indiana basketball under Hall of Fame coach Bob Knight.

The book ended a friendship but led to a priceless exchange between men at the top of their professions.

Knight, upset with his foul language being used verbatim, referred to Feinstein as "a pimp and a whore." With a counter-punch better than any Ken Norton threw in upsetting Muhammad Ali, Feinstein retorted: "I wish he would make up his mind so I'd know how to dress."

I don't know any Knight fan who read the book and didn't think even more highly of Knight after reading it, four-letter words notwithstanding.

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Andy Katz says KU should be No. 1; video of KU-MU brawl from 1961

A few links to start off your Monday ...

After both Duke and Michigan fell last week, ESPN writers made their arguments for who should be No. 1 this week.

Andy Katz chose KU, saying:

Of all the one-loss teams who are in the discussion -- Duke, Indiana, Louisville, Arizona, Michigan, Syracuse, Gonzaga and Creighton -- the Jayhawks shouldn't take a backseat to any of them.

Other candidates for the top spot in the article included Louisville, Indiana and Duke.

On Saturday, former KU guard Mario Chalmers knocked down 10 three-pointers in a victory over the Sacramento Kings, tying the franchise record set by Brian Shaw in 1993.

The 10 threes also is the most made by a player in the NBA this season.

It's interesting to watch both LeBron James' and Dwyane Wade's reaction to Chalmers' performance. Though Chalmers has often gotten the "little brother" label in Miami, the Heat's two biggest stars seemed to be genuinely happy for him Saturday.

• If you haven't heard it yet, Bob Davis' radio call of Ben McLemore's game-tying three against Iowa State is definitely worth a listen.

ESPN.com's Jason King has more on Jamari Traylor's back story, which includes sleeping in an abandoned Buick on the south side of Chicago after he was kicked out of his house during high school. A couple weeks ago, CJonline.com's Austin Meek also wrote a feature story on Traylor's struggles.

• A final look at some highlights from KU's 60-46 victory over Texas Tech, from KU Athletics.

Here's another insightful blog from C.J. Moore, who shows how opponents sagging defensively off Kevin Young is hurting the Jayhawks' ability to get the ball to Jeff Withey.

• KU basketball's favorite courtside couple — Jason Sudeikis and Olivia Wilde — have gone public with their engagement.

Actor Jason Sudeikis and actress Olivia Wilde watch the video board during the second half on Saturday, Dec. 29, 2012 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Actor Jason Sudeikis and actress Olivia Wilde watch the video board during the second half on Saturday, Dec. 29, 2012 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

As you probably remember, the two sat behind the bench for KU's 89-57 victory over American late last month.

• Bleacher Report's Adam Fromal says NBA general managers "would be foolish not to at least consider McLemore at No. 1."

• I saw this posted on another site, and it was too interesting to not share.

The video below is of a KU-Missouri men's basketball brawl from 1961. I guess not much has changed in 50 years.

With KU taking on Baylor at Allen Fieldhouse on Monday night, here's a quick look back at the biggest highlight from last year's KU-BU game in Lawrence.

And finally, this isn't sports-related, but LJWorld.com's Chad Lawhorn wrote a tremendous piece over the weekend on an abandoned baby, a dime and a Lawrence laundromat.

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Kevin Young edges out Travis Releford for top honors

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Texas Tech doesn’t have the shooters to bomb away against KU

Kansas center Jeff Withey gets up to block a shot by Texas Tech forward Jaye Crockett during the first half Wednesday, Jan. 11, 2012, at United Spirit Arena.

Kansas center Jeff Withey gets up to block a shot by Texas Tech forward Jaye Crockett during the first half Wednesday, Jan. 11, 2012, at United Spirit Arena. by Nick Krug

Team: Texas Tech
Record: 8-5
KenPom (Ken Pomeroy) Ranking: 253

3 Strengths

• Forcing turnovers: Texas Tech has done a great job of pressuring defensively, creating turnovers on 24.1 percent of opponents' possessions (31st nationally). The Red Raiders get most of those turnovers off steals, as 13.1 percent of their defensive possessions end in steals (26th nationally). Josh Gray (No. 5) and Daylen Robinson (No. 10) are the two best swipers, as both rank in the top 65 nationally in steal percentage. Kansas has done a good job of avoiding turnovers this year (89th nationally), but it is of note that the Jayhawks' worst turnover contest came in its only true road game of the year against Ohio State.

Offensive rebounding: Like Iowa State, Texas Tech has excelled on the offensive glass this season, grabbing 38 percent of its missed shots (32 percent). Some of that strength has fallen off in Big 12 play, where the Red Raiders are pulling down just 31 percent of their misses. This strength matches up with another KU strength, as the Jayhawks rank 53rd nationally in defensive rebounding percentage.

Interior scoring: Tech has shot a great percentage from two-point range, making 52.4 percent of its inside shots (33rd nationally). Nine of the Red Raiders' 11 rotation players are shooting 50 percent or better from two-point range, including Jaye Crockett (No. 30), who has made 65 of 105 twos (61.9 percent). Once again, though, this lines up directly with a KU strength, as the Jayhawks lead the nation in two-point percentage defense (37.3 percent).

3 Weaknesses

Three-point shooting: The Red Raiders have been dreadful from long range, making just 67 of 247 threes (331st nationally). Only one player — reserve Dusty Hannahs (No. 2) — has made more than 32 percent of his three-point tries this year. Texas Tech doesn't shoot a lot of threes, but it doesn't avoid them, either; thirty-two percent of the Red Raiders' field-goal attempts have been threes (217th-highest split nationally).

• Turning it over: While playing at a fast tempo, Texas Tech has a tendency to be careless, giving it away on 21.4 percent of its possessions (217th nationally). Tech averages 15.3 turnovers per game, with the highest turnover rates coming from guards Gray and Robinson. KU's guards haven't shown much ability to turn people over in the last few games (Fun stat: In the last five games, Jeff Withey, Kevin Young and Jamari Traylor [nine] have more combined steals than Elijah Johnson, Naadir Tharpe and Travis Releford [eight]), but they should be able to pick up at least a few Saturday afternoon.

Competition: Texas Tech has faced one of the worst schedules in the nation so far, with its slate ranking 346th (out of 347 teams) according to KenPom.com. The Red Raiders have only played one road game (at TCU) and have taken on five teams ranked 313th or worst in KenPom's standings. Tech hasn't played well when it has faced top competition at home, losing by 28 to Arizona and 34 to Baylor.

3 Players to Watch

• As mentioned earlier, 6-foot-1 guard Josh Gray (No. 5) has been great on the defensive end, coming away with steals on 4.8 percent of opponents' possessions (32nd nationally). Offensively, though, he's been a huge liability, taking on a lot of offensive responsibility while producing an inefficient line. The freshman is extremely turnover-prone, giving it away on 28.6 percent of the possessions he ends. He's also a miserable three-point shooter, going 9-for-41 (22 percent). Gray takes a team-high 25.9 percent of his team's shots when he's in the game, but KU shouldn't be too worried when he has the ball in his hands.

• Six-foot-7 forward Jaye Crockett (No. 30) is Tech's best scoring option, but for some reason, he doesn't start. He's a great finisher at the rim and also can get to the free throw line, drawing five fouls per game while shooting a team-high 53 free throws. The junior also is a gifted rebounder, bringing down 23.9 percent of the available defensive rebounds (67th nationally) and 13 percent of the available offensive rebounds (95th nationally). Crockett takes 24.4 percent of Tech's shots when he's in, and he's the main guy that the Jayhawks should key on defensively.

Six-foot-11 forward Dejan Kravic (No. 11) has performed well when he's out there, though he's played less than half of Tech's minutes. The junior has three main strengths: inside shooting, where he's made 56 of 98 shots (57.1 percent); offensive rebounding, where he's grabbed 11.9 percent of his team's misses when he's in (156th nationally); and shot-blocking, as he's swatted 8.8 percent of opponent twos (56th nationally).

Prediction

The biggest challenge for KU in Lubbock usually is bringing its own energy. Typically, United Spirit Arena is the emptiest gym that the Jayhawks play in front of all year.

Other than that, there's really not many reasons to think KU will struggle. Tech's strength offensively is inside, and KU has center Jeff Withey to clean that up. Another strength for Tech is offensive rebounding, and the Jayhawks do a nice job on the defensive glass.

If KU can somehow find a way to get turnovers, this one could get ugly quickly. Even if the Jayhawks don't, though, I still don't think they'll be challenged against one of the Big 12's two worst teams.

Kansas 86, Texas Tech 56

Hawk to Rock

After his 33-point game against Iowa State, guard Ben McLemore said KU coach Bill Self talked to him about working harder without the ball while also looking for his shot more. This game should be the perfect test run to see if McLemore can start to be more aggressive.

I think he will be. Put me down for 20-plus points with at least four three-pointers from the talented freshman.

Predictions tally
13-1 record, 180 points off (12.9 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)
Average: 3.9th in KUsports.com ratings

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Charlie Weis goes wild over Ben McLemore 3; Bill Self compared to Vince Lombardi by unlikely source

A few links and videos following Kansas' 97-89 overtime victory over Iowa State on Wednesday ...

I know you've probably seen KU guard Ben McLemore's game-tying three already, but you'll want to look in a different spot the next time you play it.

If you look on the baseline under the basket, KU football coach Charlie Weis (dressed in black) is watching the game from a courtside seat.

And his reaction to the three is pretty spectacular. Definitely worth a look.

• Speaking of the game-tying three, is it possible that McLemore was fouled on the play?

Good nugget from Randy Peterson in the Des Moines Register.

Tyrus McGee did foul Kansas’ Ben McLemore with just more than a second to play Wednesday night.

“The ref just didn’t call it,” Iowa State’s energizer guard said after sixth-ranked Kansas’ super shooter sent the Big12 Conference game into overtime. “I got him on the bottom of his hand. I should have smacked him in the head.”

A lot of talk in Iowa about whether ISU coach Fred Hoiberg should have told his team to foul up three with just over eight seconds left.

The Register's Bryce Miller says he agrees with the decision to not foul, partly because former coach and ESPNU announcer Matt Doherty said he wouldn't have fouled in that situation either.

There's also this snippet:

Iowa State’s Fred Hoiberg decided to play on. Then, Kansas did what Kansas does — in soul-crushing fashion on a banked 3-pointer by Ben McLemore with one second dangling on the clock.

Peterson also has an interesting take in his postgame blog, wondering how the game would have changed if Georges Niang hadn't picked up a technical foul in the first half.

Niang later fouled out in the last minute of regulation.

"And if he’s not sitting the bench on Kansas’ last-second possession," Peterson writes, "coach Fred Hoiberg orders an intentional – non-shooting—foul.

Blogger C.J. Moore does a great job here of diagramming KU's "chop" play, which KU coach Bill Self runs at the end of close games when he needs a three. Moore shows why KU has so many options on the play, and even points out that Mario's Miracle in 2008 was probably the worst-executed chop play of the bunch.

ESPN.com's Jason King was at Allen Fieldhouse, and he left wowed by McLemore's performance.

No KU player under Self -- and, heck, none since Pierce in the late 1990s -- has ever been pegged as a “star." Until now.

King also bumped McLemore up to No. 4 on his latest Wooden Watch player of the year ballot.

A few more highlights of the game from different angles, from KU Athletics.

NBADraft.net was so impressed with McLemore's 33-point performance that the site moved him to No. 1 on its newest 2013 Mock Draft board.

• And finally, KU's late-game execution was enough to even get Self some praise on Twitter from former Missouri forward Kim English.

Hand off, ball screen, flare screen... Bill Self is like Vince Lombardi. You know what's coming end of game. But it somehow always works.

Reply 1 comment from Pwopellewcap

Ben McLemore gives Pierce-ian performance against Iowa State

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Voters cheat cheater Barry Bonds out of Hall of Fame

Steroids are germane to the question of whether Barry Bonds belongs in the all-time outfield, but not to whether he belongs in the Hall of Fame. He belongs in Cooperstown, but the steroid rage of non-users kept him out.

The Hall of Fame election results were just announced on MLB Network and for the eighth time, nobody was elected. An elector for the 16th year, I voted for a personal-record eight players.

Craig Biggio was the leading vote recipient, appearing on 68 percent of the ballots. A player must be on 75 percent of the ballots to enter the Hall of Fame.

Back to Bonds. He doesn’t belong in the all-time outfield because with Willie Mays in center, flanked by Babe Ruth and Hank Aaron, there simply isn’t room for Bonds, Ted Williams, Joe DiMaggio, Ty Cobb or Oscar Charleston. If Bonds’ numbers were not steroid-inflated, they would merit him a spot in the all-time lineup.

Keeping Bonds out of Cooperstown because he juiced so mightily his head swelled and made it look as if he were auditioning for a part as a Klingon in the next Star Trek flick ignores what a great ballplayer he was before cheating.

A lousy baseball player, I learned to trust my ears more than my eyes when covering the game and did have a skill for knowing where to go to get the unvarnished truth. Bobby Cox was one such source of knowledge. The guy doesn’t have time for nonsense. I’ll never forget the Bonds conversation I had with Cox, one of my favorite managers in his dugout.

I asked him if I were correct in my belief that Ken Griffey Jr. ranked No. 1 in the game at the time. He held up two fingers, meaning someone ranked ahead of him.

“Griffey’s great,” Cox said. “But if you put it in just the right spot, you can get him out. Bonds doesn’t have a spot. The best pitchers in the game can throw pitches exactly where they want them and he’ll go down there and get them. I don’t know how he does it.”

This was before Bonds’ cap grew three sizes. The only fair way to vote is to make as informed a guess as possible as to whether a player juiced — a Hall of Fame ballot is an opinion document, not a legal one — deflate the numbers of those you think cheated and go from there. But automatically ban them because they were doing what at least half the hitters and many pitchers were doing? Please.

Keeping Bonds out of Cooperstown because he grew modern muscles in the latter stages of his career is even more foolish than keeping John Hadl out of the Pro Football Hall of Fame because of his poor play with the Green Bay Packers and Houston Oilers after having an exceptional career with the San Diego Chargers and Los Angeles Rams.

Bonds was the first name I checked on my Hall of Fame ballot and Roger Clemens was the second, not just because that happens to be the alphabetical order of the (personal-high) eight players for which I voted.

The others: Edgar Martinez, Mark McGwire (first time), Jack Morris, Mike Piazza, Tim Raines (first time) and Curt Schilling. Every one with the exception of Piazza was a tough call. So were exclusions Jeff Bagwell and Craig Biggio.

Sammy Sosa? Easy call. He was one player when his body called to mind the Michelin Man, a much weaker force when he looked like an old-fashioned ballplayer.

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Iowa State’s turnovers will go a long way towards deciding outcome

Kansas forward Kevin Young defends against a shot from Iowa State forward Melvin Ejim during the second half on Saturday, Jan. 14, 2012 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas forward Kevin Young defends against a shot from Iowa State forward Melvin Ejim during the second half on Saturday, Jan. 14, 2012 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

Team: Iowa State
Record: 10-3
KenPom (Ken Pomeroy) Ranking: 47

3 Strengths

Rebounding: Iowa State is the best rebounding team KU has faced this season. The Cyclones are an elite rebounding squad on both ends, pulling down 39.8 percent of their missed shots (14th nationally) and 74.7 percent of their opponents' misses (10th nationally). So far this year, KU has been a great defensive rebounding team but a poor offensive rebounding team, meaning a big turning point will be which team can win the battle on the glass when ISU misses a shot.

Three-point shooting: It feels like I've said this about every KU opponent that has entered the Fieldhouse, but the Cyclones really do rely a lot on outside shots. ISU has made 35.8 percent of its threes this year (81st nationally) while attempting a ton of them (39.1 percent of team's field goals are threes, 50th-highest split nationally). Because of that, ISU gets 33.2 percent of its points from threes, which is the 48th-highest split in the nation. It's hard to key on one shooter, too, as ISU's top six rotation players all have attempted at least 21 threes. KU's defense did a great job of limiting three-pointers against Temple on Sunday, but the Jayhawks still rank 293rd nationally when it comes to allowing opposition three-pointers. In other words ... expect a lot of threes from ISU on Wednesday night.

Finishing at the rim: Iowa State enters with the 40th-best two-point percentage nationally (52.2 percent), but it gets that percentage in an interesting way. The Cyclones don't shoot many "close" shots with only 24 percent of their field-goal attempts coming at the rim (NCAA average is 34 percent). When the Cyclones get those close shots, though, they almost never miss. ISU is shooting 81 percent on shots at the rim this year, which leads the nation, according to Hoop-Math.com. To compare, the NCAA average for close shots is 61 percent, while KU is shooting 65 percent. ISU would appear to be a team that doesn't like to take contested layups at the rim, which means that KU center Jeff Withey's defensive impact could be limited, especially with ISU coach Fred Hoiberg scheming ways to get the big man away from the basket.

3 Weaknesses

Turnovers: From watching his press conference on Monday, I could tell this is Hoiberg's biggest fear with his team as it enters Allen Fieldhouse. Playing a weak schedule so far (298th nationally, according to KenPom), Iowa State has been careless with the basketball while not forcing many turnovers itself. The Cyclones turn it over on 20.2 percent of their possessions (149th nationally) while taking it away on 20.7 percent of opponents' possessions (exactly the NCAA average). The problem for ISU is that at the Fieldhouse, turnovers often turn into transition points on the other end for KU, which feeds the crowd and makes the game even tougher. Hoiberg knows that avoiding turnovers isn't just important for his offense ... it's also important to help limit KU's offense as well.

Drawing fouls: Iowa State rarely gets to the free throw line, posting the nation's 289th-best free throw rate. Though the Cyclones play at the nation's 31st-fastest tempo, they have averaged just 19.5 free throws per game. ISU is only an average free throw shooting team as well, making 68.8 percent of its tries this year (172nd nationally).

Getting back defensively: As mentioned above, Iowa State is successful offensively at the rim, making 81 percent of its shots there. Turns out the opposite is true as well: opponents are making 80 percent of their shots at the rim against the Cyclones. Hoop-Math.com shows an ISU team that has had lots of problems getting back defensively in transition.

ISU early in shot clock defensively.

ISU early in shot clock defensively. by Jesse Newell

This isn't a huge sample size, but this much is clear: If you can get the ball to the rim quickly against the Cyclones, they will not put up much resistance — especially after a make or following a steal.

Look for KU to push the pace to try to take advantage.

3 Players to Watch

• Though 6-foot-2 guard Tyrus McGee (No. 25) hasn't started in Iowa State's last 11 games, he's still the Cyclones' best offensive player. He ranks 12th nationally in offensive rating while shooting a team-high 24.6 percent of his team's shots when he's in. The senior has been spectacular from three-point range, making 38 of 79 this year (48.1 percent). Though he doesn't score much inside and doesn't get to the free throw line often, part of his skill-set is that he never turns it over, ranking 50th nationally in turnover rate. He also posts a team-high 3.3 percent steal rate, is solid on the defensive glass and can block an occasional shot. It's a bit surprising McGee's talent and production hasn't landed him a starting spot for ISU.

Six-foot-6 forward Melvin Ejim (No. 3) will be the guy to watch on the glass for Iowa State. The former teammate of KU guard Naadir Tharpe (Brewster Academy) has become one of the nation's top rebounders, pulling down 27.1 percent of the available defensive rebounds (12th nationally) and 14.1 percent of the available offensive rebounds (59th nationally). He's also second on the team in steal percentage and can hit an occasional three (eight of 21, 38 percent). Ejim is great at finishing at the rim (82 percent close shot percentage), but he's extremely turnover prone, which brings down his production enough that he's only a slightly above-average offensive player.

Six-foot-7 guard Will Clyburn (No. 21) is the rare player on ISU's roster that can create for himself. He's posted the 283rd-best free throw rate so far while drawing 5.3 fouls per 40 minutes (226th nationally). The senior has been successful once he gets to the line, making 81.5 percent of his free throws. Like most of ISU's players, Clyburn is strong at the rim (72 percent), with only 44 percent of those shots coming from an assist. Clyburn's weaknesses so far have been turnovers and also three-point shooting, as he's made just 12 of 44 treys (27.3 percent).

Prediction

After forcing just four turnovers and recording one steal against Temple in a 69-62 victory Sunday, the Jayhawks enter a game where defensive pressure will be vital against a solid Iowa State team.

The Cyclones have had just one game in their last three weeks, meaning Hoiberg has had plenty of time to scout and scheme the Jayhawks. That most likely will result in Withey being pulled to the perimeter and ISU putting up a lot of threes to try to avoid blocks inside.

The key, though, is turnovers. Almost every opponent steal this season against ISU has resulted in two points on the other end, and KU has thrived with its fast breaks at home.

There's no transition without the original defensive pressure, though. If the Jayhawks guard like they did against the Owls — and ISU is able to get up shots on most possessions to keep KU out of its transition game — then the Cyclones have the shooters to put a scare into KU.

I don't think that'll happen, though, especially because ISU has fewer players that are dangerous off the dribble. Defensive pressure had to be the message from KU coach Bill Self the last three days, and I think the Jayhawks' guards will create much more havoc against a turnover-prone team Wednesday night.

Kansas 78, Iowa State 63

Hawk to Rock

I need a guy who can score in transition and is good at forcing turnovers. Luckily for me, KU has just that guy ... senior guard Travis Releford. After a poor defensive game against Temple, look for Releford to provide more pressure against Iowa State while continuing his amazing shooting run with a lot of easy shots in transition against the Cyclones.

Predictions tally
12-1 record, 173 points off (13.3 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)
Average: 3.8th in KUsports.com ratings

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Cliff’s Notes: Bill Self press conference, 1/8/13

Here is the Cliff's Notes version from Kansas men's basketball coach Bill Self's comments at his press conference today.

Full audio has been posted.

• Self said there wasn't any pressure when he talked to a TV reporter during a timeout against Temple. He just thinks it didn't do anything to help his team. It was fine. It lasted 30 seconds. But he doesn't think it's something any coach would enjoy doing.

• Self said the way Travis Releford is shooting is outrageous. He's taking great shots. Self thinks he can become more aggressive driving the ball because he's good at it. But the hoop looks huge to him right now. He has a great follow-through on his shot, even though it's a little different than some guys. His release and follow-through is soft, though, which is the most important thing. Releford has become more consistent with his outside shot. Releford is a guy that KU needs to play well all the time, though, whether he makes shots or not.

Iowa State scores easier than any team in the league. They make a lot of threes and are great at rebounding. The thing that is concerning against the Cyclones is that their top seven guys have attempted at least 20 threes each. They turn the floor inside-out. They'll put their post players outside and their guards inside. After watching tape, Self said ISU is probably the best offensive team in the league.

• ISU is going to try to get Jeff Withey away from the basket defensively. The Cyclones are not going to change the way they play to do that, either.

• Self thinks KU's three-point defense is getting better. Anything below 30 percent from three for the opponent is excellent. KU isn't there yet, but it's close.

• Self wishes Elijah Johnson was aggressive more of the time, and Johnson knows that. The senior wants to get others involved, though. He can help KU out by getting paint touches off the bounce. It's always better to play in attack mode.

KU's players were excited and focused in at film session when they started talking about Iowa State and the second season starting. Self thinks they're ready for Big 12 play.

KU is proud of its eight straight league titles. Self says if you want to talk impressive, though, what Alabama is doing in football is impressive. Seeing a team win a title three out of four years humbles you. It's harder to have that type of sustained success in basketball, though, because there's more turnover. In football, usually a good freshman running back turns into a good sophomore running back. That type of thing doesn't always translate in basketball.

Everybody out there respects what Alabama coach Nick Saban does. The thing that impresses Self about guys like Saban or coach John Wooden or coach K is that they're never satisfied. It's hard to not take the foot off the gas a little bit. That's natural. Repeating titles doesn't happen often. When you win a title, your focus can go to a lot of things with your players and your staff that have nothing to do with the program. What's impressive is that Alabama is even more hungry after it wins a title. Saban doesn't let his players relax.

• KU's Big 12 title run is not like Alabama's title run. KU's is from a local standpoint. The Big 12 title important, and KU puts a lot of emphasis on it. It's a little different with KU, though. Self doesn't believe KU's players are satisfied or over-relaxed after they win the league.

• Self says the team probably sees the league title as more of a responsibility to continue the tradition than an opportunity to add another league championship.

• Self saw about the last six minutes of SMU against Tulsa when Larry Brown coached against Danny Manning. Self joked that the low-scoring game was one coach Henry Iba would have been proud of.

• Temple will do well in its league. It played with great poise. KU couldn't crack the Owls. Self thought the close-game experience was good for his team. KU showed good leadership down the stretch. It had late-game situations it hadn't had yet in practice. Self wants to play well every game, but he thought that was about as good of a game for his team as there could be because of the experience it gave the guys.

Self wants to see Ben McLemore score more and drive more and plug himself in more. He scored a lot of points early then went quiet for about 33 minutes. He's got to be able to do more than make easy baskets, which is what he did late.

Withey had a couple good fouls in the last game to prevent easy baskets. KU doesn't foul hard enough. It barely touches guys when it does foul. Coaches will tell you fouling hard at times is important, and Self said it was good to see Withey do that.

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How Travis Releford became the best shooter in the nation

With his 5-for-5 shooting effort against Temple on Sunday, Kansas guard Travis Releford moved to the top spot nationally in the two best advanced shooting statistics.

The first is effective field goal percentage, which appropriately gives a player 1.5 times the credit for three-pointers (because they are worth 1.5 times the points compared to twos).

Advanced
Rk Player Class Season Pos School eFG%
1 Travis Releford SR 2012-13 G Kansas .727
2 Victor Oladipo JR 2012-13 G Indiana .720
3 Logan Aronhalt SR 2012-13 G Maryland .714
4 T.J. Warren FR 2012-13 F North Carolina State .714
5 Kristijan Krajina JR 2012-13 F Mount St. Mary's .712
Provided by Sports-Reference.com/CBB: View Original Table
Generated 1/8/2013.

The second is true shooting percentage, which weighs free throw shooting into the equation along with twos and threes.

Advanced
Rk Player Class Season Pos School TS%
1 Travis Releford SR 2012-13 G Kansas .756
2 Kelly Olynyk JR 2012-13 F Gonzaga .721
3 Victor Oladipo JR 2012-13 G Indiana .718
4 Nik Stauskas FR 2012-13 G Michigan .712
5 Myles Mack SO 2012-13 G Rutgers .711
Provided by Sports-Reference.com/CBB: View Original Table
Generated 1/8/2013.

It's quite a leap for the senior, who ranked 244th in eFG% and 306th in TS% a year ago.

So what has changed for Releford?

Let's take a closer look at the numbers to see where he's most improved from a year ago.

The following statistics are from Hoop-Math.com. Releford's data was missing the KU-Towson game from 2011, so I added those shots into the final total.

Releford close shots.

Releford close shots. by Jesse Newell

Releford has always been good at finishing close shots (dunks, layups and tipins), but this year, he's been on another level. Not only is he shooting more close shots this year, he's making a lot more of them, shooting a remarkable 77 percent on those tries. The senior has a knack for avoiding blocks when shooting layups in transition, and it appears he's only gotten better with that skill over time.

Releford two-point jumper.

Releford two-point jumper. by Jesse Newell

Being a high-percentage shooter isn't just about making shots; it's also about avoiding bad shots. Two-point jumpshots are statistically the worst shot a player can take, and Releford has basically eliminated this shot from his game, putting up only nine two-point jumpers this season. He's actually been well above the NCAA average on two-point Js the last two years but still hasn't felt the need to force them.

Releford three-pointers.

Releford three-pointers. by Jesse Newell

Releford has significantly increased his three-point percentage while also increasing the percentage of threes he's taken this year. Remember also that the senior started the season 0-for-11 from three, meaning he's made up ground quickly to get to 47 percent. In his last five games, Releford is 11-for-13 from three-point range (84.6 percent).

Releford free throws.

Releford free throws. by Jesse Newell

It's hard to remember this now, but Releford actually was a poor free throw shooter his first two years, making 17 of 32 free throws his freshman year (53.1 percent) and 16 of 25 his sophomore year (64 percent). Releford hasn't gotten to the line as frequently this year (as evidenced by his lower free throw rate, which compares a player's free throw attempts to his field goal attempts), but going from 65 percent to 88 percent is still a significant jump.

I wanted to end by giving Releford's shooting some historical perspective, showing KU's top eFG and TS percentages since 1998-99 — the start of Basketball-Reference's records.

Advanced
Rk Player Class Season Pos eFG%
1 Travis Releford SR 2012-13 G .727
2 Tyrel Reed JR 2009-10 G .669
3 Wayne Simien SO 2002-03 F .646
4 Mario Chalmers JR 2007-08 G .631
5 Kirk Hinrich JR 2001-02 G .631
6 Darnell Jackson SR 2007-08 F .630
7 Markieff Morris JR 2010-11 C .627
8 Jeff Boschee SR 2001-02 G .623
9 Jeff Graves SR 2003-04 F .622
10 Kirk Hinrich SO 2000-01 G .619
11 Sasha Kaun SR 2007-08 C .619
12 Nick Collison SO 2000-01 F .601
13 Marcus Morris JR 2010-11 F .601
14 Thomas Robinson SO 2010-11 F .601
15 J.R. Giddens FR 2003-04 G .599
16 Markieff Morris SO 2009-10 C .599
17 Cole Aldrich SO 2008-09 C .598
18 Kenny Gregory SR 2000-01 G/F .597
19 Nick Collison JR 2001-02 F .595
20 Brady Morningstar SR 2010-11 G .592
Advanced
Provided by Sports-Reference.com/CBB: View Original Table
Generated 1/8/2013.
Advanced
Rk Player Class Season TS%
1 Travis Releford SR 2012-13 .756
2 Tyrel Reed JR 2009-10 .682
3 Kirk Hinrich SO 2000-01 .667
4 Wayne Simien SO 2002-03 .658
5 Kirk Hinrich JR 2001-02 .657
6 Mario Chalmers JR 2007-08 .656
7 Darnell Jackson SR 2007-08 .650
8 Markieff Morris JR 2010-11 .642
9 Cole Aldrich SO 2008-09 .640
10 Jeff Boschee SR 2001-02 .638
11 Jeff Graves SR 2003-04 .632
12 Marcus Morris JR 2010-11 .625
13 Wayne Simien SR 2004-05 .616
14 Mario Chalmers SO 2006-07 .614
15 Jeff Withey JR 2011-12 .614
16 Michael Lee SO 2002-03 .612
17 Markieff Morris SO 2009-10 .612
18 Aaron Miles SR 2004-05 .611
19 Nick Collison SO 2000-01 .610
20 Ben McLemore FR 2012-13 .610
Advanced
Provided by Sports-Reference.com/CBB: View Original Table
Generated 1/8/2013.

With better shot selection, an elite ability to finish at the rim and improvements behind the line and arc, Releford has taken his shooting efficiency to a new level — one that is unmatched in recent KU history.

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Iowa State coach Fred Hoiberg losing sleep over KU; Bill Self as Wicked Witch of the West?

A few links to start off your Tuesday ...

Iowa State head coach Fred Hoiberg watches after a Jayhawk bucket during the first half on Wednesday, Jan. 12, 2011 at Hilton Coliseum in Ames, Iowa.

Iowa State head coach Fred Hoiberg watches after a Jayhawk bucket during the first half on Wednesday, Jan. 12, 2011 at Hilton Coliseum in Ames, Iowa. by Nick Krug

Iowa State coach Fred Hoiberg met with media members Monday, using the term "Human Eraser" to describe KU center Jeff Withey.

"Last year, the ability to play different (with forward Royce White playing the point) was the reason we hung in there and had a shot," Hoiberg said. "You have to think outside the box when you play Kansas."

After watching Hoiberg's 10-minute, 34-second press conference, here are a few more notes and quotes from him.

Hoiberg labeled KU as "scary good," saying the Jayhawks excel at making other teams uncomfortable offensively. "Their defense is phenomenal," he said. Hoiberg indicated the single most important thing for Iowa State would be taking care of the ball, noting that worked well out for Temple, which hung around with KU before eventually falling, 69-62, on Sunday.

Hoiberg on scouting KU's defense: "I didn't sleep much after watching the Colorado game. ... It was like there were eight guys out there on the court." Something to keep in mind: ISU has had a lot of time to prepare for this game, as the Cyclones have only played one game after Dec. 19. That will make Wednesday's game only ISU's second in 21 days.

ISU has been simulating crowd noise in practice to prepare for Allen Fieldhouse. Hoiberg even mentioned the team working on its hand signals.

A couple times, including the quote above, Hoiberg talked about having to "play different" to beat KU. I'd have to guess the coach is focusing his offensive gameplan on trying to get Withey away from the basket defensively.

An Ohio State-Kansas pregame video gathered a bit of buzz from those of us who saw it live last month, as KU coach Bill Self's head was placed on the Wicked Witch of the West's body during a Wizard of Oz clip.

After some digging, I found the pregame video on YouTube for those wondering about it. Skip ahead to the 1:42 mark to get through KU's introductions.

Gary Bedore mentioned this in his Jeff Withey story today, but ESPN.com's Eamonn Brennan had a nice write-up about Withey's "crazy" defensive season.

• And finally, in his college basketball conference previews, Scout.com's Ken Davis says, as of early January, KU coach Bill Self is national coach of the year.

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More love for Allen Fieldhouse from Philly writers following KU’s win over Temple

Sunlight bursts through the south windows of the fieldhouse on Sunday, Jan. 6, 2013 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Sunlight bursts through the south windows of the fieldhouse on Sunday, Jan. 6, 2013 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

A few more notable links following the Kansas men's basketball team's 69-62 victory Sunday over Temple.

Following Friday's extended story on KU's basketball tradition, Philly.com's writers continued to sing Allen Fieldhouse's (and KU fans') praises following Sunday's game.

Here's the end of the game story from the Daily News' Dick Jerardi, who earlier calls Jayhawk fans "the best and loudest crowd in college basketball":

When it was finally clear KU was going to win again, those great fans started to chant and sway. It was the moment for "Rock Chalk Jayhawk, KU." But it took quite a long time and, at Allen Fieldhouse, that is about as close to victory as any opponent gets.

Inquirer writer Kevin Pompey, who called the Fieldhouse "part Smithsonian and part basketball mecca" in his preview story Sunday, had this to say in his "best and worst" notebook afterwards:

The deafening sound from 16,300 screaming fans created an electric atmosphere I’ll always remember. Covering a game at “The Phog” is by far one of my best experiences at a sporting event.

Kansas fans reach below the scoreboard to slap hands with the Jayhawks after their 69-62 win over Temple on Sunday, Jan. 6, 2013 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas fans reach below the scoreboard to slap hands with the Jayhawks after their 69-62 win over Temple on Sunday, Jan. 6, 2013 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

A few other links ...

Foxsports.com's Sean Keeler emphasizes the importance of KU guard Travis Releford in his postgame column, noting that KU was plus-10 with the senior on the court in the second half and minus-nine with him on the bench.

Speaking of Releford, ESPN.com's Robbie Pickeral selected him as one of her five "underrated and overlooked" players nationally.

And finally, here's a quick look at game highlights from KU Athletics. Definitely worth a look is Travis Releford's reaction to his three-pointer at the 1:08 mark.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Temple ready to try its luck on the three-point wheel against KU

Temple's Khalif Wyatt looks to shoot after driving past Syracuse's Brandon Triche, right, during the first half of  the Gotham Classic tournament at Madison Square Garden, Saturday, Dec. 22, 2012, in New York. Temple defeated Syracuse, 83-79.

Temple's Khalif Wyatt looks to shoot after driving past Syracuse's Brandon Triche, right, during the first half of the Gotham Classic tournament at Madison Square Garden, Saturday, Dec. 22, 2012, in New York. Temple defeated Syracuse, 83-79.

Team: Temple
Record: 10-2
KenPom (Ken Pomeroy) Ranking: 64

3 Strengths

Ball security: Temple rarely turns it over, giving it away on just 16.6 percent of its possessions (18th nationally). The Owls also don't have it stolen often, as only 8.2 percent of their offensive possessions end with steals (40th nationally). Temple, which plays an above-average pace, turns it over just 11.3 times per game and hasn't turned it over more than 15 times since its season-opener on Nov. 13 against Kent State.

Three-point defense: Temple has done a good job of limiting opponent three-point shots this season, as only 29.3 percent of opposing team's shots have been three-pointers (67th-lowest split nationally). Opponents haven't done much with those limited three-point tries either, making just 30.8 percent of their treys against the Owls (73rd nationally). Add it all up, and only 23.7 percent of opponents' points have come via the three-pointer (68th-lowest split nationally).

Creating steals: Temple comes away with steals on 12.7 percent of its defensive possessions, which ranks 38th nationally. Six-foot-2 sophomore Will Cummings is the team's best thief, grabbing steals on 5.1 percent of opponents' possessions (26th nationally). Somewhat interestingly, Temple has a high steal number but only an average defensive turnover number, as the Owls force turnovers on 21.3 percent of their opponents' possessions (146th nationally).

3 Weaknesses

Three-point shooting: For a team that takes a lot of three-pointers (37.7 percent of Temple's shots are threes; 76th nationally), Temple sure doesn't make many of them. The Owls have made just 31 percent of their treys this year, which ranks 256th nationally and is 2.5 percent below the NCAA average. It hasn't helped that the team's most frequent three-point shooters — starting guards Khalif Wyatt and Scootie Randall — are both shooting worse than 26 percent from three this year.

Rebounding: Playing a slightly above-average schedule, Temple has not been a particularly good rebounding team on either end. The Owls grab 32.6 percent of their offensive misses (151st nationally) and 68.7 percent of opponents' missed shots (148th nationally). The Owls aren't very tall in the post, ranking 246th in KenPom's "effective height" measure, which calculates height for the team's top two players in the game. Temple also can't afford foul trouble from the sometimes-whistle-prone Anthony Lee, as the 6-foot-9 forward has been spectacular on the defensive glass this season (17th nationally in defensive rebounding percentage).

Interior defense: Temple has done a nice job of limiting threes, but that hasn't helped too much because teams have been successful inside. Opponents have made 46.4 percent of their twos this year (156th nationally) with 57.6 percent of the points scored against Temple coming from two-point baskets (38th-highest split nationally).

3 Players to Watch

Six-foot-4 guard Khalif Wyatt (No. 1) shoulders most of the offensive load for Temple. The senior puts up 27.2 percent of his team's shots when he's in (242nd nationally) while also maintaining a high assist rate (130th nationally). Wyatt's best skill is getting to the free throw line, as he draws 5.7 fouls per game (153rd nationally) while boasting 83.6-percent accuracy from the stripe. In Temple's upset of Syracuse, Wyatt scored 33 points, which included 15-for-15 accuracy from the free throw line. As mentioned before, he's struggled from three-point range, making only 17 of 68 (25 percent) after shooting 38 percent and 42 percent from three the last two seasons. Wyatt comes in cold as well, having made just three of his last 20 treys in his last three games (15 percent).

Six-foot-9 forward Anthony Lee (No. 3) is Temple's best scoring threat inside. The sophomore has made 47 of 83 twos (56.6 percent) while also drawing 5.3 fouls per game (234th nationally). One of Lee's best skills is his ability to avoid turnovers; his turnover rate ranks 73rd in the country, as he has just 10 turnovers in 261 minutes this year. Lee also is an elite defensive rebounder (26.8 percent defensive rebound percentage) and a decent shot-blocker (4.2 percent, 291st nationally). As mentioned above, Lee sometimes is prone to getting whistles, as he averages a team-high 4.8 fouls per 40 minutes.

Six-foot-9 forward Jake O'Brien (No. 22) could present some problems for KU off the bench as he appears to be a prototypical "stretch 4." O'Brien has come in firing, as he puts up 25 percent of Temple's shots when he's in the game. What makes him dangerous is his outside shooting; the senior has made 20 of 45 three-pointers this year, and his 44.4-percent three-point accuracy is tied for the best on the team. O'Brien rarely turns it over (120th-best turnover rate) and also can be a shot-blocker, rejecting 3.3 percent of opponents' twos. Stretch 4s have created some matchup problems in the past for KU, so be sure to pay attention to who's guarding No. 22 on the perimeter when he checks into the game.

Prediction

Here's the scary part about this game for KU: Temple is a team that shoots a lot of threes with players that haven't shot well this season but have made treys in past years. A one-game correction is entirely possible.

So, here's the non-scary part for KU: Another team will come into the Fieldhouse hoping to try its luck on the three-point wheel, and it certainly didn't work for teams of similar ability like Belmont and Richmond.

Once again, the three-point shot creates a wide range of potential outcomes, making this a tough game to predict. A Temple win is unlikely but possible. A 40-point Temple loss on a poor shooting day is possible as well.

My hunch is that Wyatt will have a good game and also will put pressure on KU's perimeter defense — an area that hasn't always been strong this season. If Wyatt plays well — and other guys like Scootie Randall and O'Brien can knock down some shots — then Temple should stay competitive for most of the game.

I'll still take a double-digit win for KU, which has been playing at an unbelievable level over its last five games.

This one will probably be closer than the last few in the Fieldhouse, though.

Kansas 82, Temple 72

Hawk to Rock

Facing a team that doesn't rebound well and that allows a high number of shots inside makes me think that Kevin Young could be in line for a big game. The senior ranks in the top 100 nationally in both offensive and defensive rebounding percentage and only shoots the close ones, making 27 of his 41 two-pointers this year (65.9 percent). Young shouldn't be overmatched or undersized against Temple's front line, so mark me down for a double-digit rebounding performance from him.

Predictions tally
11-1 record, 170 points off (14.2 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)
Average: 4th in KUsports.com ratings

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Philly.com pays tribute to KU, Allen Fieldhouse; Ben McLemore scouting video

Kansas guard Ben McLemore flushes an alley-oop dunk against Richmond during the second half on Tuesday, Dec. 18, 2012 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas guard Ben McLemore flushes an alley-oop dunk against Richmond during the second half on Tuesday, Dec. 18, 2012 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

A few links in case you missed them ...

There's been a lot of buzz lately about this story on the Kansas basketball tradition and Allen Fieldhouse from the Philadelphia Daily News' Dick Jerardi.

The article tries to give Temple basketball fans a glimpse of what makes the KU basketball tradition special.

Here's a snippet:

Smack in the middle of the country, hard by I-70, with its throwback gym right in the middle of campus on Naismith Drive, KU is as much a feeling as it is a place. But it is a place that has a longstanding love affair with its basketball team that shows no signs of abating.

The article is worth a read if you haven't yet.

Speaking of Allen Fieldhouse, KU coach Bill Self talked about how special it was in a radio interview with CBS and Yahoo! Sports' Tim Brando on Friday.

"It's in the heat of the game," Self says at the 2:30 mark of the audio, "and (I'll) turn to my assistants and say, 'Hey, would you listen to this?'"

Self discusses other topics, including his team's good practices recently and instant replay in college during the rest of the 14-minute, 30-second interview.

DraftExpress, which has Ben McLemore ninth on its latest mock draft, recently posted an informative video breakdown of the freshman highlighting his strengths and weaknesses.

The video does a nice job of showing, through video examples, where McLemore thrives and also where he needs to improve through a scout's eyes.

In case you were wondering, KU center Jeff Withey is listed at 25th on DraftExpress' latest board.

KU offensive lineman commit Joey Bloomfield has taken to Twitter to try to help raise money for his high school.

The Louisville Courier-Journal has selected Bloomfield as one of four candidates for "December Athlete of the Month." The athlete that picks up the most votes receives a prize pack and also has money donated to his/her high school through the newspaper.

As of Saturday morning, Bloomfield was in second place with 34 percent of the vote.

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