Television: ESPN HD Dave Pasch (play-by-play); Bob Knight (color); Holly Rowe (sideline)
KSU AD: KU pregame notes
KU AD: K-State pregame notes
Player of the week: Jeff Withey, Kansas
The Jayhawks have the possible national player of the year in Thomas Robinson. They have a solid guard who has matured into the position in Tyshawn Taylor. But what's been missing long term is a player who could complement Robinson and draw significant attention down low.
That answer has been found in the form of Withey. The Arizona transfer has transformed himself into a major component of a potential national-title contender.
The 7-foot Withey had a stellar week, starting with KU's rout of Baylor that clearly established the Big 12 as a two-team race. In that road game, he scored 25 points, made 8 of 10 shots (9-of-11 from the FT line) and blocked three more in 29 minutes of play.
Withey was even more dominant in Saturday's 15-point win over Oklahoma State. He scored 18 points, grabbed 20 rebounds and blocked seven shots -- and turned the ball over just once.
If Withey can be this productive on the boards and on the defensive end, the Jayhawks will be in a better position for a title run than anyone could've imagined.
Player of the Week: Jeff Withey, Kansas
Last Saturday, when Kansas lost to Missouri in Mizzou Arena, Jeff Withey was a no-show. He finished without a single point on just one field goal attempt, grabbing only four rebounds — and just one offensive — in 23 minutes. That’s about as sufficient as a no-show as a gets, and there is little doubt that the inability of Withey to help Kansas take advantage of their size on the interior played a role in their loss. If he has more of an impact, Kansas isn’t in a position where they are susceptible to the Marcus Denmon Show.
Well, that was the last time we saw that Jeff Withey. Since then, the new and improved Jeff Withey has looked like an all-american. He had a career-high 25 points to go along with five boards, three blocks and two steals in a dominating win over Baylor and followed that up with 18 points, 20 boards and seven blocks as the Jayhawks rolled over Oklahoma State. More impressive? He didn’t cut into Thomas Robinson’s production. He averaged 19.5 ppg and 12.5 rpg this week. That is a formidable front line.
This Kansas team differs from previous editions in several ways. It’s depth-shy, relies almost totally on its key players and doesn’t shoot it as well from the perimeter.
Coach Bill Self knew all of this would happen, and in the preseason wondered how much slippage he’d have to manage. After all, the Jayhawks have been No. 1 seeds in the NCAA Tournament in four of the last five years. To Self, when he addressed his team in the preseason, thought about the limitations.
“I told our team, ‘This is what we’re going to do, and it’s going to work,’ but I’m thinking to myself, ‘is it really?’ ” Self said.
But the Jayhawks who take the floor Monday night at Kansas State have exceeded Self’s expectations. They’ll have climbed further in the polls, up from their second-five status of last week, and the upward mobility in perception will follow the program in bracketology as well.
If the season ended today, Kansas is a No. 2 seed at worst.
…Still, Self was unsure how this group would respond. And until the team played at the Maui Invitational, he feared this could be the worst of his nine Kansas clubs.
“I didn’t think we were very good at all,” Self said. “But (the players) thought they were good, regardless of what I thought, and that’s a great thing for a coach.”
The Maui trip, where Kansas defeated Georgetown and UCLA before falling in the last minute to Duke, opened Self’s eyes. They got wider after the Jayhawks defeated Ohio State, even though the Buckeyes were playing without Jared Sullinger. Then the loss to Davidson at the Sprint Center made Self cringe.
“The thing is, when we’ve been good we’ve been really good, and when we’ve haven’t been good, it’s a big drop,” Self said.
..“They’ve exceeded my thoughts of where we could be,” Self said.
Unlike years past, there is no go-to scorer on this K-State team. Though junior forward Rodney McGruder has had his moments – such as a 33-point effort against Texas, a 30-point night against Baylor and 28-point game against Long Beach State – he isn’t the type of player who can take over a game all by himself. He requires the help of a supporting cast.
“We just need to be prepared to go as a team. Individuals don’t win games, teams do,” said K-State basketball coach Frank Martin. “We’ve got to play team basketball. Guys have to do their jobs, whether it be screening, rotating, whatever. Everyone has to be on board.”
When everyone on K-State’s roster works together and plays in tune with the man next to him, the Wildcats are indeed at their best.
At times, McGruder has received so much help from his teammates that he hasn’t needed to carry the load on offense. He can impact games without scoring 20-plus points. But at other times he has reached the 30-point mark and K-State has still lost.
A 75-64 defeat at Texas on Saturday showed both ends of the spectrum. In the first half, McGruder scored 11 points by making several shots from mid-range and outside with the Wildcats moving the ball around and playing solid defense. Will Spradling also scored 11 points, Adrian Diaz added seven and K-State took a 40-27 halftime lead.
…After a short turnaround, K-State is in desperate need of a resume-boosting win, and a strong and loud crowd at Bramlage Coliseum should help.
A year ago, the Wildcats faced the same turnaround. Less than 48 hours after suffering a heartbreaking loss at Colorado, they returned home and played one of their best games of the season.
Can they repeat history tonight? With or without an elite scorer, it’s time to find out.
“If you can find a way to get Jacob Pullen to line up and score 38 I would feel a lot better,” Martin said. “That turnaround feels a lot better when you have a guy who can do that. But our guys have been challenged. We’ve played in hard games, we’ve played KU already. We’ve played away from home, neutral sites.… It’s late in the year. You’ve learned the lessons you need to learn to prepare for this.”
Last season, the game in Manhattan was played on a Big Monday, as is this game.
Last season, the Wildcats were coming off a heartbreaking road loss against a strong Big 12 Conference opponent. Saturday, the Wildcats dropped a close contest against a determined Texas team.
Last season, the Jayhawks were coming off a 23-point win against an inferior Big 12 opponent at home. Saturday, the Jayhawks took down Oklahoma State in Allen Fieldhouse in a game that was never really close, as the Jayhawks built up a 29-point lead before allowing the Cowboys to close the gap in the second half. However, Kansas still managed a convincing 81-66 victory.
Last season, the Jayhawks coasted to a 90-66 win in the first meeting with the Wildcats in Lawrence, and this year Kansas walked through the Wildcats on their way to a 67-49 victory in the Phog. The similarities are there and the conditions are right for yet another thriller in Bramlage Coliseum tonight.
K-State junior guard Rodney McGruder has to be viewed as the most likely candidate to have a Pullen-like performance against the Jayhawks. He leads the Wildcats in scoring at 14.6 points per game, but has had several huge showings in important games this season as well. These include a 28-point performance against Long Beach State in the championship game of the Diamond Head Classic in Hawaii, a 30-point performance in a close home loss against a Baylor Bears team that was undefeated at the time, and a career-high 33-point outing less than a month ago against the Texas Longhorns.
McGruder's abilities to score the basketball are no secret to anyone who follows the Big 12 and most certainly won't be overlooked by the Jayhawks. The Wildcats will need other players to step up and add points if the Jayhawks are smothering McGruder.
HOW WILL KANSAS SURVIVE IN THE OCTAGON OF DOOM?
The Jayhawks look like a legitimate Final Four contender and have responded with a vengeance after last weekend’s brutal loss at Missouri. Tyshawn Taylor and Thomas Robinson have been constants for Kansas but Bill Self’s team is starting to look it can rely on either Elijah Johnson or Trevor Releford to be a double figure scorer at home — but what about on the road? Kansas has had mixed success over the past few seasons at Kansas State and there’s no doubt the Wildcats need this game more than the Jayhawks. Frank Martin has made a commitment to the back court tandem of Angel Rodriguez and Will Spradling but the biggest key in this game for Kansas State will be whether or not burly freshman Thomas Gipson can avoid foul trouble — something he hasn’t been able to do in the past three games.
Jon Rothstein CBS
Spradling enters tonight’s ESPN Big Monday game with a 1-2 record versus KU. He scored five points (2-of-7 shooting 1-for-4 threes) with five assists and four turnovers in 33 minutes in KSU’s 67-49 loss to KU on Jan. 4 in Allen Fieldhouse.
As a freshman, he had four points (2-of-6 shooting, 0-for-3 three) in KSU’s 90-66 blowout loss in Allen and nine points (3-for-4, 1-for-2 from three) in the Cats’ 84-68 rout of KU in Bramlage.
“He’s a solid glue guy, a stabilizer,” KU coach Bill Self said. “Today (Saturday in 75-64 loss at Texas) he made three threes the first half (en route to 11 points). One of his big keys is making shots. That’s a big bonus for them.”
KU didn’t recruit Spradling, who finished his career as SM South’s No. 2 scorer of all-time (1,225 points). That was OK with Spradling.
“I was never a KU fan. I felt that wasn’t a program I really wanted to go to,” Spradling said. “My dad (Shannon) was a basketball coach (for Spiece Mo-Kan AAU). I followed where his players went. He had over 70 players go Div. I, so I followed the teams they were at.”
…Of playing at Bramlage, Taylor said: “The intensity level for their team rises, like anybody else that plays at home. They feed off their crowd. We know when we play against Kansas State that they’re going to have a good crowd all the time. I’m sure they’re going to be hyped. The last time we beat them on the boards, so I’m sure that’s going to be an emphasis for them to crash the boards and be more aggressive. We have to be ready to match their intensity and not get sped up and play into their hands and the crowd’s hand.”
…KU leads the all-time series, 182-91. KU has won 22 of the last 24 in Manhattan and 43 of the last 46 overall.
LJW: GameDay Cram Session, Newell picks KU to lose
In KU and K-State’s first meeting on Jan. 4, the Jayhawks jumped ahead 23-5 with 8:39 to go in the first half. The Wildcats cut that deficit to just three points in the second half, but Kansas never lost control.
Don’t expect a game like that tonight. This is probably Kansas’ toughest test left on its regular season schedule.
Ken Pomeroy, basketball statistics know-it-all, gives Kansas a 65 percent chance to win tonight. Pomeroy gives Kansas a 73 percent chance to get revenge on Missouri on Feb. 25.
In giving Kansas all it can handle tonight, the Wildcats just might provide the blueprint for how to beat Kansas come tournament time.
College basketball has too many awards, including the Bob Cousy Award, given to the nation’s top point guard.
Too many honors or not, if somebody’s going to select an award-winner, the most deserving finalists need to be identified.
The Cousy Award selection committee almost did that. Almost. Conspicuous by his absence from the field of 11 finalists is Kansas University senior guard Tyshawn Taylor.
Winning percentage is the most important statistic for a point guard, and in that regard the floor-general finalists all grade high. Isaiah Canaan (Murray State), Aaron Craft (Ohio State), Matthew Dellavedova (Saint Mary’s), Scoop Jardine (Syracuse) Damian Lillard (Weber State), Scott Machado (Iona), Kendall Marshall (North Carolina), Phil Pressey (Missouri) and Casper Ware (Long Beach State) all play for teams that either lead their conference standings outright or have a share of first place.
Jordan Taylor’s Wisconsin Badgers are in fourth in the Big Ten, one game out of the lead. Jackson’s Baylor Bears are tied for third in the Big 12.
Had Tyshawn Taylor been a 12th finalist, he would have ranked third in the field with a .451 three-point percentage, tied for third with a .489 field-goal percentage and fourth with 17 points per game. He lags behind most of the field in just one important point guard indicator, an important one. Taylor’s 1.39 assists-to-turnovers ranks ahead of only Ware’s 1.24.
Far more powerful statistical comparisons than those state Taylor’s case more convincingly. He has played five games against Cousy finalists, winning four of them. Taylor’s statistics blow away the combined numbers of the Cousy finalists in head-to-head games against Ware, Craft, Jackson (twice) and Pressey.
In the only KU loss, Taylor played a terrific 36 minutes, a horrific 37th and 38th minutes. He outscored Pressey, 21-2, dominating him at both ends.
Taylor played two of the five games — Long Beach State and Ohio State — with a torn meniscus and was wearing a brace before having surgery.
In the five games, Taylor averaged 17.8 points, 5.8 assists and 5.2 turnovers and shot .533 overall and .550 from three-point range. The finalists combined to average 11.2 points, 4.6 assists and 2.2 turnovers and shot .360 overall and .389 on three-pointers.
LJW: Jayhawks in the NBA
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For the fourth consecutive meeting, the Kansas University women’s basketball team fell to Kansas State in a game that went down to the wire.
Unfortunately for the Jayhawks, who lost, 47-43, on Sunday in Bramlage Coliseum, the loss on the scoreboard merely was their second-worst setback of the day.
Three minutes and 34 seconds into Sunday’s Sunflower Showdown, KU junior Carolyn Davis went down because of a serious leg injury that sucked the life out of the crowd of 4,893 and reduced several of her teammates to tears.
After crashing to the floor following a collision in transition, Davis could be heard screaming in pain. She immediately grabbed her left knee and remained in that position for nearly 10 minutes as trainers and team doctors looked after her. Her leg quickly was placed into an inflatable cast, and moments later a sobbing Davis was taken off the floor on a stretcher.
As of Sunday night, there was no official word on the injury to Davis, who was taken to a Manhattan hospital and later returned to Lawrence. Team officials said the Houston forward, who leads the Jayhawks in scoring, would see a doctor Sunday night and run through a few tests to determine the severity of the injury.
“There was a dislocation,” KU coach Bonnie Henrickson said after the game, tears welling in her eyes. “That much we could tell.”
Henrickson hardly was the only Jayhawk emotionally drained after Sunday’s loss. Senior Aishah Sutherland, who finished with 12 points and 17 rebounds, and junior Angel Goodrich (13 points, three assists) appeared lifeless while answering questions from the media following the game.
“It’s very tough,” said Goodrich, who twice in the past had season-ending knee injuries. “I know the pain, and just hearing her holler, it just hurts, and it is hard, but we stuck together.”
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Kansas State hasn't beaten a team with an RPI in the Top 50 in almost a month, but resume is OK enough to get into the field for now. Brutal stretch coming up, but one win would be a huge help: Kansas, at Baylor, at Missouri.
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Kindergarten K-State fan refuses to color Jayhawk for teacher, becomes internet sensation, gets free tickets to tonight's game
After the national basketball media uses its time to cover Duke, Kentucky, Duke, Pacific-12 irrelevancy and Duke, it reserves a little time for the teams in flyover conferences.
Creighton got the first look pre-Christmas by virtue of its win at San Diego State and Doug McDermott’s stats. Murray State took over with its unbeaten run. Those stories are over, and it’s time for Wichita State to take its turn.
The Shockers are 22-4 and in first place in the Missouri Valley Conference after Saturday’s 89-68 win at No. 17 Creighton. They will likely move into the top 25 today and become the latest candidate for those looking for the next Butler or Virginia Commonwealth.
Coach Gregg Marshall is ready for the spotlight to find his team.
“We’ve gotten some, but we’ve haven’t gotten nearly the amount of the Creighton team,” he said. “They deserve it, the way they played early in the year, they deserved it. But maybe (WSU) will get some. I’ve never been around a group more mentally tough.”
Selfish. Entitled. Irresponsible.
Pick a word to describe four Alabama basketball players whose behavior turned what should be an NCAA Tournament team into Team Turmoil.
Anthony Grant sounded public warning shots for weeks. Whatever happens now is largely on Tony Mitchell, JaMychal Green, Trevor Releford and Andrew Steele after their suspensions in the past week.
It's not publicly known what these players did or didn't do to warrant indefinite suspensions. In a sense, what happened really doesn't matter.
They disappeared when their team needed them. First Mitchell. Then Green, Releford and Steele.
Bruce Weber still is the head basketball coach at the University of Illinois. But for how much longer? And if first-year athletic director Mike Thomas decides that it is time to make a change, whom will he hire as the next coach? And will he be black or white?
Would he hire Robert Smith?
Smith, 40, will have accomplished everything he set out to do at the high school level if he coaches his Simeon team to a fifth state championship in his eight-year career. No other coach in state history has won more than four state titles.
"I love Simeon," Smith said. "College would have to be the right situation. But I would consider it if it was a major Division I college.
"Illinois would be a hard job to pass up. I would definitely look into it. With the talent pool in Illinois for the next three or four years, if you could get them to stay at home, Illinois could win an NCAA title with just players from the classes of 2013, 2014 and 2015."
A law requiring the school to use its longtime nickname and logo, which shows the profile of an American Indian warrior, was repealed eight months after it took effect last year in a bid to help the university avoid NCAA sanctions. But ardent nickname supporters filed petitions with more than 17,000 signatures Tuesday, demanding that the issue be put to a statewide vote.
As part of that process, the law — which the university, the state Board of Higher Education and local lawmakers oppose — temporarily goes back into effect. The NCAA said Wednesday that means the school won't host NCAA championship events, and its athletes will be barred from wearing uniforms with the nickname or logo in NCAA postseason play.
Thompson understands there was a bit of luck involved in convincing Porter to choose Georgetown.
"Just great recruiting, just the omniscient one I am," Thompson deadpanned.
He paused, then offered the real explanation on how the Hoyas landed Porter.
"Obviously he had a great high school career and first made notice of him his junior year when they made the run to the state championship," he said. "I saw some footage of him in the playoffs his junior year. So that's where my assistants probably first heard of him.
"Also part of the equation, quite honestly, is one of my assistants, Robert Kirby, went to [Three Rivers] and he didn't play with Mr. Porter, but he was behind him. They had a teammate that played with him and he called Kirby and said, 'Hey, you know, Big Otto's kid is going to be pretty good.'"
University of Missouri fans can dream of what Porter would look like in a Tigers uniform, but the thought hasn't crossed Porter's mind. The question of regret at his decision meets with mild disgust.
Porter admits there was some homesickness during the summer, so he talks to his parents and younger brother about every other day. The Georgetown campus, which sits high atop the Potomac River and overlooks the nation's capital, is growing into his home.
"I'm really happy here," he said. "I couldn't see myself nowhere else."
Otto Porter makes the leap from small town to Georgetown
Sampson, who is still unsigned but is a top target for many schools, led the way for Brewster with 20 point. Thomas added 19 as he continues his string of fantastic play.
Andrew White YouTube HS game highlights
Because of the unique opportunity, Lucas said he has no regrets leaving the Oregon high school basketball scene for a year.
"I would do it again, yes, 100 percent," said the Kansas-bound Lucas. "I learned a lot of things, positive and negative. Kansas is going to have a big freshman class, and I feel like I'm ahead of the game."
Lucas said going into Findlay, he thought the experience would improve his game. What he found, through living away from his parents, and traveling more than 30,000 air miles with Findlay's team in one season, was that "I got better off the court."
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