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ESPN Recap, Video
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I've said this before and I'll say it again. Bramlage Coliseum, which is also known as the Octagon of Doom, is one of the toughest places to play in the country when it's full. The students are seated at midcourt, across from the team benches, and rarely do you see any of them on their behinds. They basically go ballistic for the entire game -- and so do many of the "adults" in the crowd. Kansas will not face a more difficult road environment in its quest for a ninth straight Big 12 title. If K-State continues to draw this kind of support at home, there's no reason it can't finish second in the conference standings and get a high seed in the NCAA tournament.
ESPN Jason King
Kansas and Kansas State rarely paint a masterpiece when they meet on the hardwood.
The defensive-minded Jayhawks, with Travis Releford on the perimeter and Jeff Withey in the paint, make life miserable for opposing offenses, while the veteran Wildcats relish the chance to bump, bang and bludgeon foes on both ends of the court.
Little surprise that they played another tough-as-nails game Tuesday night.
Releford scored 12 points, Withey and Ben McLemore each added 11, and the third-ranked Jayhawks held on down the stretch for a 59-55 victory that gave them sole possession of first place in the Big 12.
"That game went just as all you predicted, not the most artistic," Kansas coach Bill Self said, sporting the kind of wry smile that said he didn't mind one bit.
The Jayhawks have grown accustomed to such blood-and-guts games, needing a desperation 3-pointer from McLemore to force overtime in a win over Iowa State and a frantic second-half comeback to beat Texas, all while running their winning streak to a nation-leading 16 games.
Kansas (17-1, 5-0 Big 12) briefly led by 10 points in the second half before needing everything it could muster in the closing seconds to end the Wildcats' eight-game winning streak.
"They just find ways to win," Kansas State coach Bruce Weber said.
When the buzzer finally sounded, Travis Releford popped his blue jersey and turned toward the Kansas State student section. Releford smiled, his sweaty palms holding out the stitched KANSAS on his chest. Moments later, Elijah Johnson stopped to blow a couple of kisses in the same direction. They were brief moments, only a few seconds, but they signaled what has become so true here at Bramlage Coliseum.
Maybe Kansas doesn’t dominate this place like it once did. But on most nights, when the two old rivals get together in Manhattan, the Jayhawks usually find a way to own the day.
“That goodbye kiss felt good,” Johnson said. “It felt great to know that I came in here and won three of four. There’s a lot going on in my mind.”
No. 3 Kansas edged No. 11 Kansas State 59-55 on Tuesday night, the latest chapter in a longstanding and lopsided rivalry. KU, which has now won 23 of 25 at Bramlage Coliseum, improved to 17-1 overall and took sole possession of first place in the Big 12 with a perfect 5-0 start. No. 11 Kansas State dropped to 15-3 and 4-1 in the Big 12.
Hours earlier, the Jayhawks had arrived in the visitor’s locker room with a collective goal. They had stood as a group, senior Kevin Young said, preparing for the night ahead.
“When we get here,” Young said, “We say, ‘We just gotta have a party in the other team’s locker room.’ ”
1/22/13, 6:22 PM
KU KState game tonight..I attended both...decisions decisions
1/22/13, 9:01 PM
Good game KSU. Good game.
But let's lose the octagon of doom thing....
1/22/13, 9:12 PM
Travis Releford made case for being capt of All-Glue team tonight. Rodney McGruder will have dreams of being chased by him after tonight.
1/22/13, 10:00 PM
With the victory KU is now tied with Gonzaga for most wins in the Big 12.
1/22/13, 10:40 PM
“@JeffWithey: Good win. I love my team. #Godisgood”we love you too big fella #KUCMB
1/22/13, 10:40 PM
Lol @ this picture I just got from the game
When Bramlage Coliseum is packed as it was for Tuesday’s Sunflower Showdown, there is no louder place on the planet.
Ears will ring into the next day. Students, who are treated royally with midcourt seats that stretch from the bottom to top of the building, scream and boo with passion. The team’s pregame entrance comes compete with dramatic music and a behind-the-scenes player dance contest captured on the big screen.
In short, it’s everything a home-floor advantage should be.
And Kansas State should vacate it the next time Kansas arrives.
Chain the doors. Barricade the place. Play anywhere else.
The Jayhawks won the defensive struggle 59-55, and that’s no shocking development for the team ranked third nationally. KU, 17-1, was excellent defensively throughout the muddy contest.
It’s just that, well, Kansas shouldn’t win here. Not again and again and again. This marks the 25th season of Bramlage, and the Jayhawks are now 23-2 in the place.
…The Wildcats attempted a season-high 30 shots from behind the arc. Cats coach Bruce Weber pointed to Iowa State’s success with that strategy earlier this season in the near-miss at Allen Fieldhouse. The Cyclones hoisted 38 triples, making 14, and fell in overtime.
Which is what an underdog on the road should do, not a home team that rebounds well. Point guard Angel Rodriguez, who effectively got the basket, thought the Wildcats should have been more on the attack.
“Their game plan was to let us shoot a lot of threes,” Rodriguez said. “I feel like everyone was in the paint, so I guess we needed to shoot them.”
This explains why Kansas State got to the free throw line seven times to the Jayhawks’ 21. K-State had success taking the game to shot-blocking specialist Jeff Withey. He sat a few minutes with foul trouble, which is a rarity, and he was held without a block for the first time this season. He said afterwards the game was one of the most physical this season.
Had it been more so, Withey might not have reached his double-double of 11 points and 10 rebounds or been on the floor for what was the game’s biggest bucket, a sweeping hook that made it 56-49 with 2:46 remaining.
The home team gets the calls, but there aren’t many whistle opportunities when it’s launching 30 threes.
“I was a little surprised,” Self said.
K-State approach’s played into the strength of Kansas’ top defender, Travis Releford who chased Rodney McGruder around the floor throughout the first half. McGruder’s only basket before halftime came on a transition dunk.
...McGruder wound up with 13 but needed 12 shots.
“I thought Travis played unbelievable. It was one of the better games he’s played for us,” KU coach Bill Self said after the Jayhawks improved to 17-1 overall and 5-0 in the Big 12. KSU dropped to 15-3 and 4-1.
“He was exhausted the second half. He asked to come out. I said no,” Self added with a smile.
This was a night where Self didn’t stop there.
Releford truly deserved a pat on the back from his coach for his work on the Big 12’s third-leading scorer, who entered with a 15.5 ppg average.
“He is smart. He is strong. He can slide. He is athletic. He’s tough on top. He did a great job guarding a team that set a ton of screens tonight,” Self said of Releford.
Kansas coach Bill Self had never met legendary Kansas State coach Tex Winter, so on Tuesday afternoon, he arranged for Winter, the inventor of the triangle offense, to stop by and meet his players.
Self introduced Winter to his team, mentioning his history at K-State in the 1950s and his time as an assistant coach with the Chicago Bulls.
“It was neat,” Self said.
...Self was asked after the game if he had any different feelings about the Sunflower Showdown rivalry now that KU had played K-State for the first time since Missouri left for the SEC. Self's answer: Not really, but he knows who KU's biggest rival is now.
"They're a big-time rival," Self said of K-State. "But when you have Mizzou, all your pent-up hate can go in one direction, basically. So this was more of a respectful rivalry, and I still feel that way. I think it's two teams, classy, playing hard, and there's no talking. There were just kids out there competing. I'm leaving out of here knowing who our biggest rival is, but it's not a hated thing."
Naadir Tharpe stepped to the free-throw line with 22 seconds left and Kansas University nursing a 56-53 lead over Kansas State on Tuesday night in Bramlage Coliseum.
Was the sophomore backup point guard nervous at all as he toed the line, the fans shaking the building while trying to distract him?
“Not at all. I just knew I had to go and take my time and make the free throws,” said Tharpe, who hit both to give KU a 58-53 advantage down the stretch.
…Kevin Young banged a lob pass to Jeff Withey off the backboard with five minutes left and KU up, 54-49.
“It was a pass, a horrible pass,” Young said, asked if it was a pass or a shot. “I threw it too hard, and Jeff didn’t have a chance to get it.
“They called it a shot,” Young added of statkeepers, smiling. “That’s fine with me. I didn’t get a turnover.”
…Withey scored 11 points off 3-of-6 shooting and grabbed 10 rebounds. He also hit five of six free throws and played 31 minutes, showing no effects of the flu bug that bit him at the team hotel Monday night.
…KU teammates Justin Wesley and Rio Adams recently found out they were related. Rio is a second cousin to Brittany Langford, wife of Wesley’s brother, former KU guard Keith Langford. Brittany’s grandfather and Rio’s grandmother are brother and sister.
He wasn’t KU’s best player on this night. Travis Releford was, but McLemore with a couple of spurts showed why he was the best basketball prospect on the floor. He was good enough to make key plays in another tight Kansas victory. He’ll be a lot better than that when college basketball takes center stage in the sports world come mid-March.
Kansas was just good enough to stay unbeaten in the Big 12 and is alone in first place. It’s easy to see where it will be a lot better than that in couple of months.
LJW Rankings: Travis Releford gives complete effort in win
“(Coaches) told us that they were going to be packed in, and they get not really lost on defense when you drive them, but they sink into the ball because they’re a great defensive team, and they’re so athletic that they swarm,” said KSU junior forward Shane Southwell, who hit five of 11 treys. “Out of our 30 three-point shots, I felt like 20 of them were open shots or shots that we usually make.”
KU coach Bill Self admitted afterward that his defensive strategy was to try to keep KSU out of the lane.
The Wildcats certainly noticed, countering by taking 53 percent of their field goals from three-point range (30 of 57).
“They weren’t coming out,” KSU sophomore guard Angel Rodriguez said. “I think pretty much their game plan was to just let us shoot threes. I feel like everybody was in the paint. I guess (we needed) to just make shots.”
This isn’t the first time opponents have tried to beat KU’s tough interior defense from the outside.
Coming into the game, according to Ken Pomeroy’s website, 34.5 percent of the points scored against KU’s defense had come from three-point range — the 11th-highest split nationally.
Iowa State scored the most points per possession against KU — 1.10 — when it made 14 of 38 threes in a 97-89 overtime loss on Jan. 9.
With its season-high 30 three-point attempts Tuesday, KSU put up 0.93 points per possession according to StatSheet.com, the fifth-highest total against KU’s defense this year.
Weber was asked about KU’s grind-it-out victories in the Big 12 following a dominant nonconference stretch.
“If you study basketball … to beat Belmont, Colorado and Richmond — those are good teams — and they were not just beating them, they were killing them, destroying them,” Weber said. “I think all of us in the league were like, ‘Oh my goodness.’ I think you guys and people around the state are like, ‘There’s no way you can compete with them.’
“I think they got into the league ... people scout. They know things that you can do to attack them. People take care of the basketball better. I think that’s a big key against them.”
This was once the house that Roy rented. Now, it’s the building Bill borrows.
Even with No. 3 Kansas not even close to being at its best Tuesday, it made enough stops to outlast No. 11 Kansas State, 59-55.
…Octagonal doom goes to die just about anytime KU visits, something Bruce Weber learned the hard way.
Kansas State’s first-year coach tried to push every button by burning all his time outs before the last TV stoppage.
Yet during those pow-wows, Weber found few answers to solve KU’s sticky man-to-man defense, which was allowed to smother and harass all night with just 11 fouls whistled against the Jayhawks.
…Yet the one game that fills Bramlage in every cranny, the one game that stirs K-Staters into a frenzy, the one game the Cats want to win most again went to KU.
This time the clash presented an opportunity to move squarely into first. And again, as usual, Kansas made that move, fortifying a bid for a ninth straight Big 12 title.
“We didn’t play smart enough, good enough, basketball,’’ said Weber, who nonetheless was received warmly by fans who stuck around to hear his postgame radio comments piped through the Bramlage speakers.
Returning to its own gym and protecting this court now becomes a must as K-State moves forward.
And KU? Once again, it was man enough to overcome the toughest environment it will face all season. Maintaining sole possession of first place in the Big 12 seems a certainty.
The No. 3 Jayhawks (17-1, 5-0 Big 12) trailed only briefly, never in the second half, but there was nothing comfortable about their 16th straight victory. That was partly because McLemore picked up his second foul on a charging call with 9:22 remaining in the first half, forcing KU’s star freshman to the bench for the rest of the half.
The Jayhawks led by four at that point, and Self considered sending McLemore back on the court with two fouls to make sure K-State didn’t seize the momentum.
“I was going to play him,” Self said. “I said, ‘Do we want to play him?’ and K.T. (assistant coach Kurtis Townsend) said, ‘Let’s just wait a second and see how the game goes.’”
The Jayhawks ended up expanding their lead with McLemore on the bench before K-State closed within 31-27 at halftime. McLemore never really found his groove, but he contributed as much as anyone to KU keeping the Wildcats at bay in the second half.
In one sequence, he blocked a shot from K-State big man Thomas Gipson and swooped in to block Gipson again after the Jayhawks’ fast break fizzled. Then, with K-State making a run, McLemore hit a 3-pointer and a mid-range jumper to stretch KU’s lead back to 53-43.
“Those shots were huge,” said Travis Releford, who led KU with 12 points. “I told him that once he got in after foul trouble. I just told him to keep his head and keep shooting. Second half when it got late we were trying to play through Jeff (Withey) and Ben.”
The headline matchup between McLemore and K-State guard Rodney McGruder didn’t really materialize, in part because Releford hounded McGruder into his quietest game of the conference season. K-State’s leading scorer went 4-for-12 from the floor and scored 13 points, only two of which came in the first half.
Giving praise to the Jayhawks’ assistant coaches’ scouting reports on McGruder, Releford said the preparation was the biggest factor in slowing down the Wildcat leader.
“I looked at film and shout out to our assistant coaches for doing a great job at scouting on what they like to do and their offensive tendencies,” Releford said. “Just looking at that and knowing Rodney wanted to tight curl on a lot of screens.”
Meanwhile, the Jayhawks’ redshirt senior guard hit all three of his field goal attempts, including two 3-pointers, in the first half for eight points.
…Another freshman, Perry Ellis, held it together for the Jayhawks in the first half. Ellis, the Wichita native, scored seven of his eight points in the first half on 3-of-4 shooting.
“That’s what we look for in Perry,” Releford said. “Guys like Jeff (Withey) and Kevin (Young) need those breathers so when Perry comes in and helps out on offense, that’s what coach (Self) wants out of him.”
Ellis worked the boards for a tip-in to put the Jayhawk lead back to a two-possession game with 4:27 to play in the first half.
After McGruder hit a 3-pointer with 1:27 to play in the first half to slice the deficit back to three points, Ellis came up big again in the lane on a pass from Kevin Young.
“Those are plays that end up being the difference between winning and not winning,” Self said.
Sorry I missed the Texas recap. Tomorrow I will post some recruiting items from the past few days. Thanks!