Texas Longhorns: Jeff Withey


AUSTIN, Texas -- A few quick thoughts from Kansas’ 64-59 rally at Texas …

Overview: Kansas has rarely been tested this season. And when the Jayhawks have been, much more often than not they have proven to be up to the challenge. Saturday presented another of those challenges as No. 4 Kansas had to rally from 10-points down in the second half to beat lowly Texas at the Frank Erwin Center.

Kansas' win streak has been extended to 15. The Jayhawks are atop the Big 12 with a 3-0 record and are 16-1. Texas (8-9) has started the Big 12 with four straight conference losses for the first time in Rick Barnes' 15 seasons.

Turning point: For most of the game Naadir Tharpe remained silent. But he picked the right time to make some noise. The sophomore guard hit a crucial 3-pointer to pull Kansas within one, 53-52 with 4:35 left in the game. Feeding off that emotion, Kansas picked it up on the defensive end as Jeff Withey swatted away Javan Felix's next attempt. That led to a dunk by Ben McLemore and to a lead for the Jayhawks. Texas briefly regained that lead, but KU proved to have too much momentum and talent down the stretch.

Kansas key player: As he has done almost all season (save for the Michigan State game) McLemore provided a consistent scoring punch for the Jayhawks. The freshman, who is on pace to become to the highest scoring KU freshman, had 16 points. He averages 16.4 points per game.

Texas key player: When the Longhorns got on a roll, it was largely because of Jonathan Holmes. The sophomore forward was saddled with two early fouls, but he came back in the second half to key an 11-0 run. In that run, Holmes had seven points and created a steal that led to another Texas bucket. Holmes fouled out with 2 minutes to go and finished with 10 points.

Noteworthy number: Kansas did not climb to better than 40 percent shooting until there was 1:15 remaining in the game. The Jayhawks shot 28 percent in the first half. That's two straight games now for KU that the shooting percentage has been questionable. The Jayhawks shot 38 percent in a win against Baylor.

Etc...: Kansas game into the game leading the Big 12 in scoring margin at 17.4 per game. The Jayhaws didn't take more than a two-possession lead against Texas until there was 1:16 remaining.

Next up: The biggest game of the Big 12 season is next for Kansas. The Jayhawks, who have won 15 straight, will head to No. 16 Kansas State on Tuesday. Texas, 0-4 in the conference, will be at Oklahoma on Monday.
AUSTIN, Texas -- The Big 12’s head coaches reminded everyone today of the expectations Longhorns sophomore point guard Myck Kabongo brings with him into this season by naming him to the Preseason All-Big 12 Team.

Kabongo, a 2011-12 All-Big 12 honorable mention selection, started all 34 games last season as a true freshman. A pass-first point guard, he finished fourth in the league in assists per game (5.2), second on the team in steals (38) and third on the team in scoring (9.8 ppg).

“I think it is a testament to the coaching staff and the work that I’ve put in,” Kabongo said. “Just countless hours in the gym and you are seeing it pay off.”

Kabongo is joined on the team with Baylor’s Pierre Jackson, Kansas’ Jeff Withey, Kansas State’s Rodney McGruder and Oklahoma State’s Le’Bryan Nash.

“I just want to continue to get better,” he said. “I know it is a preseason honor and I am honored for it. But at the same time I know any of my teammates could have been on that list. So I’m just happy to be on the list.”

Fellow Longhorns sophomore Sheldon McClellan was named an Honorable Mention selection. He’s the team’s top returning scorer after averaging 11.3 points per game last season.

Jackson, Baylor’s point guard, was named the Preseason Player of the Year. Amath M’Baye (Oklahoma) was voted as the Preseason Newcomer of the Year and Flower Mound (Texas) Marcus’ Marcus Smart (Oklahoma State) was tabbed the Preseason Freshman of the Year.
video How the game was won: Kansas, which had flexed its muscle inside all day, did so again when the game was on the line. Trailing by one with less than a minute left, Kansas forward Thomas Robinson pushed his way into the paint and forced a double team. When the double team arrived Robinson flicked the ball to the waiting hands of Jeff Withey. The center went strong and was fouled.

[+] EnlargeJ'Covan Brown
Brendan Maloney/US PresswireJ'Covan Brown had 24 points in the losing effort against Kansas.
That cushion was enough for Kansas, which trailed by four with 3:21 left, to grab the 69-66 win at the Frank Erwin Center Saturday.

For the game, Kansas had 32 points in the paint. And those buckets served as a stabilizing factor as Texas continued to make runs at the Jayhawks. But each time Texas got close or even took the lead, the Jayhawks went back inside and either converted or made it to the free throw line.

Kansas was only able to covert 14 of those 23 free throws and that allowed Texas to hang in the game.

When it was over: Later than many expected. Texas had chances down the stretch in large part because of J'Covan Brown's ability to create and get his shot off in the final eight minutes. The junior guard hit two three pointers, sandwiched around a running baseline layup to give the Longhorns a 64-60 lead with less than three minutes to go.

But Brown may have been too hot for his own good as he took an ill-advised runner with 11 seconds to go and Texas trailing by two, 68-66.

Texas had one more shot at tying the game but an off balance three from Brown fell short.

Stat of the game: Texas' leading scorer J'Covan Brown missed his first five shots and was 1-of-8 in the first half. Brown was struggling to get open looks as Kansas continually doubled him off screens and pushed him outside the three-point line with his dribble. But Brown didn't stop attacking the basket. The conference's leading scorer got hot in the second half and carried Texas to a brief 64-60 lead with less than three minutes to go. Brown finished with 24 points, five more than his average, on 7 of 26 shooting.

What it means for Texas: The Longhorns have to have a signature win if they want to continue their streak of NCAA tournament appearances. They do not yet have that type of win. In fact, in big games, Texas has suffered narrow losses reaching all the way back to the overtime loss to Oregon State in the non-conference portion of the schedule. Texas has now dropped three straight conference games as well and is 2-4 overall. With two of their next three games being against top five teams -- at Baylor and home against Missouri -- Texas has to find a way to pull an upset in order to strengthen their RPI and turn the heads of the selection committee.

What it means for Kansas: Not much. While this would have been a bad loss for the No. 7 Jawyhawks, the win is nothing that raises the eyebrows. Kansas is supposed to win games like these. After all, the Jayhawks have won seven straight Big 12 titles. Kansas is more concerned with staying healthy and being ready for its games against Missouri and on the road at Baylor.

Conference Power Rankings: Big 12

January, 16, 2012
1/16/12
2:00
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As we get ready for Monday's showdown in Lawrence between Baylor and Kansas, here are this week’s Big 12 power rankings:

1. Baylor: The Bears aren’t just talented. They’re tough. Three of Baylor’s last six wins have come by two points. Freshman Quincy Miller is beginning to find his groove for a team that scored 106 points in Saturday’s win over Oklahoma State. Monday’s matchup with Kansas at the Phog may be the most anticipated game of the Big 12 season.

2. Kansas: Tyshawn Taylor scored 28 points in Saturday’s come-from-behind victory against Iowa State at Allen Fieldhouse, where Kansas has won 84 of its past 85 games. As good as Taylor and forward Thomas Robinson have been, the Jayhawks won’t beat Baylor unless complementary players such as Travis Releford, Jeff Withey and Elijah Johnson step up.

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