NCAA BK

Mon, Nov 26, 2012 - 9:00 PM ET
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San Jose St.-Kansas Preview

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Known more for their defense last season, Travis Releford and Jeff Withey are making contributions at the other end of the floor for Kansas.

The two will try to help the 10th-ranked Jayhawks secure a fourth consecutive win when they host San Jose State on Monday night.

While maintaining his reputation as Kansas' top perimeter defender, Releford chipped in 8.5 points per game in 2011-12 but has boosted his scoring average to 11.8 this season thanks to a pair of standout performances.

The senior guard earned MVP honors while scoring a combined 40 points in the Jayhawks' two wins at the CBE Classic in Kansas City last week. He had a season-high 23 points during a 73-59 title-winning victory over Saint Louis on Tuesday and scored all but two of those in the opening half while making a career-best four 3-pointers.

"I'm going to continue to do what my team needs me to do on the defensive end and the offense will come," Releford said.

Withey, meanwhile, matched a personal high with 25 points to go with seven blocks and five rebounds.

"Travis was unbelievable the first half. They made the decision not to guard him, so he was unbelievable, made them pay," coach Bill Self said. "And the reason Jeff had the big second half is they started to guard Travis."

Withey, the reigning Big 12 defensive player of the year, is averaging 13.8 points - 4.8 more than last season - and is rejecting 5.0 shots per game after finishing fourth nationally with 3.6 blocks per contest in 2011-12.

"(Self) has been telling me the whole year to be more aggressive. He's been telling the guys to throw it down low," Withey said.

Releford and Withey will get to continue honing their offensive skills while staying relatively close to home over the new couple of weeks. The Jayhawks (4-1) travel to Kansas City again Friday to face Oregon State then play three consecutive home games before visiting No. 4 Ohio State on Dec. 22.

First, Kansas will take on a San Jose State team that's coming off its best shooting performance in four seasons. The Spartans (2-2) connected at a 60.3 percent clip (38 of 63) and were 10 of 16 from 3-point range in a 94-54 rout of UC Santa Cruz on Tuesday.

Chris Cunningham, a junior transfer from Santa Clara, led the way with career highs of 19 points and 18 rebounds. Senior guard James Kinney, averaging a team-best 21.0 points, scored 18 in a season-low 22 minutes.

San Jose State and Kansas are meeting for the first time. The Spartans have lost 17 straight to ranked opponents since a 60-59 overtime win over then-No. 19 Alabama on Dec. 27, 1996.

Tagged: Kansas, San Jose State, Travis Releford, Jeff Withey

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