Withey leads KU in pre-Buckeye rout
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP)
Little surprise that every time the Spiders slashed into the lane, Withey sent their shots right back out. And every time ninth-ranked Kansas dumped the ball inside to the 7-footer, he had to simply turn around and stuff it through the basket.
Withey finished with 17 points and 13 rebounds Tuesday night in the Jayhawks' 87-59 rout, and the smile on the senior's face showed that he enjoyed every minute of it.
Now, it's time for Withey to start picking on someone his own size.
The Jayhawks (9-1) have romped to eight straight victories since losing to Michigan State on a neutral floor early in the season, but finally get their first true road test Saturday, when they visit seventh-ranked Ohio State for a marquee non-conference showdown.
''Now we'll find out how good we are,'' Kansas coach Bill Self said. ''Let's be serious. The season starts Saturday. Now we can go up there and hopefully take a real enthusiastic team up there, hunker down, see how tough we are and find out a lot about ourselves.''
Kansas coasted in the second half to its 28th consecutive home victory.
''We played pretty well,'' Withey said. ''Our scout team did a great job preparing us for it, so we knew what would happen. We knew they could shoot so we tried to take that away.''
Richmond (9-3) shot just 32 percent from the field, and was 9 of 32 from beyond the arc, settling for the outside jumper rather than test Withey's presence in the lane.
The Spiders even struggled from the foul line - the one place where Withey wasn't a danger to block their shot. They finished just 12 of 22 on free throws.
''We didn't come out energetic at all in the first half. We kind of picked it up toward the end of the first half, and more toward the second half,'' said Derrick Williams, who led the Spiders with 14 points. ''I felt like guys were a little hesitant to go.''
The Spiders waltzed into one of the most intimidating environments in college basketball in January 2004 and beat Kansas with a jumper in the final second. It remains one of only seven home losses in Self's 10 seasons with the Jayhawks.
Their game Tuesday night never had the same kind of drama.
Richmond appeared stunned by the boisterous crowd of 16,300 early on, allowing Kansas to get out to a quick lead. The Spiders' 3-point shooting allowed them to crawl within 15-11, but that's when Johnson started the Jayhawks' big scoring binge.
McLemore followed with a 3 and fellow freshman Perry Ellis scored inside. On the next possession, McLemore scored and went to the foul line, missed the free throw and watched as Ellis put it back for a four-point trip and a 26-11 lead with 8:20 remaining on the clock.
Withey got into the act with a bucket and then a three-point play, and Johnson finished off the 18-0 run with a couple of free throws that made it 33-11 with 4:26 to go.
''We just had some defensive slip-ups,'' Brothers said. ''We let some guys get lobs. We weren't talking or communicating. I think that was definitely the key.''
Williams, a burly junior forward, provided the basket that ended the Spiders' 8-minute-plus drought, and two more baskets by Richmond trimmed the lead to 15 points.
It was the closest the Spiders would get the rest of the way.
Kansas answered with another four-point trip - Withey scored and missed his foul shot, and Kevin Young was there for the follow. And then with 1.5 seconds left, Releford went to the foul line and made good on both of his free throws, getting a second chance after missing the second when Williams was called for a lane violation.
The Jayhawks were merely in it for style points in the second half, at one point putting together another 18-2 run that made it 73-35 with 5:21 left. Kansas went through the motions down the stretch as it started to turn its attention toward the Buckeyes.
Kansas beat Ohio State at Allen Fieldhouse early last season before beating the Buckeyes again in the Final Four. The Jayhawks lost to Kentucky in the national title game.
''The next couple of days will be real important. The young guys will get to see what it takes to fully focus,'' Johnson said. ''I definitely don't think we're prepared as we can be. The focus tonight was Richmond. But waking up tomorrow, the focus is on Ohio State.''