After having to sit out last season, Kansas’ Ben McLemore is
quickly living up to his potential. Coach Bill Self, though,
expects his freshman guard to reach another level.
McLemore leads the ninth-ranked Jayhawks against visiting
Belmont on Saturday night.
McLemore signed with Kansas in April 2011 but academic issues
forced him to delay his collegiate debut. Having gotten past those,
the guard is quickly finding his groove for the Jayhawks (7-1),
having topped 20 points in consecutive games for the first
He had 24 in a 90-54 rout of Colorado last Saturday and boosted
his team-leading average to 16.0, but Self thinks the best is yet
“He still hasn’t played yet like he can play. Wait until he gets
comfortable. That’s kind of how I look at it,” Self said. “He’s one
of the premier players in our league with a chance to be one of the
very elite few in our league. I really believe that.”
McLemore will next to try to help the Jayhawks get past a
potentially pesky foe. Belmont (7-2) has made the NCAA tournament
in five of the last seven seasons and is off to a strong start
behind its top returning scorers, Ian Clark and Kerron Johnson.
“This is a good RPI game, without question,” Self said. “I know
they (Belmont) got a good team. They’ve got a great coach (Rick
Byrd). He’s won (552) games at Belmont. That’s a lot of games in 27
years and he can really coach.”
Clark and Johnson led the way in a 64-49 victory over Middle
Tennessee on Thursday. Johnson paced Belmont with 17 points while
Clark, averaging a team-best 18.9, had 15.
The duo will try to help end the Bruins’ 15-game losing streak
against Top 25 opponents. Belmont last beat a ranked team Dec. 30,
2003, a 71-67 victory at then-No. 23 Missouri.
Ending that streak Saturday should prove very difficult as
Kansas has won 26 in a row at Allen Fieldhouse and 59 straight
against non-conference visitors.
In their only matchup with Belmont, the then-No. 1 Jayhawks won
81-51 in Lawrence on Dec. 29, 2009. Clark tied for the team lead
with 11 points while current Kansas senior Jeff Withey had two
points and two rebounds in his college debut.
Withey is averaging 13.8 points, a team-leading 8.0 rebounds and
an NCAA-best 5.6 blocks.
Kansas won’t have Justin Wesley available for this meeting, as
the junior guard is expected miss around three weeks with a broken