LAWRENCE, Kan. – Senior center Jeff Withey chalked up a double-double and a pair of Jayhawk freshmen nearly did the same as Kansas opened the 2012-13 men’s basketball season with a 74-55 victory against Southeast Missouri State inside Allen Fieldhouse Friday night.
In the teams’ first-ever meeting, Kansas (1-0) turned a six-point lead into a 20-point margin in the final 12 minutes to defeat Southeast Missouri State (0-1) in the opening round of the CBE Hall of Fame Classic. The victory marked KU’s 40th-straight win in season openers at Allen Fieldhouse.
Withey was one of three Jayhawks in double-figures on Friday, leading the way 17 points and 12 rebounds for his seventh career double-double. He also recorded half of the team’s 10 blocks on the evening. Meanwhile, redshirt freshman Ben McLemore was one point shy and fellow rookie Perry Ellis was two rebounds shy of notching double-doubles in their official Jayhawk debuts. McLemore grabbed 12 rebounds and nine points, and Ellis added 15 points and eight rebounds.
Both McLemore and Ellis earned a spot in the starting lineup, marking the first tandem of first-year Kansas players to start in a season-opener since the 1969-70 season when sophomores Bud Stallworth and Aubrey Nash started against Marshall (freshmen were not immediately eligible at entering college at that time).
Sophomore guard Naadir Tharpe tallied a career-high 10 points, including seven in the last six minutes and 20 seconds of the game.
Southeast Missouri was led by senior guard Nick Niemczyk and sophomore forward Nino Jones, who chipped in 14 and 12 points, respectively. KU held the Redhawks to an 18-for-62 night (29 percent), and upped its own shooting percentage to 39 percent (24-for-62) by night’s end.
In the opening minutes, McLemore converted all three free throws after drawing a foul behind the arc and Tharpe followed that with a legitimate three-pointer to shoot Kansas out to an 11-0 lead. On the other end of the floor, the Jayhawk defense would give up just two baskets to the Redhawks until the 11:48 mark and KU climbed ahead, 15-4.
Maintaining the lead was no small feat. Though KU took little time jumping out to a double-digit lead, both teams shot less than 30 percent for the first half, emphasized by KU’s 1-for-14 effort from three-point range.
Regardless of the low-efficiency rate, Withey dunked on an offensive rebound and within a minute, the senior center grabbed another offensive board, converting that one into a layup and doubling up the Redhawks, 28-14.
Ten minutes in, seven Jayhawks had already contributed to the team’s scoring to set a balanced precedent for the evening. Still searching for his first bucket, senior guard Elijah Johnson scored the final four points of the half to send Kansas to the break up, 32-17.
With no players in double figures at the half, Withey led the first 20 minutes with eight points and seven rebounds. Southeast Missouri’s Niemczyk also finished the half with a team-high eight points.
Each team hit their first attempt to start the second half, but again Kansas got out to a 1-for-6 shooting mark as Southeast Missouri cut the Jayhawk lead to 10, 36-26, to force the first Kansas timeout of the night. Out of the first media timeout of the half, Niemczyk connected on a pull-up jumper to cut KU’s lead to single digits with less than 15 minutes to play.
Senior guard Travis Releford got fouled on a dunk much to the delight of the 181st-consecutive sold-out crowd and converted the three-point play. Withey scored next with a dunk of his own, but the Redhawks continued to chip away at the Jayhawk lead. By the second media timeout of the half, Southeast Missouri narrowed its deficit to six, 43-37.
McLemore answered KU’s need for a spark, muscling his way to the basket for a layup to stretch KU’s lead back to 10. With Southeast Missouri State still trailing close behind, he pushed the ball up the floor and dished it off to Releford for a quick transition layup. Ellis helped his fellow rookie, drawing the foul on a made layup and Kansas returned to a double-digit lead for the remainder of the night.
Following his three-point play, Ellis hit another jumper before turning it over to his fellow underclassmen. Seven points from Tharpe sandwiched around baskets from Ellis and McLemore, kicked Kansas out to its largest lead of the night, 68-48, with less than three minutes to play. A late three from freshman guard Andrew White III sealed the 74-55 win.
No. 7 Kansas will play No. 14 Michigan State in the State Farm Champions Classic at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta on Tuesday, Nov. 14 at 6 p.m. CT on ESPN. The Jayhawks will return to Allen Fieldhouse to take on Chattanooga on Nov. 15 at 7 p.m. in the second game of the CBE Classic.
No. 7/7 KANSAS 74, Southeast Missouri State 55
November 9, 2012
KANSAS STARTERS (Career/Season):
· Perry Ellis (1/1), Ben McLemore (1/1), Elijah Johnson (99/1), Travis Releford (102/1) and Jeff Withey (81/1).
· Perry Ellis and Ben McLemore became the first tandem of first-year Kansas players to start in a season-opener since the 1969-70 season when sophomores Bud Stallworth and Aubrey Nash started against Marshall (freshmen were not immediately eligible at entering college at that time).
THE KANSAS’ WIN:
· KU has won 40-straight Allen Fieldhouse season-opening games, dating back to the 1973-74 season.
· KU has won 11-consecutive season-opening games, dating back to the 2001-02 campaign, including 10-0 mark in the Bill Self-era.
· KU posts a victory in the first series meeting against Southeast Missouri State and now leads the series, 1-0.
· KU is now 19-0 against the current members of the Ohio Valley Conference.
· KU now owns a 23-game home-court winning streak, which entered the game as the fourth-longest in NCAA Division I.
· KU is now 683-107 (.865) all-time when playing at Allen Fieldhouse, including 146-7 (.954) under head coach Bill Self.
· Coach Self’s record improves to 270-53 (.836) at Kansas and 477-158 (.751) overall.
· KU is now 2,071-806 (.720) all-time.
· KU extended its streak to 244 games without consecutive losses, which is the longest active streak in NCAA Division I.
· Kansas opened the game on an 11-0 run. Southeast Missouri State missed its first five field goal attempts and was held scoreless until the 15:52 mark of the first half.
· At the 7:32 mark of the first half, with KU leading 20-12, the Jayhawks went on an 8-2 run over the next 3:07 to push the lead to 28-14. SEMO was 0-for-3 from the field during that stretch.
· Kansas held Southeast Missouri State to 17 first-half points, which was the lowest by a KU opponent since Howard scored 13 points on Dec. 29, 2011.
· Kansas has held 179 or its last 185 opponent to under 50 percent shooting, Southeast Missouri State shot 29 percent from the floor (18-for-62).
· KU shot 2-for-21 (9.5 percent) from beyond the arc, which tied for the sixth-lowest three-point field goal percentage in school history, equaling the 2-for-21 effort against VCU on March 27, 2011.
· Kansas has sold out its last 181 games in Allen Fieldhouse, dating back to the second game of the 2001-02 season.
· Senior Jeff Withey scored the first point of the 2012-13 season when he converted on the backend of his two free throws at the 19:55 mark of the first half. Withey also scored KU’s first field goal with a follow-up dunk with 18:43 on the clock.
· Freshman Perry Ellis scored his first collegiate points with 17:23 remaining in the first half on a left-side baseline jumper.
· Freshman Jamari Taylor scored his first collegiate points with a baseline layup in the first half with 14:11 on the clock.
· Freshman Ben McLemore scored his first collegiate points from the foul line, sinking all three tries after being fouled on a three-point attempt at the 16:53 mark.
· Freshman Rio Adams joined the effort and scored his first points on a pair of free throws at the 9:43 mark of the first half.
· Senior Travis Releford hauled in five rebounds in the opening 7:50 of the game, marking the 19th time in his career he has posted five or more boards in a game. He finished with five.
· Withey scored double-digit points for the 19th time in his career. He finished with a game-high 17 points. He also added 12 rebounds, marking his seventh career double-double. It was also his seventh career double-digit rebound performance.
· Withey also added five blocked shots, pushing his career total to 170, and posted three or more blocked shots in a game for the 23rd time in his career.
· Ellis finished with 15 points for his first-career double-digit scoring game, becoming the first KU newcomer to post double-figures in his debut since Kevin Young (13 points against Towson on Nov. 11, 2011). His 15 points were the most by a newcomer since Josh Selby scored 21 points against USC on Dec. 18, 2010.
· McLemore collected 12 rebounds in his KU debut, becoming the first Jayhawk with double-digit rebounds in their first career game since Markieff Morris (15 boards vs. UMKC on Nov. 16, 2008).
· McLemore also added five assists, which were the most in a Kansas debut since Aaron Miles had five assists against Ball State on Nov. 19, 2001.
· Naadir Tharpe finished with 10 points, establishing a new career high, topping his old mark of nine points at Texas Tech on Jan. 11, 2012.
· Andrew White III’s three-pointer with 16 seconds left in the game were his first collegiate points.