The 7-0 foot KU sophomore center, who scored four points in the previous six games, responded by tying his career high with eight points on 3-of-3 field goal shooting and 2-of-2 from the charity stripe. Jeff Withey also added two blocks, two rebounds and a steal in just nine minutes.
KU coach Bill Self inserted Withey into the frontcourt rotation with
the absence of sophomore forward Thomas Robinson, who is out
approximately two weeks after undergoing surgery on a meniscus tear in
his right knee Friday.
"It felt great," Withey said about his play. "All the guys were
encouraging and telling me I was going to get some minutes. I just
prepared over night. It's unfortunate what happened to Thomas. I just
prepared and felt good."
Withey has played sparingly in conference action and received three
DNP's in Big 12 play and five overall this season. Self was glad he
rose to the occasion against ISU.
"I thought Jeff played well," Self said. "He just needs to be
aggressive defensively going after the ball and blocking shots. It
thought he did a nice job. He got two blocks in nine minutes and 3-of-3
from the field and made his free throws so that should give him some
confidence moving forward. He hasn't played much lately. It's hard to
play five big guys, but certainly he'll play moving forward, without
"We'll need him to play against K-State."
Withey felt fortunate to come up big two days before ESPN's Big Monday
showdown against the Wildcats in Manhattan. He even had one nifty hook
in the paint that drew some claps from NBA Hall of Famer and former
three-term U.S. Senator Bill Bradley, who sat on press row.
"It's big," Withey said. "It's a big confidence booster, especially
going into K-State. Having a game that I played pretty well, I think
I'll be able to go into Kansas State and be more productive and help
the team a lot more."
Withey will need to come up big against KSU's physical frontline. The
Wildcats are the second-best rebounding team in the Big 12.
Teammate Marcus Morris, for one, believes Withey is up for the
"He has to step up and he knows it," Morris said. "Thomas Robinson is
going to be out for a little bit, and it's his time to step up and show
people he can play, and I think he will."
Withey is averaging 2.6 points, 2.0 rebounds and 0.85 blocks in 6.7
minutes per game this season. Those numbers should elevate in the next
two weeks in Robinson's absence. Morris thinks Withey will add a lot to
"Just changing shots," Morris said. "In practice, he blocks my shots a
lot, so I know what kind of shot blocker he is. Just having the big
body, somebody like Cole (Aldrich) was last year and blocking shots ...
is definitely going to benefit us because nobody can go in there (lane)
and just take a layup because Jeff is so long and has great timing.
"Definitely on the defensive end, we're going to need him."
Withey Will Be Needed
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