Confidence Boosted

Jeff Withey came up big with a triple-double in KU's first exhibition game against Pittsburg State last Tuesday with 18 points, 12 rebounds, and 10 blocks.

Despite his great feat (it would have been just the second official triple-double in school history had it been a regular-season game), don't expect the 7-foot junior center to get a big head.

"Some people have been teasing me a little bit about the triple double just because it was an exhibition game," Jeff Withey said. "I didn't think too much of it anyway. It's the beginning of the season. I want to do it against maybe like Texas or somebody like that. That would be more meaningful to me."

However, Withey admits the triple-double was a confidence booster.

"I'm trying to build off that and just continue with that momentum and bring that style of play into this next game," Withey said.

KU's next game is tonight against Fort Hays State at 7:00 at Allen Fieldhouse in the Jayhawks' final exhibition contest before opening the regular season at home on Friday against Towson.

Withey is excited junior forward Thomas Robinson will be teaming with him up front tonight after sitting out the exhibition opener with a hyperextended left knee.

"It's going to help a lot," Withey said. "We got one of our best rebounders back. Things will just go smoother in the paint with Thomas back. They are definitely going to be looking at him, probably double team him. It's going to be easier for me to get rebounds, offensive rebounds and stuff like that. They're going to be focused on boxing him out. It's just going to make my job a lot easier."

Withey is bouncing back from his own injury after suffering a sprained left ankle against Pittsburg State. He said his ankle was swollen earlier in the week, but the training staff "got it down a lot."

"It's good," Withey said Monday afternoon before practice. "I've been doing a lot of treatment for it. ... It's black and blue right now, but I'm practicing so there's no excuse."

Withey must stay injury free this season and keep out of foul trouble.

"We're going to need him more than anything this year," Robinson said.

While KU coach Bill Self and his staff were pleased with Withey's triple-double, they're hoping from more from their center.

"He did a really good job and hopefully that gets his confidence going," assistant coach Kurtis Townsend said on Self's Hawk Talk radio show Monday night. "We're never satisfied as coaches, we don't think he plays hard enough defensively. We think he could do even more than he did the other day. We're just trying to push him to reach his ceiling."

Withey knows he has much to improve after watching film.

"I definitely need to work on rebounding, being more aggressive, beating my guy first instead of them beating me, running the court better," Withey said. "I've learned a lot from the film. It's just about being aggressive, and I'm going to try to do that (against Fort Hays State). ... I just want to go out and play hard and give our team a win."

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