Cole Aldrich: "It feels good to be back"

KU's Cole Aldrich had a big game at Hilton Coliseum on Saturday, and hopefully can maintain his high level of play tonight vs. Mizzou. A look inside...

   Each game seems to bring new questions regarding Kansas, which has to be the most overanalyzed team in the Big 12.
   It is amazing, really, since the Jayhawks are 18-1 overall and lead the Big 12 with a 4-0 mark after whipping Iowa State 84-61 in a Jan. 23 road game.
   Sometimes, KU coach Bill Self stops to wonder just how far out in left field some of the inquires come from, though one of the biggest concerns dissipated with the win over the Cyclones.
   Junior center Cole Aldrich, who was considered a shoo-in as an NBA lottery pick going into the season, but had not come close to playing to that potential, powered the Jayhawks with 19 points and 11 rebounds.
   Aldrich's ongoing slump could be traced to a terminal illness his grandmother was suffering before she passed away on Jan. 15. Lingering illnesses had also sapped Aldrich of his energy at times, yet he played through exhaustion and logged 31 productive minutes against the Cyclones. Family and friends from his native Minnesota were in attendance and he didn't disappoint.
   "It feels good to be back," Aldrich said. "I've gone through a funk this year, and a lot of stuff. It's tough. It weighs on me, but I'm just going out and giving it my heart."
   In the process, Kansas may have found another big man to accompany Aldrich underneath. Jeff Withey, an Arizona transfer who didn't become eligible until this semester, was inserted because of foul issues. Withey contributed eight points and five boards while logging 12 minutes.
   "That'll give me some confidence, and our staff and team some confidence in going to him more often," Self said.
   And, probably stir a little more controversy as onlookers ponder what moves Self can make to solidify a rotation that's changed throughout the season, yet often reflected an abundance of talent.

   --The future intentions of G Tyshawn Taylor became a hot-button issue as the sophomore guard was removed from Kansas' starting lineup and briefly posted an item on his Facebook account implying a possible transfer. Entering Big 12 play, Taylor said he wasn't aware of his role on the team. He logged just 13 minutes in a Jan. 23 win at Iowa State, but scored seven points and grabbed five rebounds.
   --After getting burned for 42 points by Iowa State F Craig Brackins in last year's matchup in Hilton Coliseum, Kansas limited the junior to just 13 points and one rebound on Jan. 23. Credit F Marcus Morris for much of the defensive work. Morris later shared some of the good-natured banter he exchanged with the ISU star.
   ON THE SPOT: Guess what? Kansas leads the Big 12. What else does anyone expect from a program that's claimed the past five conference crowns? Playing with that lead is something the Jayhawks always seem to cherish. Although KU coach Bill Self has not locked into a set rotation, contributors exist even deep on the bench after little-used F Jeff Withey sparkled in the win against Iowa State. Scouting the Jayhawks just got tougher.
   QUOTE TO NOTE: "We played really well (at Iowa State). We played out of foul problems. We had a new guy (F Jeff Withey) jump on the scene I never would have given a chance if we hadn't had foul problems." -- Kansas coach Bill Self.

   SEASON RECAP: Questions have lingered about chemistry within the Kansas roster throughout the season, but the Jayhawks played well in wins against Baylor and Iowa State. Kansas needed a sound effort to turn back the hot-shooting Bears, who ended a 91-game string by KU for holding opponents to worse than 50 percent shooting. G Sherron Collins took over the game late and remains a steady constant, while F Marcus Morris continues to exert himself as one of the most improved players in the Big 12.
   PLAYER ROTATION: Usual Starters -- F Marcus Morris, C Cole Aldrich, G Xavier Henry, G Brady Morningstar, G Sherron Collins. Key Subs -- G Tyshawn Taylor, F Markieff Morris, G Tyrel Reed, F Thomas Robinson.
   Kansas 89, Texas Tech 63
   Kansas 81, Baylor 75
   Kansas 84, Iowa State 61
   vs. Missouri, Monday, Jan. 25
   at Kansas State, Saturday, Jan. 30
   at Colorado, Wednesday, Feb. 3
   vs. Nebraska, Saturday, Feb. 6
   at Texas, Monday, Feb. 8
   IN FOCUS: Kansas carries a 53-game home-court winning streak into the renewal of its Border War rivalry against Missouri. The Tigers rely on relentless pressure, but thrive at home more than on the road. The Jayhawks' other arch-rival, Kansas State, looms as the next road test, though Kansas has won 25 of its last 26 games in Manhattan. The Wildcats' recent home win against No. 1 Texas is proof they can pose trouble for a high-ranked opponent.
   --G C.J. Henry missed the game at Iowa State after suffering a severely bruised tailbone after falling hard on his back in practice. Kansas coach Bill Self said "we're nervous he may be out an extended period."
   --G Xavier Henry, C.J.'s younger brother, played only five minutes in the second half at Iowa State. He missed both shots he attempted in the half and finished 2-for-10 for the game, while mired in a prolonged slump.
   --F Marcus Morris is shooting 66.7 percent in Big 12 play, the league's best marksmanship. He scored 16 points on 8-for-16 shooting at Iowa State, the 10th time in 12 games Morris shot 50 percent or better. Top Stories