They always say that when your offense is failing you, your defense is your constant. For Kansas and senior center Jeff Withey, that couldn’t have been truer, as Withey notched a triple double in helping Kansas hold off pesky San Jose State 70-57, Monday night at Allen Fieldhouse.
Withey scored 16 points, hauled in 12 rebounds and recorded 12 blocks to record the school’s second triple double. Not since Cole Aldrich in 2009 has a Kansas player achieved the rare feat. For coach Bill Self, it was overshadowed by more glaring truth.
“I thought Jeff was great,” Self said. “He’s won the game for us almost single handedly. He’s the only one that played worth a flip.”
Withey was a menacing force, as the Jayhawks (5-1) used his defense to key an 18-0 run early in the second half to open up a 58-34 lead.
The Spartans looked finished, except nobody told that to them. Behind guard James Kinney, who poured in 30 points on 11 of 26 shooting, San Jose State (2-3) rallied with a 16-0 run of their own, to pull to within eight with 5:16 to go. They’d get as close as 64-57 with 2:41.
But, it was too much Withey and just enough Ben McLemore, whose windmill dunk put the game away with a half-minute to play to secure the win. McLemore finished with 13 points and six rebounds on five of 16 shooting.
Afterwards, the story was Self, whose displeasure with his team was not hidden. The 10th year coach didn’t pull any punches when assessing his squad.
“We sucked,” Self said about his team’s sudden cold spell, as San Jose State warmed up. “We couldn’t pass it, shoot it, dribble it, screen it, rebound it. We couldn’t do anything.”
Kansas went 10 minutes without a field goal during the Spartans run and the overall lackadaisical approach from the team had Self upset and ready for the next day of practice.
“We weren’t very aggressive at all,” Self said.
The Jayhawks will heed Self’s message for more intensity when they face Oregon State, Friday night at the Sprint Center.