Withey has breakout performance in victory over Cyclones

Feb. 13, 2011

Lawrence, Kan. – Redshirt Sophomore Jeff Withey stepped up in a big way during his team’s 89-66 win over Iowa State. The center who saw a considerable amount of playing time because of the injury to forward Thomas Robinson, scored eight points, grabbed two rebounds, blocked two shots and stole a ball in just nine minutes of play Saturday.

“It felt great,” Withey said to reporters after the game. “All the guys were encouraging me and telling me that I was going to get some minutes. It’s unfortunate what happened to Thomas (Robinson), but I prepared and it felt good.”

The transfer from Arizona matched his career high in points (8), which he has done two times before. Withey also played more minutes in conference play than he has all season.

“Having a game where I played pretty well will only help my confidence,” he said. I think I will be able to be more productive and help the team a lot more.”

One of those giving Withey encouragement before tip-off Saturday was none other than the player who would have been playing in his place, if he was healthy and able.

“I talked to Thomas before the game,” Withey said. “He just told me to go out, play hard and be aggressive.”

Other Jayhawks were happy to see their tallest teammate step up when they needed him the most. Fellow sophomore Thomas Robinson will be recovering from knee surgery in the coming weeks, which means the seven foot center from San Diego will be called on to provide some much needed muscle under the basket.

“Just having that big body in there like Cole (Aldrich) was last year will really help us,” junior Marcus Morris explained. “That is something that I and most guys on our team can’t do.”

Because of Withey’s height, his role on the team is pretty evident to himself and others on the team.

“He has to step up and he knows it,” Morris explained. “In practice he has blocked my shot, so I know what kind of shot blocker he is. We are definitely going to benefit just having that big body because Jeff is so long and he has great timing.”

Another bit of great timing Saturday was that Withey’s parents were in the stands to see their son score his most points in Big 12 play.

“It means a lot for them to be here and see me play,” Withey said. “It is a great way to make your parents proud.”

Aside from his proud parents, Withey’s coach also had high praise for the standout sophomore.

“He (Bill Self) just told me good job and to build from it,” Withey explained. “And that I will get more confidence the more I play.”

The next opportunity for Withey’s talents to shine is on Monday night at Kansas State. Having a breakout game before a big rivalry match-up is exactly what Withey thinks he needed.

“Tonight was big,” he said. “I look at it as a big confidence booster, especially going into Kansas State.”

That game will be on Monday night at 8pm at the Bramlage Coliseum in Manhattan where Withey and the Jayhawks will look to sweep the season series against the rival Wildcats.