Withey Has Breakout Performance in Exhibition Opener

Nov. 2, 2011

110211aac_440_5776631.jpegLAWRENCE, Kan. — If Jeff Withey’s performance Tuesday night serves as an indicator of things to come, than the rest of the Big 12 should be put on notice. That’s because the Kansas junior netted 18 points, grabbed a dozen rebounds and swatted 10 blocks in what would have been his first collegiate triple double, if the match-up with Pittsburg State University fell within the regular season schedule.

“I love blocking shots and the opportunity was there tonight,” Withey said after his 31 minutes on the floor.

The seven foot center’s shot blocking ability was evident in the second half of his team’s exhibition opener, as he picked up seven of his eventual ten blocks.

“He is pretty good at blocking and altering (shots),” said KU head coach Bill Self. “I think he can be one of the better shot blockers in our league.”

“I definitely want to make my mark and be a force,” Withey said. “I also want to take a lot of pressure off of the guards as well as T-Rob (Thomas Robinson), so I think I am headed in the right direction.”

Withey, who was making only his second start in a Kansas uniform, was so involved in the game, he had to actually be told he reached the mini-milestone as he was exiting the contest.

“It wasn’t until I came out of the game that Coach Self told me,” Withey remembered. “He said, `good job, you just got a triple-double.’ I did not know that at the time, so I was pretty shocked because I didn’t realize I blocked that many shots.”

While the redshirt junior may still be earning his Crimson and Blue stripes, he is no stranger to success on the hardwood. Withey led his high school (Horizon Christian Academy) to a state championship his sophomore year, while averaging a double-double for the season.

110211aac_440_5776632.jpeg“In high school I averaged about eight blocks a game,” the San Diego, Calif. native said. “It is definitely different on the college level, but it is something that I’m used to doing.”

Despite his player’s early success, Coach Self was quick to point out what Withey needed to work on, so he could help the Jayhawks even more down the stretch.

“I think it is good Jeff had a triple-double, but he could have had 22 or 23 if he would have hit his free-throws,” Self said. “He made a couple of nice moves, but really wasn’t as much of a factor in the first half as he was in the second.”

Withey finished the night three for seven behind the charity stripe, which was enough to humble the towering center on his breakout night.

“I still have a lot of work ahead of me,” he said. “But this is definitely a confidence booster and it will help me throughout the season.”

With that work ethic and positive attitude, there should be no reason why fans at the Phog won’t see similar performances from number five throughout the regular season.