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February 11, 2013

Self talks after the Sunflower Showdown



Kansas head coach Bill Self
On the team's aggressive play:

"The crowd was unbelievable. Our guys really manned up. We have been so bad for about a week, but the guys showed up. They fought tonight. I was so proud of them. The stats are the same, except we got them on the glass. We were so aggressive early on. I don't know how many layups we missed, but it was from guys trying too hard and going so hard to the glass. They have a good team and they didn't go away, but I don't know if I have seen us play with that much intensity and awareness than we did the first 20 minutes."

On senior Jeff Withey breaking the career blocks record:

"Jeff was great. I'm not much into these personal records as much. I guess when you are old you can tell your kids about it, but by the time your kids are old enough, somebody has probably already beaten it. He was great tonight and he has been great all year long. He scored the ball, made his free throws and of course he is such a defensive presence in there. There we a lot of times we were beat, especially in the second half, and he wiped out mistakes. I'm happy for him, really the whole team, but him and Ben (McLemore) were on a different level tonight."

On freshman Ben McLemore:

He is a big time guy. These are just kids and they are facing different pressures than what they have ever faced in their life. I think that Ben, the last week or two weeks, hasn't had that same smile, that same youthful exuberance that you would expect him to have. Tonight he just played. He is such a talented kid that when he just goes out and plays and has that bounce, he is hard to guard."

On the team's recent struggle:

"We looked athletic tonight. I would say the last three games, we have been the least athletic of the teams that we have played, from a quickness standpoint. I don't know what went wrong, but I do know if we weren't tough enough to grind it out and get through that stretch, we probably needed to have a knot put in our head and we certainly did. We are certainly better for it. It is going to be more difficult to win the league than it ever has been with where we still have to go and the games that we have remaining, but we're in the game. I like the opportunity that lies before us and we have a really good team and really good players, but we have to play a certain way and tonight we played that way."

On Saturday's game against Texas:

"I think there are a lot of guys coming back. The most important guy coming back is Rio (Mario Chalmers) without question. We are going to hang is jersey in the rafters. I'm excited for Mario, certainly he deserves it. What a great three years and a great cap to finish off his career. For us, it's (ESPN College) Gameday; it's an infomercial for the University of Kansas for 12 hours. We can talk about some positive things and we won't be talking about the three losses in a row, at least not as much. I'm excited for it. It's always a great time when Gameday is here and we are playing a Texas team that has (Myck) Kabongo back and they are dangerous. We always have great games against Texas, always close, so it should be a lot of fun."

Kansas senior Jeff Withey
On the crowd's energy:

"The crowd definitely helped us tonight. The Fieldhouse was rocking tonight and we needed that. They helped us get more excited, even though we were ready for this game. There's nothing like the Fieldhouse."

On K-State's early foul trouble:

"It was huge that they were in foul trouble early. Almost all of their bigs had two or three fouls pretty early. That made it easier for us to get rebounds. It was a pretty physical game."

On setting the Kansas career record for blocked shots:

"It feels good. I'm not satisfied obviously. I want to break the conference record too. It's cool, but I still have some work to do."

Kansas sophomore Naadir Tharpe
On guarding Kansas State's Rodney McGruder:

"In practice we already knew what we needed to do against him and it wasn't just one person guarding him. Basically, in practice we talked about that everyone needs to be on him because we knew he was going to be coming off screens and getting open. It was everyone as a team doing it together. I feel that this is the reason he didn't play as well tonight as he usually does."

On the team's rhythm:

"Coach (Self) has been getting on us about being fast a lot. He tells us to just go out there and play. I felt like a lot of times we really weren't running any sets; we were just out there playing together and the game was flowing."

Kansas freshman Ben McLemore
On how tonight was different from the team's last three games:

"We just played as a team tonight, and we played Kansas basketball. We just went out there and gave it our all. We started on the defensive end by getting some stops."

On his performance tonight:

"Coach (Self) told me to just go out there and play ball and not to worry about impressing him. I just needed to go out there and play my game, and that's what I did. Naadir (Tharpe) helped me a lot. He gave me a lot of passes and saved some missed shots. It was great."


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