‘Withey face’ resurfaces in Sunflower Showdown

Last season senior center Jeff Withey bloodied his lip in a game and gave a vicious stare.

From there the picture circled around the Internet eventually being coined the “Withey Face.”

Travis Young/KANSAN Senior center Jeff Withey yells in excitement after dunking during the second half of the match against Kansas State Feb. 11, 2013 at Allen Fieldhouse. Withey had 17 total points with 10 rebounds and five blocks for the match contributing in Kansas' 83-62 win over the Wildcats.

Travis Young/KANSAN
Senior center Jeff Withey yells in excitement after dunking during the second half of the match against Kansas State on Monday at Allen Fieldhouse. Withey had 17 total points, 10 rebounds and five blocks, contributing in Kansas’ 83-62 victory against the Wildcats.

With 12:39 remaining in the second half, the signature Withey face made another appearance in Kansas’ 83-62 victory over Kansas state in the biggest win of the series since Feb. 2007.

The seven-foot center grabbed a pass in the lane from freshman Jamari Traylor and stuffed the ball straight over Kansas State’s Jordan Henriquez. This time Henriquez was the one who ended up with the blood on his jersey and a bloodied nose.

When the play was over and the foul was called Withey flexed his lanky frame and screamed with emotion as the adrenaline rushed through his veins.

Behind him the student section fanned Withey with extended arms, all the students flashing a “W” for Withey as the cool air rushed onto the court.

“Jamari gave me a perfect pass and went up and dunked it. It was awesome it gave us some momentum and it was just a monkey off my back,” Withey said.

The other major accomplishment for Withey was breaking the all-time Kansas blocks record previously held by Greg Ostertag.

“It feels good,” Withey said. “I’m not satisfied obviously. I want to break the conference record too. It’s cool, but I still have some work to do.”

This was a crucial game for Kansas’ basketball season and for the first time the team played with coolness and confidence in a few weeks.

The other important factor of the night, other than Withey, was consistent point guard in particular from sophomore guard Naadir Tharpe in the first half.

“I think Naadir played great, the best half of basketball since he’s been here,” coach Bill Self said. “He was absolutely terrific tonight. We needed him to be. We had a lot of guys play well, but he was one of our key performers especially in the first half.”

Making solid passes while also knocking down some crucial threes to extend Kansas’ lead early in the first half, Tharpe proved invaluable after Kansas’ struggles at that position for over two weeks.

“Coach has been getting on us about being fast a lot,” Tharpe said. “He tells us to just go out there and play. I felt like a lot of time we really weren’t running any sets. We were just out there playing together and the game was flowing.”

Also giving Kansas some major energy was senior forward Kevin Young who threw down several dunks, while Tharpe found him streaking toward the basket. “I just went out there a played for my teammates,” Tharpe said. “Coach was nagging about me getting in the lane and Kevin was available a lot of times.”

Young scrapped around the rim as well picking up nine rebounds mainly on the defensive end.
He also had a moment in the first half where he showed off his passing skills.

On one play in particular, midway through the second half, Young dribbled the ball down the court with a smile that continued to grow bigger as he moved farther down, eventually he lobbed the perfect ball to senior center Jeff Withey for the slam.

It’s been a rough few games for this program. A loss at home, an upset for the ages suffered against TCU and then a defeat in Norman to an average Oklahoma game.

Most people surrounding Kansas were worried if this team might be sliding down a slippery slope to mediocrity and putting another conference title out of reach.

Instead they got an answer last night, thanks in part to Withey, his physicality and his priceless facial expression.

Now tied again atop the Big 12 standings, Kansas hopes that does not change for the rest of the year.

“We’re definitely a first place team,” Withey said. “We see ourselves as one of the best teams in the nation and that’s not going to change. We lost three in row, but we’re going to spin that into a positive and learn from it. Eventually that’s going to make us better than everybody else.”

  • Updated Feb. 15, 2013 at 10:49 am
  • Edited by Laken Rapier