Releford reemerged as scoring threat in Washington State game
- Nov. 20, 2012
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Kansas City, Mo. — The passes were crisp, the defense was stifling and the shots were falling for Kansas as the Jayhawks played their way to a dominating win over Washington State at the Sprint Center.
Kansas shot 64 percent from the field and 50 percent from 3-point range in the first half. The Jayhawks looked like a team that could be favored to win their conference this season. Even senior guard Travis Releford drained a three, ending his slump of 11 straight misses in the previous three games.
Releford reemerged as a scoring threat last night in the Sprint Center, playing mere miles from his home in Kansas City, Mo. With 17 points, he led the team in scoring for the first time this season.
In the second half, another deep shot from Releford’s hands swished through the net. Releford’s inability to consistently make jump shots has been a subject of discussion during his career at Kansas. On Monday night, there was nothing about Releford’s stroke that worried Kansas fans.
It may have been the comfort of playing in his hometown, or maybe it was Releford’s determination to be more efficient than he was during the Chattanooga game where he squandered six shots to score just two points. Whatever the case, Releford played confidently and aggressively.
Releford sat smiling on the sidelines for the final minutes of the game, his team leading by 40 points. In his 23 minutes on the court, Releford scored 17 points from seven shots.
The Jayhawks won’t consistently expect those points from Releford, which makes them even sweeter when they are there. This was not the first time in a Kansas game that Releford proved he has the ability to score. Last season, he was named the Big 12 player of the week when he averaged 22 points in two conference games. Releford also led the Jayhawks in scoring with 15 points against Ohio State during the Final Four last year.
Defense has been a consistent strength for Releford. He played with more defensive intensity in just four games this year than he did in any of his past three seasons. Against Chattanooga, Releford’s pressure on the ball was a spark for Kansas’ second half run. On Monday, he did it on the offensive end.
There may not be many more games this season where Releford leads the team in scoring, but he has proven his value so far this season. He will bring tough defensive pressure every time he guards the ball. It appears he has once again proven that his scoring ability can surprise opponents who focus their game planning for McLemore, Johnson or Withey.
Releford’s ability to surprise opponents is something that Kansas fans have seen before. His defense is something they have seen often. On Monday, Releford was the most efficient and productive player for the Jayhawks.