Ben McLemore, Jeff Withey Hold Key for KU in Upcoming Big 12 and NCAA Tournament

Farzin VousoughianContributor IIIMarch 2, 2013

Jan 19, 2013; Austin, TX, USA; Kansas Jayhawks guards Ben McLemore (23) and Naadir Tharpe (1) and Travis Releford (24) and forward Perry Ellis (34) and center Jeff Withey (5) take the court against the Texas Longhorns during the second half at the Frank Erwin Special Events Center. Kansas beat Texas 64-59. Mandatory Credit: Brendan Maloney-USA TODAY Sports
Brendan Maloney-USA TODAY Sports

Freshman guard Ben McLemore and senior center Jeff Withey, who have been Kansas' top two players, showed on Saturday how important they are to the team's success. They dominated in the Jayhawks' 91-65 win over West Virginia.

McLemore, who is projected to go first overall in the 2013 NBA draft, scored 36 points, the most by any freshman in Kansas history. Danny Manning previously held the record, scoring 35 against Oklahoma State 28 years ago.

This was McLemore's third 30-point game. The others came against Iowa State and Kansas State.

Withey finished just short of a triple-double, with 14 points, 10 rebounds and nine blocks.

McLemore has given the Jayhawks a big lift offensively while Withey, the Big 12 leader in blocked shots, has made his presence felt on defense. Kansas is likely to either win the Big 12 regular-season title or tie with Kansas State and will go into the Big 12 and NCAA tournaments with a lot of upside.

With point guard Elijah Johnson recently improving and Naadir Tharpe making an impact coming off the bench, Kansas has a lot of momentum.

With its top two players leading the way, the Jayhawks have a good chance at winning the Big 12 tournament in Kansas City and making another deep run in the NCAA tournament.