Nationals

Kinney scores 30 as Spartans fall to Kansas 70-57

201211262026735998431-p2.jpeg

Kinney scores 30 as Spartans fall to Kansas 70-57

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) San Jose State coach George Nessman needed a spark with his team trailing big in Allen Fieldhouse. He turned to James Kinney and let him loose.

The senior guard wound up scoring 19 of his 30 points in the second half against No. 10 Kansas, helping the Spartans rally within seven points in the closing minutes before falling 70-57 on Monday night.

The Jayhawks went on a 20-2 run to start the second half, but Kinney responded with nine straight points to spark a 16-0 run that got the Spartans within 60-52 with about 5 minutes left.

``I wasn't going give up,'' Kinney said. ``I'm not going to get embarrassed out here.''

Kinney was the only effective option for San Jose State against the Jayhawks' Jeff Withey, who had 16 points, 12 rebounds and a school-record 12 blocked shots for only the second official triple-double in Kansas' long, storied basketball history.

``I think at some point you have to let your main guy go,'' Nessman said. ``You have to give him a little freedom to attack. Out system wasn't getting it done.''

Kinnney, who had two 30-point games last season, was the logical choice to let loose.

``They saw I had the hot hand,'' he said. ``They kept feeding me and I kept delivering.''

So did Withey, who scored 10 points for Kansas during a 20-2 run early in the second half, and achieved the Jayhawks' first triple-double since Cole Aldrich in an NCAA tournament game against Dayton in 2010 when the 7-footer blocked Xavier Jones' shot with 7:43 left in the game.

Kansas (5-1) used its big run to take a 60-36 lead with just over 11 minutes remaining, but the Spartans (2-3) answered with an 18-2 run to climb back in the game.

The Jayhawks finally put it away when Elijah Johnson hit a floater with just over a minute left for a 66-57 lead, and when Withey's rejection of J.D. Brown turned into a run-out that Ben McLemore finished off with a windmill dunk with about 30 seconds remaining.

``We didn't back down. We kept bucking up and sticking our chest out there, and that was important for us,'' Nessman said. ``This is one of the hardest places to play in the country.''

McLemore finished with 13 points despite missing all seven of his 3-point tries, and Travis Releford also had 13 points for the Jayhawks. Kevin Young added eight rebounds.

Playing its first game since romping to victory in the CBE Classic last week, the Jayhawks looked fresh and smooth in building a double-digit lead late in the first half.

San Jose State answered with nine straight points spanning halftime to get back into it.

That's when Kansas went on its big run.

It began with a 3-pointer by Johnson, and the momentum really started to build when Young followed up Withey's miss with an easy basket down low.

Withey scored six of the Jayhawks' next eight points as the lead slowly grew, and the crowd at Allen Fieldhouse began to realize that he was making history. He surpassed the 10-rebound mark midway through the second half before getting his 10th block to mark the triple-double.

``He was the only guy who played worth a flip,'' Kansas coach Bill Self said. ``He did a good job covering up for a lot of mistakes, because we made a ton of them tonight.''

Unofficially, it was Withey's second time reaching the milestone.

The senior had 18 points, 12 rebounds and 10 blocks against Pittsburg State in an exhibition game last season, when All-America forward Thomas Robinson missed the game due to injury.

It also comes with an asterisk in the Kansas record books.

The school didn't keep records for blocked shots during the 1950s, when Wilt Chamberlain was plying his trade on the hardwood. He undoubtedly had his share of triple-doubles while playing for the Jayhawks - but officially, only Aldrich and Withey have done it.

``I've been wanting that for a while now, and it's only me and Cole that have it, so it's pretty special to me,'' Withey said.

Kinney nearly stole his thunder late in the game.

The spunky guard hit consecutive jumpers to end the Jayhawks' big run, and then added a fall-away 3-pointer with just over 10 minutes remaining to start closing the gap.

He added another 3-pointer with 6:44 left to trim the lead to 60-51, and then hit his fourth 3 of the game as the shot clock was winding down to make it 64-57 with 2:39 to go, before the Jayhawks finally put it away in the final minute.

``I just don't think we have any fold in us. That's not who we are. We have a great group of kids,'' Nessman said. ``We came here to play for a full 40 minutes.''

Quick Links

Juan Soto's 2-run double carries Nationals past Orioles

soto-rendon-usat.png
USA TODAY Sports

Juan Soto's 2-run double carries Nationals past Orioles

WASHINGTON -- A teenager among men, Juan Soto has impressed his teammates on the Washington Nationals with his maturity and, even more so, his potent bat.

Soto hit a tiebreaking two-run double in the eighth inning, and Washington beat the Baltimore Orioles 4-2 Thursday night in the deciding matchup of a three-game interleague series between neighboring rivals.

Soto, a 19-year-old rookie, is batting .326 with 16 RBIs in 28 games. Starting in the cleanup spot for the first time, he drew a walk and delivered the game's pivotal hit.

"I think we're all amazed every single day," Washington ace Max Scherzer said. "He puts together great ABs. He has antics and has some flair. He's a great young player. He's just enjoying himself."

Bryce Harper led off the eighth with a double off Mychal Givens (0-4) and Trea Turner followed with a single. After Anthony Rendon struck out, Soto hit a liner into the gap in left-center.

"He's got unbelievable poise," Nationals manager Dave Martinez said of Soto. "No matter what the situation is, he goes out there with a game plan."

Whatever that plan is, it's effective.

"I just try to be focused and keep working," Soto said.

Rendon homered for the Nationals, who received seven strong innings from Scherzer and flawless work from their bullpen.

Newcomer Kelvin Herrera (1-0) pitched a 1-2-3 eighth inning and Sean Doolittle got three straight outs for his 20th save in 21 tries.

Seeking to end a rare run of two straight losses, Scherzer left a tied game after allowing two runs -- both on solo homers -- and striking out nine.

Afterward, the right-hander heaped praise upon Soto for the manner in which he's adapted to playing in the big leagues.

"He has a great feel for the strike zone," Scherzer said. "To have that type of eye, it's remarkable for him to be able to do that at this time and this age and this level."

Activated from the 60-day disabled list before the game, Colby Rasmus homered for the Orioles in his first at-bat since April 6.

"Me and Max, we go way back, so I felt real good," said Rasmus, who had been sidelined with a hip injury.

In addition, Rasmus made an outstanding throw from right field to the plate, nailing Wilmer Difo on a tag-up play in the seventh inning with the score tied.

Mark Trumbo also homered for Baltimore, his sixth of the season and third in four games.

Baltimore starter Kevin Gausman gave up two runs and four hits over six innings. The right-hander was lifted with the score tied, leaving him winless in his last seven starts.

MORE NATS COVERAGE: 

Quick Links

How drawing up a play in the interview process helped sell the Wizards on Troy Brown

How drawing up a play in the interview process helped sell the Wizards on Troy Brown

While meeting with Oregon's Troy Brown during the pre-draft interview process, evaluators from the Washington Wizards issued him an on-the-spot challenge. Head coach Scott Brooks pulled out a dry-erase clipboard and a pen. He wanted to see Brown draw up a play.

This is a test Brooks has administered before to other players. Some have failed miserably.

"It sounds easy to throw a board at somebody in front of a big group and say 'okay draw a play' and I have seen many plays drawn, and I have seen it where there are not five players on the floor," Brooks said.

That wasn't the case with Brown. He didn't just draw up one play, he drew up several. One in particular came to mind when asked by reporters on Thursday night soon after the Wizards took him 15th overall in the first round of the NBA Draft.

“I think it was a situation where we were down by two or something like that," he said. "It was like a back screen into a slip, and then the fade three and they gave you a lot of various options to cause mismatches on the court for a last minute shot to either go ahead, or even attack the basket for a layup to go into overtime.”

NBC Sports Washington analyst Cory Alexander, a veteran of seven NBA seasons, demonstrated what Brown's play looked like on a whiteboard:

The Xs and Os of basketball flow effortlessly for Brown and Wizards' brass couldn't help but be impressed.

"He really understands the game. I think for a kid that is 18 years old, that is rare but he just has a good feel," Brooks said. 

"We were impressed with his character and the type of person he is and his basketball knowledge," team president Ernie Grunfeld said. "Obviously, like any young player, he has a lot of work to do but he has a lot of the intangibles that I think you need in today's game."

Smarts are a big part of what makes Brown a good basketball player. He isn't a particularly explosive athlete, with a modest 33-inch max vertical leap, but he boasts a 6-foot-10 wingspan and solid agility. Being in the right place at the right time and knowing how to operate an offense helps him make the most of his natural abilities.

Passing is where his basketball IQ comes in handy. Brown is unusually good at distributing for a 6-foot-7 small forward. He averaged 3.2 assists as a freshman at Oregon and nine times had five assists or more in a game.

He can pass like a point guard and the Wizards are excited to implement that skill into their offense.

"Passing is contagious. We’ve been pretty good the last two years and with talking about that how we even want to take another step," Brooks said. "He has the ability to make a lot of quick plays and his ball handling is pretty good for a guy his size. That is one thing I was impressed in his workout last week or when we had him. He is able to take the contact and use his strong frame to get inside the key and make plays.”

MORE 2018 NBA DRAFT COVERAGE:

NBC Sports Washington is on Apple News. Favorite us!