NEW ORLEANS - Kansas coach Bill Self is willing to anoint Kentucky star Anthony Davis as the nation's best shot blocker. Self also believes the Jayhawks have a close second.
Jeff Withey, the former volleyball player from the beaches of San Diego, has emerged in the NCAA tournament as one of the premier defensive players in the game. He blocked 10 shots in a victory over North Carolina State and then caused all kinds of trouble for Ohio State star Jared Sullinger on Saturday night.
The 7-footer swatted seven shots and altered a half-dozen more. His 27 blocks in a single tournament are two short of the NCAA record.
"Guys like Anthony and guys like Jeff cover up mistakes," Self said. "That's a big advantage."
Withey already has set the school record with 137 blocks and has at least five in a game 11 times, while Davis has set an NCAA freshman record with 180 this season.
The way the two go about things is slightly different.
Withey uses his height and wingspan to overwhelm opponents, whether it's a guard trying to get to the rim -- such as the Buckeyes' William Buford -- or a big guy like Sullinger. Meanwhile, Davis uses his uncanny quickness to close come across the lane and block shots seemingly out of nowhere.
"He was 6-3, he grew to 6-10 -- he's nimble like a guard. He doesn't try to block it in your hands. He lets you release it. That's what great shot-blockers do," Kentucky coach John Calipari said. "He's nimble. He's quick to the ball. He's got a quick twitch."