Kansas freshman Andrew Wiggins grabbed every rebound in sight. Joel Embiid was nearly unstoppable in the paint in the second half, and Naadir Tharpe seemingly couldn't miss.
The young Jayhawks are growing up -- and they're putting it together in time for another run through the Big 12.
…"The thing about it is, if you have followed our team closely, you could make the case that this team probably enjoyed playing less than other teams we've had," Kansas coach Bill Self said. "But since we started conference play, they're having as much fun as any team we've ever had."
The Jayhawks had plenty of reasons to smile in perhaps their most impressive win of the season.
…It wasn't all good news for Kansas either.
The Jayhawks committed 24 turnovers but they survived by shooting 49 percent from the field and dominating the glass.
"We handled the ball miserably. Looked like a third grade team out there offensively sometimes taking care of the ball. But we made up for it by being pretty good on the glass. It was a great win," Self said.
…Kane said his ankle was an issue -- and he was also kneed in the thigh with about 4 minutes left.
"I really couldn't cut and go change of pace. But that's no excuse. I played 37 minutes. I was out there enough. I just didn't do enough to help my team win," Kane said.
Spin moves on the baselines for baskets, back downs, sweeps across the lane, and on the defensive end, not just the blocks at the rim and on the perimeter, although those changed the game in the second half. Embiid altered everything that came near him.
The undersized Cyclones couldn’t match up, and neither will most in college basketball. There may not be another one quite like Embiid, the 7-footer from Cameroon.
“I think Embiid is the best player in the country,” said Iowa State coach Fred Hoiberg, a former NBA player and executive.
“Did you see him play tonight?” Hoiberg said. “He’s huge, great length, can shoot, has incredible foot work and has been playing the game for about two years.”
Three, actually. But he is playing with googles after getting poked in the eye in practice last week.
…Kansas led by five when Embiid went on his personal two-minute rampage, which included a defensive play that nobody was sure was a block or a steal. Call it a smother of Dustin Hogue. The sequence also included an assist, a block, two rebounds and pair of buckets.
When Embiid was finished, the Jayhawks had more than doubled the margin, and made enough free throws down the stretch to pull off its second straight league road victory.
But on Monday, as was the case in Saturday’s victory over Kansas State, the good with Embiid —16 points, nine rebounds and five blocks — was accompanied by a bad moment.
It happened less than five minutes into the game on the Kansas end of the floor. At first blush, Embiid reached out and pulled down DeAndre Kane at the intersection of the Iowa State bench and student section. No winning the case for Embiid here.
He didn’t get any sympathy on the Kansas bench either as he motioned to coach Bill Self an elbow, as if to explain and deflect fault. Self was having none of it.
The precise language required a lip reader but the message was clear. Stop being a knucklehead.
…Through its near-decade of consecutive Big 12 championships, so much focus has gone to Kansas’ dominance at home, and deservedly so with winning streaks measured in years.
But away from Allen Fieldhouse is where Kansas has separated itself.
In the previous nine years, the Jayhawks have a better road record in league games (56-18 entering this season) than all Big 12 teams have at home except Texas (59-15).
In the title run, KU owns a winning or break-even record against all current or former league members in their building. At Ames, in one of the league’s most hostile environments, the Jayhawks have now won nine of 10.
KC Star Kerkhoff
Ball on the baseline, nowhere to go and still he reached somewhere, taking a route not often chosen by 7-footers. Joel Embiid weaved through traffic on the edge of the court and seemingly found himself in a jam, buried under the hoop, surrounded by Iowa State’s biggest bodies.
Embiid’s creativity doesn’t die that easily. In that regard, he is Todd Reesing, plus a foot and change. Embiid jumped up, stretched his arm out and laid the ball in with his back to the basket.
Then he went down to the other end of the floor and instead of merely blocking Dustin Hogue’s shot, he ripped the ball right out of his hands, gave it to a ballhandler and raced to back to the right baseline.
Just in case the 14,384 spectators in Hilton Coliseum — most of whom had never seen the basketball prodigy trained on the soccer pitches and volleyball courts of Cameroon play — missed it the first time, Embiid pretty much gave them a replay. Two more points to help Kansas on the way to a 77-70 victory.
Even on a night when Naddir Tharpe played with fire in his eyes and on his shooting hand, a night Andrew Wiggins flashed insane quickness and snared 19 rebounds, the Jayhawks needed a big second half from Embiid to survive 24 turnovers.
They’ll always need the advantage his size and fancy footwork bring them. When he’s on his game, nobody can stop him, except himself.
…Kansas State wrote the book on Embiid: Rough him up, expose him to a style foreign to his artistic way of playing the game. Keep roughing him up until he responds without subtlety. Iowa State read the book and applied the lessons from it.
The art of getting away with retaliation is nearly impossible to master, even for Embiid, who showed the Hilton crowd so much magic.
As referees studied the monitor, Embiid faced Bill Self’s firing squad of questions again. He tried to explain that he didn’t throw to the floor the guy who had been roughing him up. He demonstrated that he was falling backward and merely reached his hand out to steady his balance. Self didn’t seem to be buying it. The refs definitely didn’t see it that way.
…Kansas coach Bill Self said the coaches “got after him pretty good” at halftime because he, “hasn’t been very good the past few games. He was fabulous in the second half.”
Embiid finished with 16 points, nine rebounds, five blocked shots, two assists, two steals and seven turnovers. He scored 12 of the 16 points in the second half, when his rim protecting played a huge part in Iowa State shooting .243 from the field in the final 20 minutes.
Embiid shared a little of what Self told him after his technical: “He told me not to lose my cool.”
On two straight sequences, with defenders double-teaming him and swarming all around him, Embiid spun and twirled his way to the rim, putting in a pair of short-range shots to give KU momentum.
KU coach Bill Self later called the highlights "unbelievable plays."
"His footwork, as you guys saw tonight ... is incredible for a 7-footer that’s just figuring out how to play," Self said. "I haven’t seen very many guys that are that agile and that quick with their first step like he is."
During Kansas’ preseason practices last October, the eyes of the spectators were locked onto a lanky new arrival.
By then, everyone had heard of Andrew Wiggins. But Joel Embiid was still somewhat of a mystery. Even then, however, the vast potential of the young man from Cameroon who picked up the game a few years ago was evident.
He had moves. He could spin off the baseline and score with either hand. He could swat shots with a rare ease. He could run the floor and finish like a pro.
And throughout this season, he’s gradually morphed into a force that’s an obvious problem for every team outside Lawrence, Kan. He’s second in the nation in block percentage, according to Ken Pomeroy. He has an array of potent post moves now.
Every night, it seems, Embiid does something that makes grown men gush.
His effort in No. 15 Kansas’ 77-70 win over No. 8 Iowa State on Monday night in Ames established a new truth about a Jayhawks program that’s made its case as the best team in the Big 12 and one of the top teams in the country in recent weeks.
Embiid is the most important player on the Kansas roster.
Here it was, late in the second half, and Joel Embiid was giggling. Clapping and giggling. One clap, then two. Then a few more. In the midst of a scalding-hot atmosphere inside Hilton Coliseum, Embiid couldn’t stop smiling.
Moments earlier, he had pretty much swallowed an Iowa State shot attempt, ripping the ball away from Iowa State's Dustin Hogue. Next came an outlet pass, and then Kansas sophomore Jamari Traylor was finishing a dunk on the other end.
“I knew I had to play well for us to win,” Embiid would say. “So in the second half, I changed my mindset.”
Embiid was taking control. And so were the Jayhawks. Here inside Hilton Coliseum, amidst a sea of gold, the message was pretty clear: The Big 12 title race still runs through Kansas. A young team was playing with joy. All that Hilton Magic never seems to work when the Jayhawks come to town.
“Maybe they’re growing up,” Kansas coach Bill Self said.
…The team that was once thought to be Final Four caliber is emerging, slowly, and by the week.
“I would like to think so,” Wiggins said. “We’re just practicing every day hard, the chemistry is coming together well. And before, the pieces of the puzzle weren’t really together. But now they’re coming together.”
…On this particular night, Hilton Coliseum felt like a boiling madhouse of angst and energy. Just one year ago, the Jayhawks had escaped with an overtime victory, ripping a victory away in the final minutes. On that night, Elijah Johnson had gone for 39 points. And one year later, Tharpe pulled off his best EJ impersonation.
“A lot of people on Twitter were talking about that Elijah game,” Tharpe said with a smile.
On the other end, Iowa State couldn’t buy a bucket, hitting just four of 25 from three-point range.
For Kansas, it was the second straight win over a top 25 team — with two more games against top 25 teams looming. The Jayhawks return home to face Oklahoma State on Saturday and will take on Baylor on Monday night at Allen Fieldhouse.
For a night, Kansas played with joy. Now the process continues.
“When dudes are having fun and enjoying the time and enjoying the process, it’s much more easy," Tharpe said. "You could see it out there. Wiggs was even laughing. Everybody is involved.”
“I think Embiid is the best player in the country,” Iowa State coach FredHoiberg said.
That’s a bit of a stretch.
Embiid, who averages 10.9 points and 7.4 rebounds, isn’t the top player in the nation. If the season ended today, he probably wouldn’t even make third-team All-American.
When it comes to pro potential, though, Embiid is the best NBA prospect in college basketball. And after watching Embiid score 16 points, grab nine rebounds and block five shots Monday, I can’t fathom how any team would pass on Embiid with the No. 1 overall pick in this summer’s draft.
That’s certainly not a knock on Wiggins, Duke’s Jabari Parker or Kentucky’s Julius Randle, all of whom are top-five-caliber picks. But none of them excite me as much as Embiid, whose talent and upside is unlike anything we’ve seen from a frontcourt player in years.
…“It’s crazy,” Wiggins said. “I remember playing him last year in high school. Seeing him now, it’s crazy. He’s only been playing basketball two years. To be this good and this dominant (already)...that’s something special.”
…As much as he appreciated the kind words from a rival coach, Self disagreed withHoiberg that Embiid was the best player in the country.
“He’s not even close to being the rim-protector that he could be,” Self said. “He’s not close to being the passer out of double-teams that he could be. His hands have to get stronger, and he’s inconsistent. I think he’d be the first to admit that.”
Self paused and smiled.
“But he’s terrific,” Self said. “I mean, he’s terrific. He’s got an unbelievable mind as far as basketball IQ. And there’s no question he’s an unbelievable talent. He’s got a long way to go to be great.
“But he’s got all the tools to be special.”
So, too, does Wiggins, who had one of the best performances of his young career with 17 points, 19 rebounds and three assists. At this point, no one would be surprised if the No. 1 and No. 2 picks in this summer’s NBA draft were Embiid and Wiggins.
In that order.
A little less than two hours before tipoff on Monday night, Andrew Wiggins was the last of the Kansas Jayhawks on the floor for early warm-ups, his easy strides making him an easy target. Iowa State students who earlier populated a line wrapping around Hilton Coliseum already had settled into their seats and into a simmering froth. One wore a yellow basketball on his head that nicely paired with his yellow spandex pants. He was nearest to Wiggins as the stoic freshman star emerged. The student screamed, pointing to the sphere atop his sphere with both hands. Almost undetectably, a grin infiltrated Wiggins’ standard deadpan expression, and then he stepped on to the court and went to work.
…If Kansas cannot be shaken by what confronted it at Hilton – a persistent, eardrum-bursting din fueled by rage over a controversial end to things in this building a year ago – it is difficult to imagine what might.
…Not once, at least not noticeably, did the Jayhawks look flustered or overwhelmed by the moment. After Embiid tangled with Iowa State star DeAndre Kane and whirled Kane to the floor in the first half to draw the technical, the student section predictably unleashed a “(Bleep) you Jayhawks” serenade. Near the Kansas huddle, Tharpe raised an eyebrow in surprise. Then he smiled, and nodded.
…The Jayhawks let the Cyclones wind themselves so tight they squeezed out all the juice the expectant crowd provided. There was the matter of avenging the injustices of two regular-season losses a year ago, and there was the matter of Kane’s left ankle, sprained in a loss at Oklahoma last weekend and the subject of intense examination thereafter. Without the main turbine for one of the nation’s most potent offenses, Iowa State likely had little chance. But after the team’s shootaround, Kane’s path to a pregame meal took him by the arena’s media room, where intrepid reporters staked out position for a possible sighting. As he passed, Kane was asked if he would play against the Jayhawks. Count on it, he replied.
…Kansas is still figuring things out, even and perhaps especially the normally stone-faced Wiggins. After knifing through defenders on that fast-break opportunity, only to clank the attempt off the glass, he walked back to the huddle for the ensuing Iowa State timeout wearing a broad smile, as if 14,384 fans had disappeared and only the freshman and his teammates were sharing the world’s most hilarious inside joke.
“We’re just comfortable,” Wiggins said. “We know as a team and a group we’re getting better every day.”
…Everything is coming together for a team steeled for this by its non-conference struggles, more ready for this moment than anyone realized. As Iowa State made its flailing last-minute attempt to stay relevant, Hogue again drove to the hole on Wiggins, and this time the freshman was the one issuing a two-handed rejection. A sly grin broke on Wiggins’ face. When the horn sounded a short time later, a freshman with outsize expectations strapped to him before he even stepped on campus all but skipped toward his teammates with light feet, smiling at what he saw unfold.
Freshman swingman Andrew Wiggins became the first Kansas player to record 19 rebounds since Nick Collison had 19 against Duke in the 2003 NCAA Tournament.
The number included 14 defensive rebounds and five on the offensive glass. Iowa State spent most of the night getting back on defense, rarely sending anybody to the offensive boards.
“I had a talk with my father,” Wiggins said of Mitchell, a former NBA guard. “He was emphasizing rebounding, saying rebounding is a key to wins and everything. So I was trying to emphasize that on the court.”
Iowa State rallied, and then Kansas responded.
The Cyclones fought back again, and then the Jayhawks counter-punched.
In the end, however, the 10th-ranked Cyclones didn't have enough answers, a golden enough shooting touch, or rebounds — and that's why they're stinging from Monday's 77-70 loss against the nation's 18th-ranked team at Hilton Coliseum.
"We're a rhythm team," coach Fred Hoiberg said. "We just couldn't find it tonight."
…"Our guys gave us a shot to win this game, even though we couldn't have shot the ball any worse," Hoiberg said.
Iowa State shot 4-for-25 from 3-point range a game after missing 20 out of 26 at Oklahoma. That's 10-for-51 in the two losses.
Rebounding wasn't much better, as Kansas owned a 53-36 advantage on the boards. The taller Jayhawks had a 23-10 gulf on second-chance points — after Oklahoma held a 22-2 advantage in that department Saturday.
In the two defeats, the Cyclones have been outscored 45-12 on those extra opportunities.
"I give our guys credit for turning them over 24 times and giving themselves a chance to win," Hoiberg said.
What’s remarkable about the talent level for Iowa State right now is that the team sat 2-of-18 from long range with 11:55 to play against one of the bluebloods in college basketball — and remained squarely and inexplicably in the mix.
For the Cyclones against Andrew Wiggins and Co., everything seemed to be hustle baskets and effort. Knocking down 3-pointers, though, is the “on” button for the noise behind Hilton Magic, one of the best home-court advantages in America.
“We were so fortunate tonight, because they missed shots,” Kansas coach Bill Self said.
Shooting, period, undid Iowa State when the game changed most.
A little more than 11 minutes into the second half, the Cyclones were 4-of-21 from the field after halftime — collecting far too much frost to overcome. The stretch of misfires proved game-deciding as Kansas began to build steam out of the halftime locker room.
Wiggins, the Jahawks’ expectations-laden freshman, finished with 17 points and an astounding 19 rebounds. He said of his team’s second-half start: “We came out hard, we came out hungry.”
And Iowa State came out empty.
Des Moines Register
LJW Keegan Ratings: Tharpe puts the point in point guard
First it was Ben McLemore at Phog Allen Fieldhouse. Then it was Elijah Johnson at Hilton and Perry Ellis at the Big 12 Tournament. This time it was Naadir Tharpe.
In the last four meetings between the Big 12 rivals Iowa State and Kansas, one, single Jayhawk, has erupted for a career game against the Cyclones to put the co-defending Big 12 ahead. This time it was Tharpe, who put No. 15 Kansas over the top against No. 8 Iowa State, 77-70.
Tharpe finished with a career-high 23 points making 7-of-9 shots and added six rebounds and four assists. It took a total of 26:47 for him to miss a shot, which came at the 13:13 mark in the second half.
“I thought Naadir was fabulous," said KU coach Bill Self. "Anytime someone makes 23 points on nine shots, they're doing something right."
Iowa State Daily: Rock-Chalked
He didn’t quite match Elijah Johnson’s 39-point outing of a year ago.
But Kansas University junior Naadir Tharpe continued a two-year tradition of scoring from the point guard position in Hilton Coliseum, exploding for a career-high 23 points in Monday’s 77-70 victory over Iowa State.
“I thought he played great. He hit shots, was finding the open man. I think he was player of the game,” said KU freshman Andrew Wiggins, who was outstanding as well, grabbing 19 rebounds, one off KU’s freshman record of 20 set by Eric Chenowith against Texas A&M in 1998.
Tharpe — he scored 14 points the first half as the teams played to a 36-36 deadlock — hit seven of nine shots overall and was three of four from three. He also made six free throws in seven tries and had four assists against four turnovers with six rebounds in 36 minutes.
…“It feels good. Coach always says, ‘Big time players play in the big games,’’’ Tharpe said. “I feel I played well. I had a couple bad turnovers. It’s part of basketball, too, you’ve got to think next play.”
Kansas seized advantage underneath and, despite 24 turnovers, won in rather ho-hum fashion, 77-70.
Sellout crowd tamed. The electric edge gold-clad fans provided while hoping to avenge what they felt was a robbery last year, dissipated once Iowa State missed 10 of its first 11 second-half shots.
What was clear was KU’s superiority. Despite some shaky moments, the Jayhawks climbed to 3-0 in Big 12 play as the league’s only unbeaten team. They also survived what could have been their most treacherous road trip in league, though a date in Stillwater remains with Sir Marcus Smart of Oklahoma State.
Whatever looms on the schedule, however, the win in Hilton was solid. Iowa State led only once, by one point, at the 1:47 mark of the first half. Other than that, KU held a distinct advantage — in size, shooting and talent — while demonstrating the poise needed to win a tough road game.
Slowly but surely, those concerns about a team so young, some one-and-done, continue to diminish.
Credit Naadir Tharpe first.
The point guard was deadly. He made his first seven shots and forced Iowa State to honor the threat he posed outside. Never, though, could the Cyclones contain him.
…Predictions for a hotly contested Big 12 race may have been premature. Sure, lots of action remains, but the KU freshmen everyone expected so much from are beginning to deliver in large doses.
Winning in Hilton Coliseum, in the shadow of Johnny’s statue, and in front of a vociferous sellout hoping for revenge, could do additional wonders for such a young squad.
As for whether the Jayhawks could tell if Kane was limited because of the injury, freshman forward Andrew Wiggins, who finished with 17 points and a whopping 19 rebounds, said: “Toward the end of the game, when he fell down, yeah.”
That moment came with around four minutes remaining, as Kane appeared to re-injure his ankle leg but he later said it was just a knee to the thigh.
KU coach Bill Self said that incident was big for the Jayhawks down the stretch, because it prevented Kane from driving into the teeth of the Kansas defense with Iowa State needing three-pointers to get back into it.
In the end, whether the looks were clean or not, ISU's off-shooting night proved to be the biggest factor in KU taking an early stranglehold on the Big 12 Conference race.
“It was just one of those nights where we couldn't get anything to fall,” Ejim said. “And that's tough when you're a team that relies on shooting the ball. Sometimes you just have to shoot yourselves out of it.”
Added ISU coach Fred Hoiberg: “Sometimes you have nights like this in the game of basketball. The best shooters in the world have nights like this.”
It would have been acceptable for either freshman — or the young Jayhawks as a whole — to fold under the pressure of playing at Hilton Coliseum, but because No. 15 Kansas has played the most difficult schedule in the country, the Jayhawks came out in attack mode and led for most of the contest as they prevented Hilton Magic from happening.
For Wiggins, it was a breakout performance. Although the freshman forward scored a quiet 17 points and never got fully going on the offensive end, it was his 19 rebounds and overall intensity that really impressed on Monday night. It just seemed like for the first time all season, Wiggins put together a complete game in every single facet of the game. Wiggins was engaged on the defensive end, rebounded hard on both ends and attacked the basket both in transition and the halfcourt.
Wiggins’ three-point shot still struggled (1-for-5) but he still hunted his offense with confidence.
Embiid was also a man among boys at times in the contest as well. The freshman center had 16 points, nine rebounds and five blocks as he showed his versatility on both ends of the floor with the way that we can move and run the floor. Embiid is one of the few players in the country that can making a jaw-dropping play on the defensive end and follow it up just as quickly with a ridiculous display of potential on offense.
Although Wiggins and Embiid imposed their will for much of the game, turnovers were still an issue for the duo, as they combined for 13 of them, but Kansas still earned the victory and Wiggins and Embiid are still freshmen playing in one of the toughest arenas in the country.
Not to be overlooked, junior point guard Naadir Tharpe was also tremendous. Wiggins and Embiid playing well means a lot for the Jayhawks, but they still need a steady contribution at point guard to be among the nation’s elite.
Embiid is an incredibly gifted athlete who is becoming a basketball player before our eyes.
Sometimes our eyes wince, as they did while watching him turn the basketball over seven times Monday night and commit five fouls.
But Embiid has come so far since the start of the season, especially as an offensive player. He moves. He has improving footwork. He can use both hands. And he’s starting to understand more and more where he is on the floor and how to get to where he needs to be.
A bunch of NBA general managers are daydreaming about Embiid these days. As good as Wiggins has been and will be in the future, Embiid has that 7-foot thing going for him. Best of all, he moves that 7-foot thing like it’s about 6-6.
Give Wiggins a high five, too. He had 19 rebounds and is improving defensively. He still takes too many bad shots. He’s still trying to figure out his offensive consistency. But Wiggins is becoming more like the prototypical Bill Self player, one who is willing and eager to contribute in all facets of basketball.
KU is now 3-0 in the Big 12 and, with road wins in hand at Oklahoma and Iowa State, is back to being a strong conference favorite. The Jayhawks’ difficult non-conference schedule left them with four losses, but it’s a better team because of those experiences.
Best of all, there’s still so much room for KU to grow. The Jayhawks did a lot of things well Monday night, but they bungled some things, too. Self is a master at fixing bungles. And when he cleans up some more of the mistakes, Kansas will be a team ready for a long postseason run.
Wichita Eagle Lutz
But this is what Kansas can do. These are its spoils. It is the 1 percent. Because it was KU's Naadir Tharpe who led all scorers with 23 in the Jayhawks' 77-70 win at 14-2 Iowa State Monday night. And Tharpe was a total afterthought. How can a team be so lucky?
How annoying it's gotta be to watch Kansas do this year after year and look as fertile with talent this season as it has in god-knows-how-long. How irritating, to see your team reduced to jacking up 20-footers thanks to a second lottery pick patroling the paint, a lanky guy named "Joe-el" who's legend grows with each week thanks to the fact he "only started playing basketball three years ago."
Going 4-of-25 from 3-point range is a surefire way to lose. It's what Iowa State was reduced to on Monday night. This game was tied at the half following a big 3 from DeAndre Kane. The second 20 minutes seemed mostly recreational. How does that happen?
Joel Embiid is how. He's who flared up Twitter and caused the announcing crew on ESPN to invoke the name "Hakeem" and cue up pro potential and cause a guy who knows a thing or two about the NBA to say he's the best player in college basketball right now. There's burgeoning talk of Embiid swapping spots with Wiggins at No. 1 overall come June. The center who plays like a guard and is built like a muscular Gumby. He's something else to watch; a different kind of visual experience than the also-ridiculous Wiggins. Embiid finished with 16 points, nine rebounds, five blocks, seven turnovers and a foul-out that included a flagrant for tossing an elbow.
Yes, he scored less than Wiggins. Despite being listed four inches taller than Wiggins, he had less than half the amount of rebounds. And more turnovers. Yet still undeniably offered the latest evidence of his ascension in the minds of NBA scouts and general managers everywhere. He was that good.
Both he and Wiggins were that good. This is the empire of Bill Self, and once again it looks like he's got no interest in others gunning for his throne in this conference.
How must it feel for everyone else? Helpless.
Kansas put on a clinic on how to play in a raucous, hostile Hilton Coliseum.
The Jayhawks grabbed the game early, never giving it back.
They were efficient on offense, hitting big shots when the momentum required.
They controlled the glass, holding a 53-36 rebounding edge. They took away ISU’s biggest weapon, its transition game, the origin point of so many ISU runs.
They answered every ISU mini-run. Kansas kept coming at ISU. They never gave up a momentum swinging sequence, letting ISU hit a series of 3-pointers in a 45 second span that’s slayed so many Hilton foes.
“We didn’t keep the crowd out of the game,” Self said, “but we didn’t let the crowd really get into the game because with every run they made or got close we were able to answer.”
Wiggins looked like a potential No. 1 pick early, finishing with 17 points and 19 rebounds. He sliced through the lane, hitting shots and grabbing boards.
Kansas center Joel Embiid played like a possible top selection too, compiling 16 points, nine rebounds and five blocks. He was a human flyswatter around the net, altering anything thrown up near the rim when he wasn’t asserting himself on the block in the second half.
Then there was Kansas guard Naadir Tharpe, who dropped a game-high 23 points. It’s an ever revolving door of players as talented as Wiggins, Embiid and Tharpe that has Kansas reigning supreme over the Big 12.
The NBA has a player draft, and in June woebegone teams like the Milwaukee Bucks and Orlando Magic can snap up players like Andrew Wiggins and Joel Embiid.
The NCAA has no such draft. So year in and year out, Kansas can replace an All-America freshman guard in Ben McLemore with an even-better player in Canada’s Andrew Wiggins after McLemore departed for the NBA.
And just as a special bonus, KU Coach Bill Self signed a 7-footer named Joel Embiid from Cameroon, called “the best player in the country” Monday night by Iowa State Coach Fred Hoiberg.
…Kansas has nine straight Big 12 titles. For all the talk a week ago from various experts claiming the road to this year’s championship goes through Ames, the Jayhawks went through Ames Monday. And the result was the same it had been in 16 of the previous 17 times Kansas played the Cyclones.
For all the feel-good stories in college basketball, and the occasional Final Four runs of the Wichita States and Butlers, the smart money will always be on the teams with the players projected to go high in the next NBA draft.
…This is why it would be such a happy shock to the system here if Iowa State could win the recruiting derby for Rashad Vaughn, a 6-6 guard finishing his prep career in the Las Vegas area. ISU is a finalist for the blue-chipper. Kentucky, Kansas and North Carolina still have their hats in the ring, but Hoiberg has a puncher’s chance for this kid.
…It’s a long season. Iowa State, which is now spending its second-straight week in the Top Ten, isn’t a Top Ten team. It is, obviously, a very good club. But it can’t compensate for shooting woes the way Kansas, which was no great shakes at 5-of-16 behind the arc, can.
You don’t have to be a master salesman to pitch Kansas basketball to the truest of the blue-chippers. They know who you are, they know where you can and will take them.
Two of the top five, maybe top three, maybe even top two picks in this year’s NBA draft played in Hilton for the only times in their careers Monday. They heard the noise, they met the No. 10 Cyclones, and they remained the only unbeaten team in Big 12 play.
Worse yet, they’re only starting to get good.
All the talk in Lawrence has centered around Andrew Wiggins, Joel Embiid and the questions surrounding the point guard duo of Naadir Tharpe and Frank Mason.
However, the key to Bill Self’s Kansas Jayhawks might be the play of their third freshman, Wayne Selden.
Self loves toughness. He needs toughness. He rode the duo of Thomas Robinson and Tyshawn Taylor all the way to the national championship contest a couple of years ago. That wasn’t exactly a loaded group of NBA prospects, but those two guys consistently imposed their will and it got the Jayhawks to the final game of the season.
Wiggins hasn’t displayed a ton of toughness to this point. The same can be said about Embiid -- but the skilled 6-foot-11 Cameroon native has an excuse; he’s still learning the game. Perry Ellis and Tharpe wouldn’t be described as tough kids, either. But Selden possesses that killer instinct. Self and the assistant coaches saw it throughout the preseason, when he and Ellis were the two most productive players on the floor on most days.
“He gives us a physical toughness and a great competitive spirit,” Self told me Sunday. “Guys feed off of it.”
…Would this be the year the Big 12 streak ends?
It could depend on Selden, because the version we've seen over the past week can be the difference-maker for the Jayhawks. Selden can take pressure off Wiggins and can bring much-needed toughness to the table. Selden can shoot it, he can finish around the basket and he’s a capable passer who is able to set up guys such as Wiggins and Embiid for easy baskets.
Selden showed it all the past two games. He made 16 of 27 shots from the field, drilled 8 of 15 shots from behind the arc and was the key to a pair of critical wins over Oklahoma and Kansas State.
“We’re a different team when he plays like that,” Self said.
ESPN Goodman ($)
Following his first Big 12 Newcomer of the Week honor, Kansas freshman guard Wayne Selden, Jr., garnered the Athlons National Freshman of the Week honor the website announced Monday.
Selden helped the Jayhawks start 2-0 in conference play as KU won at Oklahoma (90-83) and defeated Kansas State (86-60). The Roxbury, Mass., guard opened the week with a career-best 24 points, including five three-pointers, in the win in Norman. His five treys were the most in a game by a Jayhawk this season. Selden then added 20 points and four boards versus the Wildcats, connecting on 7-of-10 shots from the field. For the week, Selden shot 59.3 percent (16-of-27) and 53.3 percent (8-of-15) from beyond the arc. He totaled six rebounds, four assists and two steals.
CBS Wayman Tisdale Award Freshmen of the Week: Wayne Selden
The Jayhawks on Monday for the second straight game wore alternate adidas uniforms. These uniforms were grey. On Saturday against Kansas State, KU wore cream colored alternate uniforms.
The grey uniforms have a white ‘Kansas’ in circus font, outlined in red, arching across the chest with the jersey number centered below, also in circus font, resembling the 1988 NCAA title team uniform. The grey shorts have a red stripe and a blue stripe at the bottom with a large K on the shorts.
Both sets of alternate uniforms don tonal pinstripes that read: “Pay Heed. The game you love began here. Respect those who came before you. Make their legacy your own. Because destiny favors the dedicated. And rings don’t replace work. In this game you don’t get what you want. You get what you earn. We are Kansas. Together we rise. Rock Chalk Jayhawk!”
“We decided in late summer that we would have two more uniforms to wear throughout the year,” Self said. “Although a little different in color, both are definitely traditional from the fonts used in past going back several decades. We’re excited about it. We’ll be rotating the uniforms throughout the rest of the season.”
Gametime vs. Iowa State I smell blood #LetsGetThisMoney #KUCMB
It's amazing how uninformed musberger is. I mean I don't think he preps at all.
Brent has a lot of theories about Wiggins' background, but he's not sure about them
Kansas jerseys tonight: just awesome. Kansas itself: pretty awesome so far as well.
Second half of KU-ISU will be great. Right up until the traditional crushing fluke shot/bad call against the Clones.
Joel Embiid: two flagrants in last two games. That's how a guy gets a reputation.
In 30 secs, Joel Embiid has an assist out of double, a block and two beautiful baskets. Whoever has the No. 1 pick will think long and hard.
I can't see how Embiid isn't the No. 1 pick in the draft this summer. How could anyone pass on that?
Joel Embiid taking over. Wow.
Tanking is now known as #Embiiding ---please make a note of it #KU
ISU PA warns that if any more items are thrown on floor, a technical will be assessed. #KUbball
turn up naaaaaa @Ntharpe1
Abracadabra! No. 15 @KUHoops makes Hilton Magic disappear in 77-70 win at No. 8 Iowa St.
Young guys grew up a bit tonight #rockchalk
Great win tonight !!
Good win tonight love my team #KUCMB
Great road win in tough environment ! Did what it took to win #KUCMB
Great win from my boys tonight against Iowa St. Great performance from @Ntharpe1 @22wiggins an @jojo_embiid keep it up fellas 3-0. #KUCMB
9 points....child's play.
19 rebounds....grown man business.
“This might be Bill Self’s most talented Kansas team since they lost 2 VCU in 2011. And they’re getting better. Will be right there in March.”
An awesome part of college basketball is watching a young team grow up before your eyes. Hello, Kansas.”
“How many guys can get 17 points and 17 boards and still leaving you feeling like, ‘Eh, he can still do better’? Only No. 1 picks, basically.”
Embiid has been terrific but the real difference for KU is the way Naadir Tharpe has seized the PG spot. Showing leadership & efficiency
VOTE for Coach Self & his Assists Foundation (currently 22nd out of 48 coaches!)
Big 12 / College News
Common theme among coaches out recruiting yesterday - freedom of movement rules have disappeared with conference play. "the charge is back"
I've never been a big fan of the RPI when it comes to putting college basketball teams in their proper place among their peers. A tougher schedule = better RPI ranking. We all get that.
The Big 12 conference is currently ranked No. 1 in RPI. I'm sure the Big 10 could make a strong argument against that.
Wisconsin and Michigan State ranked No. 3 and No. 4 in the country.
Iowa State at No. 8 is the Big 12's highest ranked team. The conference has five teams in the AP poll again this week. They just keep beating up on one another.
Four of the five have already lost in league play.
You can make a point that parity comes into play in the Big 12 or you can say KU is too good for everyone else.
Kansas and Oklahoma State were the pre-season co-favorites. Baylor and Iowa State were next in the order.
I've already scratched off Baylor as a contender and I'm not convinced Oklahoma State will live up to the pre-season hype. So, here's the deal:
Does anyone really believe Iowa State is going to challenge Kansas at the end? It’s tough to win on the road but I think most of us have a pretty good idea who the eventual conference winner is going to be.
We can kid ourselves into believing there will be a race to the finish.
Nope. Not with a team that has three lottery picks in the starting lineup.
We need to accept the fact that this league is a one-trick pony. Sure we get some competitive games but it's a boring league.
It’s that way every year unless you're a KU fan.
All this RPI chatter is for naught. It doesn't mean squat.
That’s, Jack’s smack.
Joel Embiid is a spectacle. Seven feet tall with a soccer player’s feet, a volleyball player’s quick jumps, the earnestness of a young man learning a new game and the ambition of a smart guy starting to realize how good he can be. KU beat eighth-ranked Iowa State last night, 77-70, and Embiid was the third-highest scorer on his team but the most jaw-dropping: 16 points, nine rebounds, seven blocks and, maybe, three or four plays you probably won’t see anyone else in the country make this year.
There is a lot to take from that game last night, actually. Naadir Tharpe was very good, scoring 23 points on just nine shots. Andrew Wiggins had the kind of game that is spectacular for anyone else (17 points and 19 rebounds) but seems to be digested as mediocre by a segment of fans that were expecting some nightly combination of Wilt Chamberlain, Michael Jordan and Larry Bird.
Even as Embiid, Wiggins and Tharpe combined for 17 turnovers alone, this is a team coming together and looking very much like the group that should be favored to win the league again.
If only someone told you this was going to happen a month ago.
Either way, the league is turning into something much better than a lot of us expected. KU, Oklahoma State, Oklahoma and K-State are either 3-0 or 2-1. Iowa State and Texas are 2-2 with an intriguing ceiling. Baylor is 1-1 with the same.
KU plays Oklahoma State in Lawrence this weekend, K-State has an interesting game in Austin a week from today.
It’s fun when your expectations are exceeded as a sports fan.
KC Star Mellinger
Javan Felix scored 19 points and Cam Ridley had 12 points and 12 rebounds as Texas beat West Virginia 80-69 on Monday night.
It was Ridley’s fourth double-double of the season. Isaiah Taylor and Martez Walker added 10 points apiece for Texas (13-4 overall, 2-2 Big 12).
West Virginia (10-7, 2-2) lost for the second straight time in Big 12 play after starting off 2-0. It was the first time the Mountaineers had been beaten by more than 10 points this year.
Coming off an upset victory over then-No. 9 Iowa State on Saturday, OU men's hoops team is No. 25 in this week's AP poll, marking the first time in four seasons that the Sooners are ranked.
The Sooners (13-3) took down the Cyclones 87-82 Saturday in Norman. With the win, OU becomes one of five Big 12 schools in the AP top 25 - more than any other conference.
Big XII composite schedule (includes results, highlights, stats)
ESPN College GameDay Schedule
2013-14 TV Schedule