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Kansas Defeats Iona Thanks To Embiid's Breakout Night

A look at the Jayhawks' win over the Gaels

Jamie Squire

It's a testament to how good Kansas has been on defense that after a game in which Kansas allowed Iona to score just .93 points per trip, all anyone could talk about was how bad the defense was. While the two point percentage is still awful (Iona shot 46% from inside the arc) we started to see glimpses of KU's defense improving. The Jayhawks blocked almost 9% of Iona's shots and, for a third straight game, dominated the defensive glass, grabbing 84% of Iona's misses. Rebounding isn't as important as actually forcing teams to miss (imagine that) but being able to basically limit an opponent to one shot every trip down the floor has huge statistical and psychological advantages.

Once again, Kansas played really well on offense. They scored 1.21 points per trip despite shooting just 28.6% from three. They're not going to make two-thirds of their twos every game, but with the slashers they have, as well as the potential for Perry Ellis and Joel Embiid to develop into maybe the best frontcourt duo in the country, Kansas should shoot a high percentage inside all year. Kansas also had its third consecutive low turnover game which, even if it is impacted by the new rules, is impressive for a group of youngsters.

Player ratings!

Joel Embiid: 10. With his father watching him play for the first time, the loon from Cameroon (worth a shot) had his best game in a Kansas uniform, making all 7 of his shots from the field, grabbing 13 rebounds, and blocking 2 shots. He did commit 4 fouls, which needs to stop because he needs to be on the floor for more than 25 minutes per game. Embiid did show that he could blossom into the rim protector a team needs to have in this era, and he scored in a variety of ways, flashing a lefty hook, a eurostep, and of course a couple dunks.

Perry Ellis: 10. I'll have much more on Ellis in a separate post, so I don't want to spoil anything here, but he shot 9-11 from two, 3-4 from the line, grabbed 7 rebounds and didn't turn the ball over. There are a lot of reasons why throwing a zone defense at this Kansas team is really stupid (though maybe I should stop writing that point just in case any opposing coaches read this. Zone defense is awesome! yay!) but the biggest reason is probably Ellis. He's smart enough to find the holes in the zone, he can knock down a jumper, and he can score inside really efficiently.

Andrew Wiggins: 7. A three game sample is large enough to make grand pronouncements about a player's character, right? Sure. Wiggins was pretty content to hang out in the background for most of this one because the opponent was Iona, but when Kansas came out in the second half up just 5, Wiggins shot the ball on 5 of Kansas's first 8 possessions. When things are going well he's probably going to blend into the background, but when he needs to make an impact, he's going to go ahead and do that and good luck if you think you're going to tell him any differently. He went just 1-4 from three, but 3-5 from two, made all four of his free throws and added 7 rebounds, 3 assists and 2 steals.

Naadir Tharpe: 9. Tharpe went 1-2 from two and 1-3 from three but who cares about that because he had 10 assists and just 1 turnover.

Wayne Selden: 8. Like Tharpe, Selden didn't shoot much, going 3-5 from two and 0-1 from beyond the arc. But like Tharpe, the rest of his night was very good. Selden dished out 5 assists and didn't turn it over. He didn't have a rebound in this one, which is a little disappointing because I think he could be a very good offensive rebounder if he crashes the glass.

Frank Mason: 6. I love Mason's reckless abandon, but stop shooting so much. He went just 4-9 from two and attempted just 2 free throws. It's fine to drive into the lane repeatedly when he's getting to the line repeatedly like he did against Duke, but if the refs aren't calling it they aren't calling it.

Conner Frankamp: 6. Frankamp went just 10 minutes in this one, and made 1 of his 3 threes, but stepped it up on defense to the point where I think we will see more of him on Friday against Towson.

I'm not going to rate him because he played just 8 minutes, but I will say I'm pretty disappointed that Andrew White didn't play that much. He went 1-1 from two with a nice flash to the basket, made 1 of his 2 threes, grabbed a rebound and had 2 blocks. I don't know if it's defensive related or if it's just the fact that he's behind Wiggins, but he has been playing less than I thought he would.

Speaking of which, Brannen Greene got a DNP in this one. He had to go to the hospital this week, and Self said he needed to be a bit more responsible off the court, but added he wasn't in trouble.