Four Takeaways From Kansas’ Win Over New MexicoPosted by kory Carpenter is a RTC Big 12 contributor. You can find him on Twitter @Kory_Carpenter on December 16th, 2013
Kansas rebounded from last week’s loss to Florida nicely Saturday night with an 80-63 win over New Mexico in Kansas City. The Jayhawks had lost three out of four games coming into that one, but showed signs of improvement against a good Lobos squad. It was a strong enough performance to jump Kansas from #13 to #6 on kenpom.com. Here are a few takeaways from Saturday night’s win.
- Naadir Tharpe looks to be Bill Self’s point guard going forward. He had lost the starting job over the previous two games to freshman Frank Mason, but the switch wasn’t successful. Mason has a higher ceiling but he isn’t a true point guard, at least not at this point in his career. In the two games he started against Colorado and Florida, Mason averaged only two assists per game and committed seven turnovers. Tharpe returned to the starting unit against New Mexico, played 37 minutes, and had a better than 2:1 assist/turnover ratio in the contest (nine assists, four turnovers). The question remains whether he can bring that kind of performance to bear for six consecutive games in March, but there is no use looking anywhere else at this point.
- Bill Self joked after the game that the more freshman center Joel Embiid plays, the less time he will spend in Lawrence. The Cameroon native had 18 points in 25 minutes, shot 80 percent from the free throw line, grabbed six rebounds, rejected four shots, and gave us an Hakeem Olajuwon/Dream Shake impression that not many other college players can do (and really, how many pros?). With so few talented centers in the NBA and a history of GMs drafting on the notion of potential, don’t be shocked if Embiid jumps over the superstar freshman trio of Andrew Wiggins, Jabari Parker and Julius Randle and gets selected No. 1 overall in next summer’s NBA Draft. He has that much upside.
- The Kansas rotation is slowly working itself out. The starters took 45 of the team’s 54 shots (83%) and played 155 of the possible 200 minutes (78%). Perry Ellis, Andrew Wiggins and Joel Embiid had a Percentage of Possessions Used between 22-25 percent, which counts how often a possession is ended positively or negatively because of that player. Each of those players should be at 20 percent or higher this season with Wayne Selden not far behind, Tharpe distributing the ball, and the bench coming in to rebound and shoot open threes. Eventually that will be the case.
- On that note, senior forward Tarik Black’s time in the rotation might be done. Black was a starter to begin the year while Embiid became acclimated to the college game. Well, that has already happened, and Black’s minutes have been dwindling as a result over the last two weeks. He played only two minutes against New Mexico and is averaging 6.0 MPG in the last six games after averaging 13.4 MPG over the first five.