Post-Game Awards: Oklahoma State (Round Two)

Beware of the Blog’s Player of the Game is Joel Embiid. I was leaning towards Wayne Selden for most of this game, but his terrible defensive effort on Marcus Smart down the stretch cost him. Embiid was probably the most solid player for KU from start to finish. The 7-footer avoided foul trouble in the first half before picking up three quick ones in the second which limited his minutes somewhat. Still, he was a rebound magnet pulling down 13 boards to go along with as many points for yet another double-double. He was efficient offensively, although the fact that he go off only six shots on a night where KU clearly had a size advantage is a red flag for this game. Embiid also made all five of his free throw attempts, had three steals, a block and only two turnovers. Wiggins may have been aggressive, which again is a great sign, but he turned it over six times.

Current Standings:

  • 1. Andrew Wiggins (8)
  • T-2. Perry Ellis (5)
  • T-2. Naadir Tharpe (5)
  • T-3. Wayne Selden (4)
  • 4. Joel Embiid (3)
  • 5. Frank Mason (2)
  • T-6. Tarik Black (1)
  • T-6. Brannen Greene (1)

You let the whole team down Naadir Tharpe. After taking home player of the game in KU’s last outing (including the best half of his Jayhawk career in which he almost single handedly finished off OU), Naadir followed up by seemingly leaving his brain in Lawrence.  He was in the clouds all night, making one bad play after another on his way to six points on 25% shooting. He did have five assists, but even that wasn’t enough to swing a positive assist to turnover ratio as he threw it away six times. And it felt like a lot more than that. His carelessness set the tone for the whole team and the Jayhawks ended the game with 22 giveaways hearkening back to some of the early season sloppy performances.

Furthermore, KU had OSU right where they wanted them in this one and they needed their leader to step up and bring them home. Naadir was nowhere to be found and the team faltered. I don’t think this is a trend or anything, but it was certainly enough to hand this game to OSU. As ESPN analyst Jay Bilas said during the broadcast, “(KU) keeps taking aim squarely at it’s own foot, and they are hitting it every time”. Tharpe seemed to have particularly good aim on this night. There was even a moment late in the second half when Tharpe passed it off to Embiid, who was immediately trapped. Embiid passed the ball back and Tharpe wasn’t looking. The ball hit him right in the face. Tharpe needed to focus and he didn’t.  If Tharpe losses his focus in an NCAA tournament game, you can pretty much count on KU going home.