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Originally published March 3, 2014 at 02:18p.m., updated March 3, 2014 at 11:57p.m.

Joel Embiid to miss next two KU games

Self says 7-footer will be reevaluated Sunday

The Oklahoma State student section explodes behind Kansas center Joel Embiid following a bucket by the Cowboys late in the second half on Saturday, March 1, 2014 at Gallagher-Iba Arena in Stillwater, Oklahoma.

The Oklahoma State student section explodes behind Kansas center Joel Embiid following a bucket by the Cowboys late in the second half on Saturday, March 1, 2014 at Gallagher-Iba Arena in Stillwater, Oklahoma.

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A lower-back strain will keep Kansas University freshman center Joel Embiid off the court the final two games of the regular season.

The 7-footer from Cameroon, who was injured with 41⁄2 minutes left in Saturday’s loss at Oklahoma State, will sit out Wednesday’s Senior Night game against Texas Tech and Saturday’s West Virginia contest, then be re-evaluated on Sunday, coach Bill Self said Monday.

“Joel re-aggravated a spot in his lower back that he was dealing with a few weeks ago,” Self said. “We had another MRI performed (Sunday). We’ve also spoken with experts with this particular injury and have been told the same thing we were told before: Rest is the best remedy. Rest did him good the last time he sat out.”

Embiid, who averages 11.2 points and 8.1 boards a game, missed the Feb. 15 TCU game because of his aching back.

“It should not be an injury that keeps him out for the rest of the season,” Self said. “Last time he was off five days, and that worked very nicely for him, and he was able to come back and be 100 percent.”

Embiid is coming off consecutive double-doubles, with 12 points and 13 rebounds against Oklahoma (Feb. 24) and 13 points and 13 rebounds at Oklahoma State (Saturday).

“We’ve made a decision that since we are so close to the postseason, we will re-evaluate him on Sunday,” Self said. “If the discomfort ceases, he should be able to practice on Monday (March 10) and participate in the Big 12 Championship. If he’s still having symptoms of tightness and soreness, then we will look at sitting him longer through the postseason conference tournament, but there is no reason why he should not be feeling much better by the NCAA Tournament. The doctors feel that amount of time off should do him wonders for how he is feeling.”

Self indicated an expert in lower-back injuries was shown Embiid’s MRI. The expert has worked with several football offensive linemen who have had lower-back injuries.

“It can’t get worse than it is, but when it gets bumped, it’s going to hurt,” Self said. “The majority of symptoms are tightness, not a throbbing pain but tightness. He feels he needs to stretch all the time. He can’t get loose. It’s very severe now.

“If he can practice (next) Monday and Tuesday pain-free, we’ll play him. Doctors say we should. If it’s not, we’ll give him another week. We think the high end on this is two weeks. If after two weeks feels the same, we won’t (play him). I don’t think that will be the case, off what one of the foremost authorities on this particular lower-back situation tells us.”

Self said Naadir Tharpe (dislocated left thumb) should not miss any time.

Net-cutting controversy continues: Oklahoma State’s Marcus Smart said after Saturday’s win over KU that one of the reasons he played so well was his desire to keep the Jayhawks from cutting down the nets in Gallagher-Iba Arena. He said the coaches showed him a quote of Self saying he wanted to come to OSU and clip the nets after a Big 12-clinching victory

Self told the Journal-World Sunday he never said anything about cutting down nets. And on Monday, OSU coach Travis Ford said he never presented such a quote to Smart.

“I never heard Bill Self say they were going to cut down the nets. I never saw that. I think Marcus was probably equating if they (Jayhawks) win in Stillwater they would celebrate then, and he probably just equated something along that line. There was nothing ever said. We never showed any quote of that at all. Absolutely not,” Ford said.

Ford also said: “You try to motivate your team. We told them what was at stake for Kansas, how hard they were going to play. They’ve got a great team, great kids. They are playing hard, and they deserve when they win it outright to celebrate. They deserve that.”

Self again was asked about the issue on the Big 12 teleconference.

“That was disturbing seeing that,” Self said of Smart’s quote. “I don’t know where he (Smart) got that information. That’s not for me to answer. (It’s) certainly 100 percent false. There was never one thing uttered out of my mouth to talk about doing anything on somebody else’s floor. I don’t know where that came from, but certainly that’s not for me to answer.”

Curie OK for postseason: KU signee Cliff Alexander’s Chicago Curie High team is eligible to compete in the Illinois state playoffs, it was reported Monday. Curie recently was stripped of all regular season Public League victories for using ineligible players.

Lineup: Self said on his “Hawk Talk” radio show that seniors Tarik Black, Niko Roberts and Justin Wesley would start Wednesday on Senior Night against Texas Tech along with freshmen Andrew Wiggins and Wayne Selden.

Comments

Brianna Zaleski 8 months, 4 weeks ago

More proof that Smart is an ass. But not of the "smart" variety, rather, a dumb one.
Ford should have called him out on it and told him to learn to keep his mouth shut. It's harder to stick your own foot in that way.

Embiid should (and probably will) sit TT and maybe WV. A healthy Joel is essential to a deep tourney run. However, I don't believe this team has the consistency to put together 6 straight games

Joe Joseph 8 months, 4 weeks ago

Careful. Smart might come after you for calling him names.

Erich Hartmann 8 months, 3 weeks ago

Yeah, Smart may try to "push" us fans, but I'm not scared. LeBron James and Kevin Durant and Blake Griffin are going to eat his lunch. And you get fined in the NBA for flopping...

DWade with 2 ailing knees would school Marcus Smart. The mouth that cant shut up, would simply get shut up by bigger, faster, stronger, better players. Unless he seriously changes his mentality, Smart wont have a long career: headcase.

Mike Riches 8 months, 4 weeks ago

The big question is how much to play Jo Jo in the Big 12 tourney (assuming he doesn't play much this week). If we make a run in KC, that's a lot of playing in a short amount of time. The risk of injury is high, and in my opinion, there not much of an upside, except for improving chemistry and building rhythm. Maybe a number one seed is on the line, Lunardi has KU as a 1 seed right now, even after Saturday's loss, but in what is probably the toughest region. Wouldn't it be better to be a 2 seed in a less difficult region, and in the Midwest, closer to home? If we win the next two games, could it actually be advantageous to exit early from the Big 12 tourney? It's easy to understand why Bob Knight hates conference tournaments...

Gerry Butler 8 months, 3 weeks ago

actually, I don't want to see us as a nu 1 seed. I would much rather be a 2 seed and stay in the Midwest region, then a nu 1 and get moved to the east region. you know, I know, they will not move WSU out of the Midwest, Arizona in the west, I don't believe it makes much difference anyways, just don't believe that this year is gonna be our year to make THE run to the finals, to inconsistent, but I like always will be riding with the guys all the way GO HAWKS

John Myers 8 months, 4 weeks ago

“We told them what was at stake for Kansas"... Nothing, really.. What a motivator, that guy.

Armen Kurdian 8 months, 4 weeks ago

Maybe put Jo Jo on cleanup duty at the end of the game? To be honest, it would be good for the team to know how to play w/o him and his size. It will force Black & Traylor to continue to get more dedicated inside, and probably force NT to think more when he's leading the offense. It would simulate Jo Jo getting into foul trouble and being off the floor. Plus you don't want him injuring himself so badly he hurts his shot at the NBA. Now that I think about it, this injury may impel him to declaring for the draft more so than if he were healthy.

Looking to see KU, KSU, & WSU in the F4 all together, w/KU beating KSU and then meeting the Shockers in the National Championship. I'd buy the t-shirt either way!

Titus Canby 8 months, 4 weeks ago

That would be an awesome final 4. Throw in Maryland (Turgeon) or Colorado (Boyle) and it would be even better. Last I checked though, neither of them are tournament teams this year, are they?

Ron Prichard 8 months, 4 weeks ago

Why would KSU in the Final Four be awesome? You mention Maryland and Colorado because of their KU ties. If you are going in that direction, go for UAB or FIU or whatever that team is that Dooley is coaching. Why KSU? Their fans would be unbearable. That is a horrible Final Four.

Do you think any one of the KSU football fans would "love it" if KU played in a new years bowl if they were doing the same?

Let's get rid of the love your home state rival crap and get back to stomping them into oblivion.

Lance Cheney 8 months, 3 weeks ago

And that would require K-State winning a game away from Bramlage.

Gerry Butler 8 months, 3 weeks ago

I don't look at it that way at all. come NCAA tourney time I'm pulling for ALL and I mean ALL big 12 teams including K State unless 1 of the big 12 teams end up playing us in the NCAA tourney then obviously uh ya. but I pull for all the teams because it just makes our league look even that much stronger, it lets these idiots know that ya we DO play basketball in the Midwest, life does exsist outside the EAST COAST, WEST COAST go big 12, including K State, GO HAWKS

Ron Prichard 8 months, 4 weeks ago

Why would any KU fan want KSU in the Final Four? Ever. That's like saying add Missouri as the 4th team and it would be great for the area. Never, ever. Wichita State is fine, since they really don't matter at all to KU. But KSU? Really?

And what on earth would possess you to play Embiid at all if he is hurting?

Titus Canby 8 months, 4 weeks ago

I don't think either KSU or WSU matter. But I do think it would be fun to have three Kansas teams in the Final 4. It's kind of like wanting your little sister to do well. Then stomp her into oblivion on a national stage.

Regarding Embiid, I'm with you. Don't play him at all if he's hurting.

As for Missouri, in the words of Donald Sutherland in Dirty Dozen, "never heard of 'em."

Erich Hartmann 8 months, 3 weeks ago

Why dont KU people understand that KSU fans HATE KU as bad as Mizzou fans hated us? Why would you extend a hand to them? This isnt about helping your neighbor who may be a KSU alum...this is sports rivalry101, and they hate us. I suppose you can think/say whatever you want, but just by "including" ksu in some dream final4, some other KU fans may consider that "soft". Why would you do that? Nobody nationally gives a damn about KState, even in football. What do you think SEC fans, or Buckeye fans, or TX/OU fans think of KState? Regarding KSU basketball--> they got the right coach to keep them boring and midpack. And how beautiful is the gray+purple color combo?

I think the best thing for some KU fan like Armen Kurdian above is to wear KU gear & go attend a KSU game (vs. KU) in Bramlage, and get called personal insults, objects thrown at you, and hear their never-classy crowd chant "f--k KU" several hundred strong, despite national TV audience listening.

And whats the KU vs. KSU basketball W/L breakdown in the Self era? Its a joke, not even a rivalry like Duke/UNC, so dont give them props by suggesting they are an "equal". They absolutely DO NOT deserve to be in a Final 4!!!

Titus Canby 8 months, 4 weeks ago

This really makes Ford, Smart and the entire OSU program look bad. To give Smart the benefit of the doubt, maybe he's using "cutting the down nets" as a metaphor. But it sure doesn't look like it. Sorry to keep harping on this, but I just can't tolerate liars, especially when the lies are intent on making someone else (the TTU fan / Bill Self) look bad.

Otavio Silva 8 months, 4 weeks ago

Marcus Smart shall be know as the one-who-must-not-be-truthful!

Scott MacWilliams 8 months, 4 weeks ago

Please keep Jojo out until after the Big12 tournament!!

I know from experience how ridiculous back pain can be, and the best thing for him is to get some horizontal time on a nice firm mattress along with the other treatments. Can you imagine a roundtrip plane ride to WVa with a sore back?? OUCH!! Forget it!!

If he doesn't get the rest and recuperation he needs now, he is unlikely to make it through the three weeks of March Madness.

This team can get along just fine with Black/Traylor/Lucas covering for Jojo. The rest of the team will learn how to win without him, and when he comes back in a few weeks, he will be ready to rock!!

Joe Joseph 8 months, 4 weeks ago

KU catches a pretty big break with Tech (again) on the schedule following Embiid's back injury.

I'm no doctor, and certainly not smart enough to make the coaching decisions for this team. But if I were the coach, I'd probably shut down Embiid until the Big XII tournament. That would give him until Thursday, March 13 to heal... just shy of 2 weeks.

As much as people harp seeding, we all know it doesn't really mean much. It's all about matchups come tourney time and KU could very well face a tougher matchup as a 1 v 4 than a 2 v 3, etc.

Mark Lindrud 8 months, 4 weeks ago

We are virtually a lock for the 2 seed so rest Embiid this week and he can play sporadically during the Big 12 Tourney. Besides, there is no guarantee that we make it to the Sweet 16 the 3 seed will be there. If we are worried about playing a 4 seed rather than a 3 then let's go home and skip the tournament. I agree with you Joe that it is about the matchups and often times a 4 can be better than a 3 so let's get healthy and then go for broke.

Caleb Longbine 8 months, 4 weeks ago

one thing i cant stand is when people act like our team is anointed by god in victory, but as soon as we lose a game start thinking we wont even get past early round mid majors!

John Myers 8 months, 4 weeks ago

The problem, though, is that so much of the time when we lose, it comes with abysmal performances like Saturday. You can't go deep in the tourney turning the ball over 22 times. Our consistency is a huge concern.

Alex Berger 8 months, 4 weeks ago

Do remember that we won't be playing in a hostile environment like we were on Saturday. If anything the crowds will probably be pro-KU. I think where we have gotten in trouble in the past is when our first year starters think we are unstoppable and underestimate teams in the tourney. Hopefully, losses like this will help our group remember they can lose on any given night. I'd even take an early exit from the Big 12 conference tourney if that's what it takes for that lesson to settle in before the Big Dance.

Jonathan Allison 8 months, 3 weeks ago

Tourney games are considered neutral site with good reason. The crowd will always be pro-KU if KU is winning because KU has a lot of fans and they travel and they get loud. However, the early round games you will usually have the fans of at least 4 different teams in attendance for any single game, and as soon as it looks like KU is on upset alert all of the neutral fans get start pulling for the underdog.

A neutral court in the NCAA tourney can turn hostile quick if KU is down.

Benz Junque 8 months, 3 weeks ago

Yep, ie... Norfolk State over Mizzou in '12. The Mizzou crowd started out loud and in charge and the rest of the crowd was sitting around enjoying the Norfolk State band and cheering for the little team trying hard but when it started looking like Norfolk State had a real chance to win they got LOUD. REALLY LOUD. It helped that the vast majority of the non-Mizzou crowd was Kansas fans and was thrilled to see the "greatest Mizzou team ever" lose in historical fashion. That was one of my most enjoyable days at a live sporting event ever.

Mark Lindrud 8 months, 3 weeks ago

So, as long as the crowds for the rest of the season are really nice and yell Go KU we are going to win lol. Honestly, I am tired of hearing that we can learn from losses. It is too late in the season to have anymore losses before the tournament if we are to be a Final Four team. It is time to win from here on out no matter the environment.

Rodney Crain 8 months, 4 weeks ago

Rest Embiid till the B12 tourny, if he is not ready give him another week off. The key games are those in the NCAA's. the B12 tourny wins are important for seeding, sure its nice to win, but we really have never put to much emphasis on it, and I am ok with that. Focus for Joel is can he be ready for the NCAA's.

Tony Bandle 8 months, 4 weeks ago

This is when we miss Coach Dooley...he constantly was in Bill's ear about the rotation. Bill gets so locked into the game he sometimes forgets he has a bench.

What I would do is put Jo Jo in street clothes for the next two games and rotate the hell out of the roster, with the exception of keeping Andrew and Wayne on the court as much as possible. Otherwise rotate Naadir, Frank and Conner, rotate Perry, Brannen and even AWIII, and rotate Tarik, Landen and Jamari.

Maximize this roster depth for once and use it to put a high pressure, up tempo game against these next two weaker opponents,TT and WV.

Alex Berger 8 months, 4 weeks ago

How do you know that was Dooley's role? I'm not trying to be antagonistic, I just never saw anything that said or alluded to the idea that Dooley helped Self with the rotation. Again, doesn't mean it doesn't exist, I'm just wondering where you heard/saw that.

Tony Bandle 8 months, 3 weeks ago

Sat right behind the bench and heard and watched it throughout the game.

Erich Hartmann 8 months, 3 weeks ago

tony, good point...but Self has been playing 10+ deep all season, which i like

Jason Roberts 8 months, 4 weeks ago

Frankly, I was surprised that Embiid played as many minutes as he did. We have a bruiser in 6'10" Landen Lucas that could have played at least 5-10 minutes. I wouldn't even have him play in the Big 12 Tournament as two weeks rest is what he'll need for the NCAA Tournament. This is where Danny Manning has been sorely missed.

As for the game, Oklahoma State's back was against the wall and they needed that win more than anyone could imagine. I still think they will be gone after the first weekend in the Big Dance. KU will probably beat the pulp out of Texas Tech on Monday but may have trouble at West Virginia on Saturday. What matters is cleaning up all of these deficiencies (turnovers, outside shooting, perimeter defense) before the tournament starts.

Bud Bortner 8 months, 4 weeks ago

Hello out there! Just signed up and first comment! I keep pretty updated on what is said here. Glad to be aboard! Sounds like either M Smart believed or was told we might intend to cut down the nets if we won at OSU. I'm thinking he wouldn't have had to go much further than comments right here by posters prior to the game. I recall reading it as certainty that when we won the league, where we won the league, we cut down the nets. Sounded ridiculous to me at the time....and I wondered how a young OSU player might react. I'm reading that it has been done in the past, but cutting down nets at an opponents court just doesn't quite sound right to me.....neutral site-yes.....end of a tourney-yes. Anyway....love our Hawks, and am thrilled to be able to comment along with fellow Jayhawks!

Mark Lindrud 8 months, 4 weeks ago

Welcome aboard! It has been my believe that you don't cut the nets down on the road because it isn't classy. Smart just seems like a person who is full of crap and does what he has to so he can win, but there is a fine line between doing what you have to for a win and not showing character.

Vernon Riggs 8 months, 4 weeks ago

And especially at the alma mater of the Head Coach...No way HCBS does it in Stillwater. He wouldn't have done it in Columbia. Not his style.

Now, I don't doubt someone told Smart that. One of the OSU coaches? T. Boone? One of his posse?

Titus Canby 8 months, 4 weeks ago

Bud, I think you have a good point. Maybe Smart was reading our posts. If that's the case, he just might be smarter than we thought.

Dyrk Dugan 8 months, 4 weeks ago

Marcus Smart owes Bill Self a public apology. if he doesn't, then you know what he was said was true...in the sense that the OSU coaches showed him a quote. you can edit anything off the internet...on a word doc or something.

at the very least, the school owes Self an apology...a statement should come from their AD. in the long run, i admit it means nothing...but that's too specific of information...and it's not credible at all. it would have been huge news here in the KC area if Coach Self had said in any context, KU would cut the nets down in Stillwater.

as for Embiid, dang, i knew he was hurt...heck, during the game he couldn't run or jump (usually a solid indicator). he should have been pulled from the game. our defense really suffered down the stretch..and part of it. was JoJo's lack of mobility. he should rest this week for sure.

we always seem to just go completely in a fog, after we clinch...whether it's outright or for the tie...when we know that day. last year, we did zero vs. Baylor..and a few years ago, we clinched the tie and went to TTech and they lit us up. that same day loss stuff by another school...does us no good at all. :)

Vernon Riggs 8 months, 4 weeks ago

Landon can take the minutes for the next three games. He play solid defense. Finds his share of rebounds. And, he knows the high / low game. He isn't going to go coast to coast and dunk on the break-away. But, I can live with that. Tech at home. West Virginia next. And, then its Tech, West Virginia, Baylor or TCU in the Second Round of the Big12 Tournament. That would be a good rest for JoJo.

Steve Jacob 8 months, 4 weeks ago

Sitting Embiid the next two games is the right move, even if it makes the West Virginia game a toss up. But the problem will be if he does not play in the Big 12 tournament. Self can say all he wants that Embiid will play in NCAA's, but the committee has fallen for that lie before.

Jim MinorThreat 8 months, 4 weeks ago

Marcus 'notso' Smart is going to spend a lot of money in the NBA paying for his flopping penalties...

Don Johnson 8 months, 4 weeks ago

I think it behooves us to not address Marcus Smart's character. Let's not give them any bulletin board material. Smart has done the unforgivably stupid move of giving KU bulletin board material if we should meet again in the BIG-12 tournament. I would love to see the Cowboys and Smart stand on the sidelines and cut down the nets in KC. Let's hope Bill Self gives Smart a big smile as he clips the strings.

Jonathan Allison 8 months, 3 weeks ago

“That was disturbing seeing that,” Self said of Smart’s quote. “I don’t know where he (Smart) got that information. That’s not for me to answer. (It’s) certainly 100 percent false. There was never one thing uttered out of my mouth to talk about doing anything on somebody else’s floor. I don’t know where that came from, but certainly that’s not for me to answer.”

This quote from Bill Self surprises me. Big deal or not, in the public area, Bill Self usually treats anything that others say about him as water off of his back. He's usually too cool to make a situation off of something that someone said about him. To say that it's disturbing and that it's not for him to answer, indicates that he wants it to be known that he is taking it personally this time. I would have expected him to deny it and say it's false and that Smart's information is incorrect. But he took it one step further, essentially saying that someone at OSU has crossed the line with him. Whether it be Ford, or Smart, or whomever, it doesn't matter. We all know that Bill Self uses this kind of talk as motivation, but he generally keeps that privately in the confines of the locker room. This time it's public information and the next time we take the floor against OSU it will be in every publication, every broadcast, and all eyes will be on what Bill Self brings for paybacks.

Benz Junque 8 months, 3 weeks ago

He knows it was Smart. Ford was pretty clear in his comments that he had nothing to do with it and that Smart was completely inaccurate in what he said.

Tom Richmond 8 months, 3 weeks ago

I was surprised Marcus didn't get an Oscar Sunday night.

Ty Mar 8 months, 3 weeks ago

Smart is getting too much attention in this forum. Isn't that what he would want? ignore him.

Steve Brown 8 months, 3 weeks ago

armchair medical advice, get the electronic stimulation tens unit that runs on battery and stimulates the muscles and then also the table that you strap in and it separates the mid section from the hips and puts the back into alignment. You come out better than new.

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