Joel Embiid to miss rest of regular season

Kansas center Joel Embiid dunks during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against Oklahoma in Lawrence, Kan., Monday, Feb. 24, 2014. (AP Photo/Orlin Wagner)
Kansas center Joel Embiid dunks during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against Oklahoma in Lawrence, Kan., Monday, Feb. 24, 2014. (AP Photo/Orlin Wagner)

COURTESY: KU Sports Information

LAWRENCE, Kan. – Kansas men’s basketball coach Bill Self announced Monday that freshman center Joel Embiid will miss Kansas’ last two regular-season games vs. Texas Tech on March 5 and at West Virginia on March 8, due to a lower back strain.

“Joel re-aggravated a spot in his lower back that he was dealing with a few weeks ago,” Self explained. “We had another MRI performed. 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.”

Embiid leads Kansas in rebounding with an 8.1 per game average, which ranks sixth in the Big 12. His 2.6 blocks per game ranks second. The seven-foot center from Yaounde, Cameroon, missed the Jayhawks’ home contest against TCU on Feb. 15 with the same injury, but returned to average 14.0 points and 10.3 rebounds in the four games since.

“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 back-to-back double-doubles with 12 points and 13 rebounds against Oklahoma (2/24) and 13 points and 13 rebounds at Oklahoma State (3/1).

Self and his staff will monitor Embiid’s progress and determine his status after Kansas plays at West Virginia on March 8.

“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.”

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