It’s the third-place game of the ESPN Events Invitational on the parquet floor when the Big 12 takes on the MAAC in the Sunshine State. The #4 Kansas Jayhawks are the “road” team as they battle the Iona Gaels Sunday afternoon. Kansas was stunned 74-73 by Dayton in their semifinal matchup Friday afternoon in their most recent contest. Iona couldn’t build off their upset win over #10 Alabama in the opening round as they fell 72-65 to Belmont in their semifinal clash Friday. The Jayhawks have won three of the four meetings between the teams and have taken the last three meetings. That includes an 86-66 home win in the most recent matchup on November 19, 2013.
Kansas Jayhawks Try to Shrug Off Buzzer Beater LossKansas seemed poised to escape with a win over Dayton in the semifinals of this tournament only to get stunned by a buzzer-beater to send them to the third-place game. The Jayhawks fell to 4-1 on the season and look to shake that off as they take the floor here. Against Dayton, Kansas started strong, bolting to an 11-1 lead out of the gate, and held a 10-point edge at the half. The Jayhawks had their issues in the second half, trailing 68-61 with 7:23 to play in the game, but responded with a 12-2 run to lead 73-70 with 1:05 to play. They surrendered the final four points, including a jumper at the buzzer, to beat them. Kansas shot 50% from the field, including four of 19 from three-point range, and hurt themselves by going nine of 20 at the free-throw line. Ochai Agbaji led the Jayhawks with 21 points in the loss.
It’s the no look for us 😮💨 pic.twitter.com/wDTHrL5ywm— Kansas Basketball (@KUHoops) November 25, 2021
The Jayhawks are averaging a solid 81.4 points per game this season, putting them 49th in the nation in scoring offense. Kansas collects 34 rebounds per contest and dishes out 16 assists a night. The Jayhawks are 127th in scoring defense as they allow 65.6 points per contest this season. Ochai Agbaji is one of two Jayhawks in double figures as he puts up 23.6 points plus 3.2 rebounds per game. Christian Braun (13 points, 7.2 rebounds) is one of two other players averaging in double figures this season. Remy Martin (12.2 points, 5.4 rebounds), David McCormack, Jalen Coleman-Lands, Zach Clemence, Bobby Pettiford, Mitch Lightfoot, Dajuan Harris and Joseph Yesufu all have to contribute on the offensive end of the floor. The Jayhawks shoot 51.5% from the field as a team this season. Kansas knocks down seven three-pointers a night while sinking 35.7% from beyond the arc. The Jayhawks are struggling at the free throw line as they convert 66.7% so far this season.
Iona Gaels Look to Regroup After DefeatIona couldn’t maintain their momentum from downing #10 Alabama as they were knocked off by Belmont in the semifinals. The Gaels fell from the ranks of the unbeaten as they fell to 6-1 on the season with the defeat. Against Belmont, Iona trailed by as many as 13 in the first half before going on a 15-4 run over the final 7:20 to trim it to a two-point margin at the half. The Gaels took a 58-57 lead with nine minutes to play before giving up the next five points to trail by four. Iona couldn’t get closer than two the rest of the way as they took the loss. The Gaels shot 35.7% from the field, including six of 26 from three-point range, and turned the ball over 13 times to negate their 50-29 edge on the glass. Walter Clayton Jr. led the Gaels with 13 points and five rebounds in the loss.
The Gaels are a decent offensive attack as they are 182nd in the nation in scoring offense with an average of 72.7 points per game. Iona is 103rd in rebounding with 38.7 boards a contest and 112th in assists by dishing out 14.6 dimes a night. The Gaels are slightly above average defensively as they are 149th in scoring defense by allowing 67 points a contest. Nelly Junior Joseph leads the team with 15.7 points and 8.9 rebounds per contest on the year. Tyson Jolly (14.4 points), Dylan van Eyck (10 points, 5.1 rebounds) and Quinn Slazinski (10.4 points) are good secondary scoring options. Elijah Joiner, Ryan Myers, Berrick JeanLouis, Walter Clayton Jr. and Jordan Wildy are needed to contribute on both ends for the Gaels. Iona shoots just 41.7% from the floor as a team this season. The Gaels knock down 6.1 triples a night while shooting 30.5% from long range. Iona is a mediocre team at the free throw line as they convert 70.5% of their attempts this season.
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Full-Game Side Bet
Iona pulled off one of the biggest upsets of the season on Thanksgiving with their win over Alabama but they couldn’t build on it. While lightning could strike twice in the same place, one could argue that it already did since Dayton upended Kansas at the buzzer Friday, setting up this contest. The Jayhawks aren’t a team that usually beats themselves like we saw in Friday’s game and Bill Self will have his team ready to go for this one. Pitino has done a solid job with Iona and they delivered a statement on Thanksgiving with that victory. Try as he might, it won’t happen again here. Kansas regroups from their stunning loss and gets back in the win column here.
Full-Game Total Pick
Iona has seen the under go 4-3 in their seven games on the year. The Gaels are 78th in defensive efficiency and 22nd in three-point field goal percentage defense (25.3%) on the year. Iona is 100th in tempo with 70.1 possessions per game. Kansas has seen the over hit in four of their five games with the lone under coming in the win over North Texas. Even that game was close to the mark as they combined for 130 points against a number of 131 points. The Jayhawks are 5th in offensive efficiency and 21st in defensive efficiency this season. Kansas stands 16th in effective field goal percentage (57.3%) on the year and 60th in tempo with 71.2 possessions a game. The Jayhawks run and that helps this one over the number.