LAWRENCE — Kansas freshman center Joel Embiid is getting more time off to rest his ailing back.
KU coach Bill Self said Monday that Embiid would miss KU’s final two regular-season games after re-aggravating a lower-back strain in Saturday’s loss at Oklahoma State.
KU plays host to Texas Tech on Wednesday before concluding the regular season against West Virginia on Saturday.
Earlier on Monday, Self hinted that he wanted to give Embiid some more time to rest.
“I would probably right now think that’s what we will go to, is give him a little bit of time,” Self said. “But I don’t know how long that will be, and certainly I don’t think it will be anything that will affect postseason.”
Embiid initially tweaked his back in a victory over West Virginia on Feb. 8. The injury came a few weeks after Embiid suffered a knee sprain, and Self rested Embiid for five days in mid February.
The time on the sideline included missing KU’s home victory against TCU on Feb. 15.
Embiid appeared healthier when he returned, but he tweaked the back again during the second half of Saturday’s loss.
“He’s certainly benefitted from the five days before,” Self said, “but still obviously it’s not close to being 100 percent because he re-aggravated it in the Oklahoma State game.”
The goal, of course, is to ensure that Embiid is closer to 100 percent for the NCAA Tournament. Embiid, a projected lottery pick in this summer’s NBA Draft, is averaging 11.2 points and 8.1 rebounds during his freshman season. And his presence in the middle provides a rim protector and anchor for the Jayhawks’ defense.
If Embiid sits out the next two games, he will go 11 full days without game action before Kansas’ opening game in the Big 12 Tournament on March 13.