Lawrence, KS (SportsNetwork.com) - The Iona Gaels face a daunting task, as they hit the road to challenge the second-ranked Kansas Jayhawks on Tuesday night.
Iona is 1-1 on the young season, the team opening with a 73-69 loss at Cleveland State on Nov. 9, but bouncing back with a 76-55 home victory over Wofford a week later. The Gaels are preparing for the rigors of Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference play, which for them begins at home against Marist on Dec. 4.
Kansas is undefeated after two games, with its initial win coming at home over ULM, 80-63, and its second in a marquee matchup in Chicago against Duke last Tuesday, 94-83. The Jayhawks, who moved into the second spot in this week's AP poll, have won 64 consecutive home games against non-conference foes, and the team is gearing up for what should be another highly competitive slate of Big 12 Conference bouts. KU begins league play at Oklahoma on Jan. 8, 2014.
This game marks only the fourth all-time meeting between Iona and Kansas, with the Jayhawks winning two of the first three, the most recent of which took place in Kansas City back in 1988.
It's only been two games, one of which resulted in a loss, but Iona is already establishing itself as a team that can boast some pretty potent scorers. Sean Armand is averaging 18.5 ppg, David Laury 17.0 ppg and Isaiah Williams 13.5 ppg, helping the squad put up 72.5 ppg despite shooting just 41.3 percent from the field. The Gaels' defensive effort has been decent, with foes generating just 64 ppg in hitting their shots a mere 38.9 percent of the time.
Laury led the team in the first game with 19 points, while Armand was high man in the win over Wofford with 20. In that latter contest, Williams added 19 points, and Laury finished with 15 for a club that struggled in the first half (.290 FG percentage), but turned it on after intermission (.680). Williams and Armand combined for eight 3-pointers. The Gaels easily won the rebounding battle (37-24), and used a 15-7 edge in points from the foul line to put the game away.
Kansas has no shortage of talented players who can all but take over a game at the drop of the hat. Most of the spotlight has been turned on freshman sensation Andrew Wiggins, and he hasn't disappointed as he currently leads the team in scoring at 19.0 ppg. Wiggins is coming off a 22-point effort in the win over Duke, and he was also one of the top rebounders as well with eight caroms. Perry Ellis (18.0 ppg) actually paced the Jayhawks in the statement victory, scoring 24 points while also grabbing nine boards, and both Wayne Selden, Jr. (11.5 ppg) and Frank Mason made significant contributions as well, netting 15 points apiece.
Kansas made good on 56.1 percent of its field goal attempts, but allowed the Blue Devils to connect on 51.7 percent of their total shots. A 39-24 edge in rebounding, along with a 27-16 advantage in points from the foul line played an integral role in the outcome for coach Bill Self's club.