Lawrence, KS (SportsNetwork.com) - The second-ranked Kansas Jayhawks will begin the Battle 4 Atlantis on Friday night, as they entertain the Towson Tigers at Allen Fieldhouse.
This is a preliminary event before the Jayhawks travel to Paradise Island, Bahamas next week to continue in the event.
Towson was one of the better teams in the Colonial Athletic Association a season ago, and it has set a similar tone in the early going this season with a 3-1 start. After three straight wins at home, however, Towson ventured on the road for the first time last Sunday and was trounced by Villanova, 78-44.
Kansas has been on top of its game under head coach Bill Self, as it has won nine consecutive regular-season Big 12 Conference championships and has advanced to the Sweet Sixteen in the NCAA Tournament in six of the last seven years. The Jayhawks have another elite unit this season, as they have shown with wins over ULM (80-63), Duke (94-83) and Iona (86-66).
Kansas won both previous matchups versus Towson, most recently claiming a 100-54 win at home on Nov. 11, 2011.
In the Tigers' latest outing, Villanova streaked out to an 18-4 lead less than eight minutes in and they could never recover and they shot a dreadful 30.9 percent from the field (including 2-of-17 from 3-point range) in the 34-point blowout loss. It was a lost afternoon for much of the roster, although Jerrelle Benimon managed to make the most of it with 11 points and six rebounds.
Despite that awful performance, Towson still has respectable offensive numbers, as it shoots 42 percent from the field for 71.5 points per game, nearly five points more than it allows. Benimon is one of the CAA's best players and he has proven in the early going with 17.5 points, 11.8 rebounds and 3.5 assists per game. Rafriel Guthrie (11.3 ppg) and Marcus Damas (10.7 ppg) are solid complimentary scoring options.
The Jayhawks had no trouble running past Iona earlier in the week, as they outshot the Gaels from the floor, 56.9 percent to 38.6 percent, and dominated the rebounding battle (40-26) en route to the 20-point victory. Freshman sensation Andrew Wiggins has made headlines in the early going, and he had another strong game with 13 points and seven rebounds, but it was fellow first-year player Joel Embiid who dominated in the win, tallying 16 points (on 7-of-7 from the field) and 13 rebounds off the bench. Perry Ellis led the way with 21 points, while Naadir Tharpe got his teammates involved with 10 assists.
KU's deep, well-rounded squad has paid dividends thus far, as it has scored 86.7 points per game on an outstanding .557 field goal percentage. Ellis (19.0 ppg) has been red-hot from the floor at 21-of-29 and also rips down 8.0 boards per contest. Wiggins' (17.0 ppg, 6.0 rpg) highly-anticipated season has started as expected. Wayne Selden, Jr. (10.0 ppg) is the only other player in double figures, but Embiid (9.0 ppg, 8.0 rpg) and Tharpe (6.0 ppg, 7.5 apg) are integral pieces to the puzzle as well.