Last night the No. 5 Kansas Jayhawks took on the No. 4 Duke Blue Devils in a matchup of the top two recruits in the nation. The score was not indicative of how close the game really was, but the Jayhawks prevailed with a 94-83 win. For the majority of the game, the teams stood toe to toe, basket for basket. The game had a final four type atmosphere, which was exactly what this young Kansas team needed early on.
The first half was tainted with foul troubles for the young star Andrew Wiggins. While he was on the court, he played very well, scoring six points in nine minutes. At about the nine minute mark, Wiggins picked up his second foul and had to sit out the remainder of the half. Although he was in foul trouble, I love the fact that he was begging coach Bill Self to let him guard Parker.
The second half was an entirely different story for Wiggins, scoring 16 big time points, including the game icing step back jumper and dunk. Wiggins finally took over the game like a future NBA star should. When Duke matched a smaller player on him, he wasted no time finding the post and scoring with ease.
The most important part of the night for Wiggins was his assertiveness when Kansas needed it most. When the game was hanging in the balance, Wiggins hit an NBA-caliber step back jumper from the wing, along with a high flying dunk to ice it.
According to the media this game was a one on one battle between Wiggins and Parker. Wiggins handled that spotlight extremely well.
“The hype, it was big. I just tried to block it out,” Wiggins said according to an ESPN press release. “The names on the jerseys don’t say Parker and Wiggins, it says Kansas and Duke. At the end of the day, it’s not one player that’s going to win, it’s one team.”
Perry Ellis kept Kansas in the game, and arguably had the best game aside from Jabari Parker. Ellis showcased his tremendous improvement from last year. Although going up against a smaller lineup, he looked unstoppable. He showed his abundance of post moves, along with his highly underrated outside shooting stroke. Ellis took some tough shots and ended the game shooting 9-13 with 24 points. He needs more touches, and become more of a consistent threat, for this team to reach its potential
“Key was to just get the ball inside and attack,” Ellis said according to an ESPN press release. “Attack at all times.”
Wayne Selden had a very quiet 15 points for Kansas because of all the publicity of Wiggins vs Parker. Selden used his strong frame for a small forward to overpower the smaller defenders, and showed his range from beyond the arc.
The most surprising player of the night for Kansas was freshman point guard Frank Mason. He took advantage of the new rule change, and made a living at the free throw line going 11-12. His quickness is second to none, with an bulldog mentality. With his tenacious defense, it will be interesting to see if his playing time increases as the year goes on.
Kansas played about as well as can be expected offensively, but needs to adjust better to the new rules defensively. They could not keep anyone in front of them without fouling for the entirety of the game. Luckily this team is so deep that foul trouble doesn’t affect them as much as other teams, but the opponents free throw attempts needs to improve. Kansas has a long way to go, but they looked surprisingly good offensively for such an early season game. They are legit title contenders this season.
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