The whole world wanted to see it and the whole world got what it wanted on Tuesday night at the Champions Classic. After one heck of an appetizer between Michigan State and Kentucky, Jabari Parker’s Duke Blue Devils squared off against the other top recruit in the nation, Andrew Wiggins, and his Kansas Jayhawks. While the game was certainly a tale of two halves and Kansas came out on top, it’s foolish to just crown the winner of the game the best in the country and end the conversation.
For starters, it’s only the second game of the season and March is a long ways away. To think we’ve seen what Kansas and Duke can do in mid-November is absurd, as it is to say Wiggins is undoubtedly the nation’s best player.
Secondly, it was Wiggins’ teammates who carried the Jayhawks until the final two minutes of the game. Granted, he was superb down the stretch as he delivered three daggers to ensure the victory, but he wasn’t required to carry the team the entire game.
That’s exactly what Parker did with Duke and he was extremely fatigued down the stretch because of it. He was all the Blue Devils had and that’s why the Jayhawks focused virtually all of their attention on him in the second half. In only the second game of the season, no player can be expected to put the team on his back for an entire 40 minutes as Parker was asked to do on Tuesday night.
Rest assured, Parker will bounce back and have a historic season, as will Wiggins. You can also bet that should these two teams meet again, the outcome will be different. That’s not a guarantee of a Duke victory, but it’s a virtual certainty that Parker will be in better shape and his teammates will be better because of him. Plus, you can never count on a Coach K squad this early in the season. Parker and company will be back with a vengeance in March.