All the hype surrounding this early season matchup was about the two freshmen going head-to-head. People were anxious to see how Andrew Wiggins and Jabari Parker, the two best players in high school basketball last year, would fare against each other. Both had huge games and showed their potential, but it was a total team effort by No. 5 Kansas that allowed the Jayhawks to beat No. 4 Duke, 94-83.
Parker was the man in the first half. He dropped in a cool 19 points and looked unguardable. He hit threes, led fastbreaks and scored going to the basket in a very impressive performance that resulted in 27 points and nine rebounds. However, he did not get much help from the rest of the Duke team.
Wiggins only played nine minutes in the first half and never was really able to get in any kind of rhythm. He scored six points and did not totally look like the guy people had been hyping up for the last year. However, it was one half in his first big game and if there was any doubt after that first half, his second half and how he closed the game for the Jayhawks put those doubts to rest. He ended up with a relatively quiet 22 points and 10 rebounds and was the man for the Jayhawks down the stretch with six huge points in the final minutes. He hit a deadly step back jump shot to put the Jayhawks up by four and then had a leak out dunk to seal the deal. That is what big-time players do no matter how they start the game.
It was not all Wiggins, though. He was not even the most impressive player on his team Tuesday night. That title would belong to sophomore Perry Ellis, who had 24 points to go along with seven rebounds and was a constant force for the whole 40 minutes. He scored off pick and rolls, in the post and even hit a three. Until the end, it seemed that Ellis was always making the big basket for the Jayhawks. He also really locked down Parker for the majority of the second half, holding him to only eight points compared to Parker’s monster first half.
Freshman Wayne Selden was another steady force for the Jayhawks. He had 15 points to go along with eight rebounds and four assists. He looked like he belonged on that national stage from the tip which you do not see from every freshman. Selden set up open players for big buckets and hit some as well. Another freshman, Frank Mason, was a huge factor in this game because of his ability to get to the rim and finish there. He tallied 15 points coming off the bench. Players like Selden and Mason stepping up as freshman was instrumental in Kansas’ success tonight.
Parker and Wiggins may have been the best prospects on the court tonight and may have had the most jaw-dropping moments, but it was because Kansas got such a strong team effort that they were able to chalk up a big win on their resume early in the college basketball season tonight.