Compared to the preseason expectations, one might say that Andrew Wiggins is slightly disappointing in his freshman year. However, it’s game winning plays like his dunk with 2 seconds left as Kansas beat Texas Tech 64-63 that bring back the faith in the hype surrounding him and his chances of being a star in the NCAA tournament and the future in the NBA.
Joel Embiid was back from his injury with 18 points and 8 rebounds, missing only one shot throughout the game. That shot was rebounded by Wiggins who put it back in to give Kansas the lead with no time for Texas Tech to do anything special. The same duo, only reversed, gave Kansas a 62-61 lead. Wiggins missed, Embiid was there for the rebound and the big dunk.
Texas Tech have beaten big favorites this season at home, most notably their win over Oklahoma State which was noticed for the whole Marcus Smart shoving a fan incident. They were extremely difficult to beat for the Big 12 leaders as well, but fell just short of following through on another big one because of how Kansas scored in the paint when they wanted to.
It’s big, it’s big, but it doesn’t mean anything unless we win Saturday. That’s the game that would give us some serious breathing room, although we’ve got a little bit now, and it was big tonight. I wasn’t banking on them losing, all I wanted to do was win two games this week, and if we were able to do that then it would be a great week. I was impressed with Tubby Smith’s team and how hard they played and how well they defended, how well they rebounded,” Self said. “They’re going to get better. The guy knows how to win. He’s a proven winner. Those kids played hard.
Kansas lead the Big 12 with a 11-2 record, but now need to focus on their weekend clash with Texas, who they lost to in Austin. Texas are 9-4 this season in the Big 12, and a win for them might open a window to finally dethrone Kansas from their seat on top of the conference over the last few years, at best sharing it with someone else but usually winning it outright.
This was an ugly game – not a lot going for both teams in terms of planned plays, but especially Kansas, who simply dug deep and fought their way into the middle after a bad shooting game. The size of some of their players and strength is what goth them the win. Texas Tech shot better from all ranges, but simply couldn’t get the job done.
Kansas have their big center back, looking healthy and strong again. Andrew Wiggins continues to have an up and down season, at least compared to the early expectations, but he has scored 18 points per game in his last two outings while shooting 59% from the field.
It looks more and more like the number one pick and other awards are slipping away from him, but Wiggins still has enough time to show how much this season has developed him, be it by consistency or simply leading Kansas to a deep run in the NCAA tournament.