Before even playing one game of college basketball, the 2013 class of Freshmen has been praised unlike any other in the past. Andrew Wiggins is the most hyped of them all, proving that every bit of compliment given to him was rightly places as he led Kansas to a 94-83 win over Duke and another highly touted freshman, Jabari Parker.
Juggernaut meetings this early in the season don’t usually tell us much about how March and April are going to look like, but they are always good to stir up interest before the real season, when teams start conference play, begins.
Jabari Parker dominated in the first half, giving Duke a two point lead. He finished with 27 points on his debut, adding 9 rebounds. Andrew Wiggins? He was quiet early on but finished very strong scoring 22 points and adding 8 rebounds, although Perry Ellis, the Sophomore out of Wichita, Kansas, probably did more than anyone else to get the win in front of a packed house at the United Center in Chicago.
Wiggins scored 16 points in the second half, and enjoyed the defense of Duke simply falling apart during the final 20 minutes of the game. He and Ellis combined to score 32 points in the paint on 16-of-21 attempts, including 9-of-12 in the second half. Duke, in comparison, managed to get only 5 offensive rebounds, and score only 5 second-chance points.
And if defense was a difference maker, more credit has to go towards Ellis, who made life very hard for Parker in the second half. He limited the Chicago native to only 2-of-6 from the field, scoring a total of 8 points in the second half despite getting the same amount of touches.
Duke didn’t get any of its more veteran players to be dominant enough on offense the moment Parker got shut down. Amile Jefferson scored 17 points, but Quinn Cook disappointed with only 10 and Rasheed Sulaimon added 13 off the bench. Not enough to overcome Kansas, who also got 15 points from Freshman Wayne Selden Jr. and 15 from Frank Mason, another freshman.
Duke were too slow in the second half, something that was also part of their problem last season at times. Kansas outscored the Blue Devils 19-7 in transition, with Wiggins outscoring them by himself, scoring 8 points on fast breaks, going 3-of-3 from the field and drawing two more fouls.
Is this just the first taste of great things to come? Probably, especially from Wiggins. Parker is also going to be a force in the ACC, although it will take him a bit more time to learn, but he also won’t be facing Kansas every week for the rest of this season. This performance only proves Kansas have a shorter way to go before they’re at their desired place when compared to the unfinished product Coach K currently has.
The hype, it was big. I just tried to block it out. The names on 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.