College basketball may have just gotten underway, but two of the best teams led by two of the best freshmen, if not players, in the country faced off last night. The #4 Duke Blue Devils and 6’8″ Forward Jabari Parker took on the #5 Kansas Jayhawks and the highly-touted Andrew Wiggins in the second game of the Champions Classic in Chicago’s United Center(home of the Chicago Bulls). Parker clearly got the best of the matchup in the first half. He showed great versatility all night long driving to the hoop, passing, knocking down shots from long range, and even putting in a highlight alley oop. Parker had 19 points at the half to help his Blue Devils take a 42-40 lead, while Wiggins had just 6 points in limited minutes due to foul trouble. Andrew Wiggins made it a point to be more aggressive in the second half and it really showed. He got down on the block and demanded the ball when he had a mismatch, he got out in transition and put in a few highlight slams of his own, and he also delivered a dagger in the form of a skillful step-back jumper in the latter stages of the game. This effort helped the Jayhawks pull away late and win 94-83. Wiggins finished with 22 points and 8 rebounds, while Parker tallied up 27 points, 9 rebounds, and went 4-of-7 from 3pt range. While much of the talk about the game has been about these two players, who could very well end up being the top 2 picks in the 2014 NBA Draft*, both teams looked solid. There are nice complimentary pieces around these superstars such as Kansas’ Guard Wayne Selden (15pts,6reb,4ast) and big man Forward Perry Ellis (24pts,9reb) as well as Duke’s Amile Jefferson (17pts) and Rasheed Sulaimon (13pts). It wouldn’t surprise me at all to see these teams make deep runs come NCAA tournament time.
*Not to mention Julius Randle of #1 Kentucky who, despite a 78-74 loss to #2 Michigan State in the first game of the Champions Classic, put up a huge statline of 27 points and 13 rebounds.
And for info from people who really know their stuff about sports, check out my classmates’ blogs:
Dana Lewin (my fellow TV20 Sports intern)