Andrew Wiggins, the Kansas freshman whose college debut was as anticipated as Duke’s Jabari Parker, justified the hype in leading the No. 5 Jayhawks to an impressive 94-83 victory Wednesday night in Chicago.
Both NCAA newcomers were sensational, with Wiggins scoring 16 of his 22 points in the second half when the game was decided. Parker, who had 19 at halftime, came through with a wonderful effort of 27 points, nine rebounds and two steals. In the end, Kansas was the better team and Wiggins made the biggest plays in the final minutes of an entertaining game by two of the nation’s premier programs.
Looking unfazed by the spotlight, Wiggins, who also had eight rebounds, made two crucial plays in the waning moments that separated the teams. Up by two, he hit a jump shot for an 85-81 Jayhawks advantage with 1:33 to play. Then he threw down a dunk off a fastbreak to increase the lead. That was the cushion they needed to go on for the win.
“The hype, it was big. I just tried to block it out,” Wiggins said. “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.”
Perry Ellis ably aided Wiggins with 24 points for Kansas, which scored 17 of the final 23 points after Rasheed Sulaimon made a jumper for Duke that tied it at 77 with 3:50 left.
“They just wanted it more,” Parker said. “They outplayed us in the second half. Me, I need to get just a little bit more experience. I’ve got a long way to go.”
Amile Jefferson had 17 points for Duke (1-1), which dropped to 7-3 in the all-time series against Kansas. Rodney Hood scored 11 points.