Kansas Passes Top-Five Test, Downs Duke, 94-83
CHICAGO — Sixteen seconds was all he needed. To break open what had been a tightly-contested game, freshman guard Andrew Wiggins pulled up for a jumper and then a breakaway dunk to push No. 5/6 Kansas’ lead to five points – and ultimately the win – against No. 4/4 Duke in front of 22,000-plus fans Tuesday night’s nightcap of the State Farm Champions Classic inside the United Center.
With the stage of a late-round NCAA Tournament game and the experience of teams just two games into their respective seasons, Kansas (2-0) overcame foul trouble and turnovers to put on a show against Duke (1-1) in its first top-five matchup since the 2012 national championship game, against fellow Champions Classic participant, Kentucky. The only team without a win in Champions Classic changed that on Tuesday as Kansas topped Duke for the first time in the Bill Self era.
The coveted matchup of the country’s best freshmen in KU’s Wiggins and Duke’s Jabari Parker ended in favor of the Jayhawk rookie. The two combined for 13 points in the game’s opening minutes, but fouls quickly interrupted. Wiggins was whistled with his second foul with 9:30 still on the first-half game clock, sidelining him for the rest of the half. By halftime, Parker led all scorers with 19 points, while Wiggins had six points in his nine minutes on the court.
The second half played out much differently, however, this time with Wiggins outscoring Parker 16-8 – including six points in the final 93 seconds to completely change the game. Wiggins finished the night 9-of-15 from the floor for 22 points and eight rebounds. Parker led all scorers with 27 points and collected nine boards.
Wiggins’ late game heroics didn’t overshadow a career-high night for sophomore forward Perry Ellis. He finished one rebound shy of his second career double-double with a career-best 24 points and nine rebounds. Joining him on the leaderboard were freshmen guards Wayne Selden, Jr. and Frank Mason, who put up 15 points apiece. Mason did his damage at the free-throw line, going 11-for-12.
Senior forward Tarik Black was whistled for his second foul not yet three minutes into the game and back-to-back Kansas turnovers saw the Jayhawks fall behind out of the gate, 8-2. A hot start for the Blue Devils was quickly negated by an 11-2 Kansas run, highlighted by dunks from Wiggins and sophomore forward Jamari Traylor in two-straight possessions. A three from Parker broke up the scoring drought that the Kansas defense held for more than four minutes.
Midway through the opening frame, the teams held each other close to the vest. Where Kansas had nine field goals, Duke had eight. Where Parker had seven points, Wiggins had six. A streak of four trips down the floor saw the top-five teams score on each other in succession. KU kept it going, scoring on six-straight possessions – highlighted by five points from Greene – to take a 30-26 lead into the eight-minute media timeout.
Ellis made it seven-straight out of the pause to see the Jayhawks to their largest lead of the half, 34-28. By streak’s end, Kansas was shooting a blistering 68.4 percent with just under four minutes left till the break – almost entirely without Wiggins. His second foul with nine and a half minutes relegated him to the bench with Black for the remainder of the opening frame.
Parker took advantage in his counterpart’s absence, knocking down a pair of three-pointers in less than 30 seconds to put his team back in front, but only for a moment. Kansas kept pace without Wiggins, due in large part to the Jayhawks’ calmness at the free throw line. Although the Jayhawks were held without a field goal for the final five minutes of the half, Ellis and Mason combined to go a perfect 6-for-6 in the closing moments to knot the score with less than a minute to play. Duke couldn’t say the same, missing four of their final six tries from the line. Two makes from junior guard Quinn Cook was all that separated the Jayhawks from the Blue Devils at half time, 42-40.
Ready to pounce after spending the back end of the first half on the bench, Wiggins socred KU’s first bucket 10 seconds into the second half and tie the game at 42-42.
As expected, foul calls wasted no time in becoming a repeat issue. Black, who was forced to sit 17 of the game’s first 20 minutes, started the second half and was almost immediately issued his third foul and the starter ended his night scoreless. Traylor, meanwhile, committed his fourth to spark a three-point play for the Blue Devils to see them take a 56-51 lead.
Kansas was unfazed. With Ellis and Wiggins steering the ship, the Jayhawks broke loose for a 10-4 run. Ellis, Embiid and Wiggins sandwiched dunks around a Mason jump shot to climb back in front for the 12-minute media timeout. Midway through the final half, the stage for a tight finale was set with a one-point Kansas advantage, 61-60.
This rang true for the next seven minutes as neither team could break open a lead larger than two points following Ellis’ dunk. Leading 68-67, with seven minutes to play, the Jayhawks were handed another dose of foul trouble as Wiggins was called for his fourth. The impact was hardly felt, thanks to the continued attack from the Jayhawks at the free throw line. Using foul trouble to its advantage, Kansas scored all but two of its points from the charity stripe for a four-minute stretch to take a 79-77 advantage out of the final media timeout. Selden and Traylor stopped the free-throw trend with back-to-back buckets in the paint to pull ahead, 83-81, with less than two minutes to play.
Just like that, Wiggins’ flipped the switch. Two-straight buckets in less than 20 seconds turned KU’s two-point lead to six with 1:17 to play. He scored six points in the final 93 seconds to seal the Jayhawks first win over a top-five team since knocking off fourth-ranked UNC in the 2012 NCAA Tournament.
No. 5/6 Kansas returns home to host Iona on Tuesday, Nov. 19 at 7 p.m. in Allen Fieldhouse. The KU-Iona game will be televised on Jayhawk IMG Television/ESPN3 and ESPN Full Court.
KU STARTERS (Season/Career Starts): Naadir Tharpe G (1/1) , G Wayne Selden(2/2), G Andrew Wiggins (2/2), F Perry Ellis (2/5), F Tarik Black (2/62)
SERIES INFO: Duke leads, 7-3
- Makes Kansas 1-2 in the Champions Classic
- Gives Kansas a 2-0 record for the sixth time in the Bill Self 11-season era
- Gives Kansas wins against Duke in two of the last three series meetings
- Gives Self his first win against a Duke team (1-1 at Kansas, 1-3 overall)
- Makes the Kansas-Duke series 7-3 in favor of the Blue Devils
- Makes KU 49-26 against ranked foes in the Self era
- Makes Self 302-59 while at Kansas and 509-164 overall
- Makes Self 302-59 while and Kansas and 509-164 overall
- Makes KU 2,103-812 all-time
- Kansas collected its first win over a top-five opponent since defeating UNC 80-67 in the 2012 NCAA Tournament (3/25/12). The Jayhawks did not face a top-five foe in the 2012-13 season.
- What started as an 8-2 Kansas deficit was turned to an 13-10 Kansas lead, thanks to an 11-2 Jayhawk run that saw KU keep Duke off the board for a 4:23 span (16:48-12:25).
- Beginning with a layup from sophomore F Perry Ellis (10:11) and ending with a missed jumper from freshman G Brannen Greene (5:37), Kansas scored in seven-straight possessions in the first half. Five different Jayhawks contributed to the efficient stretch (Ellis, Wiggins, Tharpe, Greene, Selden). By the streak’s end, KU was shooting a blistering 68.4 percent (13-for-19).
- Unfortunately for the Jayhawks, they put up a streak opposite in nature to close the first half as KU did not record a field goal in the final 5:09 of the opening frame. Freshman G Andrew Wiggins stopped the streak 10 seconds into the second half.
- Duke became one of three teams to score 42 points in a half against the Jayhawks dating back to last season (Michigan, 42 points, 2nd; Iowa State, 50 points, 2nd).
- Ellis connected on a dunk with 13:19 to play in the game to bring Kansas within one, 56-55, neither team would lead by more than two points for the next six minutes and 46 seconds. Ellis hit both free throws with 6:33 to play to put KU ahead, 70-67. The three-point lead lasted nine seconds.
- After freshman G Andrew Wiggins back-to-back buckets, Kansas outscored Duke 11-2 in the final 1:33 of the game.
- Sophomore F Perry Ellis starred for the Jayhawks, setting a new career-high with 24 points and nine rebounds, narrowly missing the second double-double of his career.
- Freshman G Andrew Wiggins scored a career-high 22 points, including six points in the final 93 seconds of the game.
- Wiggins scored six points in nine minutes in the first half when his second foul kept him on the bench for the last 9:30 of the half. He scored KU’s first bucket just 10 seconds into his return to the court to start the second half.
- After being sidelined for KU’s opener against ULM (11/8), junior G Naadir Tharpe appeared in his 70th game as a Jayhawk – but made his first career start. He tied for the game-high with five assists.
- Ellis put Kansas on the board first with a layup at the 17:40 mark.
- Ellis drained his only three-point attempt of the year in the second half, making him an efficient 75 percent from behind the arc for his career (3-for-4).
- Freshman C Joel Embiid registered his first career block with 10:22 remaining in the first half – it resulted in a dunk on the other end of the floor for sophomore F Perry Ellis.
- Less characteristic of a center, Embiid tied for the game-high in assists (5).
- Senior F Tarik Black was a foul target, after collecting two fouls in the opening three minutes, he didn’t play for the rest of the first half. When he came back in to start the second, he was whistled for his third in less than a minutes. He played only six minutes and didn’t score, leaving the Memphis, Tenn. native within 43 points of 1,000 for his career.
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