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Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Keegan

Opinion: Wiggins, fellow freshmen shine, beat Duke

Kansas point guard Naadir Tharpe gathers his teammate into a huddle against Duke during the first half of the Champions Classic matchup on Tuesday, Nov. 12, 2013 at the United Center in Chicago.

Kansas point guard Naadir Tharpe gathers his teammate into a huddle against Duke during the first half of the Champions Classic matchup on Tuesday, Nov. 12, 2013 at the United Center in Chicago.

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Press Conferences & Post-Game Interviews

Bill Self postgame interview vs. Duke

Bill Self postgame interview vs. Duke

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Podcast episode

Press Conferences & Post-Game Interviews

Perry Ellis and Andrew Wiggins postgame interviews vs. Duke

Perry Ellis and Andrew Wiggins postgame interviews vs. Duke

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— Well, that certainly didn’t take long.

Five new starters. Seven freshmen who played before halftime. Ever-elite and fourth-ranked Duke, including even-better-than-advertised Jabari Parker as the opponent. Not even half of the month of November in the books.

And somehow, the players on Bill Self’s 11th Kansas team, the most talented, least experienced one he has coached, looked as if they had been playing together since Biddy Basketball.

As freshman Andrew Wiggins sat out the latter portion of the first half with two fouls, classmates Wayne Selden and Frank Mason made sure Duke didn’t exploit his absence.

And when the game headed down the back stretch, Wiggins showed why there has been so much fuss about him and showed it in a variety of ways. He proved he’s more than a talent, he’s a clutch closer.

Riding shotgun to star sophomore Perry Ellis, Wiggins made big play after big play to help Kansas kick to a 94-83 victory in the Champions Classic.

Wiggins not only didn’t back down from a big challenge, he embraced it, wanted to keep raising the bar, begged for more on his plate than his coach was willing to give him initially.

“People have made a lot about Andrew’s personality because he’s so mild-mannered and non-demonstrative in his actions and things look easy to him, but the dude’s competitive,” Self said. “I kind of wish we played Andrew on Jabari the whole time. I wanted to do that, but i was worried about fouls.

“He came to me all game, ‘Let me guard Jabari. I want to guard Jabari.’ Midway through the second half, about 13 minutes left, I didn’t put him on Jabari. He just went and got him. And and I think he got a piece of his shot. I said, ‘Maybe he’s right.’ ”

Wiggins was better equipped than Ellis to chase Parker to the perimeter. Parker, who fouled out with 1:16 left on a fast-break Wiggins dunk, scored 19 of his game-high 27 points in the first half.

Limited to nine first-half minutes after picking up his second foul,

Wiggins scored 16 of his 22 points in the second half. He’s a slasher first on a team full of terrific drivers, but the coolest moment from Wiggins came when he noticed a clogged lane and showed confidence in his jumper from the right wing. Jab step right, one dribble left, raises up, swish and Kansas was up 85-81 with 1:33 left.

Selden’s forceful presence was felt longer than Wiggins’, even if it didn’t come in bursts quite as amazing. When Wiggins grew excitable at one point, Selden put his arm on him and brought his head right back into the game. In a game-high 37 minutes, Selden contributed 16 points, six rebounds and four assists. His tip with 2:53 broke a 79-79 tie and he followed it with a huge defensive rebound.

Mason, a jet of backup point guard, made sure Naadir Tharpe’s time on the bench with two fouls didn’t hurt KU. Fearless with the ball in his hands, Mason pitched in with 15 points and two steals and didn’t turn it over once. He made 11 of 12 free throws. Like Wiggins and Selden, he was clutch, fueled by the sellout United Center crowd of 22,711.

"They definitely stepped up, both Wayne and and Frank," Ellis said "They came in and played aggressive. They definitely didn’t play like freshmen.”

Graceful 7-footer Joel Embiid, another freshman, had seven rebounds and five assists in 20 minutes. Brannen Greene scored five points in eight first-half minutes and watched the rest of the game after his second sloppy pass.

Comments

John Fitzgerald 9 months, 2 weeks ago

They all really stepped up big time. I'm mostly surprised by Mason. Knew he was good but man did he come through for us. When Self puts him in with Tharpe you know Mason is doing something right. Great win Hawks!

1

Brianna Zaleski 9 months, 2 weeks ago

Agreed, John. I was amazed w that kid tonight. Not only can he "touch paint" at will, the dude was CLUTCH from FT. That says a lot, for a freshman to b so calm and reliable. He will be a solid 4 yr player for us, and that's reassuring.

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Dillon Davis 9 months, 2 weeks ago

Yeah seeing Mason's play really makes me feel less worried about what happens with this Friday regarding Tyus Jones. Mason will be a 4 year PG and he's gonna be good too. And if Joel decides he wants to stay around another year to improve his game then losing out on Okafor won't hurt either.

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Doug Cramer 9 months, 2 weeks ago

Some items I took from tonight's game:

  1. Mason is our BEST point guard.
  2. Ellis is our foundation.
  3. Selden knows how to find the open man down low.
  4. Embiid will become a beast defensively.
  5. Greene can knock out the three ball.
  6. Frankamp should have red shirted.
  7. Traylor is UNDERRATED !
  8. Black can't believe how good of a team he plays for.
  9. KU should win the National Championship.
5

Brianna Zaleski 9 months, 2 weeks ago

SPOT ON!, Doug Cramer. Bravo!!! 6 & 8 are the truth!!!

2

Mick Allen 9 months, 2 weeks ago

Give Keegan credit. He has consistently trumpeted Mason's ability all season, while many were writing him off as a red shirt candidate. He has some of that Sherron toughness. Thanks for your ability to recognize talent and competitiveness Tom.

1

Tom Keegan 9 months, 2 weeks ago

Thanks, Mick. I know you loved Mason from the moment you first saw him practice. Then again, you have an advantage. You have Phog Allen's DNA running through you.

0

Dave Weroha 9 months, 2 weeks ago

When Mason, Selden, and Wiggins combine for 52 pts as true freshmen, and this team separated from Duke down the stretch, this type of clutch play is EXACTLY what wins Final 4's and national titles. I agree that Mason is KU's best point guard. 15 pts and ZERO turnovers doing it. That's production you can count on.

1

Joe Ross 9 months, 2 weeks ago

TOP TEN POST-GAME REFLECTIONS:

  1. Does this win secure Alexander, Okafor, and/or Jones? Friday is decision day!

  2. Top Six Shuffle? Current: 1. KY 2. MSU 3. The Ville 4. Duke 5. Kansas 6. Zona My top 6: 1. MSU 2. The Ville 3. Kansas 4. KY 5. Zona 6. Duke

  3. Kansas' win showed they could play with the big dogs. Something I was worried about after the exhibitions and first season game against weaker teams. Kansas' win gives much needed confidence and bodes well for future progress.

  4. On-ball defense still needs to improve. A LOT!

  5. Personnel: Tarik Black and AWIII did not score. Surprise! And just who is this "Mason" kid???? Wow! Sherron-a-tron!

  6. Only three 3-pointers? That ain't gonna get it done, son. Would be nice to see Wiggins and Selden be able to shoot that shot. They're gonna need it at the next level anyway. Did Naadir even attempt one?

  7. Perry Ellis' performance tonight states the case perfectly for the kind of maturation that comes when college players stay in school. Of course at Kansas, we have learned this lesson well.

  8. Jabari Parker and Julius Randle are ahead of Wiggins right now. But not by much. My feeling is that Wiggins has the most room to improve, followed by Randle, and then Parker (who seems to be playing VERY well, perhaps close to his ceiling out of the gate). It seems Wigs plays better without the afro wig.

  9. A win over Dook is oh, so sweet!

  10. KYs talk of an undefeated season is down the tubes a couple of games in. Kansas moves up one on KY on the all-time wins list!

BONUS: Xavier Henry is a player! If you don't know, you better ax somebody.

2

Will Babbit 9 months, 2 weeks ago

Three pointers are going to be much less important this year with the new foul rules. If you can drive and get a foul essentially every time, why bother?

0

Joe Ross 9 months, 2 weeks ago

It's not a case of either/or. It's a case of both. You want to be able to score in as many ways as you can. The three-point shot is not insignificant, even in the face of the emphasis on the fouls.

0

Tom Keegan 9 months, 2 weeks ago

Great points, especially 3,4,5,7. Pretty cool dunk by Henry: http://bit.ly/1hFTFFk His press conference was strange. Every thing he said made more sense for press conference of a player explaining why he's staying, not leaving. You could tell he wanted to stay, but was feeling pressure to leave. I'm glad the premature jump didn't kill his NBA career. He was really nice guy to interview and always seemed to be in a good mood. I golfed behind him once at LCC. He's playing the right sport, but no matter where the golf ended up, he kept on smiling. I'd like to steal that club from his bag.

0

Suzi Marshall 9 months, 2 weeks ago

What a great coach we have in Self. He didn't show Duke anything in the ULM game, such as posting Wiggins, running with two point guards, etc. Everyone contributed. Black is going to learn to husle down the court and play some defense if he wants much game time. If Alexander, Okafor and Jones watched tonight's game, Kansas made it really tough to say now to us. RCJH!!!!

1

Erich Hartmann 9 months, 2 weeks ago

Watched Kentucky get stripped silly by Izzo's experienced team, and thought "welcome to not-highschool...". Im sure KU, KY, Duke will only get better, while MichState is the real deal/Final4-ready right now. Fun night of basketball. Got major chills hearing the Rock Chalk chant in the final 60sec vs. Duke, in a road game...! To Duke...!!! Big win for our program, and always nice to do that in front of Mr. Vitale...

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