Ellis matches Duke's Parker in Chicago
1. Perry Ellis: Jabari Parker threatened to take the game and run away with it. But Ellis, nearly as difficult to guard as Parker in a different way, kept answering his big shots with ones of his own. He picked up a loose ball, knocked away from Rodney Hood, and pitched it ahead to Andrew Wiggins for a dunk on which Parker fouled out. Ellis’ patient footwork and the clever way he turns his body to make certain shots unblockable makes him so potent in the post. His hands are so sure, his touch using the glass, so soft. He also handles the ball well and uses his quickness and anticipation to pick up steals. Had 24 points, nine rebounds and three steals, all team highs, to go with two assists and one turnover.
2. Andrew Wiggins: The brighter the lights, the better he played. Sat with two fouls for 11 first-half minutes and made up for lost time with 16 of his 22 points in the second half. With the entire Duke defense expecting him to drive into the lane and ready to stop him, Wiggins swished a jumper from the right wing off a jab-step-right fake, one-dribble left. He has nothing in common with Samson, who cut his hair and was rendered powerless. Wiggins cut his and played much better than in the two exhibitions and the season-opener. Had eight rebounds and did a solid job of checking Jabari Parker for the final quarter of the game or so after nagging his coach much earlier, begging for the ultimate defensive challenge.
3. Wayne Selden: Doesn’t look like a freshman. Doesn’t play like a freshman. Didn’t look the least bit fazed. From start to finish he played extremely aggressively. Played a game-high 37 minutes and contributed 15 points, six boards and four assists.
4. Frank Mason: If I’m playing win-and-you-keep-the-court, I want him on my side. Fearless Frank showed no nervousness after Naadir Tharpe went to the bench with his second foul and nerves were nowhere to be found at the free-throw line, where he made 11 of 12 attempts. Had 15 points, two steals and an assists. Two games and 41 minutes into his career, he has six assists and not a single turnover. Considering the fast pace he prefers that’s some serious ball security.
5. Joel Embiid: His shots weren’t dropping and he fumbled the ball a couple of times, but he certainly knows how to insert himself into the action for a player with such a short history of playing basketball. He also has a good feel for where to go with the ball when he decides to give it up. Interesting stat line for a 7-footer: two points, seven rebounds, five assists, one turnover, one steal. It’s possible he could become a starter.
6. Naadir Tharpe: Battled foul trouble early, but had a solid game, other than three turnovers. Pitched in with seven points, five assists and a steal. Played in tandem with Mason for 11 minutes.
7. Jamari Traylor: Once he learns he doesn’t need to foul to play strong defense, he’ll settle into an important role, blending speed and size, hustle and muscle. Whistled for four fouls, he had four points, an assist, a big blocked shot and a steal in 13 minutes in his hometown.
8. Brannen Greene: Second sloppy pass spelled the end to his day after eight minutes, but man did he show some serious scoring ability in his time on the floor, hitting a three-pointer and a baseline jumper. His shot will be a valuable tool.
9. Andrew White III: Missed a three-pointer and a free throw in four minutes.
10. Tarik Black: Three minutes into the game he had two fouls and never really was called upon much after that. Scoreless in six minutes, he was whistled for three fouls, giving him six in 27 minutes in Kansas uniform.
11. Conner Frankamp: Played one minute and logged his first entry in the trillion club.
12. Landen Lucas: Played final seconds of first half.
T1. Andrew Wiggins (21 points)
T1. Perry Ellis (21 points)
3. Wayne Selden (16 points)
T4. Joel Embiid (13 points)
T4. Frank Mason (13 points)
T6. Tarik Black (11 points)
T6. Andrew White III (11 points)
8. Jamari Traylor (8 points)
9. Naadir Tharpe (7 points)
10. Brannen Greene (6 point)
11. Conner Frankamp (5 points)
12. Landen Lucas (1 point)