CHICAGO — America certainly got what it wanted in the second game of Tuesday Night’s State Farm Champions Classic: A close game between No. 4 Duke and No. 5 Kansas that saw two of the country’s top freshmen square off.
Both Kansas freshman forward Andrew Wiggins and Duke freshman forward Jabari Parker have entered college basketball with an insane amount of preseason hype and in their first major collegiate game, they each came away impressive showings.
Parker, in front of his hometown of Chicago, finished with 27 points and nine rebounds while Wiggins, and the Jayhawks, got the last laugh, finishing with 22 points and eight rebounds as he scored on a step-back jumper with 1:30 remaining and followed that up with an open-court dunk that drew Parker’s fifth foul and gave Kansas the 87-81 lead with 1:11 remaining as the Jayhawks held on for the 94-83 win.
Parker, who buried 4-of-5 first-half three-pointers and set the tone early, helped Duke to an early 42-40 halftime lead, but Kansas relied on their size, depth and athleticism to outlast the Blue Devils.
Sophomore forward Perry Ellis came up big for the Jayhawks, scoring 24 points and adding nine rebounds, while at lead guard — a question spot for the Jayhawks — junior Naadir Tharpe (seven points, five assists) and freshman Frank Mason (15 points) combined for only three turnovers between them. Freshman guard Wayne Selden also had 15 for the Jayhawks.
Kansas outrebounded the undersized Blue Devils 39-24.
Amile Jefferson scored 17 points for Duke to contribute in the scoring column and Rasheed Sulaimon (13 points), Rodney Hood (11 points) and Quinn Cook (10 points) also finished in double-figures.
The Blue Devils can score in many different ways, but they’ll need to shore up their interior defense and rebounding in order to beat elite teams that future a post presence.
Kansas can build on this early win and should be thrilled by performances off the bench by guys like Mason and freshman forward Brannen Greene (eight points).
Joel Embiid also had trouble scoring for Kansas with only two points, but contributed seven rebounds and five assists.