Champions Classic: Kansas outlasts Duke


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.

Illinois’ injury woes continue as starting center needs knee surgery

George Niang,Abdel Nader,Mike Thorne, Jr.
AP Photo/Mark Wallheiser
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Illinois suffered another blow in what has already turned out to be a brutal season.

Mike Thorne is expected to miss the rest of the season after tearing his meniscus. He reportedly underwent surgery on Monday to repair the injury.

Thorne, a transfer from Charlotte, was starting at center for the Illini and doing a good job of it as well. He was averaging 13.4 points and 8.4 boards, although Illinois has started off the season 3-4.

The reason for that slow start has mainly been those injuries. Tracy Abrams is already out for the season after tearing his achilles, and the Illini training room looked like a M.A.S.H. unit. Kendrick Nunn just returned two games ago from surgery to repair a torn thumb ligament. LeRon Black is still getting back to speed after offseason knee surgery. Jaylon Tate is back after dislocating a finger. Jalen Coleman-Lands was slowed by a stress fracture.

John Groce entered this season on the hot seat, and dealing with all of these injuries certainly isn’t helping his cause.

NEW PODCAST: Recapping Feast Week

Kris Dunn
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We talk about a lot of stuff of the podcast today, mainly because a lot of stuff happened since we last spoke with you all.

For starters, we need to discuss the ‘realness’ of Syracuse and Xavier. Are they both truly top 15 teams, or do they just have top 15 resumes? We also dive into Chris Mack’s epic troll-job of Dayton at the Advocare Invitational final.

Other topics we touched on: Whether or not Scott is ever going to apologize to Wayne Selden, Wichita State’s tournament hopes, Texas A&M and whether we’d take Ben Simmons, Kris Dunn or Denzel Valentine today.

As always, you can subscribe to the podcast in iTunes right here. It’s the quickest way to get access on your cell phone or tablet.