Andrew Wiggins’ performance on Saturday night against TCU was seen as a step forward and rightfully so, despite the fact that the Horned Frogs have yet to win a game in Big 12 play. In scoring his then-career high 27 points Wiggins played with the assertiveness that many have been clamoring for, refusing to simply settle for what was being given to him by the defense and attacking in his quest to score points and put his teammates in position to be successful as well.
However as noted, that was TCU. The next test was to see what Wiggins would be able to do for an encore, and with No. 16 Iowa State visiting Lawrence the Cyclones represented a far more formidable opponent. And Wiggins rose to the occasion, establishing a new career-high by scoring 29 points on 10-for-16 shooting and grabbing seven rebounds to lead the 6th-ranked Jayhawks to the 92-81 victory.
The field goal percentage may be the biggest thing to take out of these last two games when it comes to Wiggins’ progression, as he’s shot 62.1% from the field in Kansas’ last two games after shooting just 39.3% in the three games prior. Not only has Wiggins been more aggressive but he’s also performed well when it comes to where he’s getting his shot attempts, and with that being the case things have opened up for some of his teammates as well.
On Wednesday night one of those teammates was Perry Ellis, who scored 20 points and grabbed six rebounds with 15 of those points coming in the first half. With the amount of attention teams will devote to Wiggins and Joel Embiid there will be opportunities for others to step up provided they’re ready to take advantage. Ellis was aggressive in the first half, and his play was a key reason as to why the Jayhawks led at the intermission in spite of the Cyclones shooting 53.3% from the field.
By the end of the night all five starters scored in double figures, with Embiid also accounting for 11 rebounds and Naadir Tharpe dishing out 12 assists with just one turnover (which was a traveling violation). The Jayhawks have now won seven straight games, and their willingness to share the ball (20 assists on 32 made field goals against Iowa State) has resulted in improved offensive execution.
Up two games in the loss column over Oklahoma (who they’ve already beaten) and Texas, Kansas can further strengthen their grip on the Big 12 with a win at Texas on Saturday. Given the way Wiggins and his teammates have been playing not only are the Jayhawks shaping up to be the class of the conference, but they’re also developing into one of the favorites to win the national title.