Canadian Andrew Wiggins soared toward the hoop as Jabari Parker made one last attempt to stop his fellow freshman star.
No such luck. Kansas’ silky smooth newcomer owned the end of Parker’s impressive homecoming.
Wiggins scored 16 of his 22 points in the second half, outplaying Parker down the stretch and helping the fifth-ranked Jayhawks knock off No. 4 Duke 94-83 on Tuesday night.
“Big players make big plays,” Wiggins said. “I think our whole team, whoever was on the court, every possession we made a big play. That’s why we came out on top.”
Parker, a former prep star at nearby Simeon High School, had 27 points, nine rebounds and two steals in a spectacular return to his hometown. But it was Wiggins who made the biggest plays in the final minutes of a taut thriller between two storied programs.
Wiggins, from Vaughan, Ont., drained a stepback jumper to give the Jayhawks an 85-81 lead with 1:33 to go, and then had a fast-break dunk as a trailing Parker picked up his fifth foul. Wiggins held his arms out and yelled after the big dunk, delighting the raucous crowd at the United Center.
“They just wanted it more,” Parker said. “They outplayed us in the second half. Me, I need to get just a little bit more experience. I’ve got a long way to go.”
Perry Ellis finished with 24 points and Wayne Selden had 15 for the Jayhawks (2-0), who went 27 of 35 at the foul line, compared to 16 of 28 for the Blue Devils. Wiggins also had eight rebounds despite battling foul trouble for much of the game.
Kansas scored 17 of the final 23 points after Rasheed Sulaimon made a jumper for Duke that tied it at 77 with 3:50 left.
“We didn’t play a bad game tonight, we played well,” Blue Devils coach Mike Krzyzewski said. “We didn’t play well on the defensive end in the second half and in big moments, we weren’t able to get a stop. Part of that is they’re good. They’re really good.”
Amile Jefferson had 17 points for Duke (1-1), which dropped to 7-3 in the all-time series against Kansas. Sulaimon scored 13, and Rodney Hood had 11 points.
The 10th meeting of two of college basketball’s most successful programs was an absolute classic, an unbelievably well-played game for mid-November. After No. 2 Michigan State held on for a 78-74 victory over top-ranked Kentucky in the first game of the Champions Classic, the Blue Devils and Jayhawks put on their own show in front of a pro-Kansas crowd filled with breathless NBA personnel drooling over the possibilities for next year’s draft.
Billed as Parker versus Wiggins, it was clear from the start there was much more talent on the floor than just the precocious freshmen stars. Jamari Traylor, another Chicago native, had an early block for Kansas and then hustled down to the other end for a trailing dunk. Hood made a jumper and helped set up Jefferson for a layup that made it 26-all.
That’s when Parker began to take over.
The 6-foot-8 forward scored 12 of Duke’s next 14 points, showing off his smooth, versatile game. He had two layups and two free throws before closing the stretch with 3-pointers on consecutive trips down the floor for the Blue Devils, leading to a respectful silence from the vocal Kansas fans.
“We didn’t guard him very well,” Jayhawks coach Bill Self said. “He was great. He was terrific.”
Playing with a new, sleek haircut, Wiggins picked up his second foul with 9:30 left in the first half and spent much of the early going on the sideline. He had six points on 3-of-5 shooting at the break to go along with three rebounds and a blocked shot.
He began to pick it up early in the second half, making a jumper on Kansas’ first possession. He also had a nice fast-break basket off a pass from Frank Mason, tying it at 51 with 15 1/2 minutes left.
“The hype, it was big. I just tried to block it out,” Wiggins said. “The names on jerseys don’t say Parker and Wiggins, it says Kansas and Duke. At the end of the day, it’s not one player that’s going to win, it’s one team.”
Parker was only getting started, too. He had a towering one-handed jam off an alley-oop from Quinn Cook, looking very much like Grant Hill from his days in Durham. He made consecutive jumpers to lift Duke to a 73-72 lead with 5:12 left.
“He was terrific and that’s how you grow,” Krzyzewski said, praising Parker for how he dealt with his return to Chicago. “I thought he just handled things really well.”
It just wasn’t enough to overcome Wiggins and the balanced Jayhawks, who outrebounded the Blue Devils 39-24. Ellis, a sophomore, also had nine boards and three steals in a solid all-around performance.
“Key was just to get the ball inside and attack,” Ellis said. “Attack at all times.”