It was touted as perhaps the most anticipated early season match-up of ranked teams in NCAA history.
This season’s much hyped fabulous freshmen like Andrew Wiggins, Julius Randle, and Jabari Parker were making their national television debuts in front of the world.
It was reported that upwards of 80 NBA scouts were in the building to see if they were right in tanking this season for the services of the next generation of NBA potential superstars.
Boy did we all get a show, as in the first game, the more veteran oriented Michigan State Spartans put on a clinic in the first half, holding off another monster game by Kentucky’s Julius Randle, to upset #1 Kentucky 78-74.
In the nightcap, with prized Kansas freshman Andrew Wiggins on the bench early after picking up 2 fouls, Duke’s Jabari Parker scored 19 of his 27 points before halftime. But Jayhawks coach Bill Self took the reigns off Mr Wiggins in the 2nd half, as he scored 16 of his 22 points to lead Kansas to a hard fought 94-83 victory over the Blue Devils.
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Michigan State sophomore guard Gary Harris, the Preseason Big Ten Player of the Year, was fantastic in the first half continuously blowing by the Kentucky defense, en route to finishing with 20 points, 2 behind Spartan leader Keith Appling, who had 22.
After scoring 45 points and grabbing 30 rebounds over his first two games, prized Kentucky freshman Julius Randle was hounded by the Spartan defense early, tallying only 4 points and 4 boards at halftime.
Save for forward James Young’s 19 points, the rest of Kentucky’s much heralded #1 recruiting class like the Harrison twins, Dakari Johnson, and Marcus Lee were held in check, scoring only 16 points combined.
In the 2nd half, potential #1 overall draft pick Julius Randle showed his immense talent by scoring 23 of his game high 27 points and 13 boards to help tie the game up late, in spite of his 8 turnovers and 5 missed free throws.
Spartans forward Andrien Payne was ferocious, especially in the first half where he overmatched the Kentucky frontcourt, scoring 15 points for the game, but was saddled with 4 fouls early in the 2nd half allowing Kentucky’s valiant comeback.
In the first half, Chicago area native Jabari Parker put on a show, put up an amazing 19 points, scoring from everywhere on the court and upstaging his counterpart Andrew Wiggins.
While Parker was putting on a show, all everyone was talking about was where was prized top HS player Andrew Wiggins, as coach Self relegated the future NBA star to the bench with 2 early fouls, scoring 6 points in 9 first half minutes.
With Wiggins missing in action early, it was sophomore forward Perry Ellis playing a starring role, outplaying highly touted Duke transfer Rod Hood down low, leading the Jayhawks in scoring, finishing with 24 points and 9 rebounds.
Even though Parker showed the world how good he can be early, the 2nd half clearly belonged to Wiggins as the 6’8 forward easily carved up the Blue Devils defense, scoring 16 of his 22 points, including a key 17 foot jumper late to seal the win.
With 4 of the nation’s Top 5 ranked teams and the Top 3 freshmen on display, the Champions Classic was a success, giving us an early glimpse as to just how competitive and talented the players and teams can be for the season and showing us why so many NBA teams are supposedly tanking for the services of Wiggins, Randle, and Parker.