Wiggins leads No. 18 Kansas past No. 25 K-State
Andrew Wiggins is from Canada, Wayne Selden from Massachusetts and Joel Embiid from the African nation of Cameroon. None of them grew up around the Kansas basketball program.
None of them grew up around the Jayhawks’ rivalry with Kansas State.
So all week, the trio of freshmen — along with the rest of the Jayhawks — were subjected to videos on the rivalry. Kansas coach Bill Self wanted to drive home the importance that those games against the Wildcats have taken on over the years.
The message must have come through quite clearly.
Wiggins scored 22 points, Selden added 20 and the No. 18 Jayhawks routed the 25th-ranked Wildcats 86-60 on Saturday for their sixth straight win in the series.
"We wanted to put them in a mindset of the energy and the type of emotion this game has been played with in the past," Self said. "It might have helped. I don’t know."
It sure seemed as if it helped. Embiid contributed 11 points and nine rebounds, and Perry Ellis scored 12 as Kansas (11-4, 2-0 Big 12) shot 56 percent and committed just seven turnovers.
"It just shows we’re the dominant team in Kansas," Wiggins said.
The Wildcats (12-4, 2-1), who had won their last 10 games, lost their seventh straight at Allen Fieldhouse and for the 48th time in the last 51 meetings.
Nino Williams had 12 points and Thomas Gipson scored 10 to lead Kansas State, but top scorer Marcus Foster was held to just seven points on 3-of-12 shooting.
They have great depth. They’ve got so many weapons," Wildcats coach Bruce Weber said. "You try to take away something and you have to give something, and they made shots."
Just about the only thing that didn’t go right for Kansas came late in the game, when Embiid threw an elbow that clipped Williams in the face. Embiid got a technical foul and was ejected, but a Big 12 official said he would not be suspended for Monday night’s game at Iowa State.
"Regardless of what took prior, you have to be tough enough to think, `Next play,’" Self said. "That’s frustrating to me that it would happen, even if it was a situation where it was retaliatory, and I have no idea if it was."
Kansas State actually hung tough through the first 10 minutes of the game, finding a basket every time the frenzied crowd inside Allen Fieldhouse reached a throaty roar. But a couple of foul shots by Selden and a 3-pointer by Conner Frankamp set the Jayhawks off and running.
Tarik Black’s basket in the paint finished off a 9-2 surge, and a put-back by Ellis off his own miss a few minutes later wrapped up another 9-2 run and gave Kansas a 33-18 lead.
Selden, coming off a career-best 24 points at Oklahoma, knocked down a 3-pointer just before the halftime buzzer to send the Jayhawks into the locker room with a 45-28 cushion.
Suddenly, the 278th meeting between the schools looked like so many before it.
How impressive was the first half for Kansas? The Wildcats had been holding opponents to just 53 points per game during their 10-game win streak, yet allowed the Jayhawks to pile up 14 assists without a turnover and shoot 65.5 percent from the field.
As if things weren’t going perfectly enough for Kansas, Embiid knocked down a 3 from the top of the key to open the second half — he’d missed the first two tries of his career.
The Jayhawks partied hard the rest of the game.
There was the alley-oop dunk by Wiggins off a feed from Selden, and a nimble post move by Embiid that resulted in another dunk. And even when Wiggins threw the ball away for the Jayhawks’ first turnover, he atoned for it with back-to-back 3-pointers for a 58-34 lead.
Then came Wiggins’ biggest highlight, a one-handed slam that went through the rim with such force that the ball bounced the entire length of the floor the other direction.
In a sign of just how badly things were going for the Wildcats, they were hit with three charging fouls in a span of just a few minutes in the second half. It’s become rare enough to see one offensive foul in a game the way such calls are being made this season.
"It was an offensive game and we’re not an offensive team yet," Williams said. "We’re a defensive team and we let the offense dictate the game."