College hoops fans that tuned in for some early season match-ups last night were not disappointed! It kicked off with #1 Kentucky Wildcats vs #2 Michigan state Spartans. Followed by #5 Kansas Jayhawks vs #4 Duke Blue Devils. Michigan State pulled of the so called upset 78-74. Kansas beat Duke 94-83.
The Michigan State/Kentucky game was a veteran squad in Michigan State vs one of the best if not the best recruiting classes ever for John Calipari. Kentucky starts 4 freshman and a sophomore. Opposed to Michigan States 2 seniors, 2 sophomores and a junior. The experience of the Spartans was the difference in the first half and really down the stretch. Senior PG Keith Appling had 22 pts 8 reb and 8 assists. Super sophomore Garry Harris had 20 point and a key steal late in the second half. The story of the game was freshman phenom Julius Randle from Kentucky. The first half for Randle was a feeling out process. He was defended by senior Adreian Payne who had the size and length to battle with Randle. Payne is no slouch himself, as his is thought to be a first round pick. The second half was a completely different game for Randle. He came out and put his team on his back, getting them back in the game and making it a tight one. Randle on the boards is almost impossible to box out. If he gets inside position, it over. I have never seen a player so dominant on the boards and get the kind of position he did. Offensively, Randle has a very good back to the basket game for such a young player. He has great foot work and gets position that he wants. He reminds me of a more athletic version of Zach Randolph. He was dominant in the second half, Sparty had no answer. Randle finished with 27 pts 13 rbs and a tough loss. This game was a great game to watch with so many highly touted players but it was the vets that stole the show.
The marquee game of the night had to be Duke vs Kansas. People were tuning in to watch the 2 top freshman in the country Andrew Wiggins and Jabari Parker. They did not disappoint. For the eye test, Wiggins is extremely thin, really long limbed but quick. Parker is big, strong wide shoulders, very smooth. The first half was the Jabari Parker show. He was getting his jumper off early and often. He had 19 pts in the first half, knocking down 4-5 3 point shots. The first half for Wiggins was plagued with foul trouble. He was unable to get in to a rhythm and get into the game. At times, he looked aloof and not engaged. The second half was a different story for Wiggins and especially down the stretch. Wiggins wanted the ball and wanted to help his team get a victory however he could. The same can be said for Parker as he defended Wiggins down the stretch. As size goes, Wiggins was clearly out matched, although he does have the upper hand in athleticism. I was surprised at how athletic Parker really is. He had a couple of nice shot blocks and would rebound the ball and start the early transition for Duke. That is not something you see from too many freshman, kid has a natural feel for the game. In the end, Parker finished with 27 pts, 9 rbs, 2 stl. Wiggins finished with 22 pts 8 rbs and a block.
After watching these 2 games I can't say there is a clear cut #1 of Parker, Randle and Wiggins. They appear to be 1A, 1B or 1C. I guess its going to come down to whoever has the #1 pick and what that teams needs really are. Glad that these match-ups happened early in the season, there will be so much more to come from the special young players. Its going to be a great season in college basketball!