Duke vs. Kansas Scores, Takeaways: Jalen Wilson leads Jayhawks’ late rally vs. Blue Devils in Champions Classic

Duke vs. Kansas Scores, Takeaways: Jalen Wilson leads Jayhawks’ late rally vs. Blue Devils in Champions Classic

The first game of the 2022-23 college basketball season between top-10 teams was delivered in impressive fashion Tuesday night as No. 6 Kansas defeated No. 7 Duke 69-64 during the Champions Classic in Indianapolis. The Jayhawks were without coach Bill Self, who served the third game of a self-imposed four-game suspension in response to allegations of NCAA violations.

But even without Self and some key players from last season’s national title team, the Jayhawks looked like national contenders again. Kansas freshman Grady Dick came alive in crunch time for three clutch buckets in the final two and a half minutes, two of which gave the Jayhawks the lead.

His diving, twisting layup with 1:04 left created a 65-62 lead for the Jayhawks, who rallied from a six-point deficit late in the second half. Dick was scoreless in the half until his late finish but finished with 14 points for the game.

For much of the second half, the Jayhawks essentially force-fed junior wing Jalen Wilson, the top returning scorer after losing stars like Ochai Agbaji and Christian Brown to the NBA draft. Wilson finished with a game-high 25 points and helped the Jayhawks weather a storm in the second half.

Duke trailed by 11 points early but settled down as the game wore on with freshman forward Kyle Filipowski standing out for his aggression in the second half. Filipovski led the Blue Devils with 17 points and 14 rebounds but was just 6 of 18 from the floor. Jeremy Roach added 16 points for Duke.

Both teams are plagued by poor shooting

Duke had hit a respectable 34% of its 3-point attempts through two games entering Tuesday, but the Blue Devils went cold from outside the arc against Kansas. Jeremy Roach and Tyrese Proctor were 1 for 5 from deep and Filipowski was 1 for 6 and Jaylen Blakes and Jacob Grandison were 0 for 5.

Kansas wasn’t much better as the Jayhawks hit just 3 of 19 attempts from 3-point range, but KU had more success attacking the rim. Overall, Kansas shot 46.3% from the floor compared to 35.8% for Duke. Little big man KJ Adams Jr. quietly made 4 of 4 attempts from the field without being the focal point of KU’s offense. His work against many of Duke’s taller bigs was underwhelming, but he handled it well enough to allow the Jayhawks to capitalize in other ways.

Kansas shows its wings

How KU capitalized on the aggression of its versatile corps of wings. Wilson gets into the lane against anyone guarding him, and Dick is able to get loose in key moments. Texas Tech transfer Kevin McCuller also provided a big lift in the first half, especially early on when he often found himself guarded by the 7-foot Filipowski. McCuller scored eight of his 12 points in the opening half. He had six as the Jayhawks went up 17-6 in less than seven minutes.

The size and versatility of the Wilson-Dick-McCool trio stands out for Kansas. Although only three games into his career, Deek appears capable of playing a similar role to that of Christian Brown for the Jayhawks en route to a national title last season. While replacing Ochai Agbazi is going to be a little more difficult, it’s clear that KU has the weapons needed to once again be a matchup nightmare.

Key players are missing in action

Neither team had a complete roster available. One of Duke’s five-star freshmen, versatile wing Darik Whitehead, has yet to make his debut while recovering from offseason foot surgery. The 6-6 wing gave Duke another versatile defender to deploy against Wilson and Dick.

Kansas was without two players, though. Freshman guard MJ Rice (illness) and sophomore Zach Clemens (injury) were unavailable. Rice is a McDonald’s All-American who played a major role off the bench last week, and Clemens is a sophomore fighting for minutes in the front court.

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