The final two minutes were a microcosm, a blend of the good and bad.
Andrew Wiggins has been scrutinized and dissected this season, maybe more than any college basketball player in recent college basketball memory. Possession by possession, tweet by tweet, minute by minute.
But if you’re looking for a stretch that can help you understand Wiggins’ freshman season, you could do worse than the last minutes of Kansas’ 85-82 loss to K-State on Monday in Manhattan.
The Jayhawks trailed by nine when the stretch began, and they were tied when the buzzer sounded. In the span 113 seconds, Wiggins hit a driving layup, forced K-State freshman Marcus Foster into a crucial miss on defense, and finished a follow in the final seconds that defied some general laws of physics and inertia.
Of course, he also air-balled a potential game-tying three-pointer with 45 seconds left, missing the rim by nearly a foot.
The Jayhawks lost in overtime, of course, so Wiggins’ finishing stretch was mostly lost. Junior guard Naadir Tharpe was also key during the comeback, and freshman Brannen Greene probably hit the two most important baskets with a dunk-steal-layup series that cut K-State’s lead to 68-65.
But let’s stay on Wiggins for a moment.
Wiggins’ freshman season has been a fascinating examination of hype, expectations and perception. In his first 24 games, Wiggins is averaging 16 points per game — the most ever by a KU freshman. He’s also shooting just 43.5 percent from the floor and 35 percent from three-point range. According toone advanced metric
, he’s been the most productive player in the country. Other times, he’s looked like a freshman.
So let’s look back at two plays in particular from that stretch.
• 1. The first is the three-point attempt, which came with Kansas trailing by three with 45 seconds left, and close to 30 seconds on the shot clock. Wiggins’ shot was probably a good decision for two reasons. One, he was wide open. But Kansas also needed as quick a shot as possible to set up a two-for-one scenario in the final minute.