If there really was any doubt that the best player in the Big 12 wasn’t Andrew Wiggins, Wiggins put that to rest on Saturday.
In his return to the mountain state, Wiggins put up his best performance of the season. Wiggins scored 41 points on 18 shots, grabbed eight boards, dished two assists, blocked four shots and have five steals.
Wiggins saved the best for his last Big 12 regular season game and solidified his Big 12 Player of the Year resume. Wiggins smashed his previous career-high of 29 points (against Baylor in January).
Wiggins accounted for 41 of KU’s 86 points on Saturday. He shot 12-for-18 from the field. The rest of the team was 16-for-44.
At one point, Kansas was down 25 points and Wiggins miraculously pulled the Jayhawks back into it. Wiggins played 39 minutes on Saturday and in the one minute Wiggins didn’t play, West Virginia increased their lead from 10 (78-68) to 15 (83-68). When he subbed back in, Wiggins scored seven straight points for Kansas to make it 85-75. While Wiggins didn’t score again for the rest of the game, the Jayhawks were able to pull within four points with 11 seconds left.
Some of the plays Wiggins made were jawdropping.
You could tell this game meant a lot to Andrew Wiggins. Perhaps it was returning to the state he played in for his final high school years.
— Rob Fulford (@rfulford) March 8, 2014
But in the end, it was about pride and Wiggins wasn’t satisfied with scoring 41 points because he didn’t get the stat that mattered most: a win.
“It’s a good thing, but we lost,” Wiggins said after the loss. “I’d rather score five points and win.”
And I truly believe Wiggins when he says that. By the way, Kansas is 4-1 when Wiggins scores 9 points or less (6 pts vs. UTEP [W], 9 points at Oklahoma [W], 3 pts vs. Oklahoma State [W], 7 pts at Texas [L] and 9 points vs. Texas Tech [W]). In games Wiggins has scored 26 points or more, Kansas is 2-2.
In the end, I’m sure Bill Self and Kansas would rather have Wiggins score 26+ points.
But the loss doesn’t diminish Andrew Wiggins’ game against West Virginia. This is how impressive it was:
- According to ESPN, Wiggins is the first player in 15 years to have 40+ points, 5+ steals and 4+ blocks in a game.
- Wiggins is one of two freshman this year to score 41 points in a game.
- Wiggins is also the first player in the Bill Self era to score 41 points
- Wiggins’ 41 points ranks 12th all-time on KU’s single-game scoring list.
- It was the most points scored by a KU player in a loss.
- Wiggins was three points shy of tying the Big 12 freshman record set by Michael Beasley.
The Big 12 player of the year will be announced tomorrow. Scott Chasen will make Wiggins’ case for the honor later on tonight. But in my eyes, Wiggins won it today.