Highly touted Kansas Jayhawks freshman Andrew Wiggins faced some criticism for a slow start in his previous game, but made an immediate, important response in Friday's 88-58 blowout win over Towson.
Wiggins made six of his seven shots from the field in the first half and scored 14 points—making the same number of field goals as Towson's whole squad in that span:
Andrew Wiggins was 6-for-7 in 1st half ...his opponent, Towson, was 6-for-29 in the 1st half— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) November 23, 2013
The 18-year-old phenom wound up with a team-high 16 points, imposing his will in the paint in addition to flashing some three-point range in draining a shot from downtown in Lawrence's Allen Fieldhouse:
Andrew Wiggins with 16 points for Kansas in easy win over Towson. He handled himself well in the paint pic.twitter.com/zQ05c491fH— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) November 23, 2013
Several of Wiggins' field goals came on fast breaks against an outmatched opponent. Still, the versatile swingman answered doubters after he got off to a slow start in Kansas' previous win over Iona, when he scored only four of his 13 points in the first half of that contest.
Iona was a formidable mid-major foe that reached the NCAA tournament last season, but the Jayhawks still won by 20 points and Wiggins still managed to perform fine in the end.
Nevertheless, after the game, Gaels leading scorer Sean Armand criticized Wiggins in calling him overrated:
Of course this kid is the headline on espn. Overrated— SDot (@SeanArmand_) November 20, 2013
Who is the best freshman in college basketball?
In scanning the Twitterverse, several fans have smacked Wiggins with the same label. That may be due to the standout play from other freshmen, such as Kentucky's Julius Randle or Duke's Jabari Parker.
However, as the competition gets stiffer and Wiggins' own development progresses throughout the 2013-14 season, his talent should shine through and dismiss any notions that he is overhyped.
But until then, Wiggins can only face who's in front of him. By all measures, he's done an exceptional job thus far. All that he lacked before Friday evening was a true breakout, dominant stretch of play, which some of his first-year peers had already experienced.
As long as the No. 2 Jayhawks keep winning, it seems Wiggins will be satisfied. He seemed confident after the game, and even hinted that Kansas' future success doesn't necessarily have to come from his dominance, per KUSports.com's Gary Bedore:
When we are playing our game, no one can stop us...When we play in the flow of the game, no one can stop us. We have too many tools, too many weapons to use, especially when we are all playing well. Hitting shots like we were today and playing unselfish, no one can stop us.
Labeling a supremely skilled player such as Wiggins overrated at such an early stage is irresponsible, and something he should block out or outright ignore.
Instead of doing that, though, it seems Wiggins opted to light it up in an exciting, explosive burst of athleticism. What often separates the good from the great is how the player responds to adversity.
There are sure to be difficult hurdles ahead for the Jayhawks and Wiggins as the year wears on, but Wiggins' exceptional showing against Towson proved he does indeed have special potential waiting to be tapped to its fullest.