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Kansas Basketball: Is There Doubt That Andrew Wiggins Is a Big-Game Player?

LAWRENCE, KS - NOVEMBER 22:  Andrew Wiggins #22 of the Kansas Jayhawks in action during the game against the Towson Tigers at Allen Fieldhouse on November 22, 2013 in Lawrence, Kansas.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
Jamie Squire/Getty Images
Joe TanseyFeatured ColumnistDecember 2, 2013

While you were far away from your television sets on Friday night, the Kansas Jayhawks were busy falling to the Villanova Wildcats at the Battle 4 Atlantis. 

In the 63-59 defeat, Kansas freshman Andrew Wiggins was nonexistent on the offensive end during the stretch run. 

Wiggins, who put up 22 points in an early-season win over Duke, needed to step up in a game where the Jayhawks were battling foul trouble all night long.

His fellow freshmen, Joel Embiid and Frank Mason, carried the load for a few minutes late in the second half, but they needed a strong closer playing alongside themand Wiggins was supposed to be that guy. 

Instead, Wiggins ended with just 10 points and scored just three points in the final seven minutes of the loss. 

Once the buzzer sounded on the Jayhawks' chances of beating Villanova and moving on to the tournament final, the criticism came down on Wiggins for his failure to deliver when his team needed it the most. 

With one game still to play in the Bahamas on Saturday against UTEP, Wiggins delivered a performance that should never be talked about again, as he scored just six points in his team's four-point win over the Miners. 

Despite how poorly he performed in the Bahamas, it is not time to chastise Wiggins for not being a clutch player. 

As we saw in the game against Duke, the Canadian can put up plenty of points when called upon, and he should do just that in the upcoming months. 

We all must remember that although Wiggins received ample hype during the offseason, he is still 18 years old and will at one time or another experience some growing pains at the collegiate level.

That is exactly what happened at the Battle 4 Atlantis, as the Jayhawks went up against a scrappy, veteran side in Villanova that knows how to pull off upsets of highly ranked teams. 

The only thing that Kansas can do after the loss to Villanova is learn from it and find out how it will make its team better in the long run. 

With the grueling nonconference schedule that the Jayhawks face in December, Wiggins will have even more pressure on his shoulders because of his lackluster games against Villanova and UTEP.

The second month of the season will see Bill Self's team take on Florida, New Mexico and Georgetown, who should all present a different challenge for Wiggins and the other members of the star-studded freshman class. 

One of the reasons why Self loaded up his nonconference slate for this season was to make sure that his team was tested before the stretch run approaches. 

Kansas may also not see the type of quality teams in the Big 12 that it would in nonconference play, with Oklahoma State and possibly Iowa State as well as Baylor being its main competition. 

With up to 10 games in conference play potentially not being close at all, Self needed to schedule hard and give Wiggins and the other stars on the team an early dose of reality at the next level. 

While it may be the cool thing to talk about now in a sporting culture built around overreaction and instant gratification, Wiggins' struggles will turn out to be a thing of the past by the time the games matter more later in the season. 

 

Follow me on Twitter @JTansey90.

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