Paradise Island, Bahamas (SportsNetwork.com) - Freshman phenom Andrew Wiggins and the second-ranked Kansas Jayhawks will face off with an undefeated Wake Forest squad on Thursday in the opening round of the Battle 4 Atlantis Tournament at the Imperial Arena in the Bahamas.
High expectations in Lawrence have been lived up to thus far as the Jayhawks have faced four opponents and beaten them all. Kansas's most recent victory was an 88-58 trouncing of Towson at home, while its marquee victory early on was a 94-83 triumph against now No. 6 Duke.
Wake Forest shouldn't feel intimidated on Thursday, at least when comparing wins and losses with the Jayhawks. The Demon Deacons have played five games and recorded wins in each one, including an 82-54 rout of The Citadel last time out. Wake Forest has not been away from home yet this season and will not play a true road game until the end of December.
The winner of this matchup will face the victor of the Villanova/USC contest in the tournament's semifinals.
These two squads have split their four prior meetings. The most recent matchup occurred at Allen Fieldhouse during the 2001-02 season when the Jayhawks defended their homecourt with an 83-76 victory.
To say Kansas dominated Towson would be an understatement. The Jayhawks shot at an efficient 60-percet rate, owned a 40-28 edge on the boards, and controlled the interior with 48 points in the paint.
There has not been much of a challenge for Kansas this year on either end of the floor. The Jayhawks are netting 87 points per game and sinking 56.8 percent of their shots from the field. All that offensive success has helped them to a +19.5 scoring margin. Wiggins (16.8 ppg, 6.3 rpg) and Perry Ellis (16.8 ppg, 7.0 rpg) are leading the way for the Jayhawks as they are tied for the team lead in scoring. Ellis is hitting a Big 12-best 69.4 percent of his field goal attempts, while Wiggins has had at least 13 points and seven rebounds in three straight games. Wayne Selden Jr. (10.5 ppg) is another reliable scorer and Andrew White III (7.8 ppg) can hit shots from beyond the arc off the bench.
Just like the Jayhawks, the Demon Deacons were not challenged very much in their last outing. Wake Forest did shoot at just 43.6 percent from the floor, but hit 9-of-18 shots from beyond the arc, while outscoring the Citadel, 34-20 in the paint.
Without much real competition to start the year, Wake Forest has enjoyed a rather large scoring margin (+18.8), while netting 85.8 points per game. Codi Miller-McIntyre (18.6 ppg) will be the player the Jayhawks will need to focus on as he presents the most effective offensive threat for the Demon Deacons. Devin Thomas (14.4 ppg, 11.6 rpg) is a double-double machine in the low block, while Travis McKie (12.2 ppg) and Coron Williams (11.2 ppg) can hit shots from 3-point range and play well on the defensive end. McKie was especially dominant against the Citadel on defense, with five blocks and four steals.