Paradise Island, Bahamas (SportsNetwork.com) - In the semifinals of the Battle 4 Atlantis Tournament at Imperial Arena in the Bahamas, the No. 2 Kansas Jayhawks and the Villanova Wildcats will square off on Friday night.
Kansas got a real test in the first round of the three-day tournament, as the Jayhawks won a game by a single-digit margin for the first time with an 87-78 triumph over Wake Forest. The victory improved the Jayhawks to 5-0 on the year.
Villanova is also sporting a 5-0 mark after running past USC, 94-79, in the first round. The Wildcats' first four victories all came at home, with all but one coming by at least 15 points.
The winner of this contest gets the chance to square off with the winner of the second semifinal, between Iowa and UTEP, for the tournament crown.
These teams last met during the 2008 NCAA Tournament when Kansas earned its way to the Final Four on the back of a 72-57 victory. The win was the third in four all-time meetings for the Jayhawks.
Five players scored in double figures as the Wildcats rode a 3-point barrage into the semifinals. Villanova went 11-of-28 from beyond the arc in the win over USC to make up for a rather sizable deficit on points in the paint (49-30).
Scoring has been a rather easy proposition for the Wildcats this season. Villanova is netting 84.2 points per game and shooting at a 47.2 percent clip from the floor. Despite not having a ton of size up front, the Wildcats are also ranked in the top 25 nationally in rebounding (42.8 rpg), while keeping opponents to 37.6 percent shooting from the floor. JayVaughn Pinkston (18.6 ppg) is one of four double-figure scorers and the best offensive weapon for his size and range. James Bell (!7.8 ppg, 6.2 rpg) can also score from all around the court, while Darrun Hilliard (14.4 ppg, 3.6 apg) and Ryan Arcidiacono (10.4 ppg, 3.2 apg) are a solid backcourt duo.
Kansas got out to a big lead at halftime and was able to hold on after the break to defeat Wake Forest. The Jayhawks scored 50 points in the paint and connected on 26-of-38 attempts from the free-throw line to make up for a rather poor performance from beyond the arc (3-of-15).
Getting out to big leads has been a theme for Kansas this year. The Jayhawks are posting 87 points per game and making good on 56.8 percent of their shots from the floor. The offensive brilliance has led to a nearly 20-point scoring differential in their favor. Freshman phenom Andrew Wiggins (16.8 ppg, 6.2 rpg) and Perry Ellis (16.8 ppg, 7.0 rpg) give the Jayhawks a ton of size as well as scoring potential. Wiggins finished with 17 points against Wake Forest, though he managed only four rebounds. Ellis had an off night with nine points on 3-of-8 shooting. Wayne Selden Jr. (10.5 ppg) is the third member of the team that scores in double figures on a regular basis.