DUNCANVILLE, TEXAS – The Thanksgiving HoopFest has been about the match-ups. There was no escaping that. On a cold and rainy Saturday evening, the people got what they wanted.
Dallas vs. Houston bragging rights and a large serving of ego was on the line. In a state where hoops banter is as common as pick-up trucks on the state highways, the nightcap was the perfect subject for conversation between the two passionate Lone Star State cities.
Cy Lakes played Irving MacArthur in the nightcap of the two-day showcase event. Better yet, De’Aaron Fox played Andrew Jones in the headliner game. Fox, a Kentucky signee and the best point guard in the class of 2016, would square off against Jones, the best available guard in the class of 2016.
Fox has earned the respect of his state, and the national prep hoops landscape. The alpha dog in aorld full of alpha situations, Fox was the one with the biggest bull’s eye. The best of the best know that kind of target follows them around wherever they go. Jones played his way into the national conversation in July after a dazzling month during the live evaluation period with Nike-sponsored Pro Skills travel club.
On Friday night, Jones was incredible in his pairing against stud junior Trae Young. The ramp up for Saturday’s main event was palpable.
From the tip both guys went at each other and didn’t shy away from guarding the other or attacking with the dribble. Then came the pull-up threes. Then came the skills. Fox is an amazing straight line driver. Jones is one of the best with working off of ball screens. Both are great passers. Both shine in transition.
Back and forth they went. In a pairing of anything you can do, I can do better, the line was drawn even for roughly 26 minutes of the contest.
The people got what they wanted. They were most certainly entertained. The match-up was exactly what everyone wanted to see.
Down the stretch, Cy Lakes took advantage of three bad possessions from MacArthur. The game ended there, with roughly four minutes to play. Fox pressed the gas a little harder, his experience and swagger that comes with being the top dog kicked in. The extra gear was engaged and Fox didn’t look back.
Jones scored only three points in the final eight minutes of the game while Fox went hard to the rack time and time again, scoring three buckets in the paint and converted both foul shots.
Cy Lakes won 68-53. The score doesn’t exactly represent the gap between the two teams or two players.
Fox finished with 31 points on 11 of 28 shooting from the floor. He was three of 13 from three and was six of six from the foul line. He added 12 rebounds, six assists and a pair of steals.
Jones was incredibly efficient en route to 29 points on 10 of 17 shooting from the floor. He his four of eight of his three-point attempts and grabbed four rebounds to go along with his three assists and three steals.
Both guys shined in their own right. Fox was brilliant down the stretch while Jones made plays that few guys in this loaded point guard class can make. Fox, already a no-brainer shoe-in for the McDonald’s All-American game, maintained public opinion. He’s fantastic.
Jones, however, said this much this weekend – he’s the nation’s top available guard and a guy that can, and should, be considered for the burger game. He’s a full on point guard. He’s trending upward. The pieces of his game are falling in line to continue to develop at the next level.
Shaka Smart of Texas and Scott Drew of Baylor were on hand for the match-up. So were assistant coaches from Kansas, Oklahoma and SMU.
What was settled in this game? Fox won the game and did so with experience down the stretch. Jones, however, cemented his spot in national conversation. Statements were made, all for the good.
This match-up, at least for the hardcore hoopheads in Texas, will be one that gets thrown around in conversations for years to come. Both players made sure of it on Saturday night.