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Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Tait

Matt Tait: Confident Mountaineers make early statement in Big 12 race

West Virginia guard Jevon Carter (2) left, reaches in to steal the ball from a fast-breaking Wayne Selden Jr., (1)  in a game between the Jayhawks and the Mountaineers at the WVU Colliseum in Morgantown, W.V. Tuesday.

West Virginia guard Jevon Carter (2) left, reaches in to steal the ball from a fast-breaking Wayne Selden Jr., (1) in a game between the Jayhawks and the Mountaineers at the WVU Colliseum in Morgantown, W.V. Tuesday.

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— There are half a dozen things you could point to that help explain KU's 74-63 loss to West Virginia on Tuesday night at WVU Coliseum, but, for my money, none of them were worth the cost of Bob Huggins' wardrobe.

From awful weather outside and two long trips in the last two games (Texas Tech and WVU), to the Mountaineers' tenacious defense — remember, they dub themselves Press Virginia — and superior desire, any of those would be good enough reasons for elite athletes who like making excuses.

The Jayhawks aren't and the bottom line is this team simply did not play like the No. 1 team in the nation on Tuesday. Maybe not even top 25.

The Mountaineers (15-1 overall, 4-0 Big 12) not only outplayed the Jayhawks, they also carried themselves like a bunch of street legends who knew they were better. And the way this one went, you'd be hard-pressed to find anyone who would've argued that.

Look no further for proof of that than the point when Jaysean Paige, he of All-American swagger and a career-high 26 points, darted down the lane and tried to dunk over the entire KU team with 7:30 to play in the second half. It missed, but that hardly mattered. It was more the sentiment behind it that sent notice — or at least should have — that people are tired of Kansas.

Just like that, a team that few talked about as a potential challenger to end KU's streak of 11 consecutive Big 12 regular-season championships — Oklahoma and Iowa State got most of the love — sits in sole possession of the Big 12 lead four games in. Is that early? You bet. And West Virginia, like Kansas (14-2, 3-1), definitely has a bunch of tough games still ahead, including a Feb. 9 trip to Lawrence. But there isn't a team in the conference that wouldn't trade places with them today.

“It's too early to talk about anything like that,” Self said of the Big 12 title. “We really don't talk about it that much. I think there's a lot of people that ask us questions that force us to talk about it. It's something that we want to do but not because it's a number, because it would be great for this team to be able to accomplish that.”

Despite falling into second place early on, the Jayhawks left Morgantown not discouraged by their spot in the standings, but instead embarrassed by the way they played.

But even the worst nights have a way of helping teams in the end, and junior forward Landen Lucas believed that's exactly what Tuesday could do for his team.

“We let them be more competitive than us and want it more,” Lucas said. “You're not gonna run the table in this league. You're gonna take some losses. This is one of them, and we just gotta make sure that we bounce back. We knew we weren't going to go undefeated (in Big 12 play).”

Podcast episode

Press Conferences & Post-Game Interviews

Self: West Virginia was just better than us

KU coach Bill Self answers questions from the media following Tuesday's 74-63 loss to West Virginia in Morgantown.

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Added Self: “People are gonna lose in this league. I'd be shocked if anybody runs the table and goes 18-0, but certainly West Virginia has put themselves in a great position, because they've got two good road wins and, obviously, a great win tonight.”

With 14 games still to play, the fun is just beginning. And when talking just about the top four contenders alone, there still are eight games remaining that figure to be all-out wars and likely will go a long way toward determining this year's champion.

Podcast episode

Press Conferences & Post-Game Interviews

Perry Ellis and Landen Lucas try to explain what went wrong against WVU

Perry Ellis and Landen Lucas try to explain what went wrong against WVU in Morgantown.

Download podcast

One of them comes this weekend, when first-place West Virginia travels to Oklahoma on Saturday, when we'll find out with some certainty whether this Mountaineer squad can actually challenge to end KU's streak.

Win that one and not only will WVU have dealt the Sooners another blow in their push to be the team that stops the KU streak, but it also will have just knocked off the No. 1 and No. 2 teams in the nation in a span of four days. If you can do that, you can do anything. And on Tuesday night, that's exactly what the Mountaineers did — anything they wanted.

— See what people were saying about No. 1 KU at No. 11 WVU during KUsports.com’s live blog


More news and notes from No. 1 Kansas at No. 11 West Virginia


By the Numbers: West Virginia 74, Kansas 63

By the Numbers: West Virginia 74, Kansas 63

Comments

Niraj Shah 3 years, 10 months ago

KU embarrassed themselves and got punked by a team that outplay them. How else does a team shoot 33% and maul you. Self did not have the team ready and they got punched in the mouth and just stunk.

Dustin Peterson 3 years, 10 months ago

WVU shot 47 free throws. KU shot 21. WVU would've beat the 1992 Dream Team with that kind of advantage.

Eliott Reeder 3 years, 10 months ago

I agree with Dustin. A lot of folks are saying we shouldn't blame the refs, but seriously!?! A team built around the philosophy of hacking and slapping at the ball all game and getting as many deflections as possible should not EVER shoot twice as many free throws as their opponent. It's absurd.

Doug Clark 3 years, 10 months ago

We didn't play like the #1 team in the country because we are not the #1 team in the country, we were #1 in the ap poll because the ones in front of us lost, Oklahoma was more deserving than we were, that's why people who have good knowledge about teams, the coaches, picked OU #1, if we weren't at home we would've had no shot to win that game. We can get there, but right now Bill Self doesn't trust the bench which is supposedly a talented deep group, but we were embarrassed by wvu's bench, who at one point had a 30-2 advantage before some of our subs scored in the last couple of minutes. I am a die hard KU fan but the last couple of years has been the hardest I have ever gone through, I just hope the guys take pride and learn from this, I am tired of seeing teams play so much harder than us, tonight was embarrassing. Our guards have too much experience to play as bad as they did tonight, this conference title is totally up for grabs, lets hope our guys dig in and learn from this.

David Leathers 3 years, 10 months ago

I don't mean to be "that guy", but KU is number one in both polls. So the coaches, who know more about teams, picked wrong also?

Up until last night, the Jayhawks have played like the best team in the country.

See the USA Today/coaches poll for yourself:

http://sportspolls.usatoday.com/ncaa/basketball-men/polls/coaches-poll/

Niraj Shah 3 years, 10 months ago

This team looked "soft" like the 2nd half of MSU game

Jaston Archie 3 years, 10 months ago

Devontae Graham - 2 Frank Mason -2/3 Perry Ellis - 4 Selden - 4/5 Hunter/Lucas - 2/3 *

Bench

Diallo - 5 Svi - 4 Greene - 4 Bragg - 4 Vick - 4*

Pius Waldman 3 years, 10 months ago

We shouldn't expect to win all conference games and it appears WV will be a contender for the crown. A problem I see is the lack of inside players positive play. Coach at this point in the season should know who should be the leaders and who should be backup players. Tonight there simply wasn't a plan that consistently played. Maybe when he decides who should start and who will be the backups the team will play better. Tonight 6 played and only Ellis gave a winning performance.

Dale Koch 3 years, 10 months ago

If KU IS THE NUMBER TEAM IN THE COUNTRY then how can you say we should not expect to win all of our conference games? I even heard Bill Self and Landon Lucas say that. That really pisses me off cause that's exactly how they played, like "oh well, we no we won't win all of our conference games so let's just sleep walk through this one". Then why don't they just call ahead and tell WVU, ISU, and OU that we want to save travel expenses so we forfeit? If I'm the number one team in the country I'm going to give it everything in my power to stay that way and as a coach I would never say something like that. Number one in the country my a$$!!! Embarrassing to say the least. There, I got that off my chest. Even if no one reads it I feel better. I love the Hawks and suffer greatly when we lose, but not when we lose like that. ROCK CHALK!

Tom Horner 3 years, 10 months ago

It was my understanding that the conference decided last year that any school who "stormed" the court would be penalized. What happened to that?

Joe Joseph 3 years, 10 months ago

Self is right when he says that WVU has two "good" road wins, but only because all road wins are good wins.

West Virginia won at TCU (probably the worst team in the league) and at K-State in a game that K-State lead the nearly the entire second half.

West Virginia will take its lumps when it starts playing the top-half of the league on the road, just like every team will.

3 years, 10 months ago

Joe you are right on, besides KU, WV has played probably the bottom three teams in the B12 in KS, TCU and OSU. Lets see where they stand after the halfway point. RCJH

Armen Kurdian 3 years, 10 months ago

Don't know why teams insist on court-storming after they beat us especially in conference play. Whatever. I think the team may have been tired. I didn't get to watch. We've got a starting five that can beat anyone on a neutral court. our bench isn't perfect, but they are good. Road games can make you look bad. I think we'll be fine, just have to keep being aggressive on the offensive end and STOP MISSING BUNNIES!

Robert Brock 3 years, 10 months ago

KU looked slow-footed, which resulted in the foul differential and throwing the ball away big-time (Earth to Frank Mason...get yourself together, Bruh).

Rest up at AFH and start over.

David McNickle 3 years, 10 months ago

It's incredibly hard to do, but I wish the players could play with some energy on the road. I realize everyone feeds off the crowd at AFH, but KU looked dead legged last night.

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