Sunday, February 12, 2017

KU’s Big Monday rematch with WVU more about revenge than league race

Kansas guard Frank Mason III (0) soars in for a bucket against West Virginia guard Jevon Carter (2) during the first half, Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2017 at WVU Coliseum.

Kansas guard Frank Mason III (0) soars in for a bucket against West Virginia guard Jevon Carter (2) during the first half, Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2017 at WVU Coliseum.


As most everyone knows, Kansas coach Bill Self throughout the years has made winning the Big 12 Conference a point of emphasis for his KU teams.

But for one night, in the thick of this season’s chase for the title, Self would like to put the Big 12 race on the back burner and play a game for pride.

“I hope our guys approach the West Virginia game like it’s not even part of our league race; that it’s us against them,” said Self of the 8 p.m., Big Monday showdown with West Virginia at Allen Fieldhouse. “They whipped us the last time we played and we know we’ve gotta be a lot tougher and handle pressure.”

Fresh off of their pressure-packed, close-out victory over Texas Tech over the weekend in Lubbock, Texas, the Jayhawks will take the floor tonight looking to both avenge one of their two Big 12 losses and prevent a second consecutive loss at Allen Fieldhouse.

The last time KU suited up at home, the Jayhawks fell from in front and watched Iowa State snap their 51-game winning streak inside their home building.

All of those factors, along with others, such as improving their defense, getting senior Frank Mason III healthy and executing a crash-course, cram session on that West Virginia press, will keep Kansas from thinking too much about what went down in Lubbock and focused on what’s ahead.

“It’s big,” said KU senior Landen Lucas of the road win that maintained KU’s one-game lead in the Big 12 standings. “But we also have to understand that it doesn’t mean much if we don’t handle business on Monday. We just gotta move on. We’ve got another game coming up. It’s against a team that beat us and we just gotta take them very seriously and get that home winning streak started up again.”

Added junior Devonte’ Graham, who scored 17 points but coughed up a game-high four turnovers in the first matchup with WVU: “Definitely a big game for us. We gotta try to get that revenge. We’re gonna get hype for that game. Our last game at home we took an L so we gotta come back and play hard. I know the crowd’s gonna be juiced up and energized.”

The Jayhawks have not lost to West Virginia at home since the Mountaineers joined the Big 12, winning in Allen Fieldhouse during the past four seasons by an average margin of 14 points. That includes an overtime thriller in 2015 and a 26-point blowout in 2013.

During that same time, however, KU is just 1-4 in games played at WVU, including this season’s 16-point loss in late January, making this showdown one of the more evenly matched Big 12 rivalries for Kansas in recent years.

It’s that fact, along with the fresh memories of this season’s first meeting, that Self is banking on to inspire a better effort against the Mountaineers this time around.

“Any time you get it handed to you and you get an opportunity to play that same team, that should be motivation enough and that’s certainly what happened the first time we played West Virginia,” he said. “I won’t even talk about the league race. I’ll just talk about playing West Virginia. Those guys don’t need the league race to be motivated for this deal. They beat us the first time, so that should be motivation enough.”


Steve Macy 2 years, 6 months ago

I respect what he does, but hate him during games, beat Huggins. RCJH

Mike Kendall 2 years, 6 months ago

WHAT COMES AROUND, GOES AROUND! As the saying goes. . . .

Martin Rosenblum 2 years, 6 months ago

What is the bonus payout for Huggins if he were to win at AFH? I know he donates that to a charity, but, that extra motivation just feels sorta "dirty" to me. Is there any other coach that anybody knows of who is similarly motivated by beating a specific team, as part of their contract?

Bob Thompson 2 years, 6 months ago

I have to agree, it just doesn't seem right go me.

Gerry Butler 2 years, 6 months ago

I could be wrong, or probably am but I thought possibly I had seen somewhere ol squeak in Manhattan got some kind of bonus. - - - Could be wrong. Anytime Huggie beats us he gets that 25,000 bonus

Jocelyn Kennedy 2 years, 6 months ago

It's my understanding (from some time ago - so I could be wrong) the payout ($25,000) is the same home or away. Hugs did not ask for this, his agent did more as a joke than anything, which is why it goes to charity. I honestly don't think the money has any effect on motivation for either coach - revenge does.

Martin Rosenblum 2 years, 6 months ago

If it's in his contract, it probably was negotiated by someone other than himself. The rivalry isn't that long standing or heated for it to be such a big issue as it would be for, let's say a Bruce Weber. The University had to agree to this term and obviously felt it was a worthwhile one to agree to it, as a charity contribution in the event KU was beaten.

Tony Bandle 2 years, 6 months ago

No offense, but I respectfully disagree with the headline. It is ALWAYS about the league race. A loss at Allen to anyone at this point in the season would potentially be a major issue toward reaching number 13. To beat WV then turn around and lose to TCU would be quite damaging.

KU needs to "hold service" so to speak and kick ass on the road. At Baylor, at Texas and at Bill's kryptonite, Oklahoma State, shapes up as a daunting end of of the year road gauntlet.

Ben Kane 2 years, 6 months ago

i think the headline is a reference to the Bill Self quote.

Harlan Hobbs 2 years, 6 months ago

Obviously, it is about both the conference race and revenge. My guess is that Coach Self is emphasizing the "revenge" factor to try to keep his guys focused on playing a full 40 minutes. Also, focusing only on the conference and "the streak" may get into their heads more than he wants. Perhaps he thinks that our home winning streak was an undue stress factor in our loss to Iowa State.

Barry Weiss 2 years, 6 months ago

I hope Frank is over his illness. You know we will need him 35 plus minutes tonight.

Kent Richardson 2 years, 6 months ago

Short turn around from a tough Saturday and against this defense you can't be in a fog in the Phog or a half a step slow due to being drained. I see him being vulnerable. With WVU's press it starts out as just trying to get it over half court but it doesn't end there. Time and time again players slow after getting it over and POKE it is out of their hands. Or you are thinking drive now that I have broken the initial defense but they are blocking your way and you back it out to set up the half court offense you get surprised because they are all over you trying back it out and steal or bad pass. We struggle getting open three point shots unless we move it fast around the perimeter. They stifle this and if you pick up your dribble DOUBLE TEAM! The SVick duo better be hot and DeVonte sure handed. Josh and Svi to the rim to at least draw fouls and lobs (Cringe because we suck at lob passing) to Vick and Landen. Did I miss anything? Lol. Oh yeah, sure handed Carlton better hit the defensive glass like a maniac. I think it calls for aggressive, aggressive, aggressive. Right up JJ's alley!

Jonathan Allison 2 years, 6 months ago

I am concerned about Frank. He was clearly not himself in Lubbock or in Manhattan.

He looked sick in both games. If he was sick on Saturday, he likely hasn't had time to fully recuperate.

Also he's been dinged up at times throughout the season. We've seen him with a knee injury and ankle/foot injuries in recent weeks.

If he has/had the flu then he will eventually get over it.

Hopefully that's all that it was last week. He could come out and allay our fears tonight.

Kent Richardson 2 years, 6 months ago

Last time was 1989. In a probation year, and Roy Williams’s first season at Kansas, the Jayhawks dropped FOUR games in a row at Allen Fieldhouse – Kansas State, Missouri, Oklahoma State, and Oklahoma.

Mike Greer 2 years, 6 months ago

West Virginia is always a tough out, but we have 4 ball handlers on the court most of the game, you would think if Oklahoma could break the press at WV we should be able to do so at AFH. It's crunch time and everyone needs to start to play up to their potential. I'm not sure what the strategy coach has for Coleby and or Lightfoot, but I wouldn't be surprised if he goes a little deeper into that part of the bench tonight.

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