Thursday, February 16, 2017

With Baylor battle looming, Jayhawks’ wild West Virginia victory still celebrated

Kansas forward Landen Lucas (33) delivers a dunk during the second half, Monday, Feb. 13, 2017 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas forward Landen Lucas (33) delivers a dunk during the second half, Monday, Feb. 13, 2017 at Allen Fieldhouse.


Even with a road game at No. 4 Baylor looming this weekend, one of the most popular topics at Thursday’s media session with the Kansas basketball team was still the Jayhawks’ wild and crazy come-from-behind victory over West Virginia on Monday night at Allen Fieldhouse.

After gutting out an 84-80 overtime victory despite trailing by 14 with less than 3:00 to play in regulation, the Jayhawks got a couple of days off this week to rest and recharge their bodies and minds.

But even then, thoughts of what some are calling the most memorable comeback in Allen Fieldhouse history were fresh in their minds.

“I watched the game the next day and watched the ending and it was exciting,” said senior forward Landen Lucas, who finished with 8 points and 13 rebounds in 32 minutes on Monday. “It’s weird, watching back the games I feel more emotions and nervous and stuff, even knowing the outcome, than I do in the game. I think I’ve just been a part of so many games and stuff, and you just try to take it play by play and just worry about winning in the moment that it’s not really until you watch it back that you really see just how emotional swings there were throughout the end of that game.”

West Virginia coach Bob Huggins was asked Thursday morning if his team had been able to wipe the memory of Monday’s loss from the minds of his players, and Huggins responded simply with, “I don’t know if I could if I tried.”

While a game like that is clearly tough for the losing team, getting past it is no picnic for the winning side either. That’s why Self also gave his team a couple of days off this week, and he’s hopeful that the third-ranked Jayhawks (23-3 overall, 11-2 Big 12) will move from here in a much different direction than they did after last season’s similarly exhausting, triple-overtime victory over Oklahoma.

“Last year, when we played OU in three overtimes, I thought that that would kind of propel us into better play, and it did the exact opposite and OU got a lot better fast right after that,” Self said. “So I don’t know if there’s an exact formula. Winning is certainly a lot better than not winning, but either way we were fatigued. I actually am glad we’re playing Baylor on Saturday because that gets everyone’s attention real quick.”

Saturday’s game — noon tip-off in Waco, Texas, on CBS — figures to be a monster moment in the race for the Big 12 regular season title. A win moves Kansas to three games up with four to play in its quest for Big 12 title No. 13 in a row. A Kansas loss pulls Baylor (22-4, 9-4) within a game of the lead with four games still to play.

Despite all of the factors concerning preparation, scouting report and pre-game routines remaining the same, Lucas said having a little cushion might allow the Jayhawks to play with less weight on their backs.

“This is a game that we would like to win, obviously,” Lucas said. “With the way the Big 12 is, there’s so many good teams that anybody could make a late push and we don’t want to open any doors for that. So Saturday’s a big game for us. We are going down there with a free mind, but also taking it very seriously.”

Added Self of Saturday’s showdown: “I think it’s huge ... But it’s still just a little bit too early to be talking about the league race, and that will not be a point of motivation or emphasis for us going down there. We’ve got our hands full playing a Top 5 team in the country on their floor. We don’t need to make it more confusing or whatnot by saying this is for the league race.”


Joseph Bullock 4 years, 8 months ago

OK, then I will say it. The Baylor game is for the League Race! Done! LOL

Mike Riches 4 years, 8 months ago

After going back and watching the end of Monday's game again, it's even more amazing than I remember. One would think that to make a comeback like that, everything would have to go right for us and wrong for the other team. But that's not what happened at all.

In the last three minutes, WVU hit the majority of their free throws, which would usually ensure a victory. They did turn it over, but so did we, twice during that run. Add to that four missed shots and we were far from perfect during that stretch.

We did get some help from the refs; the five second call was definitely rushed. And the ball that Landen stole on the inbound bounced off of him and was clearly out of bounds, and should have been WVU ball. But, of course, there are always missed calls on both sides, and the truth is, it's hard for refs not to get a little caught up in the emotions of a comeback like that. They're human beings after all.

I was so impressed with how our guys kept fighting through the mistakes, and three of our players fouling out. I did feel bad for the WVU kid (Adrian?) who lost the rebound off his leg toward the end of overtime. We were up four at that point so it's not like it lost them the game, but it had to be crushing for him. I guess that's all part of the heed! :)

Tom Jones 4 years, 8 months ago

The ref started the count when he gave the kid the ball. The kid dropped it, but the count doesn't pause or restart if that happens, so it was a legit 5 second call.

Don't remember a replay showing Lucas being clearly out of bounds, just remember the sideline camera replay that didn't show his feet. Frank got away with a backcourt, but then we promptly threw the ball away so it didn't hurt WVU.

Same deal with the kid who lost the ball out of turned into an immediate bucket for WVU when Josh overthrew Mason (I think) on the ensuing inbounds pass and it turned into a breakaway layup for them, faster than it would have been if he had corralled that rebound.

Teams do get "help from the refs" sometimes, but...KU won this one all on their own (well, with some help from WVU's mistakes down the stretch, of course).

Dustin Peterson 4 years, 8 months ago

I thought the same until I went back and watched it several times. As far as the arm waves, you're absolutely right. The whistle came before the fifth arm swing. But upon further review, he wasn't calling a 5 second violation as much as he was calling a general "delay of game." Graham makes a 3-pt shot to make the score 64-58, and there is 1:54 on the clock when the ball goes through the hoop. It bounces on the floor once, and a WVU player grabs it with 2 hands and starts walking out of bounds with 1:53 left. At 1:52, the player drops the ball and let's it roll around a little (a clever attempt to steal a few seconds), causing the official to pause. The official realizes his mistake and begins the count with 1:51 on the clock, while the ball is still loose. The player secures the ball with 1:49, slides left while Mason slides with him, Carter creates space away from Svi in the lower corner, and Jackson desperately tries to get back to cover Adrian who is wide open just inside the free throw line. Jackson covers Adrian well into the upper corner, so the inbounder tries to hang the ball in front of Mason to see if he'll swat at it, but the senior doesn't bite. Carter finally gets separation from Svi in the lower corner, and as the ball is thrown toward him, the official blows the whistle with 1:46 on the clock, 5 seconds after he began the arm count, and 7 seconds after WVU secured the ball out of the made basket. Actually, a really solid piece of officiating in a conference that lacks consistency in that area.

As for the Lucas steal, the tv angle makes it look out of bounds, but the closer baseline camera shows the ball bouncing between his feet inbounds. Adrian protests during the play hoping to get a friendly call, but afterwards, he doesn't protest. He knows it was a good play.

Mike Riches 4 years, 8 months ago

Good point on the five second call, you're right, I was looking at the arm waves, which were hurried. I still think Lucas bounced it out of bounds, but it doesn't matter. My point was it's not a terrible thing if officials do miss a call at the end (i.e. Svi travel) because they miss calls throughout the entire game; human officiating is part of sports. We've had our fair share of moments when that has worked for us and against us.

Steve Corder 4 years, 8 months ago

I too watched the end of the game again on the same night as I watched the OU-UT game with probably 1000-2000 in the seats, and I was struck with this thought: How can Trae Young not want to be in a KU uniform next year? I thought that these two optics alone would seal the deal for Self. Alas, I was wrong.

Bryce Landon 4 years, 8 months ago

Sometimes kids just want to play as close to home as they can, and that appears to be the case with Trae Young. OU is having a bad year post-Buddy Hield, but you know a Lon Kruger-coached team will bounce back.

Adam Collins 4 years, 8 months ago

If we win at Baylor tomorrow and home against TCU our next game we will at minimum share the Big 12 title again. If I remember right, Self doesn't let them cut down the nets if they just share it. The next game would be at Texas and I can't remember if the Big 12 brings the trophy then and we cut the nets or wait until the last conference game. Anybody remember?

Gary McCullough 4 years, 8 months ago

We don't cut down another team's nets. That's like Green's slam at the end of the game last year. We are the defending Champions, we can cut down the nets on Senior Day (2/27) after the OU game. Maybe Trae Young will take notice. ;)

Barry Weiss 4 years, 8 months ago

Winning like that, so many points down, so late, obviously will register in the teams mind that no game is lost even down late. Also, those one and ones, where we miss the first, we leave a lot of points on the table. If this team was 70-75% from the line, wow....

Doug Fogleman 4 years, 8 months ago

Is the Baylor game televised on CBS or CBS Sports? Thanks

Tony Bandle 4 years, 8 months ago

I replayed the game and stopped at every critical point starting at 2:44 till 0.00. In that time frame, there were 9 instances for OU and 13 instances for KU that, if any one of them had been reversed [a made free throw, no turnover, a missed three, etc.] Kansas would have lost the game.

That's 23 action points in less than three minutes that were critical to the outcome. JUST AMAZING!!!

If any game deserved 130 decibels, this was the one!!!

Scott Proch 4 years, 8 months ago

Another epic game on Saturday! I'm just a fan and I'm not sure I can take it! Hope they go down there realizing how fun this is for them and all of us.

Bryce Landon 4 years, 8 months ago

Good thing the Baylor game is on CBS; that's one game I can watch without cable. Better yet, the CBS affiliate that serves my new home area, WHBF in Rock Island, IL, told me on Facebook that they will broadcast this game.

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