Tuesday, January 24, 2017

West Virginia ends KU’s winning streak

Jayhawks drop first Big 12 game of season

Kansas guard Frank Mason III (0) drives against West Virginia guard Tarik Phillip (12) during the first half, Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2017 at WVU Coliseum.

Kansas guard Frank Mason III (0) drives against West Virginia guard Tarik Phillip (12) during the first half, Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2017 at WVU Coliseum.


The Kansas basketball team’s 18-game winning streak finally derailed Tuesday night, when the Jayhawks stumbled through the second half of a 85-69 loss at West Virginia.

The No. 18 Mountaineers (16-4 overall, 5-3 Big 12) handed the No. 2 Jayhawks (18-2, 7-1) their first conference loss of the season while defeating KU at WVU Coliseum, in Morgantown, West Virginia, for the fourth season in a row.

Freshman Josh Jackson tied his career high with 22 points to lead KU in scoring for the fifth time this season before fouling out late. Jackson went 4-for-4 from the 3-point line and 4-for-8 at the free-throw line.

Esa Ahmad scored 27 for West Virginia to lead all scorers, and the Mountaineers held KU to 42-percent shooting from the floor.

Here’s a quick look back at some of the action:

• The game turned when: The Mountaineers began finding easy baskets in the second half.

In the first half, KU only turned the ball over five times and knocked down 7 of 16 3-pointers (junior Devonte’ Graham and Jackson each buried two). Kansas led by as many as six and never trailed by more than four, as the visitors avoided disaster and cashed in when open looks presented themselves. Still, Kansas entered the locker room at halftime trailing, 38-35.

The more treacherous stretch for KU came in the opening minutes of the second half, with WVU converting via easy layups and a monster Ahmad dunk out of the gate, while the Jayhawks missed shots and turned the ball over, giving the home team a nine-point advantage — and its hungry crowd some energy — less than two minutes into the second half.

While Jackson and Frank Mason III (15 points, 6-for-16 shooting) kept KU in the mix in the second half, the Mountaineers began harnessing the juice provided by their fans and converting free throws, layups and dunks in the final six-plus minutes, while Kansas went through a stretch of nearly seven minutes late in the game with only two field goals to show for their troubles.

• Offensive highlight: West Virginia’s defensive energy didn’t sputter often, so the Jayhawks had to consider themselves fortunate when a basket came easily.

Late in the first half, with WVU on an 8-0 run and Kansas in serious need of calming basket, Graham (17 points) and Jackson made it happen when the Mountaineers had a lapse. Jackson cut behind the defense, along the baseline from the right corner.

Graham, whose 13-point first half put KU in sound position at intermission, surveyed the floor from up top and lofted an alley-oop look toward the rim for a simple and effective Jackson jam.

The superb freshman upped the ante in the second half on a fast break, though, when Jackson hammered home a one-handed slam after slicing between three WVU defenders.

• Defensive highlight: Looking to keep his primary two bigs, Landen Lucas and Carlton Bragg, from picking up too many fouls in the first half, Bill Self turned to freshman Mitch Lightfoot off the bench in the heat of what was a back-and-forth game in the first half.

A 6-foot-8 freshman from Gilbert, Arizona, Lightfoot didn’t look overwhelmed when his number was called. Just 20 seconds after checking in, he met Brandon Watkins at the rim and swatted away a layup try without committing a foul, doing exactly as Lucas would have in the same situation.

• Key stat: 3-point shooting. The Jayhawks couldn’t get high-percentage looks inside via post-ups or drives, so they pounced at the chance to take open 3-pointers when that’s what the defense allowed.

Kansas buried 13 of 29 (45 percent) on the Mountaineers’ home floor, and the defending Big 12 champs wouldn’t have had any sort of chance to win without knocking those down.

• Up next: The Jayhawks will face an even steeper road challenge Saturday, when they head to Rupp Arena to take on No. 4 Kentucky (5 p.m., ESPN).

By the Numbers: West Virginia 85, Kansas 69.

By the Numbers: West Virginia 85, Kansas 69.

— See what people were saying about the game during's live coverage.

More news and notes from Kansas vs. West Virginia


Barry Weiss 1 year, 1 month ago

ouch! Thought we would do better, maybe not win. They just out hustled us all night...and our FT's were not good....and they killed us in the paint....

Jay Scott 1 year, 1 month ago

Great game by WVU. Not Mason's best night. Pretty sure Kansas is still in first place and eligible for the NCAA Tournament.

James Hubin 1 year, 1 month ago

You never know buttercup? The sky could always fall on Kansas.

Rick Golden 1 year, 1 month ago

Wow WVU plays all out on defense hmmm

Barry Weiss 1 year, 1 month ago

that they do, that they do. they have a deeper bench to keep their legs a bit fresher.

Steve Zimmerman 1 year, 1 month ago

It also has something to do with their drills, Barry. They are more disciplined. It shows every year. In offense, they pass the ball very well, keep moving. Our team is too stagnant, it's way too predictable. Not a lot of fake moves or shot fakes. We have athletic players, I feel their defense can be improved.

Bryce Landon 1 year, 1 month ago

The thing that bothered me the most about the game wasn't so much the loss itself (which I expected and predicted, and was unfortunately right) or the poor play from Mason and Lucas. It was that the team quit trying after the final media timeout. Yeah, I said it. They quit. They let WVU run roughshod over them in the last 3-plus minutes, allowing the Mountaineers a lead as big as 19. I have a huge issue with that, and so should Bill Self.

Also, during the live comment thread, someone said WVU should be kicked out of the conference for their garbage style of play. Dumbest comment of the night. Probably the same kind of snowflake who thinks the Electoral College should be abolished because Donald Trump won the election.

Greg Bowles 1 year, 1 month ago

WVU had free run of the paint and Kansas could not make a stop. Got to give Huggins credit for getting his kids ready for that game. Seems as though Kansas this year has not guarded the paint very well and has let opponents get there any time they have wanted. If they think WVU was tough, wait till they meet Kentucky on their home floor. West Virginia will look like a school yard pick up game. Self has been preaching defense to these guys all season, and unless something changes, they will not make a very deep run in the tournament.

Bj Cassady 1 year, 1 month ago

Terrible interior defense, terrible ft shooting. Nobody to go to on the inside as a viable scoring threat. Rebounding was bad. We could easily lose at OSU, Baylor unless we get our act together. I did not see the fire in the eyes tonight. The streak is in danger.

Jay Scott 1 year, 1 month ago

Lucas and Bragg took 6 shots, total..not each. It wasn't that there was nobody there. Nobody got them the ball. WVU made it hard for the perimeter guys to feed the post. Credit them for a solid game. Frank will make better decisions next time.

Marius Rowlanski 1 year, 1 month ago

Good point Jay but both players are still picking up far too many fouls. Bragg was on the court for only 11 minutes, combined they played for 35 minutes. It completely limits what they can do on defense. West Virginia was able to post up low all night as both players were once again in foul trouble. Bragg can get up and down and I think we are better when both players are on the court but they just can't seem to get out of the way of silly fouls.

I completely agree that we need to pound the ball down low EVERY opportunity that avails itself.

Steve Zimmerman 1 year, 1 month ago

The problem with our Bigs, Marius, if we pound the ball down low, they dont' go up hard and miss bunnies too often, or they lose the ball. Only Dok can break out the spell.

Jay Scott 1 year, 1 month ago

Check the FG% of the "bigs" and report back Steve. And the TO's..Wow.....

Does it seem like I'm picking on you Steve? Maybe you should think about what you post..

Steve Zimmerman 1 year, 1 month ago

I don't check stats, Jay. If you watch every game, our bigs don't get to touch the ball that much. You claim WVU made it hard? Wow. Watch again, how many FG attempts does Lucas or Bragg have in every single game? Maybe you should think of being a bit more humble. You are not GOD. You don't own this web. FYI, there are much much more knowledgeable posters than you are but you act like you're the ONLY person that knows about everything. I forgive you because you are a friend, no matter how difficult to accept that. My religion thought me.

Jay Scott 1 year, 1 month ago

Not the most informed response. I forgive you too. Here's the deal. When you make comments in public, just like on the couch watching with the gang, they'll be dissected if they're stupid. Yours were. Be a big boy.

Tom Jones 1 year, 1 month ago

I don't know exactly what "only Dok (Azibuke) can break out the spell" means exactly...if the other bigs are under a witch's spell or that nothing can change the bigs inside for the remainder of this season, but...what he said about the bigs that are playing is absolutely true. They aren't...good. Lucas is decent but he and Bragg excel at not going up strong and missing bunnies.

Just tone it down a notch, Jay. Maybe you should think about what YOU post instead of always opting for the troll routine. ;)

Jay Scott 1 year, 1 month ago

I don't know exactly what "only Dok (Azibuke) can break out the spell" means exactly.

I don't either. I didn't post it. Maybe you should tone it down and whine at the actual people who post the comments you don't like?

James Hubin 1 year, 1 month ago

You never know buttercup? The sky could always fall on Kansas.

RJ King 1 year, 1 month ago

You and Steve are both right. The stats for Lucas/Bragg/Lightfoot are:

7 shots out of 59 for team (12% of total) = not enough

3 made FG out of 7 (43%) = not good

9 fouls in 43 minutes = too many

Collectively, our 2pt FG make was only 40%, negating a great night of three's. Turnovers were 13 / 8; Points off Turns were 7 / 19; we obviously did not capitalize like they did.

Bryce Landon 1 year, 1 month ago

The streak is not in danger yet. We still have 10 conference games to go. However, I highly recommend we temporarily become Texas Tech fans tomorrow night.

Marius Rowlanski 1 year, 1 month ago

It was bound to happen but ouch! Completely outplayed. How many times has this year Kansas allowed another teams player to have a career night? 4 in a row at West Virginia? Well, at least another $25,000 went to fight cancer.

Is Mason letting talk of being this year's Naismith's award winner affecting his play?

Teams that can post up low have a huge advantage. I thought with Coleby and Lightfoot we would be able to make up for the loss of Udoka. Clearly, that isn't happening. Whenever Flucas gets fouled it basically turns out to be a turnover if we are in the bonus and nothing to Bragg about just isn't capable of putting all his talent together. It's hard to watch as you know how hard he is trying.

Having to use Jackson at the 4 is limiting his offensive game.

Okay, enough of the negative. We are still first in the conference, there is still time to make adjustments and Lightfoot did make some hustle plays. After losing 2 in a row, West Virginia needed to win a lot more than we did. They were really up for the game and they knew how to finish. 18–2 is not the time to start panicking.

Barry Weiss 1 year, 1 month ago

good points Marius. well, we will see how they respond at Lexington. I'd like them to win, but Baylor is the one we can't lose.

Marius Rowlanski 1 year, 1 month ago

If the worst we do is split and we hold at Allen Fieldhouse, I like our chances of winning the conference. If we beat Baylor twice, pay back West Virginia, stop our losing streak at OSU and at least give a very good showing at Kentucky then I think we will be no worse than a 2 seed. Might need to make it to the Big 12 Tournament championship game.

It's not an easy road but then, it shouldn't be.

Barry Weiss 1 year, 1 month ago

I like your thinking. I have always been a conference championship homer over deep runs in the dance. I'd even make sure our starters are not too spent at Lexington to make sure they are in top shape for Baylor.

Brian Cathey 1 year, 1 month ago

Here is my post from the January 4 article about our bad defense. My stance hasn't changed except UK could beat us by more than 20.

While I agree that HCBS complains about toughness and defense every year, a look at the efficiency stats on show that this is the nearly the worst KU defense in the last 15 years, basically tied with the Wiggins / Embid year. That team couldn’t win on the road in February and was bumped by Stanford when the offense fell asleep. Typically the efficiency stats get closer together (fewer point/possession scored on offense, more points/possession yielded on defense) during conference play as the level of competition gets better suggesting the 0.94 ppr will get worse. Right now we look like a typical Duke team, can light it up from long range and score a lot, but if/when the shots don’t fall they lose. That will be this team’s downfall in the tourney. We won’t score close to 90 a game like we have been over the past 6 weeks for every game. My concern is the back-to-back at West Virginia and Kentucky could be VERY ugly, 15+ point losses. Another check shows that no title team in the last 15 years has a defensive efficiency worse than 0.91 ppr and most are 0.88 and better (even the 7 seed UConn team of 2014 who was the worst of the group). Typically we hear HCBS complain in early-December like this, hopefully it’s not too late to turn the defense around as history shows this level of defense doesn't go far in March.

Jay Scott 1 year, 1 month ago

It always amazes me that WVU can play that aggressive style of defense and still shoot more FT's than their opponents.

Shannon Gustafson 1 year, 1 month ago

Exactly my thoughts. Also odd that Frank got abused every time he drove in the lane (there are even pictures of him getting fouled on drives) and yet he didn't attempt a single free throw. Lucas boxing out and the WV player hooking his arm to pull him down and Lucas getting the foul was pretty questionable as well.

Steve Zimmerman 1 year, 1 month ago

An expected loss. Coach Self simply has no answer to full-press harassing WVU in their backyard. In fact, expect more loses on the way. We can definitely learn how WVU defends. Active hands, keep moving their feet, legs and arms spread, closing in. Damn, where's Dok when we need him the most! BTW, Jay, FYI, Mason, as a PG performance (in assist): against ISU, 1 assist, vs Morris' 7; Cowboys: 4 vs Evans' 6; Sooners: 5 vs Woodard 5; WV: 2 vs Carter's 9; TT: 4 vs Evans' 5.. He will have his best night when he makes more effective passes, not desperate ones. He's a great scorer, no doubt. But we can see, team has more chance to win when they share ball. Love Josh's alpha-dog style tonight, nevertheless.

Jay Scott 1 year, 1 month ago

Kansas has 13 turnovers. That's their season average. WVU had 18. The full court pressure wasn't the issue.

Brian Cathey 1 year, 1 month ago

Lack of interior defense and the shots not falling from outside. Also, if we have such great guards, why can they rarely stop dribble penetration. It's been an issue for 3-4 years now. The "Bill Self Defense" really doesn't seem to apply anymore. UK's guards are going to carve us up, see Tyler Ulis from last year.

Jay Scott 1 year, 1 month ago

Brian. Do you watch college basketball at all? No team can consistently stop dribble penetration. KU shot 44% from three. ABOVE their season average.

It's January. The annual sightings of clueless Chicken Littles begins.....

Steve Zimmerman 1 year, 1 month ago

Perhaps I wasn't clear, Jay. "full-press" I meant pressure defense full time. Always active on defense. With 4 guards, a good team should be able to avoid that many TOs, anyway.

Jay Scott 1 year, 1 month ago

They should have LOWER than their season average against a pressing team? Steve, you're hilarious.

Seriously. Maybe posting your every thought in public isn't the best thing for you.

Steve Zimmerman 1 year, 1 month ago

Thank God you're not part of KUMB coaching staff!! In general, moron! 4 guards with 13 TOs are too much, idiot. While making snide remarks towards others is your best, fortunately you don't know much about basketball either. Just making a fool out of yourself, only citing stats doesn't prove you know sh!t about basketball.

You're still feeling lonely these days? That's what I thought.

Mike Greer 1 year, 1 month ago

Steve, you are absolutely correct 13 TOs are way too many. Unfortunately that's what KU does, that's the season average, so they didn't do any worse or any better than they have all year. But you're right, it's too many TOs, but it's always been too many TOs. And yes, with 4 guards you would think they could do better than that. Without looking I'll make a statement that 13 TOs at WVU is probably better than we did last year or the two prior to that.

RJ King 1 year, 1 month ago

Agree Jay.

Season turnover avg: WV = 11.6 Opponents = 22.7

Tonight: WV = 18 KU = 13

Who was mostly guarding Ahmad and his 27pts? Mostly Jackson? I know JJ is not really a FW, but what's 22pts if you give up 27? Not down on Jackson, just looking for answers.

Bernard Gregory 1 year, 1 month ago

I was just wondering how many free throws did Frank shoot and how many times was he knocked to the ground on his drives.

RJ King 1 year, 1 month ago

Is that rhetorical, since Frank was 0-0 at the line? The announcers said early on that the refs weren't calling that stuff. I though for sure Self would make a halftime adjustment of some kind.

But I think with this thin team, there is simply not a rabbit for every hat, and we'll have to brace for a couple of losses.

PS 40% free throw shooting, and 40% 2pt FG. 45% from 3. Go figure.

Tony Bandle 1 year, 1 month ago

Based on the past three seasons, was anyone surprised by this loss?

KU will sweep at home, go 3-2 finish on the road and end up 15-3 and, at minimum, be tied for the Big 12 Championship. Finish non league 11-2, go 2-1 in the B12 tourney and end up 28-6, get to the Sweet 16 at 30-6 and then let's see what happens in KC.

Jay Scott 1 year, 1 month ago

A reasonable prediction and one I'd take happily. As long as they're in the Midwest as even a 2 or 3 seed with no injuries they have a chance to win it all. March/April are guard time.

Steve Zimmerman 1 year, 1 month ago

Wow, a self-proclaimed basketball expert, who has no clues of how much better other teams are, actually thinks KU has a chance to win it all. Now that's hilarious. I like to root for KU, but would rather stick with reality. I respect Tony's prediction.

RJ King 1 year, 1 month ago

A chance to win it all?

You mean, not good, like one out of a hundred?

. . . more like one out of a million?

So you're telling me there's a chance . . .

Steve Zimmerman 1 year, 1 month ago

RJ, I don't gamble. Can you explain to me what those number means? I like us being underdog. But really, without Udoka, I think the odds of winning it all is just not there anymore. But thanks for sharing your prediction, though.

Barry Weiss 1 year, 1 month ago

WV was just one of those games where we had 2-3 players not have great nights. (Mason, Svi and Lucas). Frank just looked off, tired, something. He was still good, but not up to his usual. Svi had an off night shooting, to only get 8 points total out of him and Lucas is a killer when you consider our bench probably can't make that up. The fact is, our margin for error is very thin. It was tough watching WV have so many shots in the paint, they certainly did a better job getting the ball inside. Even with our shooting the 3 ball good, we still got waxed. Live by the 3, die by the 3. Last night we died. But I'm sure coach will make the adjustments and we will see a more enegetic team Saturday. Hope so, top game of the day, national TV, recruits watching, would certainly be nice for all of our guys to have a great game and shut down the Wildcats and all this Monk talk. Rock Chalk! Let's go Jayhawks!!

Robert Brock 1 year, 1 month ago

No sign of Jayhawk defense. JJ played The Matador.

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