Saturday, January 4, 2020

Quick recap: No. 3 Kansas defeats No. 16 West Virginia in Big 12 opener

Kansas center Udoka Azubuike (35) gets tangled with West Virginia forward Oscar Tshiebwe (34) and West Virginia guard Miles McBride (4) for a rebound during the first half, Saturday, Jan. 4, 2020 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas center Udoka Azubuike (35) gets tangled with West Virginia forward Oscar Tshiebwe (34) and West Virginia guard Miles McBride (4) for a rebound during the first half, Saturday, Jan. 4, 2020 at Allen Fieldhouse.


In an old-school basketball game, KU’s big man stood taller than the rest.

A strong second half by center Udoka Azubuike helped No. 3 Kansas power past No. 16 West Virginia, 60-53, Saturday afternoon in Allen Fieldhouse. The Jayhawks (11-2) have now won 29-straight conference openers dating back to the 1991-92 season.

Kansas now leads the overall series with West Virginia, 13-5, which includes wins in seven of the previous eight meetings.

Freshman forward Oscar Tshiebwe was dominant in the first half, helping the Mountaineers (11-2) lead by as many 10 early on. The Jayhawks then countered with a number of dunks by Azubuike in the second half, many of which came off designed lobs.

Azubuike led Kansas with 17 points in the win, converting on all six of his attempts from the floor. He scored 11 of those points in the second half alone. Sophomore guard Devon Dotson added 16 points for the Jayhawks.

West Virginia pulled within 52-49 at the 1:28 mark to make things interesting. Junior Marcus Garrett then responded with a strong left-handed drive to give the hosts a much-needed bucket. WVU made it a one-possession game again, but Garrett then proceeded to hit a pair of clutch free throws on the other end.

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

• The game turned when: Kansas didn’t reclaim the lead early in the second half, but it allowed the hosts to get back in it.

Trailing 30-24 at the intermission, the Jayhawks came out on an 8-2 run in the first two-plus minutes of the second half. In fact, Kansas recorded 33% of its scoring production from the first half in the first 2:29 to even the score at 32-32.

The stretch ended with a 3-pointer from the corner by Ochai Agbaji, forcing West Virginia to call a timeout. It was a back-and-forth battle by both teams after that.

None by Kansas Basketball

• Offensive highlight: There weren’t too many plays in the first half that stood out.

Late in the first half, Azubuike recorded the team’s only dunk of the first 20 minutes. But the sequence that set the whole thing up was the interesting part of KU’s lone first-half slam.

Kansas junior Marcus Garrett attacked the rim with a strong crossover, creating a good opportunity in the lane. West Virginia big man Derek Culver, who had two fouls at the time, helped over and was unable to do enough defensively. Garrett flipped a pass to Azubuike, who finished things off with a powerful slam.

None by Shane Jackson

Azubuike had a pair of better dunks off nice passes in the second half, including this one that eventually gave Kansas its first lead since it led by a 3-2 margin.

None by Shane Jackson

• Defensive highlight: In the first half, Azubuike recorded three blocks for the Jayhawks.

One particular block got KU’s crowd into the game, taking place just over five minutes into the contest. West Virginia attempted to take advantage of Azubuike on a switch, something it accomplished a number of times in the Big 12 opener.

This time around, Azubuike swatted the attempt along the perimeter. He proceeded to take it himself to the other end, earning a trip to the free throw line.

None by Shane Jackson

• Key stat: The Jayhawks trailed by double-digits at times in the first half due to their inability to get much going offensively.

KU ultimately trailed by a 30-24 margin at the intermission, but left a lot of points on the table. Kansas went just 6-for-13 from the free throw line in the first half, which made a difference throughout the first 20 minutes.

The Jayhawks finished with a 19-for-30 effort from the charity stripe in the conference opener.

• Up next: Kansas will travel to Iowa State at 7 p.m. Wednesday.


Bob Thompson 1 year ago

I would have loved to have watched the game, but it just pisses me off to pay to watch, even if it is only $5

Steve Zimmerman 1 year ago

Wouldn't you want to support your team? (Psssst, you can always call ESPN cust.service to cancel!!)

Al Martin 1 year ago

ESPN said the game had "the finesse of a couple of dump trucks playing bumper cars." Spot on.

Drew Doerfler 1 year ago

well, it was nice to have to pay 5 for the c-team announcers and cameramen. the production level is just bad which is pathetic for a match up between two top 20 teams. Thanks Long...from a fan, thanks for your loyalty. huge sarcasm........wouldn't it be nice if KU's teams always tried as hard as West Virginia's teams do. I'll give that to them, they hustle and give it everything they have. they killed us on the boards and it wasn't even close. luckily they couldn't hit free throws or the outcome would have been different. Self just needs to go away from the 2 is horrible and the team needs work on the offensive end playing around 1 big. I feel for Silvio, but he is just really bad right now. Ochai needs to be a "lot" more aggressive! 1 rebound? 1 frickin rebound! he just stands outside the 3 pt line and waits for someone to pass him the ball. He's way too athletic for 1 frickin rebound. Braun....i love Braun! he's becoming more and more aggressive and confident as time goes on. Enaruna needs more playing time because we are going to need him for a deep tourney run. Moss? was he even in this game? Glad we won the game, but the team is going to have to find some 3 point shooting to be truly dangerous.

Dale Rogers 1 year ago

I'm hoping Wilson will be able to help out on that and that Dotson, Moss, Ochai, Braun, and Enaruna will get hot and stay hot.

Steve Zimmerman 1 year ago

I keep saying this: Silvio needs boxing footwork training to improve his bounciness and reaction. He's so slow and his legs look too heavy - you can see the difference between him & Dok when finishing those pick and roll to the basket. I feel really bad for Silvio. I wish coach Ramsey help him in the right direction. He needs to give lots of plyo drills prep for Silvio, too. Coaches, please help Silvio!

Dale Rogers 1 year ago

The espn+ camera filters or whatever they used to control brightness made the picture far too dim for easy watching. I had to bump up the TV brightness settings just to make viewing reasonable. Then turn it back down after the game because it's way too bright for regular tv viewing.

At least this game, for the first time on any game I've watched on espn+, there were no noticeable video nor audio dropouts.

Dane Pratt 1 year ago

Didn’t see the game but I liked how it ended. No turnovers and we made our free throws in the closing minutes.

Barry Weiss 1 year ago

It was a bruising type game, one we needed to experience, and we did well. Also nice being down 10 and showing we can come back. The rebound edge to them was way too big. We need to fix that.

Steve Zimmerman 1 year ago

I beg to differ @Shane, "In an old-school basketball game, KU’s big man stood taller than the rest." - Did you even watch the 2nd half? Pick and rolling, lobs, those are not the same as old-fashioned high-low, inbound-passing, no moving parts! Those pick-n-rolls what won us today. Those lobs, dunks what won us tonight. When we played that dynamic, we can take down anyone, I mean anyone in college bball. We can hit and miss on 3s, but those plays, we should keep rolling those strategies over and over and over again. You see the difference it made!

Matt Gauntt 1 year ago

Listening to former Texas Longhorn Lance Blanks call the game made it almost unbearable.

That guy needs to be calling Middle school games. Pretty apparent that he was excited we were losing at half.

Adam Bengtson 1 year ago

3 games in a row with some very frantic play. I hope it’s the whole weeks off cause this is becoming a bad trend.

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