America's best backcourt turns sure loss into another close victory
Layups, 3-pointers, dunks, it didn’t matter what Kansas put up, the rim kicked back nearly everything. And then the Jayhawks couldn’t miss on the way to as crazy a comeback as Allen Fieldhouse spectators ever had seen in an 84-80 overtime victory over West Virginia.
The numbers are almost as startling as the comeback itself.
West Virginia went on a 33-18 run from late in the first half to late in the second to take a 64-50 lead with 2:58 left. Over the game’s final 7:43, including the five-minute overtime period, Kansas outscored West Virginia, 34-16.
Even more amazing, Frank Mason (15 of his 24 points) and Devonte’ Graham (14 of his 18), America’s best backcourt, outscored the Mountaineers, 29-16, over that period.
KU scored 18 points in the first 17:17 of the second half, 21 points in the final 2:43.
In the first 17:41 of the second half, Kansas made 3 of 18 field goals and 0 of 8 3-pointers. In the final 2:19, the Jayhawks made 5 of 7 shots, including 3 of 4 3-pointers.
Once the Jayhawks kicked it into desperation mode and applied full-court pressure, which coach Bill Self said the team had not practiced in about a month, they simplified the game to two basic thoughts: First, steal the ball. Second, the first man open needs to “let it fly,” as Graham put it.
“We’re not a team that usually presses like that, but if we’re down and need stops we can really get up and get active and we’re quick enough to do it," Graham said. "We just made some good plays and got some good deflections late.”
Kansas improved to 9-2 in games decided by six or fewer points and won a game in which it started the first half with a 10-0 deficit and watched West Virginia scored the final eight points of the first half.
“Coming back and fighting like we did, I’m proud of the guys and what we did,” Graham said. “We have to come out with better starts, can’t start a game like that.” They don’t always start great, but they can finish with anyone.