Postgame Report Card: No. 3 Kansas 58, No. 14 West Virginia 49
Morgantown, W.Va. — Quick grades for five aspects of the Kansas basketball team’s 58-49 win over West Virginia on Wednesday at WVU Coliseum.
• Even though WVU started two bigs, KU made point to get to the rim early versus the Mountaineers. The Jayhawks scored their first 12 points off layups and a dunk, with all but two of their first 10 shot attempts coming from point-blank range.
However, in the following 12-plus minutes leading up to halftime, KU only scored 6 more points in the paint. The Jayhawks shot 41.7% from the floor in the first 20 minutes, while turning it over 8 times.
• Those giveaways proved pivotal for WVU, too, as the Mountaineers scored 13 points off turnovers, setting them up for a 30-24 lead at the break
• No, it wasn’t pretty. But KU won a game that felt like a possible loss by shooting 48% in the second half. The Jayhawks left with the victory in points in the paint, no coincidence, 32-24.
• KU shot 44% in the win and only turned it over 13 times — not bad versus WVU.
• Although the Jayhawks were attacking the paint on offense from the get-go, they weren’t having much success stopping WVU from doing the same. The Mountaineers scored 12 of their first 15 points in the paint, with six layups or dunks of their own.
• WVU secured 8 offensive boards, leading to 8 second-chance points in the first half.
• KU held WVU to 35.5% shooting in the opening half, and WVU went 3-for-9 from 3-point distance.
• The Mountaineers only hit 32% of their shots and went 4-for-17 on 3-pointers. Plus, they turned it over 19 times in the home loss.
• Not one Jayhawk — not even the massive Udoka Azubuike — stood out for more than a sporadic play here or there in the first half.
Two first-half fouls kept KU’s senior center on the bench for 10 minutes, and Azubuike only had 2 points and 3 boards at halftime.
He looked much more like himself in the second half, though, playing a pivotal role in the road win. Azubuike gave KU 6 points, 7 boards and 2 blocks but was also responsible for negating the impact of Oscar Tshiebwe.
• Ochai Agbaji actually led KU in scoring in the first half, with all of 5 points in his 19 minutes of action.
Agbaji would finish with 9 points and his defense and athleticism kept him on the floor and making an impact.
• Devon Dotson found WVU leaving him open for 3-pointers throughout the first half, but went 0-for-3 on his long-range attempts and he turned it over a couple of times.
The sophomore’s left corner 3-pointer felt like a minor miracle past the midway mark of the second half with as poorly as KU was shooting it. A few minutes later the heady point guard made an incredible defensive play, swiping the ball from Miles McBride and then knocking it off of his foe out of bounds, giving KU possession in a tight game, with 7:52 to play.
Dotson shot 4-for-13, and finished with 15 points, 2 assists and 4 rebounds in 38 minutes.
• Marcus Garrett struggled with turnovers against the ever-gritty Mountaineers, committing 6.
But the Jayhawks were dead in the water before he spent much of crunch time just taking the ball away from WVU.
Garrett produced 5 steals in the win, to supplement his 9 points, 7 rebounds and 4 assists.
• KU needed David McCormack as early as the first half, with Self a couple of times sitting Azubuike due to fouls and for another stretch playing the two bigs together.
In his 10 first-half minutes, McCormack provided 4 points, 1 rebound and one emphatic block, but the Jayhawks weren’t nearly as effective with him in the lineup as they were with Azubuike.
On a related note, McCormack didn’t play in the second half.
• Senior Isaiah Moss gave KU its only 3-pointer of the first half.
His second came during a crucial stretch of the second half, with KU chipping away at WVU’s lead.
Later, Moss would score some of the game’s most influential points, sinking two free throws after drawing a foul in transition — he pulled that off twice — and burying his third 3-pointer. A personal 7-1 run for Moss had KU up 54-49 at the final media break of the second half.
Moss finished with 13 points on 3-for-7 shooting.