Andrew Wiggins, Wayne Selden and Tarik Black discuss KU's bench, the way Black and Jamari Traylor play together and how Selden and Wiggins are trying to become standout defenders.
The Mountaineers had so much going for them, but it never felt as if they had a realistic shot because Kansas has so many players to turn to when things aren’t working out for a few of the starters. By Tom Keegan
Despite the 14-point final deficit and Bob Huggins' obvious disappointment that followed, Saturday seemed like a pretty good day for West Virginia basketball. Sure, the Mountaineers lost to first-place Kansas University, 83-69, but they played the Jayhawks tough throughout both halves. By Matt Tait
Kansas coach Bill Self praises the team's bench for its performance versus West Virginia and talks about the upcoming Big Monday game at Kansas State.
By Matt Tait --- email@example.com
It was a clash of styles, with West Virginia's quick and talented guards going up against Kansas University's bulk and beef inside.
In the end, the bigger, deeper Jayhawks prevailed, 83-69, to improve to 18-5 overall and 9-1 in Big 12 play while dropping West Virginia to 14-10 overall and 6-5 in Big 12 play.
With starters Joel Embiid and Perry Ellis playing just 12 combined minutes in the first half because of foul trouble, the Jayhawks leaned on Andrew Wiggins and Wayne Selden, who scored 10 points apiece in the first half to stake Kansas to a seven-point lead at the break.
In the second half, both freshmen continued to put up points, as Wiggins finished with 19 points. Selden had 17.
The Jayhawks shot 55 percent from the floor and knocked in 23-of-34 free throws to seal the deal.
Here’s a quick look back at some of the action:
• The game turned when: The Jayhawks responded to a nasty move by WVU guard Juwan Staten that cut the Kansas lead to 51-48 by scoring 11 of the next 16 points to open up a 62-53 lead with 9:50 to play. Wiggins hit a couple of free throws and dropped in an athletic finish, Black added a couple of free throws of his own and Selden buried a three-pointer to complete the run that gave Kansas the final cushion it needed to close this one out.
• Offensive highlight: There were definitely a few in this one, but the one that comes to mind first came courtesy of Andrew Wiggins with time winding down in the first half. After holding for the last shot of the half, Wiggins kicked to Brannen Greene in the corner and watched him misfire on an off-balanced three-point try with just a few ticks remaining. As the rebound hovered, Wiggins crashed from the spot where he threw the pass and slammed it home to give Kansas a 43-36 lead at halftime.
• Defensive highlight: Credit Jamari Traylor for being heads-up enough to intercept an alley-oop attempt from Eron Harris to Juwan Staten with around 3:20 to play in the first half. Traylor did not catch the ball clean but he got enough of a tip on it to deflect it and give KU possession. The nice defensive play came in the middle of a 12-2 KU run that turned a 30-29 WVU lead into a 41-32 KU lead and gave the Jayhawks some breathing room. At the 11-minute mark of the second half, Embiid blocked Devin Williams in a one-on-one post situation without hardly having to jump. It was great discipline to stay down and get the block but Embiid followed it up with an over-aggressive foul and had to head to the bench. The initial block was was as good as it gets, though.
• Key stat: As expected the Jayhawks dominated the Mountaineers in points in the paint, outscoring the visitors 46-18 inside. What was not expected was that so many of those points down low would come from somewhere other than Joel Embiid and Perry Ellis, who were quiet offensively but watched Jamari Traylor (7) and Tarik Black (11) pick up their slack inside.
• Up next: The Jayhawks travel to Manhattan on Monday for a rematch with Kansas State at 8 p.m. at Bramlage Coliseum. KU dismantled K-State 86-60 Jan. 11 at Allen Fieldhouse.