Saturday, February 17, 2018

Comeback kids: Jayhawks rally to knock off West Virginia again

Kansas guard Malik Newman (14) comes away with a  ball from West Virginia forward Logan Routt (31) during the first half, Saturday, Feb. 17, 2018 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas guard Malik Newman (14) comes away with a ball from West Virginia forward Logan Routt (31) during the first half, Saturday, Feb. 17, 2018 at Allen Fieldhouse.


For the eighth time this season, the Kansas basketball team found itself in a double-digit deficit.

Saturday night at Allen Fieldhouse, the Jayhawks rediscovered the Morgantown magic that helped them pull off a major comeback in their first meeting with West Virginia.

Although six other KU opponents have sent the perennial Big 12 champion home with a loss after leading by 10, WVU failed to do so again in an incredible 77-69 Kansas victory.

With Cole Aldrich, back to see his No. 45 jersey added to the rafters, and Mr. All-American Frank Mason III both watching courtside, the Jayhawks clawed out of a 10-point hole with 7:22 to play.

West Virginia missed 11 of its final 14 shots as KU got the win it needed for its Big 12 title race with Texas Tech.

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

• The game turned when: The Jayhawks (21-6 overall, 10-4 Big 12) took it up about 10 notches in crunch time.

The Mountaineers controlled the game for so long another KU rally and victory hardly seemed probable.

But once Malik Newman (11 points) tied it at 66 with a 3-pointer WVU basically disappeared down the stretch.

Kansas made 9 of 10 free throws following that tying bucket, and simultaneously silenced the WVU offense.

Graham made 7 of 8 at the line in the second half and 9 of 10 in the win, finishing with 15 points and seven assists.

• Offensive highlight: Many who follow KU hoped Lagerald Vick’s 16-point performance at Iowa State earlier in the week meant he had found a way out of his offensive funk.

Early on against WVU, Vick looked even more assertive than he did in Ames, Iowa.

Vick scored six of the Jayhawks’ first nine points when the offense struggled overall in the opening minutes.

The most spectacular bucket of the entire first half came courtesy of Vick. Svi Mykhailiuk attacked off the dribble in the half court and when Vick saw a lane to cut in behind the defense he pounced.

Mykhailiuk dropped off a perfect bounce pass that met Vick in stride at the right block, then the 6-foot-5 guard from Memphis, took flight.

Vick violently threw down a two-handed jam to get the hungry fieldhouse crowd into it.

At halftime, Vick was the game’s leading scorer with 10 points on 3-for-6 shooting. He finished with 13.

• Defensive highlight: Udoka Azubuike did his best Sagaba Konate impression early in the second half.

His WVU counterpart was expected to make more of an impact as an interior defender in the primetime matchup.

But Azubuike reminded the Mountaineers he, too, can protect the paint as a help defender.

Esa Ahmad had a driving angle for a potential layup with the game tied at 37. When Ahmad tried swooping in from the right side, though, Azubuike took one giant step in his direction and spiked the shot out of bounds.

Konate finished with three swats, and Azubuike (21 points) matched him.

• Key stat: Three-point shooting.

The Mountaineers took a 10-point lead with 14:15 to play when Daxter Miles Jr. drilled his fourth 3-pointer of the night, making WVU 9 of 16 at that juncture.

They pushed their lead to 12 minutes later, with the help of two more 3-point bombs.

The Jayhawks, though 4 of 10 from deep in the first half, could not find their touch much of the second.

They misfired on their first seven 3-point tries in the midst of Miles’ shooting show. It wasn’t until Newman drained one with 7:38 to play that KU saw one fall from downtown.

Kansas finished 7 of 22 from long range in the win, but made 3 of its last 5, fueling the victory.

WVU made 14 of 26 3-pointers in the loss.

• Up next: The Jayhawks will be right back inside the fieldhouse on Monday for another must-win game featuring one more jersey retirement, this time for Sherron Collins. KU plays host to Oklahoma on ESPN’s Big Monday (8 p.m. tip-off).

More news and notes from Kansas vs. West Virginia

By the Numbers: Kansas 77, West Virginia 69.

By the Numbers: Kansas 77, West Virginia 69.


Doug Stahler 4 years, 4 months ago

What a great great game in so so many ways.

Thomas Green 4 years, 4 months ago

Agree 100%. I think maybe Huggins time has past him by as well!

Bryce Landon 4 years, 4 months ago

Where do I begin?

First of all, I have not seen Kansas play with that much pride at home for most of the season. The three home games they lost, when they got down big, their body language was bad and they'd just go through the motions until the final buzzer. Not this time. Instead of pouting, they put their man pants on and out-toughed West Virginia down the stretch. They fought to protect home court. Their body language was a joy to watch. They survived a brilliant game by Daxter Miles. They didn't give up. And we still have a chance to win the Big 12.

Second, speaking of winning the Big 12, after last week's loss at Baylor, I came on here and said I was resigned to the end of the streak because Kansas had neither manpower nor willpower. The manpower part is still questionable, but they proved me wrong and showed some willpower. I was absolutely dead wrong to doubt them. So to everyone else on this board - my mouth is wide open; ram all the crow and humble pie down my esophagus that you want.

Third, they'll make a big deal for sure of the fact that we shot, what, 35 FTAs to WVU's 2. You know why? Because WVU settled for jumpers all game long. Rarely do you get to the foul line if you shoot jumpers. True, we shot a lot too, but we drove it at them all game long and wore them down. And if WVU didn't have so many bonehead turnovers, including Miles passing up a wide open 3 very late in the game to pass it inside and get it picked off, WVU might have held on and won. And oh by the way, how many fouls did WVU get away with that should have been called? The refs sucked, but they sucked against both teams.

Fourth and finally, my favorite part of the game was Bob Huggins getting two techincal fouls and getting ejected with a few seconds left in the game. That meltdown by Thuggy Bear was a symbol of WVU's meltdown. And now we know why WVU keeps losing their poise - because their coach can't keep his (bleep) together. If a team is reflective of its coach, then West Virginia is a perfect reflection of Bob Huggins.

KD Krase 4 years, 4 months ago

Dear NBA - Please, please, please don't take Udoka (until after next year).

Mike Greer 4 years, 4 months ago

Well, according to Dickie V. Dok wasn't even in his top 10 of big men, so maybe he's safe :)

KD Krase 4 years, 4 months ago

According to Dickie V, all of the top 10 big men play for Duke???

Thomas Green 4 years, 4 months ago

Yes, Udoka next year at Kansas=monster season!

Bryce Landon 4 years, 4 months ago

Meanwhile, Kansas won twice today! Not only did we beat West Virginia, but Baylor beat Texas Tech! Our chances just got a little brighter!

Doug Aitken 4 years, 4 months ago

Probably the best quality of Bill Self is his refusal to panic. His teams persevere, every time.

Mike Greer 4 years, 4 months ago

Dok did pretty good from the charity stripe, it will be interesting to see if Kruger pulls another CS move with hack-a-Dok on Monday. I know some think that was coaching genius, but to me it's just a sign of a lack of confidence in your defense. Fouling to prevent an easy basket is one thing, but when the guy isn't even in the play, those should have been called as intentional fouls. Another footnote for Big Monday, if KU doesn't win the Big XII, it won't be Trey Young and Oklahoma winning it.

Barry Weiss 4 years, 4 months ago

must be getting close to March, first game I was standing yelling at the TV. We got this!!!

Steve Zimmerman 4 years, 4 months ago

Now the question is really, when are our guards going to break the 30% 3pt-FG mark? It's been a while since we see those 3s raining down. I'm afraid we'll need the accuracy back before March - consistent 3s, that is...

Tim Orel 4 years, 4 months ago

The ESPN announcer (forgot who) said the OU losing streak will grow by one more Monday night. No equivocation. The commercials are just to keep up interest in Big Monday's game, with a fading OU star and a fading OU team against a KU team that has title aspirations.

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