Monday, January 15, 2018

Pressing on: Jayhawks rally for rare victory at West Virginia

Kansas guard Devonte' Graham (4) is hounded by West Virginia guard Jevon Carter (2) and West Virginia forward Wesley Harris (21) during the first half, Monday, Jan. 15, 2018 at WVU Coliseum in Morgantown, West Virginia.

Kansas guard Devonte' Graham (4) is hounded by West Virginia guard Jevon Carter (2) and West Virginia forward Wesley Harris (21) during the first half, Monday, Jan. 15, 2018 at WVU Coliseum in Morgantown, West Virginia.


Recent Big 12 tradition be damned, the Kansas basketball team visited West Virginia and left without “Country Roads” resounding throughout WVU Coliseum and Mountaineers fans singing along blissfully.

West Virginia failed to defend its home court against the Jayhawks for the first time in five years, as KU rallied for a 71-66 road victory, in a Big Monday battle of top-10 teams.

Characteristically, No. 6 West Virginia made sure No. 10 Kansas felt uncomfortable early, forcing turnovers and swatting shots en route to a 16-point first-half lead.

The Mountaineers’ advantage ballooned during a stretch when the Jayhawks missed nine of 10 shot attempts and their one make came on a goaltending call.

However, Kansas eventually rallied to tie the game late, when senior guard Devonte’ Graham drained a 3-pointer with 4:54 to play, and the Jayhawks dominated the final five-plus minutes, holding the home team to six points in that stretch.

KU (15-3 overall, 5-1 Big 12) didn’t have a player reach double digits in scoring until sophomore center Udoka Azubuike got there with 8:05 to play. At that point, WVU (15-3, 4-2) already had three players in double figures.

Senior guards Graham (16 points, six assists) and Svi Mykhailiuk (17 points, five assists) heated up late, though, fueling the Kansas comeback.

Azubuike finished with 10 points and nine rebounds in 20 minutes.

Sagaba Konate (16 points, 10 rebounds), Jevon Carter (14 points, four assists) and Esa Ahmad (15 points, five rebounds) led the way for West Virginia.

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

• The game turned when: Kansas finally overcame the “Press Virginia” mystique and WVU’s tough, defensive style of play in the game’s final minutes.

Mykhailiuk nailed consecutive 3-pointers with less than 7:00 left, sparking the Jayhawks’ turnaround. From there, Graham drained his game-tying 3 and KU scored six of its final 12 points at the free-throw line.

A Mitch Lightfoot put-back with 0:48 left answered a Daxter Miles Jr. go-ahead layup and KU never trailed again, thanks to two-for-four shooting on free throws from Malik Newman in the final 14 seconds.

• Offensive highlight: A struggling offense finally scored some easy points out in transition early in the second half, long before Kansas looked capable of a road win.

On a two-on-one fast break, Mykhailiuk attacked Konate, knowing the big man wanted nothing more than to swat a potential layup or dunk attempt above the rim.

Wisely, Mykhailiuk took off for the hoop and then lobbed a pass up high enough to to keep it away from the massive defender and leave it on the opposite side of the basket for KU center Azubuike.

The 7-footer from Nigeria caught the perfect dish on the way to one of his patented two-handed monster slams.

The easy basket was a rarity for Kansas, and it trimmed the Mountaineers’ advantage to 45-33 a little more than three minutes into the second half.

• Defensive highlight: WVU big Sagaba Konate ate KU layups and dunks for dinner throughout the first half, as Jayhawk after Jayhawk challenged the shot-blocker at the rim and left stymied.

Konate blocked five shots in the first half, many of them in embarrassing fashion, before the Jayhawks stopped trying to dunk over him down the stretch.

Thanks to Konate’s presence, KU was 5-for-16 on layups and 1-for-3 on dunks in the first half, setting up WVU’s 41-28 lead at halftime.

• Key stat: Points off turnovers.

Kansas out-Mountaineered the home team, scoring 21 points off 16 WVU miscues.

West Virginia only scored 16 points off KU’s 13 turnovers, as Kansas handled the defense in the second half, giving the ball away only four times.

• Up next: The Jayhawks head back to Lawrence for a Saturday matchup with Baylor (5 p.m., ESPN), and riding a four-game winning streak.

More news and notes from Kansas vs. West Virginia

By the Numbers: Kansas 71, West Virginia 66

By the Numbers: Kansas 71, West Virginia 66


Doug Stahler 4 years, 10 months ago

West Virginia publicly reprimanded by Kansas.

Bryce Landon 4 years, 10 months ago

You allow Wesley Harris to play when he should have been suspended, karma will bite you in the ass.

Dave Miller 4 years, 10 months ago

Best comment on the Wesley Harris situation yet! lol

David Robinett 4 years, 10 months ago

How does Coach do it? Every year with not quite enough players.

Bryce Landon 4 years, 10 months ago

I pulled up the game on, and I didn't think Kansas was going to win this game. And for about 30 minutes or so, Kansas did nothing to change my mind. But then they started making West Virginia play bad on offense, which gave a spark to our offense, and when we needed big plays we got them. With the deck stacked against us - an arena we hadn't won in since 2013, Billy Preston still sidelined, Wesley Harris suited up even though he should have been suspended, a BS technical foul on Udoka, a 16-point first-half deficit - we still pulled a win out of our asses when we needed it. It was ugly, but this time of year ugly looks and feels so good.

I guess Oliver Luck's stalling on the Preston issue to give WVU an advantage backfired. And the technical foul on Udoka was a blessing in disguise because, by fouling out when he did, Udoka wasn't on the floor to brick free throws in crunch time.

All in all, I could not be prouder of our Jayhawks tonight. The toughness that was absent in the UW, ASU, and TTU losses was on full display in the last 10 minutes of the game. If we do manage to make it 14 in a row, this game will be a big reason why.

Steve Zimmerman 4 years, 10 months ago

I'd give credit to our sound D in the 1st half. I don't agree it's that ugly. And yes, our boys played with guts. They kept attacking even after those blocks.

Jack Joiner 4 years, 10 months ago

Now that the games is over, BP might become eligible Tuesday.

Craig Carson 4 years, 10 months ago

Preston being cleared Tuesday morning would be icing on the cake and make a for great way to start the week off

Yonatan Negash 4 years, 10 months ago

Glad we pulled that one.

This one was for Frank, Perry, Wayne, Andrew, Joel and all those that have lost at WV the past four years.

On to the next game.

Bring on Baylor.

Mike Hart 4 years, 10 months ago

Yonatan... you're too funny. Glad "We" pulled out that one? You gave up on this team on January 3rd. Here is you 12 days ago: "10 loss season is inevitable, this is going to be an ugly season." And this: "Hate to say it but this season is a wash. At this point, I'd rather see both Preston and Desousa redshirt. If/when they both get cleared to play this year, they'll spend the majority of the time playing catch up. Would much rather let this season go. I think the damage is already done. Let's load up for next season."

Really? Bring on Baylor is the tune you're singing now? This season is a wash, remember? Not to say I told you so... but... I told you so. Who is ignorant now? LOL...

Dirk Medema 4 years, 10 months ago

Still not as bad as the fan who quit on the Gold Medal team in Korea in the middle of the game.

I didn't expect this win, and even more so when it is still 12 in the middle of the 2nd half, but so nice to get it to offset the TTU home L, and maybe even better to see them tough it out.

Gerry Butler 4 years, 10 months ago

It's like some of my friends said. - -Actually KU - was playing with house money. - - hardly anyone expected us to win - -and that was before the season even started, most had this game chalked up as a loss - - -actually being honest - -me too included. So ya they were playing with house money - if they play - they lose - then just what everybody expected. - -Yet we won so it was a HUGE bonus. What's really crazy is this - -probably, no is our least talented team - short handed and THIS is the year we win - -great win - -I'm not worthy lol

Thomas Green 4 years, 10 months ago

Very proud of our guys for never giving up! That first half was about as ugly as they get, but they kept working and fighting and believing! I hope this might be a defining moment of this season. Time will tell, but congrats to all the players and coaching staff...enjoy the victory because you earned it! RCJ!

Keith Allen 4 years, 10 months ago

So proud of the team for gritting this win out! I hope we have turned the corner and play tougher than we have previously. What an incredible win! Another amazing coaching job by Self and his crew! Also, am I the only one who wanted to kick my TV in hopes Jay Bilas would shut up? He is such a horrible commentator!

Alan Dickey 4 years, 10 months ago

I think Bilas did a great job. He's the most intelligent and articulate commentator. He appropriately fawns over AFH when he comes here. And tonight, he emphasized how great the Jayhawks' hearts were in making the comeback even before it was over. I wish he would call every KU game.

RJ King 4 years, 10 months ago

Yes on gritting out the win.

But you are no doubt in the minority re commentators. Jay Bilas is the best. He explains, or gives his take, on plays in a way that both a new b-ball fan OR someone who played in college can understand and appreciate. He's classy, bright, occasionally self-deprecating, brings credibility and occasional humor. He LOVES the Phog, and said the T on Dok tonight was BS. When calling Duke, doesn't usually really give away that he went there. Good thing you're not a producer. I'd take Jay Bilas every single game.

Gerry Butler 4 years, 10 months ago

I agree with you on Jay. - Another one that I personally like - -think he is pretty decent, doesn't really call a lot of games but like his views - -that's Jay Williams, again just me - he does at times get critical about KU but then again who doesn't? - Now Seth Greenberg - lmao - -he is a different story.

David McNickle 4 years, 10 months ago

It's not the job of commentators to exalt KU as the greatest team in sports. Bilas played for four years at Duke. He points out the shortcomings of both teams and also their strengths. He's probably the best ESPN has. Don't understand why when a commentator makes a negative comment about the Jayhawks, fans want him removed from calling KU games(Fran). You want horrible, go to the Pac 12 and listen to the pot brownie ramblings of Walton.

Martin Rosenblum 4 years, 10 months ago

Huggins didn't get his bonus this year for beating KU at home!

Shannon Gustafson 4 years, 10 months ago

Crazy to think we only had 13 turnovers (less than WV) and the least any team has had against WV all year after starting with 8 of them in the first 10 minutes or so.

This is certainly a statement to all the teams in the B12 that KU will NOT go down without a fight, even if everyone thinks this is the year KU goes down.

It's far from over but this game is a huge step in the right direction, just gotta use this as a stepping stone towards a higher level of play going forward.

Alan Dickey 4 years, 10 months ago

Good points. I was pleasantly surprised that we ended up with fewer TOs than WV, but I didn't know that we had the fewest against them all year.

Dirk Medema 4 years, 10 months ago

It seemed really important to me that we didn't try to break the press with Devonte (against Carter). Vick and Svi are so much better ball handlers than the WVU defenders, and especially when stopping before they got deep in the traps so they had the vision and space to hit the open man. It also helps to be able to rest Devonte.

Guessing this is part of what Coach meant by playing to the scouting report.

Matt Gonzo 4 years, 10 months ago

Super excited about ku winning in that environment! Not excited about the BS officiating. Really, Doke gets T’d for a stare down. WV was just as cocky and taunting of ku after big plays.They set the tone for Dokes reaction yet he gets the technical. Call it the same for both teams. Big 12 should review that crap.

Rock Chalk! Way to battle men.

RJ King 4 years, 10 months ago

WVU games must be incredibly tricky to officiate. Everywhere I looked there were hands grabbing, arms entangled, players bumping, colliding, stumbling around screens. I thought a couple of (Konate's?) rebounds might have been over-the-back, but then Dok needs to get better position sometimes.

The T was obviously BS (AND costly), but (ask any kid) it's always the response to the misdeed that gets caught. Anyway, just saying that (no excuse, but) Press Virginia is not an easy game for the refs.

Steve Zimmerman 4 years, 10 months ago

Silvio didn't get awarded with what clearly was a block tonight. But his presence was enough to give WVU problems. He cost them at least 2-3 foul calls. This is a very good sign.

Some of you might've noticed how he managed to get those rebounds. He uses his arms to seal his defender. He tips the ball over away from the defender and toward him. This guy will be a rebounding machine - just the guy coach needs in upcoming games. With his 3 rebounds in 4 minute, he will give us 10 rebounds in 10-15 minutes. Coach has got to play him more. I'd really like to see both Dok & Silvio on the floor at the same time. Maaan... that'll give every opponent their worst nightmare!!

I think Tait's tale here: is spot on.

Dirk Medema 4 years, 10 months ago

I thought a turning point was the D series when Svi battled and battled and eventually dribbled the ball out of bounds. You could see the frustration on his face as the team went to the bench, but Devonte talked to him. That's the aggressiveness Coach wants, and will produce positive results in the end though a particular play might not.

I thought it was also huge that Devonte picked Carter the same way that Carter picked Young in his highlight.

Maybe the biggest difference was Huggins telling his team (according to Holly) with 5 minutes (?) to go that he doesn't have anything more for them. It is up to them ... So glad we have Coach and these guys.

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