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Kansas defeats West Virginia, 71-58

  • 7 p.m., Feb. 19, 2022
  • WVU Coliseum, Morgantown, WV

Saturday, February 19, 2022

Joe Yesufu, No. 6 Kansas ‘played pretty tough’ in gritty win at West Virginia

Kansas guard Ochai Agbaji, right, is defended by West Virginia guard Taz Sherman (12) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in Morgantown, W.Va., Saturday, Feb. 19, 2022.

Kansas guard Ochai Agbaji, right, is defended by West Virginia guard Taz Sherman (12) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in Morgantown, W.Va., Saturday, Feb. 19, 2022.

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Morgantown, W.Va. — There was very little about Kansas sophomore Joe Yesufu’s final stat line that jumped off the page following the sixth-ranked Jayhawks’ 71-58 win over West Virginia on Saturday night.

But don’t tell that to Yesufu’s teammates.

With KU point guard Dajuan Harris Jr. limited at times because of cramping issues, Yesufu took over the role as KU’s primary ball handler. And he made a whole bunch of plays that have nothing to do with that designation to help Kansas secure a win in a building that has been about as much fun to visit as the dentist’s office for the Jayhawks throughout the years.

“I thought he played great,” Kansas coach Bill Self said of Yesufu after the win. “I was really happy to see it, and we needed every minute of it.”

Yesufu scored four points on 2-of-3 shooting and had two assists, one steal and one rebound in 13 minutes.

Both the steal and the rebound were singled out as highlights by Self after the victory.

The former came with KU leading just 46-43 and West Virginia threatening to take control. And the rebound came a few possessions later, after one of the night’s 49 missed shots by the Mountaineers. Soaring high for the rebound on the defensive glass, Yesufu pushed the ball up the court the second his feet hit the ground again. It led to an easy layup by Christian Braun and an eight-point lead for the Jayhawks with 9:30 to play.

After the game, Self called the rebound “as good a defensive rebound (as) a little guard can make.”

Yesufu’s teammates called his steal one of the plays of the game.

“That play he had where he stole the ball, no one even saw it, but that’s two points that we luckily got,” said Ochai Agbaji, who led Kansas with 23 points on 8-of-15 shooting in 36 minutes. “It was just a great play, and he was just aggressive. I’m really proud of him.”

Added senior forward David McCormack, who finished with 19 points and 11 rebounds in 25 minutes: “Amazing performance. He was athletic, he was quick, he was fast. He was a floor general out there when Juan wasn’t.”

Clutch free throw shooting, production from poise and domination on the glass led the Jayhawks’ win. KU out-rebounded the Mountaineers 49-32 and finished one away from a season high on the boards. And the Jayhawks (22-4 overall, 11-2 Big 12) made 18 of 22 shots at the free throw line.

The night featured runs of 11-0, 9-0 and 8-0 for Kansas, with the 9-0 run opening the second half after WVU (14-12, 3-10) cut KU’s lead to 33-30 on its first shot of the second half.

“I don’t think everybody had a great game,” Self said. “I thought Och and Dave were pretty good though, and everybody else was really solid. And I did think we played pretty tough.”

That was evident from the start. And it came from some unexpected places.

An early lineup that featured reserves Mitch Lightfoot, Jalen Coleman-Lands and Yesufu was partly responsible for an 11-0 Kansas run that turned a tie game into a 20-9 lead for the Jayhawks midway through the first half. Agbaji and Braun were the other two out there. In taking that 11-point lead, Kansas made eight of its first 12 shots and followed that up by hitting three of its next 12. West Virginia, which shot just 29.7% in the first half, was not able to take full advantage of the Jayhawks’ offensive struggles.

The Mountaineers cut KU’s lead to seven on a couple of occasions but saw it jump back to double digits on a jump hook by Lightfoot with 1:03 to play in the half.

From there, things turned in favor of the Mountaineers. Big man Pauly Paulicap, who entered the game averaging just 11 minutes per outing, hit a pair of free throws with 27.4 seconds to play in the half.

Harris then turned the ball over on his way up the floor as Kansas set up for the final shot of the half. And Malik Curry’s jumper with 2 seconds to play in the half cut the Kansas lead to 33-27 at the break.

The Jayhawks led by double digits for nearly half of the first half. But their lead was just two possessions at the break, despite Kansas out-shooting WVU by 15 percentage points and doubling up the Mountaineers 28-14 on the glass in the first 20 minutes.

Nine first-half turnovers by the Jayhawks, including four by Braun and two by Agbaji, helped keep Kansas from building a bigger lead at the break.

“That’s about as poor as you can handle the ball to start the game,” Self said. “They’re going to turn you over, but these weren’t from pressing. These were just from unforced turnovers. We’re playing with one (lead) guard, so our team isn’t the best ball-handling team that you’ve ever seen at times. But we’re better than what we displayed tonight in the first half, and we were better the second half.”

Kansas didn’t blink when West Virginia opened the second half with a 3-pointer by Jalen Bridges to pull within three.

Agbaji fired right back with a 3-pointer of his own. McCormack then followed with a pair of free throws and an offensive rebound that led to a bucket. Agbaji then added an easy bucket in transition to push the KU lead to 42-30 with 17:07 to play.

Just 3:24 later, however, the Kansas lead was back down to a single possession (42-40), as the Mountaineers responded to KU’s run with a 10-0 surge of their own.

One more time, though, Kansas responded with poise and production, ripping off a 10-4 run to reclaim an 8-point lead with 9:30 to play on a transition bucket by Braun and again at 56-48 after a tough bucket inside by McCormack with 7:29 remaining.

“There was a point in the game where it was just like, this is the time where we’re just going to go through Dave,” Agbaji said. “And we did just that.”

Added Self of McCormack: “I thought he was great. Especially the second half. He rebounded the ball. He scored the ball. We went to him several times in a row when they went small. I thought Dave played great.”

The Jayhawks weren’t quite as good in transition in this one as they were in the first meeting between these two teams. But the buckets they did get on the run came at crucial times.

And McCormack, who has had some of his biggest games against the Mountaineers, played to his size throughout the night.

Those elements led Kansas to its fifth road win of the conference season and preserved the Jayhawks’ two-game lead over Baylor and Texas Tech in the loss column, with the Big 12 entering the final two weeks of the season.

“We can see the finish line now,” Self said. “Everybody in the league can see the finish line. So you can’t take one for granted this time of year. The only reason we need help is if we don’t take care of business. I told our guys that right before we played, and they took care of business.”

Comments

Mallory Briggans 4 months, 1 week ago

Dmac double/double 19 pts 11 rebounds

Jwil double/double 10 pts 11 rebounds

Zach C. Triple/ single 0 pts 0 rebounds 0 minutes playing time

Then again ......K.J Adams did get 15 seconds so Self is really utilizing his bench

Have i mentioned before if youre a reserve your reward for playing a good game is less playing time your next game ..........

Rodney Crain 4 months, 1 week ago

Good win on the road. Dmac played well, JW, OA back in form. They shot 28% though. Some of that was our D, some of it was them.

I guess the refs swallowed their whistles, but it got stuck in their throat. Everytime they took a breath they called a foul. 39 fouls, almost a foul a minute. You have to really try to call 39 fouls.

I thought Zach missed the plane or something. I get we got the good Dmac tonight, but you got to play Zach some going forward.

15 seconds for KJ? That sounds like he accidently sub'd in.

There are 5 conf. games left, and our rotation stinks. I get that you don't need a strong bench in the post season, but you have to have at least 2 or 3 guys you can depend on in case of foul trouble.

Kit Duncan 4 months, 1 week ago

KJ subbed in for DMac w/19 sec to go in the 1st half, ostensibly because he can defend the perimeter better than David. Instead, he gave up a two in the paint with 2 sec. That might have been why he didn't play in the 2nd half, but probably not.

Dirk Medema 4 months, 1 week ago

Joe, Mitch, JCL had nice supporting roles. Not likely to see more than 8 players unless something isn’t going right.

Not sure if it was a fluke but love the 80% FT shooting. The difference between a comfortable W and sweating out a close game. Wish there was an easy fix to the double digit TOs.

Mallory Briggans 4 months, 1 week ago

Can someone explain this to me

With 12;20 or so second half Ochai made his second of 2 free throws .............WVU player inbounded the ball to number 12 , who then stepped back out of bounds and tossed it back in again , meanwhile the closest official had already started his 8 count for getting across half court ..................why was that not a violation ?

James Donnell 4 months, 1 week ago

That was a crazy missed call. I believe that was Taz who received the ball on the inbounds play. He then traveled before he stepped out of bounds. So pick your violation.

Brian Babcock 4 months, 1 week ago

I can't explain it. I screamed at the tv asking how it wasn't called but I didn't get an answer back.Come to think of it, I never do. Probably a good thing.

Michael Leiker 4 months, 1 week ago

Rewound it three times, it was like little dribblers like the ref just decided to give them a pass. Couldn’t believe the bench didn’t react.

Robert Brock 4 months, 1 week ago

Those officials usually work middle school games.

Steve Zimmerman 4 months, 1 week ago

It's hard to defend Joe when he's going to the basket. He should do that more often. BIJY!!!!

Bryce Landon 4 months, 1 week ago

I didn't think we played great, but I won't complain too much given that wins in WVU Coliseum have been hard to come by for KU ever since the Mountaineers joined the Big 12.

Side note, was it just me, or was WVU Coliseum more tame and docile than normal? It seemed really quiet through much of the game, even when the Mountaineers were within striking distance of the Jayhawks. WVU Coliseum? More like WVU Mausoleum!

Rodney Crain 4 months, 1 week ago

It was quiet there. In the second half I kept hearing this one person shouting for WV. I don;t know where the mics were but I heard just her. It was weird.

Mallory Briggans 4 months, 1 week ago

ahhhhhhh.................when your team is losing that tends to tame the crowd .........

THE KISS OF DEATH FOR JOE YESUFU !!!!! Bill Self said after the game Joe played great we needed every minute of it ............Move over Zach ,move over K.J. and move over JCL save a place for Joe ,Self said the same about Zach K.J and JCL and they got plenty of bench time after he said that .

Spencer Goff 4 months, 1 week ago

Self is obviously using his Jedi Mind Trick skillset, throwing off the opponents' scout team. "KJ and Zach played well tonight, we'll have to get them more minutes." (waves hand) Both players average 35 seconds over the next three games...

I kid, but sorta not? Self is up to something, or on something, I don't know which.

It has been a fun year though. No way to predict anything in the tourney this year with any of these teams. Very up and down, and this KU team lets anybody back in the game.

We'll probably get some jacked up Final Four with Gonzaga, two 6 seeds, and some random 10 seed... And Gonzaga still won't win it with half their team having played Euro pro-ball for ten years already.

Spencer Goff 4 months, 1 week ago

I hate that there is not more space between paragraphs on this site. Seriously, even when I add spacing it just moves it back up when I post it.

Rodney Crain 4 months, 1 week ago

Spencer

are

you

double spacing?

It

seems

to

work

for me.

Spencer Goff 4 months, 1 week ago

Yessir, and no change. Even on edit, negative Ghost Rider, no change in appearance. It is what it is sir, not gonna lose sleep over it. It does make some of my smartass comments hard to see though, and I know you love those.

Dale Rogers 4 months, 1 week ago

All this talk about not utilizing some good players off the bench. How does that differ from other years? Those bench guys have been getting some time to show their value and get them at least a little bit comfortable on the floor. Now, Self knows what is available if needed. But this is getting into the time of year where you start fine-tuning the guys you want to carry you through post-season. Continuity leads to consistency. He's not making millions by not knowing what he's doing.

Rodney Crain 4 months, 1 week ago

I guess Dale when he says in his after game press conference, I need to play this player more, and he doesn't play them at all the next few games, it is a little weird.

Chad Smith 4 months, 1 week ago

honestly thought KU could beat them by 20-25 again had they not turned the ball over. it seems like KU doesn't play many games where both turnovers are low and the team makes free throws. if both are going well KU is a tough out.

Rodney Crain 4 months, 1 week ago

It might be the water? We struggle there for some reason.

Brian Skelly 4 months, 1 week ago

To me any conference road win is a good one. It wasn't always pretty, but I thought we played well. WVU wasn't nearly as good at home as they've been against us in the past. I don't know if that's their doing or ours. Regardless, I'll take it.

Mallory Briggans 4 months, 1 week ago

Dale.... there is not 1 bench player that is truly comfortable on the floor because they are afraid if they make a mistake Self will yank them out of the game.Again my observation is not what i see its based on what Self says ............promising players an expanded role and more playing time only to do the opposite..............Bill Self does make millions and he has just 1 national championship ............1 more than me.

Bj Cassady 4 months, 1 week ago

After one game where we had fewer turnovers than the other team we clunked, 15 to 5. Got to take care of the rock, else we did a good job. Thought Zack should have been in the game. Dmac has a bad foot.

Mallory Briggans 4 months, 1 week ago

Bj that is an interesting point.......you need a healthy Dmac down the stretch so you mean to tell me between Zach ,KJ and Mitch when we have a game in hand you cant rest Dave without risking losing the game.

Spencer Goff 4 months, 1 week ago

So I'll take a win in Morgantown and Ames anytime, records don't really matter much cause they seem to get "up" when KU comes to town.

Also, as a side note, how long do we think Huggins has left coaching? He is 68, has over 900 wins... When do we think he hangs it up? I think soon.

Dirk Medema 4 months, 1 week ago

Spencer - I was thinking along the same lines regarding Huggins. WVU has been on a downward trend but he’s probably in a position where he gets to make the call. Guessing that it becomes less fun and more work when you’re not winning. Hope he gets out soon enough to provide some commentary on games. He’s obviously super knowledgeable about the game but also has enough crassness to make him entertaining in a nondramatic sorta way.

Doug Roberts 4 months, 1 week ago

Every time Yesufu is in the game he makes things happen. He needs to get more minutes.

Dirk Medema 4 months, 1 week ago

For years now, Coach Self has made comments about players needing more minutes. There’s only so many minutes and in this one it was a one possession game in the middle of the second half.

As it is, the bench got 13, 13, and 9 minutes. Are we really expecting to go more than 8 deep? While the second string is good, they’re not “replace the starters in waves” good.

It was good to see Joe continuing to work to produce the plays that do result in minutes. If Remy comes back, that too will change, but a nice hat tip to Remy for the continued peer coaching.

Rodney Crain 4 months, 1 week ago

How much is your retainer to defend Self for any and everything on here?

Whatever it is he is not paying you enough.

Rarely does one see this level of unconditional devotion for someone not a family member.

Kit Duncan 4 months, 1 week ago

Regarding subbing for DMac at the end of the game, with KU up 12, Taz Sherman hit a three to close the score to 9 at just over 2 min to go. After the bogus traveling call on JWil at 1:47, McNeill missed a three w/1:31 to go. If he had hit it, WV would only have been down six with 1:30 to go. Neither coach called a timeout in the remaining time so, when was Self going to sub for any of his players? David scored a basket to increase the lead to 11 and Jalen hit a jumper with about 30 sec to go, putting the lead at the final 13.

The final score doesn't reflect how close the game was, in the last two minutes.

Dirk Medema 4 months, 1 week ago

Interesting comment that Mallory has almost as many NC as Coach Self.

Some have said that NC are all that matter so I guess Mallory and everyone else here is then almost as good as Coach Self.

Also interesting that once K retires, and excluding Pitino’s vacated championship, Jay Wright will be the only active college BB coach with more NC’s than Coach Self. Plus, there are about 300 active coaches aspiring to achieve what he has. Hmmm, just about any alternative is a step backwards by these standards. But we deserve better!

Is almost being as good and achieving nothing sorta like a participation ribbon?

Jonathan Allison 4 months, 1 week ago

But I am sure that we can get Coach K to come out of retirement to replace HCBS. However the unlikely event that he dies, there must be numerous NBA coaches wanting to return to college. Brad Stevens must be itching to separate from the Celtics, and Billy Donovan from OKC. Oh, here's a good one... how about the guy on the Utah Jazz sideline.. he's done a good job.

Please I hope that no one thinks I'm serious. He has done a good job though.

Dirk Medema 4 months, 1 week ago

Please notice that I am not criticizing anyone that’s gotten a participation ribbon.

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