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Kansas defeats West Virginia, 85-59

  • 12:30 p.m., Jan. 15, 2022
  • Allen Fieldhouse, Lawrence, KS

Saturday, January 15, 2022

Party time at Allen Fieldhouse: No. 9 Kansas rolls over West Virginia, 85-59 behind career days by McCormack, Wilson

Kansas forward David McCormack (33) and Kansas guard Christian Braun (2) slap hands during a run by the Jayhawks in the second half on Saturday, Jan. 15, 2022 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas forward David McCormack (33) and Kansas guard Christian Braun (2) slap hands during a run by the Jayhawks in the second half on Saturday, Jan. 15, 2022 at Allen Fieldhouse.

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After grinding their way through the start of the Big 12 Conference season, the ninth-ranked Kansas Jayhawks rediscovered pure, unrelenting fun in the second half of Saturday’s 85-59 win over West Virginia at Allen Fieldhouse.

After scrapping to a 33-31 halftime lead, the Jayhawks (14-2 overall, 3-1 Big 12) outscored the Mountaineers (13-3, 2-2) 52-28 in the second half, using a fast-paced approach, high-flying dunks and consistent sharing as the main catalysts in the clobbering. KU's 23 assists tied a season-high.

Kansas coach Bill Self called the second-half surge the equivalent of a dam bursting, which, Self quickly reminded everyone, does not happen that often.

But it happened in a big way on Saturday and arguably the two Jayhawks who needed it the most were largely responsible for the runaway win.

Jalen Wilson, with 23 points, and David McCormack, with 15 rebounds, both tied career-highs on Saturday afternoon, and both delivered the types of plays and passion that many expected to see from Day 1.

“They were both great,” Self said after the victory. “Jalen was fabulous in just about every area, and, David, that was probably as dominant as he’s played this year.”

While Self hopes that McCormack and Wilson returning to the kind of form that made them all-conference selections will stick, he noted that the second-half surge was the product of a lot of things going right for Kansas and wrong for West Virginia and not necessarily something that they can expect to recreate.

“That’s not real,” Self said. “We got on a roll there. But the way that we played to start the second half, I would say is indicative to how we hope to play.”

It featured a 9-0 Kansas run that blew the game open and West Virginia, which shot 27% from the floor on Saturday, never came close to recovering.

“It was great,” said Wilson, who added eight rebounds, five assists and two steals in his 32 minutes. “We started the second half with, like eight assists in a row. When we’re playing with that energy, playing with the crowd, that’s the best kind of basketball we can play and the most fun, as well.”

The joy derived from Saturday’s performance was obvious and could be seen all over their faces. Wilson, who made 10 of 13 shots, including three of six from 3-point range, seemed to get more confident with each trip, playing faster, with less fear and more aggressive the deeper they got into the game.

When Wilson’s playing like he was on Saturday, Agbaji said his presence makes the Jayhawks “even more lethal.”

The Mountaineers can certainly attest to that. Early on, it was West Virginia that got hot and showed what playing hard and together could produce.

A 14-0 WVU run midway through the first half turned a 14-8 Kansas advantage into a 22-14 West Virginia lead. From that point on, the Jayhawks outscored the Mountaineers 71-37.

With Wilson and McCormack leading the way, Agbaji said he was happy for both of his teammates to have breakthrough performances that they needed.

The fact that it came on the same day, in the same game, was what turned this one into the kind of highlight show typically reserved for nonconference games.

At one point, late in the game, Agbaji, Wilson and McCormack all delivered a series of dunks that came from transition, half-court sets and offensive rebounds.

Perhaps sensing that he and his team were powerless to stop it, WVU coach Bob Huggins chose not to call any timeouts, seemingly hoping that the clock would expire quicker that way.

You could almost see KU getting its mojo back after each dunk. Some guys flexed. Others roared. The bench went wild and the fans joined them.

Asked after the victory how much they needed a game like this one, Wilson said, “a lot.”

“I feel like we needed something to give us some momentum and I think we all just clicked,” Wilson added. “Everybody had their night.”

Agbaji agreed.

“I thought everyone played well,” he said. “Dave and J-Wil, they obviously played one of their best games of the season, and we were just aggressive.”

Asked for his perspective on how the two veterans worked their way through their different struggles early in the season, Agbaji pointed to their maturity.

“A junior and a senior going through a slump like that, you just have to be mature about it and have a positive attitude,” he said. “That’s the only way you’re going to get out of it.”

Now that they have and now that they see how it can impact this team, the goal for Wilson and McCormack is to stay on the roll they created Saturday.

“I think it was just moving the ball. Once we bought into that style of offense, it made everything fun,” McCormack said. “Everybody was able to score and get the looks they wanted.”

Next up, Kansas will travel to Oklahoma on Tuesday for a 6 p.m. clash with the Sooners on ESPN.

Comments

Barry Weiss 5 months, 2 weeks ago

DMac is back! wow, what a double double. JW too! This is the combo that can win the B12. Strong on the boards, tough D, good movement (second half) on offense. That first half had me stressed. And K-state knocks off Texas Tech, who just beat Baylor and KU. Crazy!

Bryce Landon 5 months, 2 weeks ago

I was watching the game on WTTK channel 29 out of Kokomo, and that was an impressive second half! Those second 20 minutes against WVU was the best KU has looked to me all season. KU has played one complete game all season, and that was against a lowly Missouri team. But KU looked just as great against WVU for 20 minutes as they did against MU for 40 minutes! I was really pleased with the way D-Mac, J-Will, and DaJuan played this game - especially D-Mac. The dude looked like the Incredible Hulk the way he played today!

However, if you want to know who to thank for the Jayhawks' turnaround from first half to second half, you can thank my wife and 8-month-old daughter. My daughter woke up from her nap during the first half of the game, and my wife went up, changed her diaper, and brought her down in a KU onesie to watch the game with me. When the baby joined me for the game, KU was down 3 at the under-4:00 timeout of the first half. It was then that the Jayhawks pulled their heads out of their asses and went up 2 points at halftime, and then pounded the Mountaineers in the second half. And it all started when my baby girl started watching the game with me. My daughter says, "You're welcome" to all of you.

Rock Chalk Jayhawk!

Benjamin Shear 5 months, 2 weeks ago

Ok, we are going to need you to adjust your daughter's nap schedule so she can watch all the games. Can you do that for us? :)

W Keith Swinehart II 5 months, 2 weeks ago

KU had a spell midway through the first half. But corrected quickly, and never let up. Wilson and D'Mac played as we knew they would. Good to see early in Big 12 season.

Bryce Landon 5 months, 2 weeks ago

I saw a graphic on CBS showing how many times WVU had come back from double-digit deficits to win - including a 17-point deficit in one game. We should be very happy that Kansas did not allow West Virginia to come any closer than 14 once they got up big. The Jayhawks showed something I've only seen once this season - against Missouri - and that was a killer instinct. I've been begging for the Jayhawks to show killer instinct all year, and they finally did so against a quality opponent today. Once KU got WVU down, they made sure the Mountaineers stayed down.

Steve Zimmerman 5 months, 2 weeks ago

Impressive win regardless lopsided refs calls. Completely incompetent refs. I know WV doesn't have answers for our 5, but if we can handle that kind of pressure D, with cutting, lobs, 3s like that, we look much better to position ourselves back in, at least 2nd position in B12. I'm not convinced yet, but this win shows our team's progress. Agreed, Keith, Wilson & DMac played big roles in this one. Of course, Harris & Yesufu managed to penetrate & setup the others. CB found ways to contribute even though he missed so many bunnies. Ochai played great, took more shots than usual, it seems.

W Keith Swinehart II 5 months, 2 weeks ago

Yesufu looked to be the strong point guard first off the bench. He looked good. He belonged.

Steve Zimmerman 5 months, 2 weeks ago

Agreed. Great athleticism not to give up easily when he lost the ball. That's toughness there.

Rodney Crain 5 months, 2 weeks ago

Oh Waiter, I would like more of the 2nd half effort please. My wife would like a chilled bottle of the half-time gatoraid too. Thank You.

It was like we were shot out of a cannon in the 2nd half. Mercy what a difference.

Nice claw back in the first half but I did not expect to see the scrubs the last 90 seconds of the game after that first half.

Would still like more than two games to say DMac is back to his old self. Wilson looked locked in, I liked the guard play too. Braun showed in the 2nd half too.

Enjoyable to hear Bill Raftery call the game.

Bryce Landon 5 months, 2 weeks ago

Only thing missing from Bill Raftery was "SEND IT IN, OCHAI!"

Mallory Briggans 5 months, 2 weeks ago

So Baylor may be the old Baylor i used to know and Texas' lofty expectations preseason so far isnt. Tech who beat KU and Baylor lost to K- state ........If todays game was any indication of their potential the Big 12 Trophy will be coming home where it belongs

Rodney Crain 5 months, 2 weeks ago

Maybe...

Every team takes their best shot against us.

A Lot depends on which KU team shows up. The one where we struggle on offense (0 for 20 for 9 mins), sloppy (lots of turnovers/spotty defense, fouls), or our team in the second half. WV took 10 more free throws in the first half then we did. It kept them in the game. They were 10/11 FT vs us at 1/1.

Key games left - Texas home/away, Baylor home/away, ISU away, UK home.

Andy Godwin 5 months, 2 weeks ago

A “Good” David McCormack = a much better KU team. As was the case against OSU on January 6th, Self can be seen chewing out David early in the West Virginia game. After that David went into "beast mode 2". In the OSU game McCormack score 17 points, collected 15 rebounds, 1 assistant, 0 blocks, 2 turnovers, and 2 fouls in 23 minutes. However, he followed his best game of the season with two substellar outings (4, 6, 1, 1, 1, and 1 in 14 minutes and 1, 4, 0, 1, 1, & 1 in 10 minutes). KU can become elite if i) the team can remain healthy, ii) Ochai Agbaji continues to play like a “pro”, iii) McCormack and Lightfoot can be solid game in and game out, iv) Jalen Wilson has indeed found his grove, v) Remy can get and remain healthy, and vi) the point guard play off the bench can improve. Not much to ask! After the OSU game everyone claimed David was back. He played great against a not so good WVU team (first half WVU scored only 17 points from the field and 14 points from the line), but the Big 12 gets tougher starting Tuesday at OU and then at KSU who handled the team (TTU) who dominated KU. Let’s hope for the good David (or Mitch or KJ or Clemence) because Self continues to play through the center and KU’s offense is so much better when David is drawing double teams and is moving the ball from the post. They are so much harder to guard in the half game when the ball "does not stick". And huge kudos to Harris because he is stellar at running the team. Few games in the Big 12 will be easy, so good luck in Norman. Rock Chalk.

Steve Zimmerman 5 months, 2 weeks ago

The very key here is JWill & McCormack. If they're under control, full composure & focus, they're able to score. I like where JWill is right now. A couple of games he shows steady progress on offense. Under control, no charging. He brings the ball full speed, then layup with controlled speed. Cutting with floater. And ONE DUNK...!!!! Keep it up, Jaylen!

McCormack, on the other hand... it's still a coin toss. WV doesn't have guys like they used to have, banging on the post, like Tzhimbe, or whatever his name is. McCormack is still jittery under the basket. Still slow to react. But we'll see.

Blake Brown 5 months, 2 weeks ago

How much fun was that game? Most of what can be said has been above. Jesufu brought good energy and definitely uplifted the pace of the game even though he missed all 5 shots and turned it over. He's feisty and capable and could still be a serious contributor when it appeared he was destined to ride the bench and look elsewhere. Maybe a lot of our pre-season expectations will come to fruition after all. I know, it's just one game, but we did see the potential being expressed and to just a possibility. To another point, I was able to go back and critique plays and small segments of the game using slow mo and RW and FF that easily allows that on network TV as opposed to the almost impossible task of doing it on ESPN+. It's amazing how many calls the refs got wrong, the most blatant of which was CBs block near the end. I did see the ref go up to him a couple of minutes later and it appeared he took responsibility for blowing the call. The Big Xll had quite a day yesterday and theres a lot more of them to come. Every upcoming game just got more competitive. Rock Chalk

Benjamin Shear 5 months, 2 weeks ago

Obiter Dictum:

*I realize now why I like Huggins so much. He never wins in Lawrence. It's easy to like him because in 11 tries, he has never left AFH with a win.

*Let's state the obvious first: DMac and Wilson were amazing! They both played great on both ends of the floor. If this what we can expect from them going forward, we are a very high ceiling as a team.

*Once again the refs were not great. Often a game against a team like WVU is influenced by the refs. Because WVU plays "touch" basketball and they contest everything, the foul calling becomes a major factor. This game, the refs swallowed their whistle when KU had the ball. Consider that KU shot 9 FTs to WVU's 28. KU had 54 points in the paint with 20 for WVU.

*The cherry on top of the ref problem was the foul called on Braun when he blocked the fast break layout in the 2nd half. It was an absolutely amazing block, he stuffed that ball like a Thanksgiving turkey and literally did not even touch the WVU player. A minute later Braun was fouled by WVU. Before he shot FTs the ref came over and it looked like he apologized to Braun. It looked like Braun said, "it's ok". Maybe I'm interpreting the situation wrong, but I've never seen something like that before.

*Speaking of Braun, he disappeared some this game. Since conference play began, he has lost some of his mojo. I hope he gets it back.

*KJ Adams may have only scored 1 point, but he was strong and made the team better.

*I thought KU did a great job keeping McNeil from scoring. He never got his 3 point shot going and was mostly a non-factor.

*WVU had a terrible 3pt shooting percentage (22% for the game). I am not sure if that was because KU closed on the shooter and played good defense, or if WVU is just terrible at 3s. Let's hope it's the first option.

Bj Cassady 5 months, 2 weeks ago

RCJK....Great win. The only thing that keeps us from winning is the 5 position and D Mac played like a monster yesterday!

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