If Kansas basketball coach Bill Self had it to do all over again, yes he’d have called timeout to set up one final play in what turned out to be a Jayhawks’ 65-64 loss to West Virginia on Saturday afternoon at WVU Coliseum.
Instead he let the Jayhawks go full court in a response to a bucket by West Virginia’s Jermaine Haley with 8.5 ticks to play, KU ultimately coming up empty via a missed three-pointer by Lagerald Vick and errant 3-foot stickback try by Dedric Lawson.
“They were awful (shots). It was my fault. I should have called timeout,” Self said in the interview room after a game that dropped KU to 4-2 in the Big 12 Conference and 15-3 overall. West Virginia won its first league game in six tries and evened its overall record at 9-9.
“We had no chance on that last possession. That’s obviously my fault,” Self repeated.
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KU’s 16th-year coach was in a reflective mood about KU’s final offensive possession, referring to it a couple times in his postgame remarks to media.
What’s obvious is Vick, who scored 13 points on 2-of-6 three-point shooting, should have driven toward the goal after accepting an inbounds pass from Marcus Garrett (15 points, six steals) instead of heading toward the corner where he missed the three taken with KU down one.
Vick also misfired from three on KU’s possession that preceded Haley’s game-winning bucket, which coincidentally came off a drive to the goal.
“I shoulda called time out,” Self stated. “I thought with the broken floor, guys coming down with the broken floor down one, I thought for sure we’d drive it,” Self stated. “Dedric didn’t have a chance. He had more time. I think he shot it with 1 or 1.5 (seconds) left. He probably could have gathered (rebound and shot).”
As far as KU’s players not driving on the final play, Self said: “It’s a natural tendency you have 8.5 seconds left, go downhill and make a play. That’s what I was thinking. If we call timeout they soft press us. We probably don’t have that opportunity (to drive). Maybe we should have called timeout with about 4 (seconds) left after halfcourt. We didn’t.”
The Jayhawk players appeared more upset about squandering a six-point lead in the final 2 1/2 minutes than the last offensive play.
“We blew it,” Lawson said. “We just blew that game. We’ve got to close games. We have to compete more, stop guys from scoring and getting stops. You have to be tougher than your guy.”
Of KU’s failure to pull out a victory at the end, sophomore guard Garrett noted: “Lagerald took both shots. They were good shots. You can’t get mad when he misses them. He makes them all the time. We just had to get a stop.”
It was noted that West Virginia coach Bob Huggins also did not call a timeout before the Mountaineers’ biggest play of the game — the game-winning bucket by Haley.
“My deal was more the situation … broken floor, double-bonus, down one, you drive it,” Self said. “So me not calling timeout was a bad move by me. Bob (Huggins) not calling timeout was obviously a brilliant move by him,” Self added jokingly.
Huggins, who chatted with Self a bit after Self addressed the media, said he understood why KU’s coach did not gather the team before a final possession, down one on the road.
“Obviously he is a hell of a coach,” Huggins said. “A lot of it depends on personnel, and they have a lot of guys who can bounce it. We don’t have guys who can bounce it. With his team, I’m sure he did the right thing. I think we did a good job defensively. That’s the best on-the-ball defense we’ve played all year.
KU has had problems winning in Morgantown through the years. West Virginia, in fact, has defeated KU five of the past six seasons in Morgantown. KU had snapped a four-game losing streak at West Virginia a year ago.
“We got sped up, made some awful plays. Give them credit for that,” Self said. His Jayhawks, who hit 43.6 percent of their shots (5 of 16 threes) to West Virginia’s 46.3 percent (5 of 14 threes) committed 18 turnovers, 13 the first half, to West Virginia’s 13 turnovers
“The first half set basketball back a few decades,” Self said. “The second half I thought both teams played better.”
KU and West Virginia were tied 23-23 at the break.
The Jayhawks’ biggest lead was six, with just 2 1/2 minutes to play.
“Being able to get key stops is something we take great pride in,” Self said. “Winning the most important possessions. That didn’t happen tonight. We had five turnovers the second half which still isn’t great. We did a better job, gave ourselves at least a chance to score.”
Garrett’s six steals proved a highlight.
“Isn’t it amazing, (we) can’t play without Marcus Garrett?” Self said of the 6-5 guard from Dallas who played 34 minutes. He hit 6 of 12 shots, missing two threes.
“What’d he do, come out two minutes? We went up six when he went back in,” Self added.
West Virginia was led by Haley, who had 13 points on 5-of-5 shooting. James Bolden had 12 points and Derek Culver 11 and seven rebounds. Esa Ahmad hit two big threes and finished with eight points and seven boards.
KU returns home to meet Iowa State at 8 p.m., Monday at Allen Fieldhouse.
Notes ESPN’ College GameDay will be at Rupp Arena in Lexington, Ky., for next Saturday’s KU-Kentucky game. Tipoff will be 5 p.m., Central time, at Rupp Arena.
It’s the third straight season ESPN will hold GameDay in Lexington. No time has yet been announced for a morning preview show at Rupp.