University of Kansas

No. 11 West Virginia topples No. 1 Kansas 74-63, Jayhawks’ first conference loss

West Virginia guard Jaysean Paige (5) dunks the ball on a fast break during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against Kansas, Tuesday, Jan, 12, 2016, in Morgantown, W.Va. West Virginia defeated Kansas 74-63. (AP Photo/Raymond Thompson)
West Virginia guard Jaysean Paige (5) dunks the ball on a fast break during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against Kansas, Tuesday, Jan, 12, 2016, in Morgantown, W.Va. West Virginia defeated Kansas 74-63. (AP Photo/Raymond Thompson) AP

Bill Self moved through a narrow hallway inside WVU Coliseum on late Tuesday night, clutching a paper box score after another loss at West Virginia. In was still before 9 p.m. Central time, and the No. 1 team in the nation had already hit the canvas, a humbling showing on a snowy night in Morgantown.

As Self reached a stairwell, he crossed paths with West Virginia coach Bob Huggins, a long-time friend and the man who had just engineered his third straight victory over Self and Kansas at WVU Coliseum. As a reward for his work, Huggins had activated another $25,000 bonus, an incentive in his contract for any wins over the Jayhawks.

“$75,000,” Self said, smiling. “Least you could do is buy me lunch.”

Huggins smiled as he passed, heading to a victorious postgame press conference. He did not offer much of a response. He let the scoreboard speak for itself.

The final score said No. 11 West Virginia 74, No. 1 Kansas 63, and the night will have plenty of long-lasting repercussions for Self and his program. The Jayhawks, 14-2, lost for the first time since Nov. 17, dropped to 3-1 in the Big 12, and lost for the third straight year in Morgantown.

As West Virginia moved to 4-0 in Big 12 play and took over sole possession of first place, the Jayhawks may have also learned something about themselves in the process.

“We got out out-toughed tonight,” said junior guard Wayne Selden, who finished with 11 points and six turnovers. “They were men and we weren’t.”

Here in Morgantown, they call the smothering defense “Press Virginia,” and even if you are one to scoff at the cheap pun, it is hard to trifle with the effectiveness.

The West Virginia Mountaineers don’t so much play basketball as turn each night into a tough-man contest, 40 minutes of scrapping, clawing, charging, pulverizing basketball. If you don’t stand up to the musket-wielding bullies, you don’t stand a chance. No. 1 Kansas learned that the hard way yet again.

In short: the Jayhawks failed the tough-man exercise, a truth that will cause Self more unrest than any of the unsavory stats from Tuesday night. Junior guard Frank Mason, perhaps the Jayhawks’ most valuable piece, was held to near no-show status. He was limited to just 12 points on three-of-six shooting — with six coming on two late three-pointers. Mason also committed a career-high seven turnovers, while the Jayhawks finished with 22 giveaways as a team.

“He just seemed like to me he wasn’t engaged emotionally tonight,” Self said of Mason, who played in front of 25 family members and friends who had braved treacherous conditions while driving in from Petersburg, Va.

“I don’t know what it was,” Self continued. “I was so nervous about the weather. I know you guys find that trite. But I was so nervous, because Frank had 25 family members coming and you start worrying if they can get here.”

The family members, according to Frank Mason’s father, arrived shortly after game time. Their presence did not alter the result. Kansas lost its third straight on a conference opponent’s home floor for the first time since three straight losses at Texas Tech from 2005 to 2009.

“The game in a nutshell is they were so much more aggressive and quicker,” Self said. “They were far more athletic.”

In the hours before the game, the proceedings were overshadowed by a massive winter storm that hammered the area. As West Virginia fans scrambled to get to WVU Coliseum at rush hour, the streets of Morgantown were snarled in a snowy gridlock.

The Jayhawks were affected as well. The Kansas team bus left the Waterfront Place hotel in Morgantown at 5 p.m. local time, prepared to make the three-mile trek to WVU Coliseum. With a police escort leading the way, the drive took 50 minutes. The team arrived inside the locker room just before 6 p.m. for a game that was scheduled to begin in a little over an hour.

Did the chaotic logistics contribute to a slow start? The Jayhawks did not seek to use this as an excuse.

“We can’t,” Selden said.

Still, the Jayhawks looked sluggish in the opening half. Mason and Selden finished with four turnovers each during the stretch, and the Jayhawks had 12 turnovers by halftime.

As Kansas’ offense struggled to stay composed, the Mountaineers built a 13-point lead in the early stretches of the second half. Mason had six turnovers — a career high — by the first media timeout of the second half, and Selden joined him with his sixth minutes later. When West Virginia freshman forward Esa Ahmad finished a layup with 16:33 remaining, the Mountaineers led 43-30, and WVU Coliseum, which was close to 80 percent full by halftime, began to sense the moment.

The Jayhawks still possessed Perry Ellis, though, and the veteran forward began to carry his teammates on his back. Ellis, who finished with a team-high 21 points, was assertive and aggressive in the paint, calling for the ball and sparking a 9-0 run with a layup, three-pointer and two free throws.

Kansas sliced the lead to 43-39 with 14 minutes left and clawed back to 47-42 after a three-pointer by Selden with 10:51 to play. The Jayhawks could not capitalize on the momentum. There were too many empty possessions on offense, and too many layups for the Mountaineers on the other end, and in the final seconds, the West Virginia students rushed the floor for a third straight year.

Now the Jayhawks must regroup. They will play TCU on Saturday at Allen Fieldhouse. The Big 12 race will press on. The Jayhawks, for all intents and purposes, were not going to be perfect in conference play. The flip side? They must be better than they were on Tuesday night.

“You know,” Selden said, “it happens. We got to learn from it. We just can’t let it happen again.”

No. 11 WEST VIRGINIA 74

No. 1 KANSAS 63

KANSAS

Min

FG-A

FT-A

O-R

A

PF

PT

Mason III

33

3-6

4-7

1-3

2

3

12

Selden Jr

25

3-7

2-2

0-1

0

3

11

Graham

31

2-7

1-4

0-3

3

5

7

Ellis

38

8-14

4-6

1-7

3

2

21

Mickelson

5

1-2

0-0

1-2

0

0

2

Mykhailiuk

17

0-4

0-0

0-0

1

3

0

Lucas

15

1-1

0-0

1-6

0

4

2

Greene

11

0-2

0-0

0-4

0

3

0

Traylor

11

0-0

2-2

0-4

0

3

2

Bragg Jr

6

1-3

0-0

0-3

0

2

3

Diallo

4

0-0

0-0

0-1

0

2

0

Vick

3

1-2

0-0

0-1

0

1

3

Manning

1

0-0

0-0

0-0

0

1

0

TEAM

   

3-4

   

Totals

200

20-48

13-21

7-39

9

32

63

Percentages: FG .417, FT .619. Three-Point Goals: 10-20, .500 (Selden Jr. 3-6, Mason III 2-2, Graham 2-3, Ellis 1-1, Bragg Jr. 1-1, Vick 1-2, Greene 0-2, Mykhailiuk 0-3). Blocked Shots: 3 (Mickelson, Mykhailiuk, Lucas). Turnovers: 22 (Mason III 7, Selden Jr. 6, Ellis 2, Greene 2, Traylor, Bragg Jr., Graham, Mykhailiuk, Lucas). Steals: 7 (Ellis 2, Traylor 2, Mykhailiuk, Diallo, Selden Jr.). Technical Fouls: None.

WEST VIRGINIA

Min

FG-A

FT-A

O-R

A

PF

PT

Holton

26

1-7

0-0

4-8

1

3

2

Carter

34

3-6

2-4

1-5

1

3

10

Miles Jr

22

1-4

1-2

1-2

1

1

3

Ahmad

11

1-2

0-1

0-1

0

3

2

Williams

29

4-11

9-12

1-12

1

1

17

Paige

29

6-13

14-17

3-4

0

3

26

Phillip

23

1-9

5-7

1-1

0

2

7

Adrian

15

1-3

0-0

1-4

2

3

3

Macon

11

1-2

2-4

2-3

0

1

4

TEAM

   

1-1

   

Totals

200

19-57

33-47

15-41

6

20

74

Percentages: FG .333, FT .702. Three-Point Goals: 3-12, .250 (Carter 2-2, Adrian 1-2, Phillip 0-1, Miles Jr. 0-2, Paige 0-2, Holton 0-3). Blocked Shots: 3 (Holton, Phillip, Williams). Turnovers: 11 (Miles Jr. 2, Williams 2, Ahmad, Paige, Phillip, Macon, Holton, Carter). Steals: 12 (Paige 5, Miles Jr. 2, Williams 2, Phillip, Adrian, Carter). Technical Fouls: None.

Half: West Virginia 37-29. Attendance: 12,097. Officials: Tom Eades, Mark Whitehead, Ray Natili.

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