The Kansas Jayhawks (18-5, 9-1) outlasted the West Virginia Mountaineers (14-10, 6-5) with solid play despite the lack of an ebb or flow to the game. The 14-point win, combined with a Kansas State victory over Texas, gives the Jayhawks a 2-game league in the Big 12.
Kansas played with a blue collar efficiency despite the game being mired by an excess of whistles throughout the game. Play was bogged down by 50 foul calls – 26 on the Mountaineers, 24 on the Jayhawks.
The two teams combined to shoot 65 free throws. West Virginia’s superior accuracy from the charity stripe probably kept them in the game longer than they should have been. The Mountaineers hit 25 of their 31 free shots for 80.6%. The Jayhawks connected on two less free throws in 4 more attempts, going 23 for 23 for 67.6%.
Three freshmen who struggled on the offensive over the past 2 games led the charge this game. Andrew Wiggins scored 19 on the day, Wayne Selden, Jr. added 17, and Joel Embiid finished with 11. Embiid rounded out a double-double with 12 rebounds.
The Jayhawk point guards had a nice game delivering the ball into the hands of the scorers, and protecting the basketball. Naadir Tharpe dished out 4 assists with just 1 turnover while reserve Frank Mason had 5 passes that led to baskets with zero turnovers. These two players are contributing in ways other than just scoring points. They combined for just 10 points but helped keep the offense running efficiently.
Kansas did a better job putting the ball in the basket than they did in the previous two games. After hitting just 42% of the shots against Texas and Baylor, the Jayhawks connected on 54.9% of their attempts on Saturday. Conversely, they held West Virginia to just 39.6% from the field.
After looking utterly clueless on defense against the Longhorns just a week ago, the Jayhawks looked much, much better on defense, despite all the foul calls. It seems as if this Kansas team may finally be getting it on that end of the court. Maybe some of Bill Self’s teachings are sinking in.
The Jayhawks were working very hard on defense and were hustling all over the court. It was great to see the Kansas players putting forth so much effort against a scrappy Mountaineers squad.
You gotta feel bad for Bob Huggins though. He will have to wait at least a few weeks longer before he gets another chance to earn a $25,000 bonus by beating the Jayhawks in the regular season. These two teams meet again at West Virginia on March 8th.