The Kansas Jayhawks (23-8, 14-4) played about as poorly as possible for most of the game against the West Virginia Mountaineers (17-14, 9-9) on Saturday, losing 92-86. At one point in the second half, the Jayhawks trailed by 25 points, and Head Coach Bill Self used his final timeout with over 17 minutes to go in the game.
Andrew Wiggins spearheaded an incredible, frantic comeback late, as the freshman scored a career high 41 points before fouling out in the final minute. Wiggins filled his stat sheet up completely, pulling down 8 rebounds, 2 assists, 5 steals, 4 blocks, 4 turnovers, and 5 fouls to go with his 41 points.
Kansas played as absolutely awful for most of the game. All the things we have worried about all season were on full display today. Terrible half court defense, an embarrassing lack of intensity early, no ability to finish at the rim. Kansas turned the ball over early but finished with only 11.
As is usually the case when the Jayhawks struggle, Naadir Tharpe had a terrible game. The point guard had zero points, zero rebounds, zero assists, and zero defense. Tharpe’s up and down play will probably be a main contributing factor when Kansas loses in the NCAA Tournament.
While Wiggins was flat out unstoppable down the stretch, scoring 15 straight points for the Jayhawks at one time, the rest of the team was less than spectacular. Perry Ellis notched 14 points, Frank Mason tallied 10, and Jamari Traylor scored 6 points and pulled down 7 boards. Traylor also provided some fire in the final ten minutes of the game.
No one else offered much that was positive, especially on defense. Kansas had no answers for Juwan Staten (24points, 5 rebounds, 9 assists), Devin Williams (22 points, 13 rebounds), or Eron Harris (28 points, 3 assists).
In fact, if I had a vote for the Big 12 Player of the Year, I would cast my ballot for Staten, who has had a terrific season.
Some numbers to indicate just how bad the Jayhawks played – they were out rebounded 31-37. West Virginia had almost twice as many assists – 15-8. In fact, Kansas only recorded 8 assists on their 28 made shots, usually a sign about how poorly the team played on offense. Also, the Mountaineers scored a season high 92 points against the paper thin defense Kansas defense.
The Jayhawks were out shot by the Mountaineers 45.2% to 52.9%, a sure indication of just how clueless and terrible Kansas was on defense during the game, and they could not contain the three big scorers for West Virginia in the least.
This performance should end all discussion of the Jayhawks being a number one seed. They don’t deserve it. Period. You can’t be this inconsistent in as many areas as Kansas is and be one of the top 4 teams in the country.
If they lose in the Big 12 Conference tournament, they might fall to a number three seed, and you couldn’t even argue that if they have 9 losses.
There isn’t much more to say about today’s game. West Virginia came to play, and the Jayhawks didn’t. Andrew Wiggins was terrific, especially in the last 10 minutes, and the Kansas Jayhawks never gave up, but those were the only positives in this contest.
Bill Self has to convince his young charges they have to play every minute of the game. At this point in the season, it is doubtful this particular group is ever going to figure this out.
West Virginia Head Coach Bob Huggins beat Bill Self for the first time in his long career, earning him a nice little $25,000 bonus. He can afford an nice celebratory dinner tonight with this big win. He and his team earned it.