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Kansas Jayhawks complete wild comeback against West Virginia

Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Let's start with a painful but obvious truth: I am nowhere near good enough of a writer to capture last night's game accurately. Kansas once again let an opponent get on top of them early, but fought back to take the lead in the first half briefly before going in down seven thanks to a step back three by Jevon Carter. West Virginia then built a steady lead over the second half, and was up 14 with 3 minutes left, and then all hell broke loose. You know what happened from there.

Offensively, a couple of cold hard statistical truths were apparent last night. First is that a lot of three point shooting can cover up a lot of other flaws. Kansas shot just 34 percent on twos (and frankly if they had made even half their bunnies we would be talking about a routine home win rather than an exhilarating comeback. And I mean half the open bunnies. They also could have done a lot better job of finishing through contact, particularly in the first half) but because Kansas took 42.6 percent of their attempts from three, they were able to cover up a lot of those misses just by shooting 34.6 percent. Again, the Jayhawks missed a lot of open, makeable looks. If some more of those had gone in, we would also be talking about a relatively routine home win.

Secondly, not turning it over matters a lot, especially against West Virginia. The Jayhawks turned it over on just 17.6 percent of their possessions, not only limiting runouts and easy baskets for the Mountaineers, but getting to nearly a point per possession just through sheer shot volume.

Defensively, the Jayhawks maybe had their best game of the year. West Virginia made a lot of tough shots in the early going, but time and time again the Jayhawks limited them to just one bad shot, late in the shot clock. Kansas forced WVU to shoot just 43 percent on twos, and they only let them rebound 28.6 percent of their misses. Although I get on Bill Self a lot for his stubbornness offensively (and probably should in this one too, as the offense devolved into a lot of straight line drives in the second half, but obviously fatigue paid a part) his stubbornness helped in this one. It would have been easy to change defenses to not give West Virginia some of their long twos (and threes) but Self knew giving up those shots was a better idea than the parade to the rim that occurred in Morgantown.

In any event, I didn't think I would see the day this team would win while scoring under a point per possession, and I have pretty much given up trying to predict this team.

  • Frank Mason went just 1-7 on twos, but 2-6 from three and 16-18 from the line, including the clinchers, saved him. It was pretty clear he still isn't feeling well, so hopefully having a full week of rest eases that a bit.
  • Devonte Graham went nuclear late in the second half, finishing 5-12 from three for the game. he also had a block and two steals.
  • Josh Jackson didn't have his best game offensively, just 4-11 on twos and 0-2 from three, but he did have 11 rebounds and really ramped up his defense in this one, not only with the 5 steals but solid on and off ball defense pretty much all game.
  • Landen Lucas was 3-6 on twos, just 2-7 from the line, but had 13 rebounds, 2 blocks, and 2 steals. Another thing that almost lost them the game was Self's insistence on taking him out for the rest of the half once he got his two fouls in the first half. Yes, leverage is a thing and obviously having him in there at the end was important, but Kansas had gone on a nice run with him in there, and could have gone into the half up 7 or so rather than down 7 with Lucas in there. By the way, Lucas didn't even foul out.
  • Svi Mykhailiuk had a frustrating night, missing both his threes and fouling out.
  • Carlton Bragg also had a rough night, grabbing an offensive rebound for basically his only contribution.
  • Lagerald Vick showed flashes of the guy he could turn into, going 2-4 both from two and three, and 4-5 from the line. He also had 2 assists and 2 rebounds before fouling out.
  • Mitch Lightfoot had 3 rebounds and 2 blocks in 8 minutes, and seems to be a guy who can be counted on for an energy boost every time he comes into the game. He also looks like he could develop into the rare sub 6-10 rim protector.
  • Dwight Coleby had an offensive rebound and monster dunk in 2 minutes of play.