West Virginia is allergic to double-digit leads versus Kansas.
With the 2008 national championship team in attendance, the Jayhawks found themselves in an expected dogfight. After a 34-all tie at halftime, West Virginia found itself leading 58-46 following a Daxter Miles three-pointer with just 10:20 to play. Kansas chipped away, but another Miles three with 3:47 left bumped the lead back up to eight points at 66-58.
Then Kansas scored 17 unanswered points.
Devonte three. Doke dunk. Newman three. Svi free throws. Devonte free throws. Newman layup. Obviously, in between WVU contributed with a cavalcade of missed layups, jumpers, and turnovers. Then Huggins lost it on the officiating crew with 8 seconds left, getting back-to-back technical fouls and being tossed from the sideline.
Daxter Miles played his best game ever; a 25.5% three point shooter on the year, Miles hit 6-9 from deep and led all scorers with 22 points.
Udoka Azubuike dominated this game, scoring 21 points on 7-8 shooting, including hitting 7-10 from the free throw stripe.
According to my math, West Virginia had 13 offensive rebounds on 34 missed shots, good for rebounding 38% of their misses. That’s, uh, not good. The other reason this game was so close was due to West Virginia hitting everything from deep; the Mountaineers hit 14-26 (53.8%) while KU hit just 7-22 (31.8%).
But you know what, I’m done looking at the box score! Who cares about stats! This win felt good. You see Bill Self’s face at the top of this page? That’s probably exactly what I looked like when Newman hit that three to tie the game up at 66-all with two minutes left.
The only other thing that bears mentioning is the officiating. If you listened to the ESPN broadcast, Jay Bilas was basically the opposite of Fran Fraschilla, calling out the fouls that the officials were NOT calling on West Virginia. KU players getting hit in the head, undercut, grabbed, etc. I like Jay Bilas. Good Jay Bilas.
Detractors will point to the box score and note WVU got called for 26 fouls while KU got called for just 14. My response to that is this: Duh. That’s West Virginia’s game plan. They plan to mug you, thinking (hoping?) the officials won’t - can’t - call everything. Tonight, it was the West Virginia players who were frustrated that the officials were actually blowing the whistle against them, and yet, they STILL DIDN’T BLOW THE WHISTLE ENOUGH to avoid being called out by the courtside analyst.
Additionally, the officials missed two pretty obvious goaltending calls against the Mountaineers.
But whatever. It is what it is. I Am Happy.
Bring on Oklahoma.