The Mountaineer press forced Kansas into plenty of mistakes on the evening, as the Jayhawks committed a season-high 22 turnovers during their first defeat in Big 12 play this season.
Head coach Bob Huggins' team put forth a dominating effort on the offensive glass, pulling down 15 offensive boards to Kansas’ seven, and outscoring the Jayhawks 16-9 in second chance points.
“These guys have played with great effort. They’ve never not given us great effort. The only thing I asked them today was just to do what we do,” Huggins said in his postgame interview with ESPN sideline reporter Holly Rowe.
The 74-63 win announced West Virginia’s legitimacy as a threat to challenge Kansas’ Big 12 dominance this season, as the Mountaineers moved to 15-1 overall and 4-0 in the Big 12. The Jayhawks dropped to 14-2 overall and 3-1 in the conference.
Huggins was asked about his team’s Big 12 title chances during his postgame television interview, but predictably kept it close to the vest when expressing his optimism.
“We’ve got a long way to go. We’ve got to play 18 games and we’ve played four. We’ve got a long way to go,” he said.
West Virginia was able to speed Kansas up for much of the game tonight, keeping pressure on the Jayhawk ball handlers, which forced plenty of errant passes and allowed WVU a few precious extra possessions to ensure the program’s fourth win over a top-ranked team in history.
Huggins said his team gave tremendous effort throughout the game, which is needed to take down such a high quality opponent, and that the relentlessness of that effort is what helped bring home the win.
“It doesn’t end. You deal with it once, and then you have to deal with it again, and have to deal with it again. Sooner or later the ball finds the guys that don’t take care of it,” Huggins said on IMG’s Northside Automotive Postgame Report.
“It’s hard to play fast for a long period of time. We did a better job tonight of running balls down. We did a better job of running balls down from behind…I thought we did a better job of gapping things today than what we’ve done.”
Despite the way his team went down against No. 1 Kentucky in the Sweet Sixteen last season, Huggins said this group never gave him the impression they had any doubt about their chances against the top-ranked Jayhawks.
“I’ve never coached a team that was afraid, ever; and certainly not these guys. They keep battling and battling and keep competing, and that’s what it takes,” he said.
West Virginia closed the game out with some solid free throw shooting, and finished the game 33-for-47 from the charity stripe.
The Mountaineers will certainly enjoy this win for the night, but another tall order looms this weekend in the form of a trip to Norman to take on the No. 2 Sooners on Saturday afternoon.