The Jayhawks converted at a 56-percent clip from the field while holding West Virginia to 37-percent shooting in a 75-65 win over the Mountaineers at Allen Fieldhouse.
Kansas’ win causes a three-way tie at the top of the Big 12 with the Jayhawks, Mountaineers and Sooners all sitting at 8-3 in conference play.
Early in this game, West Virginia struggled to force Kansas into turnovers at the clip that had led to a Mountaineer upset over the Jayhawks in January. After the game, head coach Bob Huggins said his team shied away from its identity at times tonight.
“We came out a little pretty. We’re kind of like the street fighter. Were kind of like the guy who gets the crap kicked out of him the day before but wakes up the next morning and says let’s do it again…We didn’t do that,” Huggins said on the Northside Automotive Mountaineer Postgame Report.
For the game, West Virginia attempted 18 more field goals than the Jayhawks, but made one fewer shot overall. It was that kind of night on the road for the Mountaineers.
West Virginia never led in this game, and poor shooting had a lot to do with it. After converting 50-percent of its 3-pointers against Baylor on Saturday, the Mountaineers went just 5-for-20 from beyond the arc today.
Jaysean Paige converted two of the Mountaineers’ five made 3-pointers tonight, but Huggins said other guys need to step up in order for West Virginia to win games like this.
“We had open shots. I can only put Jaysean in so many places. I hoped that some of those other guys would make some shots but they obviously didn’t,” he said.
During their loss to the Mountaineers in Morgantown in January, the Jayhawks made just 41-percent of their field goals. That changed in a major way today as Kansas continued its dominance over the Big 12 in its home arena under head coach Bill Self.
Despite turning the ball over 15 times compared to West Virginia’s 10, Kansas outscored the Mountaineers in points off turnovers 14-13. That is a battle West Virginia counts on winning by a considerable margin every night, but it wasn’t able to do enough in that area to leave Lawrence with a win.
Perry Ellis paced the Jayhawks, who had five double digit scorers on the evening, with 21 points. Devin Williams and Jaysean Paige tied for the West Virginia team lead with 14 points apiece, but neither shot the ball very well as they went a combined 9-of-26 from the field.
The Mountaineers seemed to miss Jonathan Holton at times tonight, who has matched up fairly well with Ellis in the past. Huggins explained how Ellis can complicate things for an opposing defense, especially one that is short-handed.
“I think our philosophy is our 10 is better than their 10. That’s our philosophy. Now, for all practical purposes were down to 8,” Huggins said.
“Because of Perry Ellis and his ball skills it’s hard to play Elijah and Devin at the same time…We need Nate Adrian on the floor because he’s our one big that can guard…I’ve got to go back and look at tape again and see how to work things a little differently.”
Kansas outrebounded West Virginia 33-28 for the game, and was bolstered by forward Landen Lucas in that category, who grabbed 16 boards to go along with nine points.
West Virginia was able to amass a 14-6 advantage in offensive rebounding and in second chance points, but it wasn’t enough to off-set Kansas’ torrid scoring pace as the Mountaineers dropped to 19-5 on the season while the Jayhawks moved to 20-4 overall.
Both teams will be in action Saturday, as West Virginia hosts TCU and Kansas travels to Norman to take on Oklahoma.