The first half of Tuesday evening's contest between West Virginia (16-4, 5-3 Big 12) and Kansas (18-2, 7-1 Big 12) was as competitive and entertaining as any the Mountaineers have played this season. Esa Ahmad, who had been slumping for the previous three contests, started off the game by scoring the Mountaineers' first eight points. But despite Ahmad's fast start Kansas seemingly always had an answer and the Jayhawks led 11-10 going into the first media timeout. That set the tone for the next several minutes of play before the Jayhawks went on the game's first run.
At the nine minute mark West Virginia led 17-13 and had held Big 12 leading scorer Frank Mason scoreless through the game's first 11 minutes, but Mason quickly got down to business and scored the first five points of a 9-0 Jayhawk run. After the quick barrage Kansas held the lead for the next few minutes of play, but the Mountaineers see-sawed the momentum back in their favor with just under four minutes to play in the half.
West Virginia was down 31-26 before Nathan Adrian and Jevon Carter hit a pair of threes that gave the Mountaineers the lead and forced KU head coach Bill Self to take a quick timeout. Right out of the timeout the Jayhawks immediately turned the ball over and West Virginia capitalized with an easy bucket to cap off an 8-0 run and go up 34-31. Both teams scored four more a piece and the Mountaineers went into the half with a 38-35 lead.
West Virginia's momentum carried into the second half as the Mountaineers used six straight points from Macon and Ahmad to extend their lead to 44-35 and push its run out to 18-4. Minutes later the Mountaineers got their lead out to double figures after Tarik Phillip drove the lane and put the Mountaineers up 55-45, but KU was too good not to answer with another run of their own.
Several three pointers keyed a 14-3. Jayhawk run that gave Kansas its first lead since the first half, but the lead was short lived. West Virginia's final run was a 12-2 burst that saw the Mountaineers make a number of buckets inside and go 4-for-4 from the charity stripe. That run put WVU 70-61 with 4:49 remaining and proved to be the dagger; West Virginia blew it open in the last few minutes and used a big Sagaba Konate dunk and Daxter Miles three-pointer to put an explanation point on the victory. The 85-69 win gave the Mountaineers their fourth straight home victory over the Jayhawks and it couldn't come at a bigger time as WVU was coming off of two straight losses.
Esa Ahmad was fantastic in the victory and led the way with a career-high 27 points. Outside of Ahmad's explosion the scoring was rather balanced for the Mountaineers as Nate Adrian scored 11 and Miles Jr. and Tarik Phillip each chipped in 10. West Virginia will be back in action on Saturday at noon when they take on Texas A&M as part of the Big 12/SEC challenge.