Entering Tuesday night's contest with Kansas, West Virginia found itself staring in the face of some very real adversity. The Mountaineers had dropped their last two games to unranked opponents and you could make the case that the team hadn't played well since knocking off Baylor two weeks earlier. Despite the temptation to make some sort of radical change to West Virginia's approach, head coach Bob Huggins reiterated on Monday that his team would be fine if it just started taking care of the ball.
The Mountaineers bounced back from a 23 turnover performance against Kansas State by committing just eight turnovers in their win against Kansas, and that was a statistic that stuck out to senior forward Nathan Adrian when asked how the Mountaineers were able to rebound from the two losses and earn their fourth straight home victory over the Jayhawks.
"We're a team that reacts well to these kind of big games," Adrian said. "When the crowd gets in here and gets behind us we really play well. We didn't turn the ball over, I think we only had eight turnovers and we passed the ball really well. We had 22 assists on 29 made baskets so if you do that you're going to win games."
It also didn't hurt that the slumping Esa Ahmad broke out of his funk and scored a career-high 27 points in the victory. Despite the fact that Ahmad's masterful performance will dominate headlines for the next few days (and rightfully so), Adrian made an offensive rebound late in the game that was imperative in the victory. During the play Adrian sprained his ankle in the process of out-fighting future lottery pick Josh Jackson for a rebound. The play took a tremendous amount of effort and "want to" as Huggins eloquently put it, and encapsulated the all-out effort that Adrian has played with in his senior season.
"I'm not exactly the most athletic person in the world," said Adrian. "Josh Jackson was jumping over me so I had to find a way to get to the ball first so I just tried to tip it up and get it."
The rebound was one of the biggest plays West Virginia made down the stretch and it was exactly the type of play that West Virginia failed to make in close losses to Texas Tech, Kansas State and Oklahoma since the start of Big 12 play. This win against Kansas could serve as a spring board for the rest of the season and as Nathan Adrian put it, it's time for the Mountaineers to go on a run.
"We have to go on a run now," said Adrian. "We gave away three games we shouldn't have so now we have to go win games we're not supposed to win."