USAToday Sports Images / Denny Medley

Mountaineers Can't Finish, Surrender 14 Point Lead With 2:50 Remaining

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. - Despite dominating for 37 minutes, West Virginia was unable to finish out Monday night's contest and lost to Kansas in overtime.

West Virginia (20-6, 8-5 Big 12) got out to a hot start against Kansas (23-3, 11-2 Big 12) and initially shocked the sellout crowd at Phog Allen Fieldhouse, storming out to a 10-0 lead and sending a loud message to the hostile home crowd: it wouldn't be intimidated by the (literally) record setting noise. But after starting the game 1-12 from the field and falling behind 21-10, the Jayhawks got it going - Kansas used the shooting of Lagerald Vick to put together a 16-0 run of its own and wake up the raucous home crowd.

The Mountaineers settled in, however, and after falling behind 26-21 West Virginia finished the half on an 18-6 run that was capped off by a Jevon Carter three pointer. West Virginia found itself up 39-32 at the break thanks to 10 early points and six boards by Esa Ahmad and a 47 percent shooting performance from the field.

Nathan Adrian picked up right where the Mountaineers left off to start the second half and immediately hit a three pointer that put West Virginia up 42-32 at the start of the half. The Mountaineers then dominated for the next several minutes of play, regularly pushing their lead out to double digits thanks to a number of big shots and made free throws by senior guard Tarik Phillip down the stretch. It looked all but over as the Mountaineers continued to hit its free throws and play superb half court defense.

With 2:50 remaining Phillip hit a driving lay-up and put the Mountaineers up 64-50 with 2:50 remaining, and then it happened - West Virginia completely collapsed. The Mountaineers missed back-to-back-to-back free throws in the midst of an 8-0 Kansas run that cut the lead to six. After allowing the Jayhawks to cut into the lead, West Virginia had trouble both inbounding the ball and getting the ball past half court on several possessions and allowed the Jayhawks to get a number of open layups and three pointers. In essence, everything that could have went wrong did go wrong.

West Virginia led 71-66 with under 35 seconds left to go when Devonte Graham drained a three. Seconds later, the Mountaineers turned the ball over and fouled Frank Mason, who hit both free throws to tie the game at 71. That score would hold when Phillip missed a potential game winning three pointer during the final seconds, but you could see who was going to win the game in overtime just by observing the attitudes of both teams. The Jayhawks ended up scoring the first several points of overtime and held on to beat the Mountaineers 84-80.

At the end of the day West Virginia committed 21 turnovers and handed Kansas 18 points as a result. West Virginia, who is known for applying pressure, only forced KU into 15 turnovers and accumulated just eight points off of those Jayhawk miscues. Esa Ahmad led the Mountaineers with 20 points and seven rebounds and Tarik Phillip added 18 more.


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