No. 6 Kansas beats No. 10 West Virginia, 75-65
Feb. 10, 2016
LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — Landen Lucas rarely gets much credit for the work he does for Kansas, mainly because the blue-collar forward earns his minutes with rebounding and defense rather than offense.
So when Perry Ellis had the ball with a clear path to the rim Tuesday night, he decided to reward his teammate. With a deft flip of his wrist, Ellis lobbed up a pass that Lucas dutifully flushed.
"He was open," Ellis said with a shrug, "so I had to get him some."
Lucas had certainly earned it. He pulled down a career-high 16 rebounds, scored nine points and even had four blocks in the sixth-ranked Jayhawks' 75-65 victory over No. 10 West Virginia.
"I see him out there working hard," Ellis said. "You got to reward your teammate."
Besides, Ellis still scored a game-high 21 points. Frank Mason III added 14 for the Jayhawks (20-4, 8-3), who handled the Mountaineers' pressure well most of the night in avenging their lopsided loss lost month in Morgantown that had them playing catch-up in the league race.
Now, they are tied with the Mountaineers (19-5, 8-3) and No. 3 Oklahoma (20-3, 8-3) as they pursue their 12th consecutive Big 12 championship. All three teams have seven games remaining, with the Jayhawks and Sooners to meet on Saturday in Norman, Oklahoma.
"We knew we weren't too far out of it," Lucas said. "We handled business, but now we have a big one Saturday. We're just going to get mentally prepared to go down there and win."
Devin Williams had 14 points and nine rebounds, and Jaysean Paige also scored 14 points for the Mountaineers — though their leading scorer was just 5 of 16 from the field.
"You just can't miss that many shots," West Virginia coach Bob Huggins said. "You can't miss that many transition opportunities. We had all kinds of transition opportunities and we didn't convert one."
Unlike their meeting in Morgantown, the Jayhawks were the ones who dominated the first half Tuesday night. They committed six turnovers — they had 22 total in the first game — and shut down West Virginia at the other end, which prevented the Mountaineers from getting into their pressure defense.
"It wasn't all them," Huggins said. "You have to give us credit, too, for screwing the game up."
Quickly out-letting the ball after every defensive rebound, the Jayhawks rushed up court before the Mountaineers could retreat, often with Mason and Devonte Graham taking it all the way to the rim.
Kansas built a 36-24 lead late in the first half, but Tarik Phillip threw in a prayer off his own miss and Paige curled in a 3-pointer at the buzzer to slice into the Mountaineers' deficit.
The Jayhawks used a 13-2 run early in the second half to take a 53-40 lead, their biggest of the game. But the Mountaineers finally got some traction with their press, forcing turnovers on four straight possessions, and slowly trimmed the lead to 54-50 with about 8 minutes left in the game.
The decisive point may have come moments later, when Phillip was fouled while driving to the basket. He whipped an elbow that clipped Mason in the chin and was assessed a flagrant foul. So after Phillip air-balled his free throw, Mason made one at the other end to start another Kansas run.
Ellis finished it off with a 3-pointer that made it 70-58 with 3:21 to go.
Despite a few sloppy moments down the stretch, the Jayhawks were able to coax the final minutes off the clock to remain perfect against West Virginia in four games at Allen Fieldhouse.
"I thought we got punked in Morgantown," Kansas coach Bill Self said. "What I take away from this is we played more like men than we did when we went to Morgantown."
HOLTON STILL OUT
Mountaineers forward Jonathan Holton remained out after violating team rules. Huggins has not said when he'll return from his suspension, which has now cost him four games.
West Virginia: Daxter Miles Jr. was held to two points on 1-for-8 shooting. ... Huggins coached his 300th game at his alma mater. ... The Mountaineers committed only 10 turnovers.
Kansas: Wayne Selden Jr. had 11 points. Graham and Brannen Greene scored 10 apiece. ... Bill Self improved to 203-9 in Allen Fieldhouse. ... The Jayhawks shot 56 percent from the field.
West Virginia plays TCU on Saturday.
Kansas visits No. 3 Oklahoma on Saturday.