MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — West Virginia was down by 15 in the first half before proving it could play with No. 2 Kansas. The Mountaineers climbed within a bucket late in the second half but could not score the equalizer in a 61-56 loss.

After falling behind early, WVU played some of its best basketball in weeks, almost catching up to the Jayhawks — almost — before Kansas pulled out its 18th consecutive win.

“I don’t know how it’s a good game when you lose,” said West Virginia coach Bob Huggins. “I’m not big on losing.”

Kansas center Jeff Withey matched his per-game average of 13 points with 55 seconds left in the half on a free throw that gave the Jayhawks a 37-28 edge. The 7-footer did not score again until a putback with 6:16 left and finished with 15 points, tying Travis Releford for the team lead.

Aaric Murray made 3-of-5 from 3-point range and had 17 points off the bench for West Virginia (9-11, 2-5 Big 12), which shot only 37 percent compared to 54 percent for Kansas (19-1, 7-0).

Murray also had a team-high seven rebounds, though Kansas owned the boards 36-27 overall.

“I definitely feel like they’re beatable,” said Murray, who had two blocks and two steals. “We killed ourselves with turnovers and dumb fouls.”

Juwan Staten scored 12 of his 14 points in the second half for West Virginia, which lost for the third time in four home conference games.

With 10:18 remaining, WVU pulled within 48-46 on Staten’s top-of-the-key jumper, which initially was ruled a 3 before reviews showed Staten on the line (keeping him 0-for-7 from long distance this season).

With the crowd of 12,402 roaring, Kansas countered with a 7-0 run — capped by Releford’s 3-pointer — to lead 55-46. That corresponded with WVU going into a drought of just two baskets in more than eight minutes.

“(The review) might have killed some of the momentum, because it gave (Kansas) sort of a free timeout,” Staten said.

“I definitely feel like we had a big opportunity. Late, when we cut it to two, I really felt that we ha a chance to win the game.”

Trailing 14-2, WVU started 0-of-7 from the floor and didn’t make its first basket until the 12:35 mark when Deniz Kilicli sank a hook shot. Kansas eventually grabbed its biggest cushion of the first half at 22-7.

The Mountaineers trailed 30-16 before a 7-0 run energized the crowd at the WVU Coliseum. Kansas committed four straight turnovers during the stretch and threw away the ball again while holding for the last shot of the half, resulting in a Jabarie Hinds steal and buzzer-beating layup that drew WVU within 38-30.

“We played well the first half and we’re only up eight,” said Kansas coach Bill Self. “In the second half, we just kind of pieced it together. It’s good to get out of here with a ‘W’, that’s for sure.”

FRESHMAN FLUCTUATION

Freshman Eron Harris, after becoming a go-to shot-maker in West Virginia’s previous three games, was 0-of-4 from the floor against Kansas and finished with two points.

On the other side, Kansas freshman Ben McLemore committed two fouls in the game’s first 4:35 and played only eight minutes in the first half while committing three turnovers. He was turnover-free in 17 second-half minutes and finished with 13 points 3-of-7 shooting.

NO $25K BONUS FOR HUGGINS

One of the intriguing incentives factored into the contract extension WVU gave Huggins last November was a $25,000 bonus for beating Kansas. While coaches typically receive payment escalators for conference titles or postseason advancement, it’s odd to see a school reward a coach for beating a regular-season opponent.

Earlier Monday, Huggins was asked about the origin of that incentive.

“You’ll have to ask my attorney, because I have no idea,” said Huggins, claiming he only learned of the Kansas clause upon signing the contract.

 

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Comments

  • Pghmountaineer

    I've said this before, Huggs is as good as they come when it comes to the mental side of the game. I don;t think you can throw anything at him during a game that he can't solve. But man, he is by far the most negative coach in basketball. I can't say I disagree with his assessments of this team but I think those remarks should be reserved for the locker room behind close doors. But even then, with that kind of attitude, I can't possibly see how that would motivate any player to play harder. Quite frankly I'm suprised one of his players haven't taken a swing at him.

  • Doug

    William--please stick with your video games. I guess you could critisize (or praise) the cheerleaders, but spare yourself time and embarassment critiquing WV sports. It's very obvious you know nothing!

  • Rob

    Top play of the game.......unicycle performer Red Panda lands 5 bowls on her head in half time exhibition!

    • Allan Taylor

      Rob, my first Red Panda experience was pretty memorable — especially the surprised expression she had after landing the big fiver at the end. Great halftime.
      Only way it could get better: 1) If she could do it with bowlfuls of dim sum, or 2) If Mountaineer Jon could trickshoot the bowls off her head with his musket.

  • cutty77

    Nice Game Fellows.We just don't have enough players right now to compete for the entire game against Elite Teams.Plus Huggy is Jerking Players in and out to much.Huggs Started to Jerk Murray out once,then he hit a shot,then left him in.Murray's light might have come on last Night.Gary Brown,Staten,Hinds,Harris.Henderson,Murray,and Rutletge. Huggs has 7 guys that can play,the rest are Pine Brothers.Somebody please wake up Billy Hahn too.He looks like Otis on The Bench.

  • Shawn

    I would say they caught the no heart from the lackluster fans we have! I was impressed with the turnout last night but it needs to be an every game thing. And instead of kicking your team while they are down we should be getting behind them and supporting them. I get so tired of these fair weather fans who think firing someone is the answer to all the issues a team is having. They should start firing you people at work when you have a bad day or bad week.

    • Rob

      Fans kicking the team while they are down? Apparently you didn't listen to Hugg's "put you to sleep post game interview" on your way home. Let me recap it for you. Even though we just played Kansas to a 5 point loss after coming back from a 15 point deficit, "we're terrible", "our guys suck", "our guys don't care". But Huggs, Murray sure had a good game....."he was terrible in the first half, then he did better." Always has to get that slam in there first. Hard for the fans to support the effort when the coach doesn't.

  • dave

    you know its a patheic season, when you are counting the almost wins as successful performances....get real people, kansas played terrible and on their worst day still beat WVU....THESE GUYS IN GOLD AND BLUE JUST HAVE NO HEART...(must of caught that illness from the football team)

  • Larry

    It's a shame they didn't win. Not so much for the sake of the team and the fans, but so Huggins could have made another $25, 000 for the win. He is way underpaid at only 3 Million a year. Hopefully Luck will renegotiate the great one's "Iron Clad Contract for Life" to include more money for each loss. There seems to be more of them lately than wins...

  • Justin

    When gonna be alright next year!! Can we say the same for our football team?

  • Shawn

    The commentators said it best last night....WVU has two new transfers, a ton of freshmen and sophomores, and the walk-on's. I know some of you are going to say we have some seniors too...yeah they are playing like freshmen. This team will be alot better next year once we get these recruits in here.

  • David

    Relegated to moral victories.

  • Hoffy

    WVU did a fairly good job of nearly working themselves out of a big early deficit against one of the best defensive teams in Division 1, and deserve some credit for their effort. I echo pgh's sentiments about wishing for better shooting from more than one guy, but this game was far from an abomination for the Mountaineers.
    Let's see if they can gain some confidence, and learn from this. It may be difficult for "SOME" of us to deal with, but we need to let this process work itself through, and do the best we can to avoid thoughtlessly lashing out against one person just because we're unhappy or simply don't like them.
    Sheesh!

  • richard

    lmao william. you really know your stuff-don't you? i can tell by your knowledge that you are a sports know it all. i make sure i follow your every word!

  • WILLIAM

    BOB HUGGINS - My players are terrible, they can't shoot, they can't pass, they can't screen, they can't remember the plays, they can't rebound, and I need get some players that can shoot! BOB HUGGINS, YOU NEED TO LOOK IN THE MIRROR AND THEN YOU WILL SEE THE REAL PROBLEM! This coach is an embarrassment to WVU!

    • Shawn

      You're an embarrassment to this chat sir! I wish you would take your negativity back to Huntington where it belongs. Quit commenting on WVU articles and start following your Blundering Turds a little closer. Thanks and You're Welcome.

    • Mike

      I love it when closet Marshall fans post on WVU articles. 5 teams, 30 seasons, 710-267 (0.727) and Huggins is the problem? Classic!!

  • Jim N Charleston

    We covered the spread. Yes!!!!

    Jim is N Vegas actually.

  • Pghmountaineer

    No question, Kansas has more talent but give our guys some credit they played fairly well. If we would have gotten some point production from Noreen, Rutledge, or Kilicli it may have been different.