Peter G. Aiken-USA TODAY Sports

Kansas center Jeff Withey produced 14 points, 10 rebounds and nine blocks during Saturday’s 91-65 win over West Virginia.

COMMENTARY

LAWRENCE, Kan. — At their lowest and most listless points this season, Kansas and West Virginia were comrades at rock-bottom. The Jayhawks lost at TCU (RPI No. 228) and the Mountaineers coughed one up at Duquesne (RPI No. 215), each defeat an embarrassing chapter that sounded alarms and confounded fans.

The difference, of course, is Kansas didn’t stay listless for long, whereas West Virginia’s doldrums have stretched into months of unmitigated depression.

Never were their moods more distinct than Saturday, when wide-grinning Kansas reveled in its series of alley-oops and 3-pointers, and WVU provided only glum resistance. The final margin, 91-65, matched the most comfortable for Kansas in Big 12 action this season and left the Mountaineers a sorry postcard of their first visit to Allen Fieldhouse.

“They thrive in transition, and they were throwing alley-oops left and right,” said West Virginia guard Eron Harris. “That shouldn’t happen.”

Harris scored 11 points Saturday, and rarely has a double-digit output come adorned with more angst and frustration. The freshman made only 4-of-17 shots and misfired on all five 3-point attempts, as Kansas crowded him with the type of defense that used to be WVU’s hallmark.

“You get past one person and you know there’s going to be another person right there,” Harris said. “I come off a screen and another guy steps out and helps. So I can’t get the ball, and even if I do get the ball, I barely have any space to shoot.

“On my part, I’ve got to work harder to get open, and on our part as a team, we’ve got to get better screens.”

For a how-to lesson, West Virginia needed only to watch the clinic Kansas displayed on the offensive end — particularly in arranging shots for is vaunted freshman Ben McLemore. The youngster scored 36 points on 15 shots, looking more and more like an NBA lottery pick with each flick of the wrist.

Of course, mighty McLemore wasn’t a one-man show.

Jayhawks 7-footer Jeff Withey scored 14 points on 7-of-8 shooting, knocking down four jumpers from 10 feet or more.

And point guard Elijah Johnson — five days removed from getting away with a charge that every armchair official in Ames and, indeed, America saw — didn’t replicate his 39-point performance but was very good nonetheless. He delivered 12 points, 10 assists and one crowd-pleasing superflex after discarding Jabarie Hinds on an and-one break.

“That’s about as efficient as we’ve been offensively all year,” said Kansas coach Bill Self in praise of his team’s 56-percent shooting. Of course, such a lopsided result begs the question: Was KU’s execution that sharp, or was West Virginia’s defense that soft?

Peter G. Aiken-USA TODAY Sports

Kansas guard Ben McLemore shoots over West Virginia’s Eron Harris during the first half at Allen Fieldhouse. McLemore set a KU freshman record with 36 points.

Harris, reprising a storyline heard after numerous losses of late, saw a defensive letdown.

“Honestly, I think there was,” he said. “There might have been some lapses and (players) losing motivation. But that can be fixed, and it will be.”

His freshman season remains at least three games from the finish line, yet before exiting The Phog, Harris sounded hellbent on making sure his sophomore season doesn’t have these type of blowout losses.

“I’m not saying the season’s over, because we’ve still got games to go, but it’s a big learning experience for me and next year I’ll know how to fix things,” he said. “I’ll be more of a leader, and I’ll be able to step into that role. And I’ll make sure a lot of these things aren’t happening.”

What’s happening now is a losing season unlike any Bob Huggins has endured in the past 28 years. And Saturday’s pummeling against Kansas — so polished, skilled and experienced  — highlighted once more all the things these Mountaineers aren’t.

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Comments

  • jimjim

    In this case we are not getting what we pay for. Sad!

  • mark

    I completely agree with those who are very tired and disgusted with the constant swearing and belittling in public. I just cringe in my living room every time I see it. I am not one of those who is going to blast Coach Huggins as a poor coach. We are somewhat spoiled. Just can't imagine a 5 star recruit wanting to put up with the crap. We are definitely enduring a talent deficit.

  • cutty77

    The reason Huggs won with John Players is this.When Huggs got them they had played 3 or more years in The Program,then Huggs had them for 2 more years.Since then no more than 4 players have stayed,you can't win with new players coming and going every year. Plain and Simple.

  • rattle snake

    it appears that this is huggie's last season by public demand.

    just how low can he take wvu bb... seems the last three yrs pretty much sums up that huggie bear just maybe past his peak and has other recreational activities that he would rather persue, and i think we all know what i am talking about.
    my guess is that beer gut cost the wv taxpayers a huge sum, like $10,000 per day.
    my bet is he ways about 350 lbs. and has his sights set on 400
    we all love you huggie or we wouldn't poke fun at the belly, but BB sux at wvu and will next yr and the yr after...

    • tw eagle

      higgins has screwed up more than half a dozen times in public because of his drinking . . .any one of which episode he could have ,SHOULD HAVE been fired for cause . . .my guess is that the WVU administration told higgins he could keep his job but he'd have to "kick back " a good portion of his paycheck . . .

  • polarbear

    pam so what, tw who cares, big tom big deal, william go home, larry sucks eggs

  • wenkev

    One thing I will say is that maybe Huggins recruiting classes are too highly rated. I'm going to invoke Belein's name here. Belein said in the past that he would rather recruit lower rated kids because they have a chip on their shoulder and desire to show they can play on the D1 level. A lot of times you get prima donnas with higher rated prospects and I believe Huggins has a team full of them this year.

  • wenkev

    Winning the NIT is like saying "we are the 69th best team in America". It's a consolation prize for not being good enough to get to the NCAA tournament. You proved my point that Huggins is a better coach. Now I will admit some of his recruiting classes haven't yielded the players he thought he was getting. Some came out of high school highly rated(Cottrill) but never set foot on the floor for reasons beyond the basketball court and Huggins deserved kudos for that but that left a void he needed filled. Also Hinds was a HIGHLY recruited prospect who, in my opinion, hasn't panned out yet.

  • Pm

    its a joke ..lol..

  • john

    wenkev, difference is Belien had to work with what Catlett left which was straight garbage. He made it to the elite eight and won the Nit. Huggins, who can't recruit like Belien, but is a better x's and o'x coach than Belein took WVU to the final four with mainly Beliens players. Since Beliens players have moved on Huggins has his team on a down trend in terms of winning percentage. This year he will not make any tournament. Huggins recruiting classes have not been good. Huggins gets paid top 10 money in the country shouldn't his recruiting classes reflect his salary? If not then just higher the Morgantown High School coach and pay him 100,000 rather than the 3.1 million Huggins makes. After all the Morgantown high coach results if he were to take over at WVU couldn't be much worse.

  • Bob

    William
    You remind me of the people who can make all kinds of remarks with the pin but don't have the b..s to go face to face with a man or woman in your case

    • Pam

      McLemore set a KU freshman record with 36 points.---wheres the defense?

  • tw eagle

    i'm definitely young at heart . . .i'm old enough to have seen WVU beat syracuse and jim brown 7-0 in a snowy wind blown game at Old Mountaineer Field . . .yes , that was my first WVU game . . .if you don't care for my sophomoric blather , pass it by . . .

    your opinion , master tim , is no more valid than any other expressed herein . . .

  • Wenkev

    I don't understand why there is so much adoration for Belein and his tenure at WVU or adoration for his "great" coaching. In his 5 years at WVU he made 2 NCAA & 2 NIT and had a losing season his first year (wonder if people were whining for the Catlett days that first year). In his last 5 years at Michigan he has made 3 NCAA (never making it past the third round) and had two losing seasons. At the same time, at WVU, Huggins made the NCAA all five years with a sweet sixteen and final four. Just the facts...

    • rattle snake

      because all of huggie's success is due to beilein's recruiting.

    • Stan

      Agree with you completely.

  • Jethro

    Pghmounty u read my mind and yes karma's a bitch

  • Pam

    R U suggesting karma!

  • Pghmountaineer

    I'm sure some of you here won't agree with me but a comment was made here by Jethro that our AD must be under some type of curse because of the way the football & basketball seasons turned out.
    How soon we forget how our AD treated Bill Stewart. I'm not suggesting that Stew was a great coach, but he didn't deserve to be treated the way he was treated. Maybe that explains Jethro's "curse" comment.
    Just my thoughts.

    • big tom

      after the way stew acted, towards Holgie, i say turn about is fair play

    • cutty77

      Leave Stew out of this.Plus there were 2 sides to that story.Oliver got us into a much better place,that the Now Dead Big East.Coaches Coach,and Players Play.Its Very Obivious we don't have players In Basketball to Compete in This Conference.If we were still in The Big East we might have a worse record,if thats Possible.Look at The Bight side The Girls Basketball Team will go to the NCAA's The Men need to Go Home,and get ready for next year.