Ben Queen/MetroNews photo
West Virginia point guard Juwan Staten drive against Kansas’ Landen Lucas during Saturday’s regular-season finale at the WVU Coliseum.
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — West Virginia’s first sellout crowd of the season filled the Coliseum and enjoyed a crazy game of runs. Kansas trimmed a 25-point deficit to four in the final minute, before the Mountaineers held on 92-86.
Today was also notable for contract incentives as Bob Huggins earned $25,000 for beating Kansas, a quirky part of last year’s extension. Quirky in that it’s atypical for a major-conference program to incentivize to a coach simply for beating a league foe, especially one he’s guaranteed to face twice each season. Long live the negotiators.
Check out the live-game updates from throughout the afternoon:
WEST VIRGINIA 92, KANSAS 86 (final)
Student-body left, right, all-over. The court is stormed as WVU hangs on for the upset. Harris scores 28, Staten pumps in 24 and Williams 22 for the Mountaineers, who shoot 53 percent and out-rebound Kansas 37-31. … WVU needs some help from Iowa State and Kansas State later in the day in order to hang on to the Big 12’s No. 6 seed.
WEST VIRGINIA 85, KANSAS 80 (0:56 second half)
KU’s Frank Mason drains a 3 and the Jayhawks are on a 7-0 run to make it a two-possession game. The Jayhawks’ defense—though atrocious most of the afternoon—has forced 10 second-half turnovers to climb back into this one. Remember the lead was 25 points at 64-39.
WEST VIRGINIA 85, KANSAS 73 (3:11 second half)
Welp, to quote a middle-school coach from 2007, “This Wiggins kid has potential.” He has 39 points on 11-of-15 shooting from the flooor and 15-of-19 at the foul line. But he also has four fouls, along with teammates Selden and Black, hurting KU’s chances of rallying. … Kansas has been trapping in hopes of speeding up the pace, so WVU’s ballhandling and spacing must be savvy down the stretch.
WEST VIRGINIA 76, KANSAS 57 (7:35 second half)
With foul trouble mounting, WVU has begun milking the shot clock. At the tail end of one possession, Staten got a 17-foot pull-up jumper (the spot he loves) and swished it. … Williams has 22 points, a new season/career high, and 11 rebounds for his third consecutive double-double.
WEST VIRGINIA 64, KANSAS 42 (15:47 second half)
Behind four straight 3-pointers—two each by Harris and Dibo—WVU opened the second half on a 14-2 run. In the process Bill Self spent his final two timeouts, but the way this game is going, he may not want to stop it again anyway. Kansas is brutally timid on defense, and showing zero fire.
WEST VIRGINIA 50, KANSAS 38 (halftime)
Wiggins has 17 points, Ellis 11 and Wayne Selden Jr. eight for the Jayhawks, who are shooting 41 percent. The crowd lost its mind at the end of the half when Wiggins spun into the lane, appeared to trip over his own sneakers and a ref whistled Henderson for his second foul. Thought Huggins might toss his stool cage match-style on that one. … KU also committed eight turnovers to WVU’s three.
WEST VIRGINIA 50, KANSAS 38 (halftime)
The Jayhawks haven’t endured a worse defensive half all season, but WVU deserves a ton of credit for shooting lights out. (Hey, who didn’t foresee Williams, Staten and Harris putting up 45 in the first half? Duh.) The Mountaineers shot 63 percent, and 21 of their 27 shots came from inside the 3-point arc. … Henderson played 11 minutes, and though mono sucked away some of his explosiveness, he finished a contested layup in transition for his first points in 30 days.
WEST VIRGINIA 42, KANSAS 32 (3:37 first half)
The amped-up Mountaineers have maintained a double-digit lead for several minutes, thanks to 61 percent shooting. Staten has 14 points, four assists and three rebounds, looking like a Big 12 first-teamer for sure. Harris has 10 points, giving WVU three double-digit scorers in the first half. Bill Self might have expected some defensive dropoff without Embiid, but nothing this precipitous. Lots of teaching points for KU.
WEST VIRGINIA 34, KANSAS 23 (7:34 first half)
Andrew Wiggins, making what figures to be his only appearance at the Coliseum before bouncing off to the NBA, has nine points and looks every bit as athletic as advertised. But, he’s not even the best freshman on the court right now, because Williams has 16 points on 6-of-6 shooting to go along with four rebounds. In today’s game preview, I wrote that Williams might feel emboldened by the absence of KU’s top shot-blocker Embiid, but this outburst is more than WVU could have hoped.
WEST VIRGINIA 24, KANSAS 17 (11:17 first half)
Devin Williams has been active—and lucky—in the early going. He has 10 points, including 4-of-5 from the foul line (not the usual for a 55-percent free-throw shooter). He also collected a gift basket after Harris missed a 3 and the loose ball skipped away from two KU defenders. … Landen Lucas became the second Jayhawk with two fouls, though Adrian has his second as well for WVU.
WEST VIRGINIA 9, KANSAS 9 (15:56 first half)
The shooting has been crisp so far: Kansas is 4-of-5 and West Virginia is 3-of-5 (including 3s by Eron Harris and Nate Adrian). The most crucial early development is KU forward Tarik Black picking up two fouls. He figured to draw extra minutes with 7-footer Joel Embiid resting today. Another big moment: Terry Henderson entering a game for the first time since Feb. 15
Before Friday’s practice, Bob Huggins sounded pretty confident about West Virginia’s prospects for life beyond the Big 12 tournament: “We’re definitely going to be in the postseason. It’s just a matter of which one.” At this point, the NIT is the only option unless WVU beats Kansas, gets a No. 6 seed in Kansas City and beats two quality teams to reach the final. At 20-15, the Mountaineers might command an at-large bid.