MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — After his 22-point, 13-rebound day blind-sided No. 8 Kansas, Devin Williams wasn’t about to give his performance an asterisk simply because Joel Embiid wasn’t around.

Kansas coach Bill Self followed through on plans to rest his sore 7-footer, the Big 12’s No. 2 shot-blocker, and Embiid’s absence allowed West Virginia to attack the rim more aggressively in a 92-86 upset. Yet Williams credited his own film study and improved preparation as the reason he sank his first seven shots.

“I was ready for the challenge whether (Embiid) was there or not,” Williams said. “It was nothing I could about him not being there. I just had to go out and play because they’ve still got six or seven All-Americans on the bench.”

Even Self admitted Embiid’s presence might not have altered the game’s outcome or slowed down Williams, who mixed midrange jumpers on an 8-of-10 shooting day.

“Every shot I took today I kind of picked my spots, but they all were rhythm shots,” said Williams, who came in averaging 8.3 points per game.

Teammate Eron Harris, who poured in 28 points himself, credited Williams’ output with making West Virginia unguardable at times.

“We’ve been waiting for him to play like that the whole season,” Harris said. “It’s a mismatch—he’s shooting outside shots and driving to the basket. If told him if he plays like that, nobody can beat us.”

The 6-foot-8 freshman had 20 points and 12 boards in a December loss to Purdue before experiencing rough times in conference play. He endured a 13-game stretch in which he made only 25-of-80 field-goal attempts, failing to find angles against post defenders and even losing confidence in his jumper. Williams said the turnaround began when his mom borrowed a refrain from West Virginia coach Bob Huggins.

“She just told me, ‘You’ve got to get in the gym. That’s the only way you’re going to find yourself.’ And that’s what did … and I think I’m finding myself. I’m jut going to stay humble about it and continue to work.”

Williams’ stroke also turned steady at the foul line, where he made 6-of-7 to improve his season total to 57 percent.

“Remember early,” Huggins said, “when he went to the foul line it was like, ‘Let’s get back on defense, boys.’ He wasn’t going to make one. You think about how much his confidence has come.”

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Comments

  • bball fan

    Great win this is the best game by far Williams played this year congrats young man. I was at the game and that is why college bball is so much fun atmosphere. WVU looked great on D for 32 minutes and that matchup is getting much better also hit the glass, got to loose balls, and hit shots keep it rolling to BIG XII tourney boys.

  • Steve

    It's a great day to be a mountaineer wherever you may be!!!

  • Mark

    I know I'm extremely biased for WVU, but I swear there's a Big 12 officiating bias. Wiggins is very good, but was the recipient of about 4 phantom foul calls today. Devin is going to be great, but Staten has to come back next year if we're going to win the Big 12.

    • Alum

      I have the same bias and I agree, but at a little different angle. I think the big problem today were the non-calls against K. I never saw so much traveling, especially in the first half, that was not called; three and four steps, shuffling the feet, just about every type of travel imaginable and not called.

  • Stevewvu

    Another big time wing against a big time team in the big stage of ESPN.

    I love the fact that the Marshall fans are hating on this!

    • Barry

      Marshall Trolls, Marshall Trolls... They are everywhere. You see them in your sleep, in your dreams and in those ink spot pictures too, I bet.

  • Baldeagle

    Sometimes I just don't understand Huggs. Beginning second half we had them on their heels and he decides to slow it down and eat the clock. Every time he does this we cool off and the other team gets back into the game. Granted the refs helped a lot too and his out of bounds throw in schemes leave much to be desired. A great win fellows and Devin, let this be a new beginning for you…great job team!

    • Aaron

      I thought Allen did a pretty good job of explaining why Huggs did what he did.

      • Barry

        De-fense....De-fense.....Defense.

    • Billy Joe

      I have an idea, Baldy. I know this might be a little foreign to you, but, try to focus on the positive aspects of life. Let's face it, you come across as a negative person, which isn't exactly a good way to go through life. Look at it this way: we beat Kanas. The # 8th ranked team in the country. I know you're better than that. Chill out. You'll feel better about yourself and will enjoy life more.

  • Low Rider

    Nice win for WVU today. A 6 seed in the Big 12 tourney is a marked improvement from last year. I believe this team will be tough to contend with next year if Staten stays for his senior year. Although we had ups and downs, a nice year for the men's hoops team.

    • Mike

      It can be a special team next year, especially if Williams can play consistently as he did today. With Macon, Holton, Staten and Harris, look out!

  • Red Dwarf

    And this men's team has no seniors....scary.

  • Froggie and Tadpole

    Congrats to the men and women's basketball teams. You played strong to the finish when some expected you to fold. You have shown that you can play with any teams in the country. Good job Coach Carey and Coach Huggins. And for the naysayers, you would find something negative in a perfect world. So, we don't need any of those comments from the peanut gallery.

  • OKANYDAY

    What a super team performance. Way to earn respect for WVU by bringing down Kansas !
    Gooooo Mountaineers !

  • Dave

    Monster game by Devin Williams. Could not have won today if Devin hadn't stepped it up. Congratulations big man.

  • jay zoom

    the man puts on one show a season and he thinks he has done something. this coqwn wouldn't make the all tournament team at the high school state tourney. lets face it after blowing a 20 + lead they finally pulled it out their ass in the finally minutes. THANKS OLLIE.

    • Stevewvu

      Poor jealous marshall troll jay zoom

      • Barry

        Marshall Troll, Marshall Troll.....

    • Aquarius

      All hail the king of the knuckle draggers.... You should watch the game the rest of us did....great win, hall of fame coach, no seniors, great day to be a mountaineer

    • mntr Bob

      Jay zoom, thought you were done at 2:59. Guess you were just done being a fool on another post. So many posts so little time for your rubbish.

    • richard

      sorry....i meant he would lower the boom on you if you went one on one......i admit-----i couldnt do it.

    • sput

      I'm glad u let us see how dumb you are // keep them coming show your IQ ABOUT ZERO

      • Aaron

        +1

    • Dave

      Drink another one.

  • Leroy j Gibbs

    Great job! Keep working hard and you will be nba material in a couple years!

  • THE MEB

    WTG, Mountaineers, a terrific victory! Ole Sasquash sounds like he's a coach and the WVU players read these comments, LOL

    • ole sasquatch

      Yes, to both.

    • Dave

      Yeah, but he's 100% right.

  • Billy

    Good win. I hope every player make a effort like Staten did over the off season to improve their personal play.

  • Aaron

    I thought Williams played more like a 4 than a 5 in the first half when he stepped out and hit some big shots. If Holton and/or Macon can play the 5 next year and allow Williams to slide to the 4, I think that will help his game more than anything.

    • JP

      Holton is not a 5 and neither is Macon.

      • Aaron

        Any type of offensive play in the post can do nothing but help Mr. Williams, who has the talent to play at the next level if he listens to his coach and works hard for the next 3 years.

        • Barry

          We still need a real 5. That would help more than anything.

          • Aaron

            Where is this "big boy" at now and what did he do in his senior season against WVU.

            If you watch the highlights from that game on youtube (yes, they are still there) what you see is thug basketball, not the play of a true 5.

            I'm curious though, do you not think if a big man wants to play at the next level, they have to have the ability to play in a complex man defense that requires the ability to switch men and guard multiple players?

          • Barry

            I agree that big men do not fit in Huggins' system. It is hard for a true Big to play man defense with all of the switches required. But, when you don't have a true big man you get "Big Boyed" in tournament play. Just like we did against Duke in the Final Four.

          • Aaron

            I"d rather have a 6'9 post player that can score than a 7 footer that can't move. There are not many real 5's in college basketball and the ones that are out there generally go to the highest bidder. As good a recruiter as Huggins is, he can't match Kentucky and Duke.