MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Though Kansas was a week removed from clinching the Big 12 title outright, coach Bill Self didn’t excuse Saturday’s slow start on a lack of motivation.
“I think that’s kind of a bogus statement,” Self said after No. 8 Kansas trailed by 25 points in what tightened into a 92-86 loss at West Virginia.
He reasoned that the Jayhawks carried plenty of incentive in the regular-season finale, from playing another game on ESPN to facing Eron Harris and Juwan Staten, one of the conference’s backcourts.
“You’re a guard and you get a chance to play against the best-scoring 2 guard in the league, and if you’re a point guard you get to play against the best point guard in the league. To me, you should be up automatically for those things,” Self said.
And yet, as Kansas forward Jamari Traylor admitted, “We came out pretty flat.”
Harris scored 28 points and Staten contributed 24 points and nine assists as West Virginia (17-14, 9-9) knocked off the No. 2 RPI team in the nation. The loss could prove damaging to Kansas (23-8, 14-4), which may need to win the Big 12 tournament to have any chance at an NCAA No. 1 seed.
“We didn’t appear to be as up as what we could be from an energy standpoint, but I don’t want to use that as an excuse,” Self said.