LAWRENCE, Kan. — Perry Ellis finished off his trademark low-post spins, flushed an alley-oop and buried a corner 3, and No. 6 Kansas finally buried No. 10 West Virginia 75-65.
Ellis scored 13 of his 21 points in the second half, Landen Lucas grabbed 16 rebounds and Kansas (20-4, 8-3) shot 56 percent to force a three-way tie atop the Big 12 standings.
“I don’t know if (Ellis’) number will get retired—I don’t think there’s any room up there” in the rafters, said West Virginia coach Bob Huggins. “He deserves to be up there, though.”
The Jayhawks, who got retaliation for losing in Morgantown, extended their home win streak to 37 games by beating the Mountaineers (19-5, 8-3) at Phog Allen Fieldhouse for the fourth consecutive season.
“They were the aggressors tonight,” said Jaysean Paige, who scored 14 points on 5-of-16 shooting for West Virginia. “When they play here, it’s a different team.”
Devin Williams finished with 14 points and nine rebounds and backup point guard Tarik Phillip scored 11, but West Virginia shot only 37 percent.
“We’ve got to make more shots,” Huggins said. “We didn’t score when we had opportunities. It wasn’t all (Kansas). You have to give us credit for screwing the game up too.”
Playing without the suspended Jonathan Holton for a fourth straight game, West Virginia threatened to erase multiple double-digit deficits before Kansas put the game away.
“We just couldn’t get over that hump,” Williams said.
The Mountaineers closed within 40-38 on Nathan Adrian’s 3 only to see Kansas counter in a flash—an 8-0 run over 1:49 included 3s by Devonte Graham and Brannan Greene. A bucket by Elijah Macon stopped the flow only temporarily before Ellis scored over Esa Ahmad and Graham came free for another open 3.
Wayne Selden finished with 11 points, while Graham and Greene chipped in 10 each.
Another revival gave West Virginia hope as a 10-1 spurt cut the lead to 54-50. However, some 90 seconds later, Kansas had rebuilt its margin to double digits.
West Virginia couldn’t match KU’s shot-making. Daxter Miles, after scoring a career-high 23 points in this arena last season, endured a two-point encore on 1-of-8 shooting. Point guard Jevon Carter shot 2-of-6 for six points, failed to record an assist, committed two turnovers and appeared for only 5 minutes in the second half.
“I wasn’t enamored with the play of our starting guards,” said Huggins.
The rebounding of Lucas was crucial, helping Kansas to a 33-28 edge. The junior forward scored nine points, doubled his usual 14 minutes and blocked four shots after having five all season.
“I thought Landen was the best player in the game,” Kansas coach Bill Self said. “He played just fabulous.”
Kansas point guard Frank Mason, plagued by a career-worst seven turnovers in Morgantown, played 21 clean minutes before being palming the ball early in the second half. He finished with 14 points, five rebounds, two assists and two turnovers.
His nine points led Kansas to 57-percent shooting in the opening half and his fast-break layup capped a string of eight unanswered points that stretched the cushion to 36-24.
Phillip put back his own miss to end a 3:38 scoring drought by the Mountaineers, who started 0-of-7 from 3-point range until Paige beat the halftime buzzer with a jumper from the left wing.
That closed the gap to 36-29, and after intermission came more comeback flurries. Just not enough to pull even or overtake Kansas. For only the second time all season, WVU never led in the game.
“They came out and played more physical than we did from the start,” Adrian said. “They got out to the early lead and we never really recovered from that.”