It’s been a season of ultimate highs and ultimate lows for this years’ edition of the West Virginia University Men’s basketball team. While WVU’s 62-61 last-second victory over Kansas represented the summit of that spectrum, tonight’s awful overtime loss to the Jayhawks exacerbated the lowest depth to which this team has sank thus far this season.
To begin, WVU was already without the services of senior guards Juwan Staten and Gary Browne. Both are currently recovering from lower-body injuries sustained during last week’s win at home against Texas. However, the Mountaineers held their own throughout the game; in fact you might say they even outplayed the Jayhawks given how they held the home team to under 40% shooting throughout most of the contest.
The Mountaineers went on an 11-0 run mid-way through the first half to go up 17-6. Before the end of the half, the old Gold and Blue would lead by as much as 18 before settling with a 40-26 lead going into the break.
KU’s comeback was a slow ascent throughout the second half, beginning with a short 9-2 run by the Jayhawks to start the period. Late in the half, with WVU up by seven points, the Jayhawks received a great deal of help from their opponents as the Mountaineers missed three free throws and three field goal opportunities during the final 1:55. Also, WVU was called for two fouls, and managed to even turn the ball over another two times to give home side even more reason to believe.
The Jayhawks would ultimately take the game when KU’s Jamari Traylor turned an easy dunk into a three-point lead after converting an “and one” foul shot at the 3:02 mark of overtime. Frank Mason III would close the door of the Mountaineers in the dying seconds of OT by converting all six foul shots he received during the period. In the end, the Jayhawks would go on to win 76-69.
On the night, WVU shot just 57.1% from the foul line – a facet of the team’s game which must improve drastically soon should the Mountaineers have any hopes of winning another game this season. They also turned the ball over a staggering 22 times in tonight’s loss.
Freshman guard Daxter Miles Jr. had a career-night Tuesday in Lawrence. Miles Jr. finished the game 8 of 15 from the field, and 5 of 9 from beyond the arc for a game-high 23 points, and four rebounds. Junior forward Jonathan Holton recorded a double-double in this one as he went 5 of 12 from the field for 12 points, 10 rebounds, and a blocked shot. Tarik Phillip was the only other Mountaineer to reach double-figures on the night with a career-high 13 points.
Sophomore guard Frank Mason III led the way in scoring for KU in tonight’s miraculous victory. Mason finished the game 4 of 10 from the field, and 11 of 12 from the foul line for 19 points, seven rebounds, three assists, and three steals. Three other Jayhawk players reached double-figures in this one as Jamari Traylor recorded 14, Kelly Oubre adding 12, while Devonte Graham added 10.
Kansas clinches the 2014-15 Big XII regular season title with tonight’s win. They improve to 24-6 overall, and 13-4 in league play with the victory. The Mountaineers drop to 22-8 overall, and 10-7 in Big XII play with tonight’s defeat. West Virginia is now in fourth place in the updated Big XII standings.
WVU returns to action Saturday afternoon for senior day when they host the 17-11 Oklahoma State Cowboys at the WVU Coliseum in Morgantown. Tip-off is slated for 2:00PM, and the game will be televised nationally on ESPN News.