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February 8, 2014

WVU battles but falls to Kansas




West Virginia (14-10, 6-5) battled hard inside Allen Fieldhouse but it wasn't enough to overcome No. 8 Kansas (18-5, 9-1) as the Mountaineers fell 83 to 69 Saturday afternoon.

The Mountaineers were able to whittle the Kansas advantage to as low as two points in the second half, but ultimately West Virginia became the 111th unranked opponent in a row to lose on the Jayhawk's home floor after a late run. West Virginia got 22 points from Juwan Staten and 17 from Eron Harris in the losing effort, while freshman sensation Andrew Wiggins led the Jayhawks with 19 points.

The Jayhawks dominated West Virginia in the post and connected on almost 55-percent of their field goals as the size of Kansas proved to be a difficult matchup for the Mountaineers.

West Virginia was able to get into a rhythm early taking an 8-6 lead into the first media timeout in large part due to the shooting of Remi Dibo, who had five of those points to his credit. However, the theme early in the game for the Jayhawks was to pound the ball down low and take advantage of their size in the low post to make things difficult for the Mountaineers and retake the early lead at 15-10.

Eron Harris would carry over his hot shooting from Wednesday and calm the Kansas run with three-straight three-balls to bring the Mountaineers back in the lead at 20-17 almost eight minutes into the opening half. But Kansas would continue to pound the ball in the post to recapture the lead at 25-22 with 8:57 remaining in the opening half and 22 of those points coming from inside the paint.

Joel Embiid would record his second foul shortly after and the back and forth first half would continue, as the Mountaineers would recapture the lead at 28-27 propelled by a beautiful display of explosion by Juwan Staten to get to the rim. However, the Jayhawks would continue to get easy looks right at the basket forcing the Mountaineers to try to outshoot them and at the 4:46 mark they were shooting 52 percent from the floor.

The Jayhawks would extend the lead to 39-32 after going on a 12-2 run on their home floor as Kansas would add some jump shooting to their inside dominance while the Mountaineers cooled off on their outside shooting during that stretch. The game would head into halftime with the Jayhawks ahead 43-36 and shooting nearly 60-percent from the floor and Harris leading the Mountaineers with 13 points.

West Virginia would open the second half scoring with a basket by Devin Williams, but the Jayhawks would answer back to extend their lead to eight points. Staten would knife through the defense for his second and one of the game to cross the double figures mark and put the Mountaineers down 46-41.

That lead would whittle down to only two after a three-pointer by Nathan Adrian forcing Bill Self to use a timeout and putting the Mountaineers in striking distance with around 16-minutes left in the game. However, as they did throughout the first half the Jayhawks would respond and push the lead out to 55-50 with 12:13 left in the game.

Kansas would push the lead back out to 62-53 with only 9:50 remaining after a three-pointer by Wayne Selden and several unsuccessful possessions by the Mountaineers. But West Virginia refused to go away cutting the lead back down to 69-65 with 4:52 left in the game.

Down the stretch however, Kansas would cash in on the offensive end while the Mountaineers struggled to hit open looks and the lead ballooned to the largest it had been all game at 79-66 with just over two minutes left in the game and would salt the game away from the point.

West Virginia will host Iowa State at 7 p.m. Monday night inside the Coliseum.


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