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March 8, 2014

WVU withstands late surge to upset No. 8 Kansas



In a fitting close to the 2013-2014 season at the WVU Coliseum, the West Virginia Mountaineers shocked a sold out crowd, handling the No. 8 Kansas Jayhawks in a 92-86 victory.

Both teams got off to a hot offensive start in the sold out Coliseum Saturday afternoon, with a string of three pointers kicking off the contest for both sides. Wayne Selden, Jr. opened up the contest with an open corner three, putting the Jayhawks on the board first.

But West Virginia would quickly answer in impressive fashion. A pair of baskets from beyond the arc for Eron Harris and Nathan Adrian matched the hot Kansas start, helping lead the two foes into a 9-9 tie at the first media timeout.

The Mountaineers received a quick boost exiting the short break from freshman Devin Williams. The West Virginia post man put together a strong stretch, scoring nine points in just over a minute to help the Mountaineers pull ahead, 18-11. The spurt from Williams riled the Coliseum crowd, forcing Bill Self to call a Jayhawks timeout with 14:17 left in the first half.

Juwan Staten would pick up where Williams left off exiting the Kansas timeout, connecting with a reverse layup on the baseline followed shortly thereafter by a midrange jumper, helping West Virginia maintain a 24-17 advantage heading into the second media break.

The frantic scoring pace slowed for West Virginia around the 10-minute mark, with the Mountaineers scoring a bulk of their points from the free throw line. Williams continued to show a strong will in the paint, banging against opponents and going up strong for the basket, but five of the Mountaineer's seven points in a three-minute span were scored from the charity stripe.

But Williams continued to play other-worldly for the Mountaineers in the first half. Heading into the under 8:00 media timeout, the freshman connected with another pair of long jumpers from just inside the arc, helping West Virginia hold a 34-23 advantage with 7:34 remaining. Williams led the Mountaineers in scoring at this span with 16 points in the first 12 and a half minutes.

Kansas would find its first sign of life since the opening minutes exiting the timeout, with a three pointer from Selden and monster dunk for Andrew Wiggins quickly bringing the Jayhawks back to within six.

West Virginia, however, would not allow the fast-paced Jayhawks to break out in a deep run. A long three pointer from NBA range for Harris would kill the quickly-building Kansas momentum, helping the Mountaineers built the lead back up to 12.

The Mountaineers would manage to hold onto a double-digit advantage heading into the final media timeout, leading the Jayhawks 42-32 with 3:37 remaining in the half.

For a while, it looked like Kansas might again set off on another run to close out the half. But it would West Virginia that tried to get the last laugh yet again in the first 20 minutes. A trailing layup by the returning Terry Henderson, followed up by a steal and three from Harris sent the Coliseum into a frenzy that is rarely seen anymore.

The streak, along with another long jumper from Williams, helped the Mountaineers enter the locker room hold a 50-38 advantage.

Halftime did little to slow down the Mountaineer's strong offensive push. A put back from Williams and corner three for Harris helped West Virginia jump out on a 5-0 forcing the Jayhawks to call a quick timeout in an effort to halt the West Virginia momentum.

The plan, however, would ultimately backfire for Coach Self in the short term, as a corner three from Remi Dibo, off the Staten head fake, pushed West Virginia ahead by 20 points with 17:42 remaining in the contest.

A mere minute later, Self would call the final timeout for Kansas with 17:15 remaining after Dibo connected with another three pointer from the corner. With the Coliseum in a frenzy, West Virginia extended its lead to 61-39.

West Virginia would go up by as much as 25 points before slowing down a tad entering the second media timeout. The Jayhawks took advantage of this lull, going on a 6-0 run, cutting back to within 17 points at the under 12:00 media timeout.

Kansas closed to within 15 points, but West Virginia, running a slowdown offense while trying to protect the lead, managed to build the advantage back up to 22 points just past the ten-minute mark. A step-up jumper from Staten and reverse layup for Henderson helped push the advantage back up to 75-53.

A 7:25 field goal drought for Kansas allowed West Virginia to maintain the advantage around 20 points. At the under eight-minute media timeout, the Mountaineers clung to a 76-57 lead.

Exiting the break, however, the Jayhawks managed to put together a quick six-point spurt, aided by a technical foul call on Coach Billy Hahn. Kansas parlayed the call into a boost of momentum, cutting the deficit to 13 points with 6:52 remaining, forcing Coach Bob Huggins to call a timeout.

The timeout was of little initial help, with Kansas continuing to cut into the West Virginia advantage. A three pointer for Wiggins brought the Jayhawks to within 10 points of the Mountaineers, the closest gap since midway through the first half.

West Virginia would manage to weather the initial Kansas onslaught, with a three pointer from Gary Browne helping push the Mountaineer advantage back to 17 points with 4:30 remaining.

Kansas would pull off a quick five-point swing from Wigging, putting the Jayhawks down 85-73 at the final media timeout.

The huge Jayhawks run continued exiting the timeout, with a strong push from Wiggins getting Kansas to within five points with 1:15 remaining. But West Virginia would manage to weather the storm once again, sneaking away with a big victory.

Final: West Virginia 92, Kansas 86.

Eron Harris and Juwan Staten, who contributed 28 and 24 points, respectively, led West Virginia in scoring Saturday afternoon, with Devin Williams also collecting his third-straight double-double with 22 points and 13 rebounds.

The Mountaineers will return to action next week as they travel to Kansas City for the Big 12 Tournament. Day and time is TBD.



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