Kansas outlasts West Virginia on Saturday night at the Coliseum

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MORGANTOWN, WV — No. 6 Kansas got 23 points from Ochai Agbaji and 19 points and 11 rebounds from David McCormack to hold off West Virginia 71-58 in Saturday night’s Big 12 basketball game at the WVU Coliseum.

McCormack scored 19 goals and grabbed 15 rebounds the first time these two teams met in Lawrence last month in an 85-59 victory. Agbaji was also outstanding the first time around with 20 points on 4-for-8 shooting from 3.

The Jayhawks, who led by no less than 11 in the first half of tonight’s game, saw their lead reduced to one with 12:58 to go on a Taz Sherman 3. After that, West Virginia only scored three field goals for the remainder of the game – one Sean McNeil jumper at 8:43 a.m., a McNeil 3 at 4:38 a.m. and a Sherman 3 at 2:13 a.m.

“It’s hard to win when you don’t make lay-ups”, West Virginia coach Bob Huggin said afterwards. “We’ve had opportunities, but we’re looking everywhere except the rim.

“The layup thing amazes me how much we can’t layup. It’s unfathomable that you can’t layup at this point in your career,” Huggins said.

A crowd of over 14,000 was in the game when Sherman’s triple capped a 13-2 Mountaineer run. But five of West Virginia’s next six possessions consisted of a missed McNeil 3, a Cari Malik turnover entering the ball which resulted in a lay-up by Joseph Yesufu, a Gabe Osabuohien missed layup, a Sherman turnover that drove an Agbaji breakaway dunk and a miss Jalen Bridges 3.

“I thought stealing (Yesufu) when we threw him in bounds and we weren’t careful was hurting us,” Huggins said.

WVU shot just 26% in the second half in what has become a year-long theme for the Mountaineers, who drop to 14-12, 3-10.

For the game, West Virginia went just 19 of 68 field goal attempts for 27.9 percent despite fussing and trying leading to 16 more field goal attempts than the Jayhawks. Kansas was a 48.1 percent effective shot and also conceded at the free throw line connecting on 18 of 22, including 13 of 16 in the second half.

Jalen Wilson contributed 10 points and 11 rebounds for Kansas, now 21-4, 11-2. KU finished the game by outscoring West Virginia 49-32 after holding a 2-to-1 advantage on the glass in the first half.

McNeil finished with 18 points and Sherman contributed 16 for the Mountaineers. WVU’s top four inside players combined to score just 4 points tonight.

“People can say the offense is next, but I think we’re taking steps in the right direction,” McNeil said. “The way teams are guarding me and Taz now, we’re probably taking some bad shots, but we kind of have to take some bad shots.”

West Virginia attempted 30 3s, hitting nine, while Kansas attempted just 11 and hit three.

“The good thing is we have five games left and they can be won, so we have to stop worrying about this one and get ready,” Huggins said. “We’re going to train tomorrow at noon and then fly in and fly out to play games on Monday, Wednesday and Saturday next week. Three games in six games won’t be easy, but I think it gives the guys opportunities to show whether they can do it or not.

“We have five left and the goal is to get all five,” McNeil added.

WVU will play TCU on Monday night, then stay on the road to play Iowa State on Wednesday. A tough week ends next Saturday with a game against No. 20 Texas at the Coliseum.


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