Wiggins Valiant In Comeback No. 8 Kansas Leave WVU With Loss 92-86

By: kuathletics.com
By: kuathletics.com

MORGANTOWN, W. Va. — Andrew Wiggins cracked the 40-point barrier with his 12th and final shot of the game. His career-best 41 points pulled No. 8/8 Kansas out of a 25-point hole at West Virginia, slashing the Jayhawks' largest deficit of the year to four in the final minute, but the Mountaineers held on for the 92-86 win inside WVU Coliseum on Saturday.

Big 12 Conference regular-season champion Kansas (23-8, 14-4 Big 12) looked dead in the water at West Virginia (17-14, 9-9 Big 12). The Jayhawks had allowed its most points by halftime in more than seven years, had used all of their timeouts four minutes into the second half and gave up a 14-1 run to start the final frame to find themselves trailing 64-39 – it's largest deficit of the season.

Nevertheless, Kansas went to work. Wiggins' remarkable 41 points on 12-of-18 shooting were the most by a Jayhawk since Terry Brown put up 42 against North Carolina State on Jan. 5, 1991. The effort also marked the second-best scoring game by a freshman in Big 12 history (44, Michael Beasley, K-State at Baylor, 2/23/08). He added 15-of-19 from the free throw line, the most since former guard Tyshawn also knocked down 15 (15-of-17 vs. Kentucky, 11/15/11).

Refusing to surrender to the ridiculous deficit and the sold-out crowd, forwards Jamari Traylor and Landen Lucas came up with four big points, before stepping aside for Wiggins. He was phenomenal, buckling down for four-straight free throws. The Canadian put his squad on his back. He grabbed a rebound and immediately took it down the court, pulled up and nailed a three pointer – slicing the deficit to 10 points, 78-68.

Relentless and untiring despite a career-high 39 minutes, Wiggins answered an Eron Harris layup with his second three-pointer of the game and when the Mountaineers went to throw the ball in, he took that, too. Wiggins ripped the ball away from Harris and jammed it through the Kansas basket. Still going, Wiggins pulled up for another jumper – his 40th and 41st points of the game.

West Virginia by 10.

His teammates finally took hold. Senior forward Tarik Black made a layup, but it was freshman guard Frank Mason who nearly capped the comeback. He hit his second three-pointer of the game and, exactly one minute later, his third.

West Virginia by five.

Less than 30 seconds remained when Wiggins was dragged out of the game, his fifth foul was all that could keep him away from leading the last leg of the comeback. Yet his replacement, fellow freshman Brannen Greene, took his spot with a three-pointer of his own.

West Virginia by four.

But the Mountaineers held on. Only 12 seconds were left on the clock following Greene's trey and Harris made the final pair of free throws to finally put the brakes on the Jayhawks' freight train of a comeback.

The most potent scoring duo in the league, Harris and junior Juwan Staten, were viciously on-point per the usual – but the first-half dagger came from freshman forward Devin Williams. Typically an 8.3 ppg player, Williams couldn't be stopped in the first half. He was 7-for-7 by halftime and ended his day with a career-high 22 points. The trio had 45 of the home team's 50 points in the first half – marking the first time Kansas has given up 50 points by halftime since scored 54 inside Allen Fieldhouse on March 3, 2007 – a game Kansas came back to win.

Not so on Saturday. By game's end, the three WVU leaders accounted for 74 of its 92 points. Harris led the Mountaineers with 28 points, including five three-pointers, while Staten nearly tallied a double-double with 24 points and nine assists. Williams did finish with a double-double as his 13 rebounds tied a career-high.

In unbelievable fashion, only four Jayhawks had scored by halftime and waited almost eight minutes into the second half for Mason to make it five. Wiggins did all he could as he and sophomore forward Perry Ellis scored 17 and 11, respectively, by halftime. Ellis finished with 14 points and Mason added 10, but no other player eclipsed double-digits. Aside from his career scoring performance, Wiggins also led the team with eight rebounds and recorded five steals, the most by a Jayhawk this season.

West Virginia began its day with the fewest turnovers in the league and used it to its advantage against a Jayhawk team with various inconsistencies in the turnover column. They committed only three by halftime, but KU forced 10 WVU mishaps in the second half to push the Mountaineers into double-digit turnovers for the eighth time this season.

UP NEXT
Kansas will enter the Phillips 66 Big 12 Championship (March 12-15) at the Sprint Center in Kansas City, Mo., as the No. 1 seed and play its first game in the event's quarterfinals on Thursday, March 13, at 2 p.m. against the winner of the No. 8 vs. No. 9 game, which takes place March 12. KU has had a first-round bye in 17 of the 18 Big 12 Championships. KU has been the No. 1 seed in the event 11 times, including each of the last six seasons.

NOTES

KU STARTERS (Season/Career Starts): Jr. Naadir Tharpe (27/27), Fr. Wayne Selden, Jr. (31/31), Fr. Andrew Wiggins (31/31), So. Perry Ellis (30/33), Sr. Tarik Black (11/71)

SERIES INFO: Kansas leads 3-1

ATTENDANCE: 14,038 (14,000 capacity)

KANSAS' LOSS…
Dropped KU to 23-8 on the season and 14-4 in Big 12 play.
Gave West Virginia (1-3) and head coach Bob Huggins (1-7) their first wins against Kansas.
Moved the Kansas-West Virginia series to 3-1 in favor of Kansas.
Changed head coach Bill Self's record to 3-1 all-time against West Virginia, 323-67 while at Kansas and 530-172 overall.
Moved Kansas to 2,124-820 all-time.

TEAM NOTES
Kansas' 86 points were a rarity in Morgantown. Entering the weekend Under Bob Huggins, West Virginia holds its visitors to 62.4 points per game inside WVU Coliseum.
Kansas was outshot for the seventh time this season (fifth time in conference play), and surrendered a 52.9 field goal percentage (27-of-51) – the ninth time in the last 252 games that Kansas has allowed an opponent to make half of its shots.
KU trailed 50-38 at halftime, the first time Kansas has given up 50 points by halftime since scored 54 inside Allen Fieldhouse on March 3, 2007 – a game Kansas came back to win (90-86).
West Virginia had shot 10 free throws before Kansas went to the line for the first time, which resulted in a three-point play for sophomore F Perry Ellis at the 9:43 mark in the first half.
West Virginia climbed to a 25-point lead (64-39) in the second half, Kansas' biggest deficit of the season – surpassing the 18-point disadvantage at Florida.
By halftime, Andrew Wiggins (17), Perry Ellis (11), Wayne Selden, Jr. (8) and Jamari Traylor (2) were the only Jayhawks to score. Kansas didn't see a fifth player register a point until Frank Mason hit a three-pointer with 12:31 remaining in the game.
West Virginia freshman F Devin Williams recorded his eighth double-double of the season with career-highs in points (22) and rebounds (12). The Jayhawks have surrendered just four double-doubles on the year, and two in conference play (Marcus Smart, Oklahoma State, 16 points/10 rebounds, 1/18/14). second-best scoring game by a freshman in Big 12 history (44, Michael Beasley, K-State at Baylor, 2-23-08).
The Jayhawks forced 13 Mountaineer turnovers, just the eighth time this season WVU has coughed up 10 or more possessions. The Mountaineers rank seventh nationally in turnovers per game (9.5).

INDIVIDUAL NOTES
Freshman G Andrew Wiggins broke the KU freshman single-game scoring record with 41 points at WVU, previously set by former Kansas guard Ben McLemore (36 vs. West Virginia, 3/2/13).
Against Texas Tech (3/5), Wiggins failed to reach double figures for just the fifth time in 30 games with nine points. In the four previous occurrences, Wiggins has done no worse than doubling that point total in his next game – which held true again on Saturday by a long shot.
Wiggins' remarkable 41 points on 12-of-18 shooting broke the KU freshman single-game scoring record and were the most by a Jayhawk since Terry Brown put up 42 against North Carolina State on Jan. 5, 1991. The effort also marked the second-best scoring game by a freshman in Big 12 history (44, Michael Beasley, K-State at Baylor, 2/23/08). He added 15-of-19 from the free throw line, the most since former guard Tyshawn also knocked down 15 (15-of-17 vs. Kentucky, 11/15/11).
Wiggins rattled off 17 points in the first half and 24 in the final 20 minutes, the most points in a half by a Jayhawk (passing Sherron Collins' 22 vs. Oklahoma, 2/23/09) since Kansas began keeping half-only records in 1988-89. He also tied for the third-most field goals in a half by a Jayhawk with his seven makes in the second half.
Wiggins (41) and sophomore F Perry Ellis (14) combined for 55 points, tying the fourth-most two-man total since Kansas began keeping that record in the 1988-89 season (65, Brown/Jamison; 58, Johnson/Releford; 56, Pierce/Thomas; 55 Taylor/Robinson).
Aside from his 12 field goals, Wiggins was 15-of-19 from the free throw line, the most made free throws by a Jayhawk in Big 12 history and the second-most attempts (Wayne Simien, 20 vs. UAB).
Conversely, WVU's Juwan Staten went 14-of-20 from the free throw line, tying the third-most KU has allowed by an opponent, while 20 marks the most attempts.
Wiggins also led the team with eight rebounds and five steals, the most by a Jayhawk this season.
Wiggins now has 522 points on the year, passing Xavier Henry (483, 2010) and Danny Manning (496, 1985) for the second-place position on the all-time Kansas freshmen scoring list. He now only trails Ben McLemore (596, 2013) as the all-time freshmen scoring leader at Kansas.
With 165 field goals on the year, Wiggins also passed Henry (162) for fifth all-time on the freshmen field goal list.
Wiggins improved his KU freshmen record for free throws made (153), free throws attempted (200) and scoring average (16.8). He moved past Brandon Rush (359) and into third on the freshman field goal attempts chart with 365.
Senior F Tarik Black made his 11th start of the year, in place of freshman C Joel Embiid, but was whistled for his second foul before the first media timeout. He was relegated to the bench for the next eight minutes of the first half and scored just two points.
Redshirt freshman F Landen Lucas stepped in for Black, making him the first player of the bench for the first time this season.
Junior G Naadir Tharpe played a season-low 16 minutes and did not score for the third time this season, leaving him one point shy of his 500th career point.
In the last conference game of the year, sophomore F Jamari Traylor finally eclipsed 10 misses in league play, going 2-for-4 on Saturday. That made him 33-for-43 for a team-best 76.7 field goal percentage in conference games.


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