Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

College Sports

February 9, 2014

Jayhawks rock

No. 8 Kansas pulls away to top Mountaineers

LAWRENCE, Kan. — Andrew Wiggins scored 19 points, Wayne Selden had 17 and No. 8 Kansas survived a foul-fest to beat West Virginia 83-69 on Saturday and pad its lead in the Big 12 standings.

Reserve Tarik Black added 11 points for the Jayhawks (18-5, 9-1 Big 12), who honored the 40th anniversary of their 1974 Final Four team by fending off the Mountaineers (14-10, 6-5) to take a two-game lead over surprising Texas in the conference race.

The 15th-ranked Longhorns on Saturday lost to Kansas State, which will host the Jayhawks on Monday night.

Juwan Staten scored 22 points and Eron Harris had 17 for West Virginia, which dealt with foul trouble nearly the entire game. At one point, the Mountaineers had five players with four fouls apiece, and Brandon Watkins and Devin Williams eventually fouled out.

Still, the Mountaineers hung around until late in the game.

They closed within 69-65 on two free throws by Harris, who briefly left after turning his ankle earlier in the game. Another free throw by Staten a few minutes later got them within 72-66 with 3:49 to go, silencing another packed crowd at Allen Fieldhouse.

That’s when Joel Embiid, the Jayhawks’ talented 7-foot freshman, scored in the paint. Naadir Tharpe drained a 3-pointer on their next trip down the court, and Selden sliced into the lane for a layup that made it 77-66 and forced Mountaineers coach Bob Huggins to call a timeout.

Just like that, a nip-and-tuck game began turning into a blowout.

The Jayhawks enjoyed a comfortable cushion the final 3 minutes, leaving Huggins winless in seven tries — at three different schools — against the perennial Big 12 heavyweights.

The first half was far more entertaining than the second, when the whistles really began. Kansas raced to an early lead, the Mountaineers answered with a trio of 3-pointers from Harris, and the Jayhawks slowly crept out to another lead when West Virginia suddenly went cold.

The Mountaineers didn’t make a field goal over the final 7:36 of the first half.

The Jayhawks had plenty of moments of offensive ineptitude in their own right, keeping the game close. Gary Browne’s two free throws got West Virginia within five points late in the half, but Wiggins followed a miss by Brannen Green with a buzzer-beating dunk for a 43-36 lead.

Wiggins had 10 points in the first half, but he needed 12 shots to get them.

The superstar freshman did most of his damage in the second half by driving to the basket and getting fouled, finishing 7 of 10 from the free throw line — he was 6 of 14 from the field.

The teams combined for 50 fouls and shot 65 free throws in a game that rarely went more than a minute without a whistle. More than once, multiple fouls were called on one trip down the court, turning long stretches of the second half into a free throw shooting contest.

The Jayhawks wound up 23 of 34 from the free throw line. West Virginia was 25 of 31.

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