No. 6 Kansas crushes WVU 91-65
Published: Saturday, March 2, 2013
Updated: Saturday, March 2, 2013 17:03
Lawrence, Kan - With only eight home losses in the last 10 seasons, West Virginia knew a victory at Allen Fieldhouse would be a tall task.
The Mountaineers had a seven-point lead and the crowd out of the game midway through the first half, then things went south.
Kansas’ (25-4, 13-3) Elijah Johnson blocked away a West Virginia (13-16, 6-10) layup attempt and shifted the momentum, propelling the Jayhawks to a 91-65 blowout win and handed the Mountaineers their first four-game losing streak since 2005 in front of the 196th-consecutive sellout crowd in Lawrence, Kan.
“It was huge. They came down and blocked a shot and it brought the whole crowd together,” said West Virginia freshman guard Terry Henderson. “It brought their bench on their feet. It energized the players to play harder.”
The Jayhawks’ Ben McLemore led the way with 36 points – his third 30-point game of the season – on 12-of-15 shooting.
“He didn’t do anything really one-on-one,” said West Virginia freshman guard Eron Harris. “He hit wide-open jump shots.”
Harris guarded McLemore for most of the first meeting between the two schools, holding him to just 13 points.
But Harris admits team defense was lacking during the matchup Saturday.
“We can’t always get through a screen. You’ve got to help out a little bit,” Harris said. “We always have to play team defense. One person can’t guard him. More than one person is going to have to help at a certain point.”
McLemore wasn’t the only player who found his groove on offense, though. Jeff Withey finished one block shy of a triple-double and Johnson had 10 assists one game after scoring 39 points in his last outing for the Jayhawks.
“We all have to play together as a team for 40 minutes,” Henderson said. “We were containing them early in the first half. We stopped doing that in the second half.”
Henderson led West Virginia with 20 points, including six three-pointers. Senior forward Dominique Rutledge chipped in 17 points and 13 rebounds.
But, it was the experience of Kansas that was the difference.
The Jayhawks had 29 team assists on 34 made field goals and shot 56 percent from the floor.
“They’re an experienced team. They’ve been playing together for a really long time,” Henderson said. “They had a great crowd out there tonight to support them.”
The Mountaineers were able to cut the deficit down multiple times late in the first half and early in the second half.
WVU was down by just five less than five minutes before the half.
And, after trailing by 14 at halftime, cut the lead down to 10 with at the first media timeout of the second half, before the Jayhawks responded with a 12-0 run.
“We’re not good enough to get down by 10 or 12, 14, to a team as good as they are and be able to come back,” said West Virginia head coach Bob Huggins. “We don’t have enough offensive firepower.”