After what has been a frustrating season for West Virginia, it culminated with a first half in which the Mountaineers fell apart every way possible.
The No. 8 seeded Mountaineers scored just four points in just under the first six minutes of play against No. 1 seed Kansas. West Virginia started the game shooting 1-for-13 from the field, while Kansas came out on fire, opening up an early lead they would never look back on, winning 87-63 and advancing to the Big 12 Tournament semifinals.
Big 12 Player of the Year Ochai Agbaji scored nine of Kansas’ first 13 points, putting the Jayhawks in front 13-2, just over five minutes into the game.
Just over halfway through the first half, with West Virginia trailing 19-4, Taz Sherman drove to the basket where he looked to have been fouled. Sherman took exception, looking at the official and was given a technical foul. The frustration boiled over for West Virginia head coach Bob Huggins, who was assessed two technical fouls and ejected from the game.
Kansas would proceed to make five of the six free throws, putting them in front by 20, with 9:58 to play in the first half, and shutting the door on West Virginia’s season.
The rest of the first half did not get much better for West Virginia, as they would shoot a combined 5-for-31 from the field in the first half, with their starters scoring a combined two points.
Kansas shot 15-for-31 in the first half, taking a 41-19 lead into halftime.
The Mountaineers started the second half out with some fight. West Virginia opened the second half on a 7-0 run, cutting the Kansas lead to 15. Kansas’ offense would keep their foot on the gas however, shooting 18-for-32 in the second half.
West Virginia would cut the deficit to 14 with 11:20 to play after a pair of steals and fastbreak points for West Virginia. Kansas would call a timeout, and not look back, scoring four straight points, and then went on a 10-0 run, taking a 26-point lead with just under six minutes to play.
Agbaji would finish with 18 points, shooting 7-for-15 from the field, Jalen Wilson adding another 15 points for the Jayhawks.
West Virginia was led by Malik Curry who finished with 19 points. Curry scored 11 points at the free throw line, while going 4-for-9 from the field. West Virginia’s duo of Sherman and Sean McNeil combined for just 13 points, while shooting a combined 4-for-23. West Virginia ended the day shooting 33% from the field, while going 6-for-14 from three-point range.
With the win, Kansas will play TCU in the Big 12 semifinals.
Photo from Big 12 Conference