🏀 No. 6 Kansas Withstands West Virginia, 71-58
MORGANTOWN, W.Va., — Ochai Agbaji recorded his 14th 20-point game of the season Saturday night at West Virginia to help guide the Kansas Jayhawks to a 71-58 win over the Mountaineers at WVU Coliseum.
The win improved the Jayhawks to 22-4 on the season and 11-2 in Big 12 Conference play. West Virginia dropped to 14-12 and 3-10 in the league. The Jayhawks have a two-game lead in the loss column over Baylor and Texas Tech in the Big 12 standings. Kansas has five games to play, while Baylor and Texas Tech both have four.
Kansas improved to 5-2 on the road in conference games with the win over the Mountaineers and controlled most of the game Saturday night as the visitors. The Jayhawks led for more than 35 minutes of the game and outscored West Virginia 40-12 in the paint. Kansas also won the rebounding battle 49-32.
The Jayhawks used an early spurt to create separation and play with a lead. Tied at nine just more than five minutes into the game, Kansas went on an 11-0 run over 3 minutes and 49 seconds to take a 20-9 lead nine minutes into the game. Joseph Yesufu capped the run with a layup. Agbaji had five points during the run.
Kansas maintained that distance, leading West Virginia 31-20 with 2:58 to play in the first. But the Mountaineers had a run in them late in the half, which cut the deficit to six at 33-27 at halftime. West Virginia’s Malik Curry hit a jumper with one second left for the final points of the half.
In the second half, Kansas got the lead to 12 early in the half when Agbaji converted a layup to make it 42-30 with 17:10 to play. But West Virginia went on a 10-0 run to cut the deficit to two when Sean McNeil hit a 3-pointer to make it 42-40 at the 13:46 mark. The Mountaineers made it a one-point game at 44-43 when Taz Sherman nailed a 3-pointer.
The Mountaineers never got any closer, however. Agbaji hit a pair of free throws and then Yesufu scored a layup off a steal to make it a five-point game. West Virginia got the deficit to four shortly after, but from there Kansas controlled the game, leading by double digits for a good chunk of time. Leading by nine with two minutes to go, David McCormack and Jalen Wilson had the final buckets for Kansas to stretch the lead to the final deficit of 13.
Agbaji led the team with 23 points in 36 minutes. McCormack and Wilson both had double-doubles in the win, with McCormack posting 19 points and 11 rebounds, while Wilson had 10 points and 11 rebounds. Christian Braun also had 11 rebounds to go with nine points.
The Jayhawks return to action Tuesday night at home when they host Kansas State in the Dillons Sunflower Showdown. Tipoff is scheduled for 8 p.m., on ESPN.