Jayhawks overcome 14-point deficit; down No. 9 West Virginia

 

Lawrence, KS-Kansas basketball mounted a miraculous 14-point comeback with 2:58 remaining in regulation to force overtime against No. 9 West Virginia and eventually defeat the ninth-ranked Mountaineers, 84-80, on Monday night in front of a record-breaking Allen Fieldhouse crowd.

“We can talk about all the things that we did poorly, but one thing about it – they played every possession until the end,” Kansas head coach Bill Self said. “That was a remarkable game. They outplayed us for 38 minutes, but we were so good in the last two minutes. With a make-shift lineup out there and with everybody fouling out, and somehow the guys just hung in there.”

The win will go down as one for the ages for Coach Self and the Guinness World Records organization, which officially deemed Monday’s crowd as the loudest crowd roar at an indoor sporting event at 130.4 decibels.

 

Landen Lucas’ put-back dunk helped KU recover from a 14-point deficit in under three minutes.

 

“I think it is the most remarkable win I have ever been a part of,” Self boasted. “We have had some great ones here, but we have never come from 14 down with two-and-a-half left against the ninth-ranked team in the country. We had no chance to win this game without our crowd. Those ones that left a little bit early missed a helluva finish.”

National Player of the Year front-runner Frank Mason III led the Jayhawks with 24 points and junior guard Devonte’ Graham made a pair of 3-pointers in the overtime period to help lift the Jayhawks past the Mountaineers. Coming off a Big 12 Player of the Week honor on Monday, freshman guard Josh Jackson notched his fifth double-double in the last five games with 14 points and 11 rebounds with five steals.

Despite being held to a season-low 34.4 percent shooting, the Jayhawks limited its turnovers against “Press” Virginia to 15, while forcing 21 WVU turnovers down the stretch.

Kansas (23-3, 11-2 Big 12) improves its lead in the Big 12 Conference standings to two games after Texas Tech upset second-place and fourth-ranked Baylor on Monday night. The Jayhawks improve to 4-0 against AP top-10 team this season and 33-18 against such opponents during the Coach Self era.

KU exacted redemption on Monday after losing to West Virginia (20-6, 8-5) in Morgantown on Jan. 24, which snapped a then-18-game winning streak. The Jayhawks also avoid losing at home in back-to-back games for the first time since the 1988-89 season after the nation’s longest home-court winning streak came to an end on Feb. 4 against Iowa State.

With Mason battling the flu last week and Kansas managing the quick turnaround of a road trip from Lubbock on Saturday into an ESPN Big Monday game just hours later – the pace seemed too fast for the Jayhawks early on as West Virginia took a 10-0 lead.

Kansas would recover from its double-digit deficit in the first half with the help of sophomore guard Lagerald Vick, who came off the bench to score 10 first-half points, including two 3-pointers, to aid KU’s brief comeback.

The Mountaineers would end the opening half on an 8-0 run to go into halftime with a 39-32 lead.

In the second half, Kansas showed signs of life as Graham connected on an alley-oop to Jackson early in the second half.

But KU’s shooting woes spilled over into most of the second half. Before KU’s rapid comeback with three minutes remaining in regulation, the Jayhawks began the second half shooting 16 percent (3-for-18) from the field.

WVU’s Tarik Phillip made a layup with 2:58 remaining to give the Mountaineers a 64-50 seemingly safe advantage over the Jayhawks.

Two free throws by Mason began to swing momentum for Kansas. KU was down by 12 points with two and-a-half minutes remaining when Vick passed it to Mason at the top of the key. Mason pump-faked and elevated to make a 3-pointer which brought KU within nine points with 2:18 remaining.

After a KU foul and WVU missed two free throws, Graham came down the court and drained another 3-pointer to cut KU’s deficit to six points, 64-58, and breathe life back into the Jayhawk faithful who remained in their seats. Mason negated two West Virginia free throws with a quick coast-to-coast drive in just five ticks of the clock for a 66-60 Mountaineers advantage with 1:33 remaining.

WVU made 1-of-2 free throws in the bonus, followed by Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk being called for an offensive foul – his fifth foul of the night – on KU’s next possession. KU’s chances were looking bleak, down 67-60 with 1:15 remaining.

But senior center Landen Lucas, who finished with 13 rebounds, stole WVU’s ensuing inbounds play and passed it to Mason, who quickly drew a foul on a layup. Mason made both free throws to bring KU within five, 67-62.

Kansas and WVU traded a pair of free throws, for a 69-64 score with 52 seconds remaining.

Lucas came up with another huge steal in full-court press, and again he dished it to a driving Mason. Mason missed the contested layup, but Lucas was there with a follow-up dunk, which cut KU’s deficit to three, 69-66, with 44 seconds remaining.

Kansas had no option but to foul WVU and send Esa Ahmad to the free throw line, who made both for a five-point WVU lead, 70-66.

Graham responded by sinking a 3-pointer with 33.1 seconds remaining.

KU’s full-court press forced WVU’s fourth turnover in the final two minutes of regulation on an errant pass that went out of bounds.

Mason was fouled on the floor on KU’s next offensive possession, and went to the free throw line for a 1-and-1 opportunity. The senior leader, with ice in the veins, made both to tie contest and complete the miraculous 14-point comeback in under three minutes.

West Virginia’s Phillip missed a last-second 3-pointer to ensure an overtime period.

KU’s third overtime game of the season started with Mason finding Graham in the corner for a 3-pointer, which put Kansas on top, 74-71, for the first time since the 1:27 mark of the first half.

Kansas started OT with an 8-0 run as a Jackson steal and fast-break layup, followed by another Graham 3-pointer gave Kansas a 79-71 lead at the 2:14 mark of extra time.

WVU’s first points of the overtime period came after four minutes had expired.

Mason made 2-of-2 free throws to give Kansas an 82-75 lead with 21 seconds remaining. WVU’s Teyvon Myers made a 3-pointer on the ensuing possession. The Mountaineers quickly fouled Lucas on the in-bounds play, and he proceeded to miss both free throws. But WVU’s Nathan Adrian fumbled the defensive rebound off of Lucas’ miss out of bounds to give the ball back to KU.

Mason went to the free throw line with 7.5 seconds remaining and made two free throws in the bonus to give Kansas a 84-80 lead before the final buzzer sounded.

UP NEXT
Kansas will play at Baylor on Saturday, Feb. 18 at noon on CBS and returns home to host TCU on Wednesday, Feb. 22, at 6 p.m. on ESPN2. KU will then play at Texas on Saturday, Feb. 25, and host Oklahoma for Senior Night on ESPN Big Monday, Feb. 27 at 8 p.m.


GAME NOTES

KU STARTERS (CONSECUTIVE / SEASON / CAREER STARTS):
Sr. G Frank Mason III (100 / 26 / 103)
Jr. G Devonte’ Graham (33 / 26 / 62)
Jr. G Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk (16 / 16 / 22)
Fr. G Josh Jackson (26 / 26 / 26)
Sr. C Landen Lucas (15 / 20 / 53)

SERIES INFO
KU now holds a 7-4 advantage over West Virginia.
KU is now 5-0 against WVU in games played in Allen Fieldhouse.
Bill Self is now 7-4 against West Virginia, with all 10 meetings as Kansas’ coach.
Bob Huggins is 4-11 all-time against Kansas, 4-7 while at WVU.

ATTENDANCE: 16,300 (256th-consecutive sellout)

Guinness World Record:

  • Allen Fieldhouse broke the GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS for loudest crowd roar at an indoor sporting event. The fans inside the arena reached a level of 130.4 decibels before tip-off of the game.
  • The roar broke the previous record set earlier this year when Kentucky’s Rupp Arena was measured at 126.4 decibels just before tip of the Wildcats’ loss to the Jayhawks on Jan. 28.
  • Kansas set a world record for the second-straight season. Allen Fieldhouse set the GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS title for the largest gathering of people wearing holiday sweaters on Dec. 19, 2015, in a home game against Montana when 3,473 patrons wore holiday sweaters.

THE COMEBACK

  • Trailing 64-50 with 2:43 left in the second half, Kansas outscored WVU 21-7 to tie the game at 71-71on Frank Mason III‘s two free throws with 21 seconds remaining.
  • The Kansas run continued into the overtime, as the Jayhawk run ended at 34-16 with the final buzzer.
  • After shooting 27.1 percent (13-of-48) from the field over the first 37:17 of the game, Kansas shot 61.5 percent (8-of-13) over the last 2:43 of regulation and overtime, which included a 13-of-16 clip (81.3 percent) from the free throw line in that span.
  • On the flip side, Kansas held West Virginia without a field goal from 2:58 remaining in regulation until 1:06 left in overtime (6 minutes and 42 seconds).
  • Over the final 1:45 of regulation, as well as the overtime period, KU forced eight Mountaineer turnovers.

KANSAS’ WIN…

  • Made Kansas 23-3 overall and gave the Jayhawks 23 wins for the 28th-consecutive season starting in 1989-90.
  • Gave KU 11 league wins for the 22nd-straight season, starting in 1994-95.
  • Moved the Jayhawks to 33-1 on ESPN’s Big Monday, which includes a 23-0 clip under Bill Self. Kansas is now 60-20 all-time on Big Monday and 3-0 this season.
  • Made KU 12-1 in Allen Fieldhouse this season, 756-110 all-time in the venue, including 218-10 under Bill Self.
  • Improved Self to 408-86 at KU and 615-191 overall.
  • Made KU 2,209-839 all-time.

TEAM NOTES

  • The Jayhawks shot 1-of-12 from the field to start the game, while West Virginia started with a 7-of-11 clip from the field, helping the Mountaineers get out to a 16-5 lead in the first 6:17 of game action.
  • Kansas countered with a 17-5 run, gaining its first lead at 22-21 with 6:49 to play in the first half.
  • Kansas trailed at halftime 39-32, marking the sixth time in its last 10 outings it has gone to the intermission with a deficit.
  • KU ended the first half shooting 33 percent (10-of-30), its lowest field goal percentage in a half this season and its lowest since KU hit 29 percent (9-of-31) of its attempts in the first half of a 69-59 win at Texas Tech on Jan. 9, 2016.
  • Kansas is now 1-2 in overtime games this season.
  • The Jayhawks converted on 33-of-44 free throws (75 percent), marking the most free throws made by KU this season. It was the most KU free throws since the Jayhawks hit 34 in an overtime game against West Virginia on March 3, 2015.
  • KU is now shooting 70.2 percent at the charity stripe in Big 12 play. In nonconference games KU had a 58.9 free throw percentage.
  • Despite playing five extra minutes in overtime, the Jayhawks’ 21 total field goals were their lowest in a game this season. KU’s 32 percent (21-of-61) from the field was also its lowest of 2016-17.
  • Kansas has played in three overtime games for the first time since 2012-13 when KU also went to three OTs. The Jayhawks were 2-1 in OT that season.

OPPONENT NOTES

  • The Jayhawks forced 21 West Virginia turnovers, the most by a Jayhawk opponent this season.
  • WVU’s 32 defensive rebounds and its 31 fouls tied Indiana for the most by a Jayhawk opponent in 2016-17.
  • For the second-straight game, a Jayhawk opponent tallied six steals with WVU’s Tarik Phillip amassing six thefts.

INDIVIDUAL NOTES

Senior G Frank Mason III

  • Monday’s game marked Mason III’s 100th-consecutive start, joining an elite group of Jayhawks to reach that mark, including Danny Manning ’88 (141), Raef LaFrentz ’98 (116), Aaron Miles ’05 (110), Wayne Selden Jr. ’16 (101), and Jacque Vaughn ’97 (100).
  • Mason III poured in a game-high 24 points, marking the 18th game in 2017 he has led Kansas in scoring and the 14th game he has put in 20 or more points.
  • Mason III shot 2-of-6 from beyond the 3-point arc, marking the 23rd-consecutive game he as connected on at least one 3-pointer.
  • Mason III is making 53.3 percent (32-for-60) from 3-point range in Big 12 play.
  • He posted a 16-of-18 (88.8 percent) clip from the free throw line, marking a career high in both free throw makes and attempts.
  • Mason’s 16 free throws were also the most by a Jayhawk since Wayne Simien knocked down 18 against UAB on March 26, 2004 in the NCAA Tournament.
  • With his two 3-pointers, Mason III is now tied with Wayne Selden Jr., for 10th on the all-time 3-point field goals list with 162 career treys.

Junior G Devonte’ Graham

  • Graham has now made multiple 3-pointers in each of his last eight games and 12 of his last 13 outings.
  • With his five 3-pointers, Graham moved from 14th to 12th on KU’s all-time 3-point list, passing Kevin Pritchard and Jerod Haase. He now has 157 for his career.
  • Graham’s five threes were the most in a Big 12 game since Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk also hit five against Texas Tech on Feb. 27, 2016.

Freshman G Josh Jackson

  • With his 14 points and 11 rebounds, Jackson has posted five double-doubles in his last six games. He now has nine double-doubles in 2016-17.
  • Jackson’s five steals were a career high and were the most by a Jayhawk this season.
  • He also tallied a career-high 41 minutes.

SENIOR C Landon Lucas

  • Lucas was 3-of-6 from the field. He leads KU with a 62.3 percent field goal percentage for all games and is 13-for-21 (61.9 percent) from the field in his last four games.
  • Lucas pulled down a game-high 13 rebounds, which marked his 10th game this year with double-figure boards and the 20th of his career.

QUOTES

Bill Self
On the toughness of his team, finding a way to win after being down 14 points with under three minutes to go:
“We can talk about all the things that we did poorly, but one thing about it is they played every possession until the end. Even when we were playing bad, we played every possession. We missed layups – how many times did Josh (Jackson) and Lagerald (Vick) miss uncontested layups? And we missed free throws, but we just labored. Josh, Devonte’ (Graham) and Frank (Mason III) were 3-of-18 in the first half, the second half I think they were 9-of-22 (counting overtime), to end up going 12-of-40, but how timely was Frank’s big three? Then Devonte’ put us on his back there down the stretch. That was a remarkable game. They outplayed us for 38 minutes, but we were so good the last two minutes, and with a makeshift lineup out there with everybody fouling out. Somehow the guys just hung in there. I think it’s the most remarkable win I’ve ever been a part of – and we’ve had some great ones here, but we’ve never come from 14 down with 2-and-a-half left, against the ninth-ranked team in the country. I’m exhausted. I know our players are, our fans should be. We had no chance to win this game without our crowd. Those ones that left a little bit early missed a hell of a finish.”

On Frank Mason shooting 16-of-18 from the free throw line and playing 43 minutes tonight:
“I was complaining to the officials all night long, ‘Geez, you guys don’t call any hand checks. Give the kid a little bit of respect,’ but he ended up shooting 18, so I assume that they did. You know, they (West Virginia) were quicker than us the entire game. To battle basically even on the glass, force 21 turnovers, get 11 steals, and to win a game like that when you shoot 34 percent – we had to get hot to shoot 34 percent – I mean we had to get on fire to shoot 34 percent overall. Then we missed every big free throw it seemed like until we had to have them.”

On Lagerald Vick being the unsung hero with 18 big minutes of the bench and 14 points:
“I thought Lagerald was great. It really hurt us when he got in foul trouble. He fouled out and only played 18 minutes, but he was great. It was good to see that ball go in the basket. I thought Josh (Jackson) was pretty good, he just didn’t make shots. I thought Frank (Mason III) was pretty good, but he didn’t make shots. I didn’t think Devonte’ (Graham) played that well at all, until it counted, then he was the best player on the floor down the stretch. We did a lot of good things tonight, considering that we didn’t play well, but we just kept fighting. These are the most fun games to win. You know when you’ve got good players and you’re playing at home and you make shots, you should win. Sometimes, it doesn’t happen all the time, but you should. Tonight we had nothing go right, and to grind, and grind, and grind and come out with the win – that will give our team more confidence than the other kind of win.”

On KU’s strategy to drive down the stretch instead of taking 3-point shots:
“We were in the bonus early, so we tried to drive it and that was our best offense. You know, they (West Virginia) didn’t let us run any sets. Really the only set that we were able to run and execute was at the start of overtime and Landen (Lucas) missed a wide open layup. But for the most part, you have to go make plays. They’re so quick and athletic and their hands are so good that they didn’t allow us to get in any rhythm, but the guys just kept grinding.”

On back-to-back Big Monday victories and how tonight was good for KU in the Big 12 standings:
“Texas Tech is pretty good and that was very evident tonight with them beating Baylor. I watched the first 30 minutes and I thought Baylor played well, but Texas Tech just hung around. I think (Manu) Lecomte fouled out and Tech kind of took control after that. We’ve got an opportunity to put ourselves in a great position going down there if we’re successful in Waco, but I won’t look at it that way. We’ve got an opportunity to go play the fourth-ranked team in the country on the road and get a huge win and really cap off what’s been a pretty remarkable last three games. Look at K-State, it was almost a last-possession game, Texas Tech was a last possession game, today obviously was a last possession game. I know our fans think we should play better, but this league is so darn good that there’s going to be a lot of games like this. You just have to have tough kids to finish the game.”

Kansas senior guard Frank Mason III
On West Virginia opening the game on a 10-0 run:
“It started on the defensive end. We had to start getting stops and making them work really hard for each shot they take and I think we did a good job of doing that moving forward in the game.”

On West Virginia’s defense in the first half:
“It was just one of those nights. Sometimes your shots don’t fall and sometimes they do.”

On what the comeback meant to the team:
“It shows how much pride we have and how great Coach Self is and his style and how amazing the fans are. It was just great to be a part of it.”

On Devonte’ Graham‘s last three:
“I think we had control of the game after he made that. We were up three, and I knew we would get stops after that. That is exactly what we did. That three by Devonte’ gave us a lot of confidence moving forward. It gave us more energy.”

On winning a game being down double digits with two minutes to go:
“Basketball is a game of runs, and Coach Self says that. He just said keep fighting and play every possession like it is our last, because of how much we were down, and that is exactly what we did. We stepped up and made plays as a team and we have to do that moving forward.”

On hitting crucial free throws:
“That’s what our season is going to come down to, when it matters the most – free throws. We just have to keep getting in the gym, working hard on it and getting better at it.”

On the possibility of losing two in a row at Allen Fieldhouse:
“We were definitely thinking about that when we were down 14 with two minutes left. I know I was thinking about it, I know Coach Self probably was and the rest of my team was. We were just thinking about it as a group, and we had to do whatever we had to do to make that not happen.”

Kansas freshman guard Josh Jackson
On West Virginia’s defense:
“It was just one of those nights. Sometimes your shots don’t fall and sometimes they do. We knew they were going to come out and pressure us. I wouldn’t say their defense starved us, but they are a great team. They are good defensively and at the end of the game our shots just started falling. I think the biggest thing was that we just made defensive stops down the stretch.”

On hitting 6-of-8 free throws:
“I wish I could have gone 8-for-8, but it’s an improvement. I’m happy with it. We got the win.”

On the mood going into overtime:
“I wouldn’t say we had it won, but we definitely had the momentum and we definitely had a lot of energy. We stepped up and made a couple of defensive plays that really prolonged the game. We had the momentum and we knew we just had to keep playing defense and finally our shots started falling.”

On how big Frank Mason III was:
“Huge. At the end of the game, him and Devonte’ (Graham) are two guys we really want going to the free throw line. It was good to get them up there.”

On Devonte’ (Graham) hitting the 3-point basket:
“I do have a lot of confidence in him (shooting it), but I’m still going to the glass trying to rebound.”

On Lagerald (Vick’s) standout performance in the first half:
“He did a great job tonight. Any night it could be any one of us that gives our team a spark. Tonight we’re glad that it was him. He did a great job. He did really good job on defense and made a couple shots when he was open.”

On the biggest moment in the comeback:
“When Daxter Miles Jr., missed the two free throws, we figured we could do it and it was possible.”

On the play where he fell to the ground:
“I was just waiting for someone to come flash the ball and help me out and thankfully Carlton (Bragg Jr.) did.”

On this not being KU’s night:
“It honestly wasn’t our night. I don’t think anybody really shot the ball well from the field. When we have nights like that, we just have to play defense.”

Kansas junior guard Devonte’ Graham

On what happened in the game and how Kansas pulled off the comeback:
“We were down 12 with 2:45 left and at the under four timeout, we just talked about staying in it. We can do it. Coach (Bill Self) kept saying that we’re going to step up and make plays and everybody made some big time plays.”

On his 3-point basket in overtime:
“The first one I think Frank (Mason III) gave me the pass and that one felt really good. The other one, it definitely felt good.”

On fans leaving early:
“Actually, Udoka told me that, but I’m not paying attention to the crowd. The ones who left, missed out. Definitely.”

On the last West Virginia’s last possession in regulation:
“I was under the basket when I saw it go up, so I could tell it wasn’t going in.”

On staying in the game down big:
“It is just that confidence that we have in each other and the coaches have in us. We just know what each of us is capable of and I think we just believe in each other in what we can do, and we just proved it.”

On being down big late:
“You just take what you can get. If you are open you just have to shoot the ball. We were driving and kicking and making plays off the dribble. Thank God they fell.”

On West Virginia pulling the press late in the game:
“I think that was a sign to them that they had the game won and it helped us out because we didn’t have to go up against the press in the backcourt, and we could just bring the ball up the court and make plays.”

On what this game means for the Big 12 race:
“It gives us a lot of confidence. We can’t be worried about what other teams are do, but that gives us a little cushion on the conference lead and you have to keep taking it one game at a time.”

West Virginia head coach Bob Huggins
Opening statement:
“It was pretty self-explanatory, we had control of the game and didn’t make enough free throws or guard them well enough. We just didn’t have the pressure.”

On turnovers:
“We just weren’t taking care of the ball. We press ourselves every day so that shouldn’t be a problem for us, but that’s on all of us – mainly on me. I should’ve called a timeout or something. We’ve got to do better.”

On pulling the press late in the game:
“We were up by 14. They were having a hard time scoring.”

On Kansas’ shooting:
“They shot 34 percent from the (3-point) line. Graham has killed us the last year and in the conference tournament. He’s made shots. Obviously, you can’t put Mason at the line 18 times. We shoot 29 and they’re trying to foul us on purpose the last two minutes and 40 seconds. They’re fouling us on purpose.”

On his team’s pace of play in the final minutes:
“No, I didn’t think we went too slow. I think against pressure we didn’t look up the floor, we had guys standing down there wide open and we didn’t throw them the ball. Two minutes and 40 seconds – I think we were up 12 at the time – why wouldn’t you run the clock out? You just can’t put them at the line 42 times. If they weren’t fouling us on purpose. That free throw disparity would have been much worse.”

On taking time off:
“We’re going to take a couple days off. Everybody is tired. You get home at 5:30 in the morning. It’s hard to get your body back on schedule.”

West Virginia senior forward Nathan Adrian
On Kansas’ late defensive pressure:
“We just weren’t taking care of the ball like we know how to. We press ourselves everyday, so that shouldn’t be a problem for us. But that’s on all of us. Mainly on me, because I should’ve called a timeout or something. We’ve got to do better.”

On what West Virginia must do to rebound from the loss:
“We just have to regroup, we can’t do anything about it now. We need to move forward and win the next six (games) and make a run in the tournament.”

West Virginia sophomore forward Esa Ahmad
On what was going through West Virginia’s minds as they prepared for overtime:
“Honestly, we were trying to keep positive. We turned the ball over 21 times, (and) that’s too many. During that time I was trying to keep positive.”



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