July 12, 2024

Harris scores 17, No. 3 Kansas holds off West Virginia 76-74

Kansas guard Kevin McCullar Jr. (15) elevates to the bucket against West Virginia forward Jimmy Bell Jr. (15) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game on Saturday, Feb. 25, 2023, at Allen Fieldhouse in Lawrence, Kan. (AP Photo/Nick Krug)

By AVERY OSEN Associated Press
LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — Dajuan Harris was one point shy of a career high as he scored 17 points to help lift No. 3 Kansas over West Virginia 76-74 on Saturday.
The stifling Jayhawk defense kept West Virginia from attempting a shot in the final 20 seconds. The Mountaineers’ Joe Toussaint traveled on their final possession of the game.
“We ran the same thing as we did a few games ago, but we just couldn’t turn it this time,” West Virginia coach Bob Huggins said.
Baskets by K.J. Adams and Kevin McCullar extended the Jayhawks’ lead to 75-68 late as they grinded out the victory.
Harris led Kansas (24-5, 12-4 Big 12) with 7-of-9 shooting from the field and had six assists and six steals.
West Virginia (16-13, 5-11) led 44-43 early in the second half, but Kansas went on a 7-0 run which featured a Harris layup, assist and then a 3-pointer by Gradey Dick to give the Jayhawks a six-point lead.
“We probably needed to be humbled a bit, but I’m glad that we won,” Kansas coach Bill Self said. “I told our guys after the game that I’m happy we won, but if that was a second round game in the NCAA Tournament, we’d be going home.”
Erik Stevenson led West Virginia with 23 points. Tre Mitchell scored 20, Kedrian Johnson scored 15 and Emmitt Mathews Jr. had 13.
“We wanted to get a win for coach and this program,” Stevenson said. “This is head and shoulders above every league. It’s by far the toughest league, but tonight we just came up one possession short.”
Dick and McCullar had 16 while Adams had 13 and Jalen Wilson finished with 11.
“They are a great team so no lead is safe against a team like them and they’re playing for a lot and we are too,” Wilson said. “This just shows how tough it’s going to be, but that’s how things are going to be moving forward.”
After the game Huggins commented on if he thought his team deserved to be playing the the NCAA Tournament.
“We have the best strength of schedule in the country and if that doesn’t mean something to the committee, shame on them,” he said. “If we don’t get it I will blast the committee as far and as long as I can.”
Kansas used timely 3’s down the stretch to squeak out a win. With Texas losing on Saturday, the Jayhawks now sit atop the Big 12 with two games left in the regular season.
West Virginia: Travels to Iowa State on Monday.
Kansas: Hosts Texas Tech on Tuesday.