West Virginia pressed and physically beat down No. 1 Kansas on Tuesday night as the No. 11 Mountaineers pulled off the 74-63 upset at home. Always a tough matchup for the Jayhawks, West Virginia now owns three consecutive wins over Kansas in Morgantown.
Jumping out to an early lead and never relenting, West Virginia was simply the more aggressive team on both ends of the floor. The Mountaineers crashed the offensive glass for a 15-7 advantage in that category and forced 21 Kansas turnovers. As the No. 1 team in the country, the Jayhawks were thought to have a strong backcourt with veteran leadership but Frank Mason and Wayne Selden combined for 13 turnovers and looked shaky against West Virginia’s guards.
West Virginia (15-1, 4-0) had a strong efforts from Jaysean Paige (24 points, four rebounds, four steals) and Devin Williams (17 points, 12 rebounds) as they looked like a potential threat in the Big 12. Their press is obviously difficult to handle, but this team really plays well together and has a tremendous attitude at all times.
Early in the game, the Mountaineers set the tone by constantly attacking the basket and drawing fouls. It helped West Virginia win the free-throw battle, as they were 32-for-46 from the charity stripe while Kansas was only 13-for-21
Perry Ellis was the leader for Kansas, as he finished with 21 points and seven rebounds. But credit has to go to West Virginia’s defense with making it difficult for Ellis to get touches so the Kansas offense could not go through him. With guards like Mason and Selden forced to make plays off the dribble, it made it difficult for the Jayhawks offense to function and they looked disoriented. Mason finished with 12 points while Selden added 11 points.
The Jayhawks (14-2, 3-1) still have plenty of time to fix their press break and re-tool their offense to face a pressure-oriented defense, but this loss was still a bit concerning. Their veteran guards looked flustered, and although Kansas has barely seen any press situations this year, they should have handled it better.
West Virginia has a chance to make another statement later this week when they take a trip to No. 2 Oklahoma. They’re already at 4-0 in the Big 12 with two road wins and a win over Kansas, so that’s certainly as good of a start as Bob Huggins could have hoped for. Paige is a major sparkplug off the bench and Williams continues to be one of the more underrated big men in the country on a national level.