West Virginia Mountaineers

West Virginia guard Tarik Phillip (12) fouls Kansas guard Frank Mason III (0) as he drives to the basket during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game, Tuesday, Jan. 12, 2016, in Morgantown, W.Va. (AP Photo/Raymond Thompson)
(AP Photo/Raymond Thompson)

No. 11 West Virginia upsets No. 1 Kansas

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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.

No. 20 West Virginia beats Marshall 86-68

West Virginia’s Devin Williams (41) shoots a layup against Marshall during an NCAA college basketball game in Charleston, W.Va., on Thursday, Dec. 17, 2015. West Virginia won 86-68. (AP Photo Tyler Evert)
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CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) Jevon Carter scored 15 points and No. 20 West Virginia used its depth to wear down Marshall for an 86-68 victory Thursday night.

West Virginia (9-1) took control with a 16-1 run early in the second half to beat its intrastate rival for the fifth straight year and for the ninth time in 10 tries.

Daxter Miles Jr. added 14 points, Elijah Macon had 12, and Tarik Phillip 11.

Ryan Taylor led Marshall (3-7) with 15 points. Jon Elmore added 14, and James Kelly had 11.

Marshall had won three straight.

Kelly, Marshall’s leading scorer, went to the bench with a left knee injury early in the second half. He returned six minutes later still limping.

The Thundering Herd went nearly eight minutes between baskets and the turnovers started to pile up.

West Virginia leads the country in offensive rebounds at 18 per game and got plenty of second chances against Marshall.

The Mountaineers made four baskets off of rebounds during the key run, including Nathan Adrian’s putback for a 53-39 lead with 10:50 left.

West Virginia’s lead grew to as many as 23 points down the stretch.

The Mountaineers’ Devin Williams was held to nine points, the first time this season he failed to reach double digits. He spent most of the game in foul trouble.

Marshall made half of its 12 3-point tries over the first 13 minutes to jump ahead 26-21. But Marshall couldn’t sustain any production from its reserves, especially when Kelly and Taylor were out of the game in foul trouble. West Virginia held a 38-12 advantage in bench points.

West Virginia went on a 7-0 run late in the half and took a 35-32 lead at halftime.

TIP-INS:

West Virginia: West Virginia outrebounded Marshall 48-32, including 22 on the offensive end. … The Mountaineers matched their 9-1 start of last season, when they finished 25-10.

Marshall: Taylor became the 50th Thundering Herd player to surpass 1,000 points.

UP NEXT:

West Virginia: Home against Eastern Kentucky on Monday.

Marshall: Plays Wyoming in Las Vegas on Monday.

LATE NIGHT SNACKS: No. 18 SMU, No. 20 West Virginia win

West Virginia coach Bob Huggins gestures to his team during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against Marshall in Charleston, W.Va., on Thursday, Dec. 17, 2015. (AP Photo/Tyler Evert)
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GAME OF THE NIGHT: South Dakota 92, Milwaukee 91 (2OT)

Fittingly it was Wisconsin native Tre Burnette (Madison) who made the deciding play, as his floater in the finals seconds of double overtime gave the Coyotes the one-point win over the Panthers in Milwaukee. D.J. Davis and Tyler Hagerdorn scored 17 apiece to lead five USD players in double figures, while Milwaukee’s Matt Tiby led all scorers with 31 points while also grabbing 17 rebounds.

IMPORTANT OUTCOMES

No. 20 West Virginia 86, Marshall 68: The Mountaineers pulled away in the second half of this in-state battle, beating the Thundering Herd by 18 after leading by just three at the half. Bob Huggins’ team scored 50 second-half points, with Jevon Carter and Daxter Miles Jr. leading a balanced offensive effort with 15 and 14 points, respectively. Ryan Taylor led Marshall with 15 points, but the big news for them moving forward is the left knee injury suffered by forward James Kelly. Kelly, who finished with 11 points, left the game in the second half and was not at full strength when he returned some six minutes later.

No. 18 SMU 105, Hampton 72: Like WVU the Mustangs, playing their final game without suspended head coach Larry Brown, pulled away in the second half. SMU scored 62 points in the game’s final 20 minutes, and all six players who attempted a shot scored in double figures. Sterling Brown led all scorers with 23 points (10-for-11 FG) and Jordan Tolbert added 20 along with 19 rebounds. Larry Brown will be back on the sidelines for the 9-0 Mustangs when they host Kent State Tuesday night.

STARRED

Jordan Tolbert, SMU: Tolbert finished with 20 points and 19 rebounds in a win over Hampton.

Henry Caruso, Princeton: Caruso scored 29 points on 10-for-14 shooting from the field and grabbed nine rebounds in the Tigers’ 77-72 win over Liberty.

Matt Tiby, Milwaukee: One of the top players in the Horizon League, Tiby was highly productive in the Panthers’ one-point loss to South Dakota. He finished with 31 points and 17 rebounds.

STRUGGLED

Armel Potter, Charleston Southern: Potter shot 1-for-12 from the field in the Buccaneers’ 71-65 loss at Wright State.

Chace Franklin, Jackson State: Franklin scored eight points but did so on 3-for-15 shooting in the Tigers’ loss at Ohio.

OTHER NOTABLE RESULTS

  • Deckie Johnson racked up 26 points and four assists to lead North Texas to an 87-74 win over Mississippi Valley State. The Delta Devils dropped to 0-13 on the season as a result.
  • Middle Tennessee limited Belmont to 37.7 percent shooting from the field, winning by a final score of 83-62. Perrin Buford led the way offensively with 20 points while also grabbing seven rebounds and dishing out three assists.
  • In a matchup of struggling teams Rodney Pryor scored 20 points to lead Robert Morris to a 69-67 win over Lehigh. The Mountain Hawks played without injured junior forward Tim Kempton (right foot).
  • Ohio moved to 7-3 on the season with a 72-67 win over Jackson State. Jaaron Simmons scored 17 points and grabbed six rebounds for the Bobcats.
  • Jameel Warney scored 22 points, shooting 10-for-12 from the field, to lead Stony Brook to an 86-68 win at American.
  • D.J. Balentine became the fourth player in Evansville program history to surpass the 2,000-point mark, scoring 26 points in the Purple Aces’ 84-70 win over Norfolk State.
  • Katin Reinhardt scored 22 of his 29 points in the first half as USC beat Cal Poly, 101-82. Six Trojans scored in double figures and Julian Jacobs, who sat out their last game with tendonitis in his Achilles, dished out 13 assists.

Carter scores 21 as No. 14 West Virginia routs ULM 100-58

Nick Coppola, Daxter Miles Jr., Jevon Carter
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MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (AP) Jevon Carter scored 21 points and No. 14 West Virginia reached triple digits for the third time in nine games this season, rebounding from its first loss with a 100-58 victory Sunday over Louisiana-Monroe.

Daxter Miles Jr. added 18 points for the Mountaineers (8-1), who set a season high with 15 3-pointers following a 70-54 loss to No. 10 Virginia on Tuesday night at the Jimmy V Classic in New York.

West Virginia used a flurry of 3s to open a 31-11 lead in the first half and was never threatened. The Mountaineers went 15 for 36 from long range and held Louisiana-Monroe to 1 for 8. Carter, Miles and Jaysean Paige each hit four 3s.

Devin Williams had 12 points and 10 rebounds for West Virginia. Paige scored 14, and Tarik Phillip added 10.

Jamaal Samuel scored the first 15 points for the Warhawks (4-5) and finished with 19. He made seven of his team’s 10 field goals in the first half.

Travis Munnings added 12 points for Louisiana-Monroe, which was outrebounded 48-27.

West Virginia forced 21 turnovers. The Mountaineers entered leading the nation in steals, 3-point percentage defense and forced turnovers.

CHART CLIMBING

West Virginia coach Bob Huggins is fourth among active Division I coaches with 773 wins. He needs six to tie Lou Henson for 12th place on the career list.

LOUISIANA-MONROE

The Warhawks finished 24-13 last season. But their best player, 6-foot-10 Majok Deng, missed another game with a lingering leg injury. … The Warhawks have lost to Minnesota, Houston, Kent State and Penn State on the road.

UP NEXT

West Virginia plays Marshall on Thursday in Charleston, the state capital.

Louisiana-Monroe hosts Central Baptist on Friday.

Three-star power forward commits to WVU

Bob Huggins
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Three days after landing one power forward in Sagaba Konate, West Virginia received a verbal commitment from another big man Sunday evening.

6-foot-11 Mountain Mission School (Grundy, Virginia) power forward Maciej Bender became the Mountaineers’ fourth commitment in the Class of 2016 on Sunday, with the Mountain Mission program announcing the news via Twitter. Bender is a native of Poland, and in addition to Konate he joins guards Brandon Knapper and Chase Harler in West Virginia’s 2016 recruiting class.

West Virginia will lose two forwards in TyQuane Goard and Jonathan Holton at the end of the 2015-16 season, and the additions of Konate and Bender will help the Mountaineers account for those departures from a depth standpoint. Bender can score around the basket, but he’s also capable of facing up and scoring in pick-and-pop situations out beyond the three-point line.

Bender officially visited West Virginia last weekend, and he was a player the WVU coaching staff wanted to get in the fold. Other programs to offer Bender included Arizona State (teammate Jethro Tshisumpa is an ASU commit), Georgia, Georgia Tech, Ole Miss and Providence. Bender played his grassroots basketball for the West Virginia Wildcats program this summer.

West Virginia lands power forward Sagaba Konate

West Virginia v Maryland
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Thursday evening West Virginia landed its third commitment in the Class of 2016, as three-star power forward Sagaba Konate made his pledge to join Bob Huggins’ program next year. Konate, who attends Kennedy Catholic HS in Hermitage, Pennsylvania, also held offers from programs such as Pittsburgh, Purdue, Dayton and George Mason.

The 6-foot-8 Konate comes from a family that has produced multiple college basketball players, with older brother Bakary playing at Minnesota and three others having completed their respective college playing careers.

Konate joins guards Brandon Knapper and Chase Harler in West Virginia’s 2016 recruiting class to date, and in regards to strength and athleticism he should fit in well with the big men the Mountaineers utilize. Jonathan Holton and Marshall transfer TyQuane Goard are the lone seniors in the WVU front court this season, with Holton being a critical factor in the team’s full-court pressure defense.

Among the front court players with eligibility remaining beyond the upcoming season are juniors Devin Williams, Nathan Adrian and Brandon Watkins, redshirt sophomore Elijah Macon and freshmen Esa Ahmad and Lamont West. Watkins, who has struggled with health issues throughout his sophomore season, underwent surgery to repair a torn ACL in late May and is likely to sit out this season as a medical redshirt.