Jermaine Haley scored a layup with 8.5 seconds left, capping a 7-0 run in the final three minutes, as West Virginia picked up their first win of the Big 12 season, 65-64, against No. 7 Kansas.
The Jayhawks had two chances to win in the final seconds, but Lagerald Vick missed a tough, deep three and Dedric Lawson was rushed on the put back.
The loss drops Kansas to 4-2 in the Big 12 standings, a half-game behind No. 8 Texas Tech, who is on the road against Baylor tonight.
In a vacuum, the fact that Kansas lost this game is not all that surprising. The Jayhawks won at West Virginia last season, but prior to that, they had lost three straight games in Morgantown. They are now 1-4 against the Mountaineers on the road in the Press Virginia era.
But we are not in a vacuum.
We are in the 2018-19 season, where the Mountaineers are the worst team in the league; they are currently 118th in KenPom, the only member of the Big 12 that is not in the top 80. What’s more is that West Virginia was playing without Sagaba Konate yet again, their star center and the anchor of their press. He is the rim protector that allows WVU’s guards to gamble without having to worry about giving up free points at the rim.
And Kansas still managed to find a way to lose this game, and I’m phrasing it that way because the Jayhawks really should not have lost. They took a 64-58 lead with 2:38 left thanks to a bucket from Marcus Garrett, and that is when the wheels fell off. Kansas missed their next five shots from the floor, and there was nary a good shot amongst them. Garrett missed a contested, late-clock jumper with 1:51 left. After Kansas called a timeout following a bucket that cut the lead to one, Garrett missed a layup at the end of the shot clock with :57 seconds left. He immediately stole the outlet pass and Bill Self burned another timeout, but Devon Dotson was unable to get the ball in his hands, Kansas could not run their play and Lagerald vick was forced to take a tough, contested step-back three.
He, of course, missed it. Haley gave West Virginia the lead 24 seconds left, and the rest is history.
Reading into one game in an arena that the Jayhawks have historically had trouble winning is probably not the best idea.
But I do think that it is fair to say this: More than anything else, the final three minutes on Saturday afternoon put the Jayhawks’ biggest flaw on full display for the world to see: This team does not have a go-to guy, and there is an alarming lack of offensive talent on the roster.
I still will not bet against Kansas finding a way to win at least a share of the Big 12 title this season, but if and when Self is able to call himself the Big 12’s best for a 15th straight season, it will end up being one of the best coaching jobs of his career.