Kansas had won 32 straight home finales. Nobody had ever swept Kansas in the regular season in the Bill Self era. And yet, even without Juwan Staten and Gary Browne, the Mountaineers came dangerously close to breaking both streaks.
Behind a remarkable effort from several Mountaineers, West Virginia (22-8) nearly pulled the upset of Kansas (24-6), before falling in overtime 76-69.
The Mountaineers gave an unbelievable effort in the first half. West Virginia, without what some consider their two best players, simply dominated Kansas. After the game started out in a 6-6 tie, West Virginia went on an 11-0 run to take a 17-6 lead. For the majority of the rest of the half, the Mountaineers maintained a double digit lead.
West Virginia had 14 offensive rebounds IN THE FIRST HALF. FOURTEEN. Kansas had 11 TOTAL rebounds.
Jonathan Holton, Tarik Phillip, and Daxter Miles all played their best halves as Mountaineers to date. With Holton staying clear of foul trouble, he was able to disrupt the Jayhawks on defense, and punk them on the offensive glass.
With 6:15 to go and the Mountaineers holding a 28-15 lead, Brandon Watkins had a really nice block on Frank Mason in transition. After the block, without saying a word, Watkins stared down Mason. Somehow, this was enough for Watkins to earn a technical. It seemed Kansas would be ready to erupt for a huge run after that call, but West Virginia was still able to outscore them 12-11 the rest of the way to hold a 40-26 lead at the break.
With 2:28 to go in the half, Devin Williams left the game with what appeared to be a hand injury. He was in the lineup to begin the second half, but was clearly still in pain. Perry Ellis for Kansas went down with a knee injury late in the first half. He did not return.
The run by the Jayhawks that everyone knew was coming happened to start the second half. Devin Williams made the first bucket of the half, but then Kansas went on a 9-0 run to cut the lead to 42-35. After the teams traded buckets, Jonathan Holton hit two threes on back-to-back possessions to get the lead back to double digits at 50-39.
The Mountaineers were able to keep Kansas at a reasonable distance until the final minutes, when their 57-49 lead was cut all the way to 57-55 with 44 seconds to go. A Kansas foul with 40 seconds left sent Devin Williams to the line. Williams missed the front end of the one-and-one, but Jevon Carter grabbed another Mountaineer offensive rebound and then was fouled. Carter made one of two (his first point of the game) to give WVU a 58-55 lead. Frank Mason then made a layup on the other end to pull within 1 with 20 seconds to go. On the inbounds, Kelly Oubre fouled Carter to send him back to the line. He again made one of two to give West Virginia a 59-57 lead. On the next possession for Kansas, Tarik Phillip fouled Devonte Graham to send him to the line. Graham made both to tie the game for the first time since 6-6. Jevon Carter's three in the final seconds rimmed out, and a Nathan Adrian putback was blocked at the buzzer to send the game into overtime.
Kansas controlled most of the overtime, holding a 72-66 in the final minute. A Daxter Miles three with 31 seconds to go again made it a one possession game. The Mountaineers sent Frank Mason to the free throw line on the next possession, and he sunk both to give Kansas a 5 point lead. A Jevon Carter three on the other end was long, and two more Kansas free throws brought the final score to 76-69.
Daxter Miles led West Virginia with 23 points on 8-15 shooting. Tarik Phillip added 13 off the bench. Jonathan Holton had a really nice game, scoring 12 and grabbing 10 rebounds. Devin Williams added 9 and 5 rebounds. Jevon Carter scored 4 free throws, but missed all 10 of his field goal attempts.
Kansas was led by Frank Mason with 19 points and 7 rebounds. Jamari Traylor had 14 and 9 rebounds. Devonte Graham had 10 and Kelly Oubre added 12 off the bench.
West Virginia ended up winning the rebound battle 46-34. Kansas won the game despite going 0-15 from three.
The Mountaineers missed too many free throws late to pull the upset. They shot only 57% for the game.
It's a brutal way to lose a game, but let's recap: No Staten, no Browne, and Jevon Carter goes 0-10 from the field. Who would have guessed WVU would control most of the game, and make it to OT?
It was also a nice look at what we can expect next season. Add incoming freshman Esa Ahmad and Beetle Bolden, avoid losing anyone to transfer, and the future looks incredibly bright.
West Virginia finishes up the regular season on Saturday with a home contest against Oklahoma State. The Mountaineers won the first matchup in Stillwater by a score of 73-63. The Cowboys are in the midst of a four game losing streak. The game tips at 2:00 PM and will be televised by ESPNNews and streaming on the WatchESPN app.