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West Virginia runs out of steam in second half, falls to Kansas in Big 12 semifinal

It was a good run. Go to the CBI games in Morgantown. These kids earned it.

NCAA Basketball: Big 12 Conference Tournament-West Virginia vs. Kansas Amy Kontras-USA TODAY Sports

The magic has ran out for the West Virginia Mountaineers after an improbable run to the Big 12 Tournament semifinal round. Bob Huggins’ young squad couldn’t keep up with a hot-handed Kansas in the second half of Friday night’s game, ultimately falling to the Jayhawks, 88-74.

West Virginia got off to promising start, keeping pace with the Jayhawks and holding a narrow lead for all but five minutes of the half. West Virginia led 27-21 with 8:00 on the clock, after a five-point flurry from Brandon Knapper. Kansas answered with an 11-0 run moments later to put the Jayhawks up 43-36. Derek Culver ended the run with a jumper, but the damage had already been done. Quentin Grimes nailed a three as the half expired to give the Jayhawks a 48-40 lead.

The Mountaineers closed the lead to six points in the opening minute of the second half, but it would be closest they’d get to threatening Kansas’ lead in the half. The Jayhawks exploded for another 11-0 run over a three minute span to grow their lead to 64-46 with under 15:00 left.

Kansas continued knocking down shots to go up by 23 points until a three pointer from Lamont West sparked a 10-0 Mountaineer run. The Jayhawks answered with another 6-0 run to end West Virginia’s comeback attempt.

Kansas finished the game shooting 52.4% from the field and going 14-16 from the line. West Virginia finished at 43.5% and 8-17 (47.1%) from the charity stripe.

West led West Virginia with 16 points, while Culver recorded his ninth double-double of the season with 14 points, 11 rebounds. Brandon Knapper scored 10 points in 26 minutes of action off the bench. Jordan McCabe, Chase Harler and Andrew Gordon each finished with 7 points. Emmitt Matthews Jr. and Jermaine Haley were held to 5 and 4 points, respectively.

West Virginia is expected to play in the CBI Tournament, which will begin first round play next Tuesday, March 19th. The Mountaineers will host all of their games at home in the WVU Coliseum. Official details, including the tournament field and schedule, will be announced on Sunday