MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Juwan Staten feels like he’s the fastest guard in the nation, and his late-game heroics against No. 8 Kansas might have proved it.
After racing 60 feet for the go-ahead layup with 4.3 seconds left, Staten sped to the opposite end and disrupted the game-ending shot, carrying the No. 23 Mountaineers to a 62-61 upset on Monday night.
“We just played till the end,” said Staten, who celebrated with fans during the court-storming. His 20 points helped West Virginia (20-6, 8-5 Big 12) stop a four-game slide against ranked opponents and, for the moment, also prevented Kansas (21-5, 10-3) from running away with an 11th consecutive conference title.
Forward Perry Ellis scored 15 of his 19 points in the second half and guard Frank Mason added 18 for the Jayhawks, who lost in Morgantown for the second straight season by blowing a six-point lead in the final three minutes.
“This shows we can beat any team in the league,” said Staten, who overcame leg cramps and missing a potential go-ahead jumper in the final minute. The senior earned a second chance with 8.3 seconds left when Mason’s missed shot was knocked out of bounds.
After a timeout, the Mountaineers inbounded to Staten, who caught the pass at three-quarters court, raced toward the lane and spun away from Mason for a stunningly easy layup as other Kansas defenders stayed glued to 3-point shooters.
“Obviously they were trying to guard everybody,” Staten said. “I don’t think anybody wants to give up that last-second shot, so nobody helped (Mason) and that left me open.”
Kansas coach Bill Self couldn’t believe the breakdown.
“I thought (Staten) made a nice play but we couldn’t have defended it any worse,” he said. “You have to keep the ball in front of you and we did not do a good job at that.”
As the smallish crowd at the WVU Coliseum roared, forward Jamari Traylor alertly fired a long outlet pass to the streaking Ellis. Staten, having hung a U-turn after his big basket, lunged close enough to force a bobble and Ellis’ point-blank buzzer-beater rolled off the rim.
“I rushed it a little bit, but I should have made it,” Ellis said.
Kansas lost a 59-54 lead when Mountaineers guard Jevon Carter swished back-to-back 3s within a 28-second span. Though Mason put the Jayhawks ahead again with an uncontested drive for a layup at the 2:13 mark, Kansas failed to scratch on its last four possessions, including a missed one-and-one by forward Landen Lucas.
Carter scored 13 points off the bench for the Mountaineers, who had been blown out in four straight losses to ranked opponents.
Among Staten’s nine first-half points was a banked-in runner that put West Virginia ahead 33-30 with 22 seconds left. Kansas missed a chance to answer when forward Kelly Oubre’s tip-in came after the buzzer.
That loomed large at game’s end, though Self was more disappointed in Kansas vein outrebounded 37-32. The Mountaineers grabbed 22 offensive rebounds, helping mitigate 37-percent shooting.
“We were soft on the glass, no question,” Self said. “They were quick to the ball and they’re a very athletic team.”
NOTES: Kansas F Kelly Oubre finished with 14 points, but G Wayne Selden contributed only four points on five shots. He had been scoring 16 points over his previous five games. … Mountaineers F Devin Williams, two days removed from spraining his right thumb at Iowa State, made four of five first-half shots and dished out three assists before the break. … West Virginia’s Brandon Watkins was ruled out during pregame warmups. The sophomore forward was still nursing the left knee sprain he sustained at the end of Wednesday’s win over Kansas State. … The Mountaineers’ previous four opponents shot 61 percent, 54 percent, 56 percent and 56 percent. … Under a contract extension signed in 2012, Huggins receives a $25,000 bonus for beating the Jayhawks. … Kansas came in with 21 victories, the 26th consecutive season the Jayhawks reached that total. … West Virginia’s average attendance through 13 homes was 9,850, but the Big Monday crowd at the 14,000-seat WVU Coliseum was less than half of capacity with snowstorms impacting the state.
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