NCAA News Wire

West Virginia’s NCAA bid is upset of Kansas

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MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — West Virginia sent a message to the NCAA selection committee by rushing to 25-point lead and then hanging to beat No. 8 Kansas, 92-86, on Saturday at the Coliseum.

The Mountaineers withstood a furious comeback by the Jayhawks, led by freshman guard Andrew Wiggins, who scored a career-high 41 points and added eight rebounds, two assists, five steals and four blocked shots before fouling out.

“Nobody in America will have a better game than Andrew did today,” Kansas coach Bill Self said.

But it came down to one against three.

“WVU’s Big Three scored 74 points and our Big One scored 41,” Self said.

West Virginia freshman center Devin Williams had his best game of the season as he recorded his eighth double-double with 22 points and 13 rebounds.

Williams received a great deal of help from guards Juwan Staten and Eron Harris. Staten just missed a double-double with 24 points and nine assists while Harris, bouncing back from a difficult game at Oklahoma in which he scored only five points, had 28 points.

In many ways it came down to the two freshmen, despite the heroics of Wiggins and Williams, who has not quite lived up to his potential for much of this year.

“I always felt like I was right there with those guys and this was the time show it,” Williams said. “This has been a rough season, but a good season. I was ready to play and show what I could do to the world.”

Williams said he didn’t consider it a personal battle between himself and Wiggins.

“It wasn’t personal,” Williams said. “Any time I step on a court, it’s going to be more of a respect thing. Playing a game you always want to earn respect. That’s all I was going out there to do, earn my respect, and I think I did that.

“In the first game I played against them, you can feel it when they don’t respect you. I don’t ever want to be not respected, so I took the fight to them.”

The Jayhawks (23-8, 14-4 in the Big 12) fought back from a 64-39 deficit with 16:43 left to get within five points, but fell short. They still won their 10th straight conference title.

The Mountaineers (17-14, 9-9) will need to repeat the effort a couple of times in the Big 12 Tournament if they are to get any NCAA Tournament consideration.

When the final buzzer went off, giving West Virginia its third victory of the season over a ranked team, the student section stormed the court.

“I’m not used to that yet,” Williams said. “I kind of did my little jumping around, but it’s not our Super Bowl. This wasn’t a Super Bowl game for me and it wasn’t a Super Bowl game for us. Now we have to go to the Big 12 Tournament.”

The first half turned into a most unexpected show of power — not from Kansas, but from the Mountaineers.

Powered early by Williams, West Virginia led, 50-38, at intermission.

“We were lucky West Virginia had only 50 in the first half,” Self said. “I thought they were on pace to get 60.”

Williams, whose season high was 20 points against Purdue, had 18 at the half and was still without a missed shot from the floor, hitting 7-of-7 from the field, many of them 15-foot jumpers. He also hit 4-of-5 free throws and grabbed five rebounds.

Wiggins was living up to his billing, finishing with 17 points, five rebounds and an assist, but did not have the support Williams enjoyed.

Staten was doing some amazing things, as he scored 14 points to go with five assists.

One of his baskets came on a shot so improbable, with the ball floating a couple of feet above the rim before falling through, that the Coliseum public address announcer assumed the man who shot it could not possibly have made it and credited Brandon Watkins on an invisible tip in.

Guard Eron Harris, coming off what coach Bob Huggins called “the worst game of his career,” as he scored only five points at Oklahoma, came out on fire, hitting his first three shots and finishing the