Even without 3 key players, Kansas handles West Virginia

LAWRENCE, Kan. — A year later, it was a much different type of frustration felt by West Virginia coach Bob Huggins that sat in front of Kansas media following a loss to the Jayhawks.

The Mountaineers’ 78-53 loss on Saturday — they are now 0-7 all-time at Allen Fieldhouse — was unlike anything seen from last season’s 77-69 defeat, in which Huggins was ejected from the game after complaining about officiating.

The reason: Kansas attempted 35 free throws in that win to West Virginia’s two.

By the end of this game, Huggins actually got a quick pat from referee Kipp Kissinger in a sort of condolence for what has been a long and tiring season.

“It’s another loss,” Huggins said. “That’s about all I can take away from it.”

At the very least, though, there wasn’t much disparity in the free-throw attempts. Kansas finished 14 of 18, while West Virginia was 10 of 15.

What struggles?

Kansas played without three key players in center Udoka Azubuike and guards Lagerald Vick and Marcus Garrett, and head coach Bill Self said there have had to be some tough adjustments to be made, but just not as tough as it would seem.

Kansas started four freshmen and junior forward Dedric Lawson against the Mountaineers.

“I think guys are starting to come into their own,” Self said. “When you listen to our introductions and its freshman, freshman, freshman, freshman, you would think it would take some time to come into their own. I think they’re doing fine.

“If you’re not having fun; why would you spend so much time at your craft if you’re not enjoying it? What a better way to showcase your craft than playing in front of 16,000 people with great energy in the building. You get so spoiled playing here.”

Coupled with Kansas State’s 76-64 loss to Iowa State on Saturday, the Jayhawks are now just a half-game back of the Wildcats in the league standings.

Kansas is gunning for its 15th consecutive Big 12 title.

News and notes

  • Kansas played in front of its 289th consecutive sellout crowd, a streak that dates back to the 2001-’02 season.
  • West Virginia’s 24 turnovers marked the seventh time this season the Mountaineers have had at least 20 in a game. WVU had no games last season with 20 or more.
  • Kansas shot 52.8 percent (28 of 53) from the field, making it the seventh time a team has shot 50 percent or better from the field against the Mountaineers this season.
  • Derek Culver’s 12 rebounds was his seventh game and fourth in a row with at least 10 rebounds.

“We probably put too much pressure on Derek, to be honest,” Huggins said. “We threw him the ball a lot and he got double-teamed today. It’s hard, because he doesn’t know everything. He missed the whole first semester. He’s catching up, but he’s not all the way caught up yet.”

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