With exactly three minutes remaining, the Kansas Jayhawks went down 64-50 to the West Virginia Mountaineers.
Yet somehow, someway, Bill Self still hasn’t lost back-to-back home games in his tenure at Kansas, going on a 21-7 run to send the game to overtime, and eventually winning 84-80.
As exciting as the final eight minutes were, it was an equally frustrating first 37 minutes. The story was missed layups and missed dunks. Despite winning, Kansas still shot just 34 percent from the field, compared to West Virginia’s 41 percent.
The Mountaineers came out on a 10-0 run. The Jayhawks would respond with a 26-11 run to take a five-point lead. A quick 8-0 run to end the half put West Virginia up seven heading to the locker room.
The second-half was a back-and-forth affair. The West Virginia lead would never fall below five until there was under a minute left. It was then, when Kansas put the full-court press on, that the tide turned.
The comeback started with five points from Frank Mason, surrounded by three missed free throws by West Virginia. Then Devonte’ Graham hit a three with just under two minutes remaining to cut the lead to six.
Mason scored 24 points in this one, despite going just 3-13 from the field. He lived at the free throw line, going 16-18 from the stripe.
With the lead down to five, Kansas made it a one possession game following a Mountaineer turnover and tip-dunk by Landen Lucas.
Graham made a three after a couple of free throws, making the lead two. West Virginia then turned it over again, and after a couple of free throws from Mason and a missed jumper from Tarik Phillip at the buzzer, the game was headed for overtime.
With the momentum in hand, Kansas stormed out to an eight point lead in overtime. A couple of threes by Graham with a Josh Jackson steal and layup, and the game was all but over.
Graham struggled through much of the game, but still managed 18 points including some of the biggest shots of the game down the stretch. Jackson also struggled, particularly pertaining to finishing at the rim, but finished with 14 points, 11 rebounds, and 5 steals.
Where does this game rank all-time in the Self era?
I’d say this one probably ranks after the final Border War, Buddy Hield game, and KState game in 2008. In that order. It’s in front of the Texas game.
Let’s be honest, this wasn’t the most well-played game. It was flat out ugly for 37 minutes. But the thrill of the past eight are only met by the final Border War, thanks to the stakes of potentially losing two straight games at the great Allen Fieldhouse. It was a very strange feeling for much of that game.
The fact that Kevin Durant didn’t play much of the second half in that Texas game kind of knocks it down a notch for me. The Kansas State game in 2008 ranks ahead of this one only because of Michael Beasley’s comments, and the fact that Kansas just absolutely ran Kansas State off the floor.
And how can you hate on Buddy Hield? That was arguably the greatest performance in Allen Fieldhouse history.