For the second time in as many games, No. 3 Kansas scored an impressive win over a ranked opponent. The Jayhawks thumped No. 7 West Virginia 79-65 on Tuesday to extend their winning streak to eight games, unleashing in the process an offensive explosion that even the Mountaineers — whose defense rated 10th in adjusted efficiency ahead of the game — simply had no answers for.
What looked like an even matchup on paper between the two teams — West Virginia with its stout frontcourt and Kansas with its talented and deep backcourt — never quite materialized. West Virginia kept it close in the first half and led for 19 seconds in the opening frame, but KU’s guards hit shot after shot in the second half to blow the game open. The team finished the game 16-for-37 from 3-point range, with Marcus Garrett, Christian Braun, Ochai Agbaji and Jalen Wilson tag-teaming for the entirety of them. Christian Braun had 22 points, Jalen Wilson had 17 and Marcus Garrett had 15.
West Virginia did manage to keep things close in the first half thanks to an unlikely outpouring of points from junior sharpshooter Sean McNeil. He came into the game averaging 10 points per game but had 20 points at halftime, capped by a 3-pointer just shy of the logo right before the end of the first half. But McNeil cooled off — he finished with four second-half points — and West Virginia’s towering bigs of Oscar Tshibwe and Derek Culver weren’t difference-makers in a matchup they could easily have taken advantage of. Instead, KU outrebounded the Mountaineers and exerted its will on both ends, and Culver and Tshiebwe combined for just 11 points and 13 boards in the losing effort.
The win for Kansas is another gem on the resume on one that increasingly looks like one of the best in college hoops. After taking a season-opening loss to No. 1 Gonzaga, Bill Self’s club has responded emphatically, winning each of its last eight games and knocking off four ranked teams — two of which ranked inside the top 10 — in the process.
It’s far too early to chalk up the Big 12 as Kansas’ to lose, but its wins over Texas Tech (on the road) and West Virginia (at home) to open league play this week already loom large. And with Baylor and Texas finding their respective grooves, those could prove to be big down the stretch.
Up next for Kansas is another home game, this one against the Longhorns, in a Jan. 2 showdown. Barring a surprise collapse for Texas against Texas A&M-Corpus Christi next week, it’ll likely be another top-10 matchup inside Allen Fieldhouse — and, potentially, another top-10 win to add to the Jayhawks’ burgeoning resume.
Published: 2020-12-23 05:40:52
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