No. 20 West Virginia blows big lead in 76-69 OT loss to No. 9 Kansas

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LAWRENCE, Kansas — Gruff and angry, Bob Huggins made it obvious his 76-69 overtime loss to Kansas was just about the last thing he wanted to talk about.

And who could blame the West Virginia coach? His No. 20 Mountaineers led No. 9 Kansas by 18 points, thoroughly outplaying them in the first half.

But a Kansas comeback, fueled by 16,400 fans in the 230th consecutive Allen Fieldhouse sellout, propelled the home team to one of the biggest comebacks in fieldhouse history.

"I don't know if the building has to do with anything to be honest with you," Huggins said. "They're a really good team. But I knew we'd compete. We have a tendency sometimes to not make shots, and that makes it awfully hard."

Kansas coach Bill Self admitted it was one of the most satisfying of his 190 wins in the 60-year-old fieldhouse.

The ninth-ranked Jayhawks were down 18 points to a team that had beaten them on the road two weeks earlier. They would be outrebounded 46-34. Two of their best players were out of the game. And from behind the 3-point arc, they would go 0 for 15.

Somehow they won.

"The truth is, they shoot 43 free throws and we shoot 28, we're not going to win," Huggins said. "We turn it over 22 times, we're not going to win."

Frank Mason III scored the final six points of overtime and the Jayhawks clinched their 11th straight Big 12 regular season championship. They missed by only one point of matching the biggest comeback in the 60-year history of Allen Fieldhouse.

"We haven't had a better win here for higher stakes than what that was," said an exhausted Self. "As a coach, when you have good players and you play well, you should win. But it always means a little more when you can't get anything going and somehow the kids figure out a way to do it. It was pretty special for me to sit there and watch those guys pull it off."

Mason had 19 points for the Jayhawks, whose 11 straight conference titles trail only the 13 in a row UCLA won in the John Wooden era.

Junior forward Perry Ellis, the Jayhawks' leading scorer, appeared to injure his knee late in the first half and did not return. Forward Cliff Alexander, who is awaiting an NCAA ruling on an eligibility issue, was also out.

"Our main goal as a team was to get stops, keep fighting and keep believing," said Mason, the starting point guard.

Daxter Miles had 23 points for West Virginia (22-8, 10-7), which was without star guard Juwan Staten, who had scored at least 20 points in each of the last three games against Kansas. Also out with an injury was guard Gary Browne.

"We deserved to win the game. We really did," said Huggins. "We just didn't do enough at the end."

Kansas, which clinched at least a share of the title with Iowa State's victory over Oklahoma on Monday, finally tied it 59-all on two free throws by Devonte Graham with 11.5 seconds left in regulation. Miles' 3-pointer gave West Virginia a quick 63-61 overtime lead before Jamari Traylor's three-point play made it 64-63.

Mason went 4 for 4 from the free throw line in the waning seconds, the final shot going in with 4.1 seconds to play as the Jayhawks completed a 16-0 home season.

"Guys were stepping up and we fought back," said Traylor, who had 14 points. "We don't get scared. We always know it's a possibility that we can come back."

TIP-INS

Kansas: As soon as the game ended, Kansas closed down the Booth Family Hall of Athletics. The hall, attached to the east side of Allen Fieldhouse, will be closed for six months to make room for construction of the DeBruce Center, which is being built to house James Naismith's original rules for basketball that a Kansas fan bought on auction for $4.3 million and donated to the university.

West Virginia: In their take-charge first half, the Mountaineers had more offensive rebounds (14) than defensive (12).

STAT LINES:

Kansas' 11 straight conference titles ties the streak Gonzaga put together from 2001-11. ... West Virginia managed only 19 points in the second half.

QUOTABLE:

Kansas: "Perry (Ellis) had the flu and got off to a bad start anyway, then he gets hurt. The good news is we think he can be back in a week or so." — coach Bill Self.

West Virginia: "There are some things that happened that are just hard to explain." — coach Bob Huggins

UP NEXT

Kansas: at Oklahoma on Saturday.

West Virginia: hosts Oklahoma State on Saturday.

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