Morgantown mishap: No. 7 Kansas falters late in 65-64 loss at West Virginia

West Virginia players celebrates their 65-64 win over No 7 Kansas in an NCAA college basketball game, Saturday, Jan. 19, 2019, in Morgantown, W.Va.

Morgantown, W.Va. — Morgantown strikes again.

Despite controlling the second half and leading for more than 26 minutes of Saturday’s game at West Virginia — including nearly all of the second half — the No. 7-ranked Kansas men’s basketball team said hello to an old nemesis as the final horn sounded at WVU Coliseum.

From up 6 with a chance to close it out to down 1 at the final buzzer, the Jayhawks fell, 65-64, after a wild final minute that featured the Mountaineers, who had yet to land a conference win, making all the right plays at the end and the Jayhawks shrinking in yet another road environment.

“We blew it,” said junior forward Dedric Lawson after Saturday’s 1-point loss, which dropped the Jayhawks to 2-5 all time in Morgantown. “We’ve just got to close games. That’s something we’ve talked about all along and we just blew the game.”

Even with subpar execution down the stretch, the Jayhawks (15-3 overall, 4-2 Big 12) had their chances. More specifically, senior guard Lagerald Vick had his chances.

After a hard-driving missed layup by sophomore guard Marcus Garrett at the one-minute mark, with KU leading by a point, 64-63, Garrett jumped in front of a pass from WVU freshman Derek Culver and gave Kansas a second chance to add to its lead.

After the Jayhawks frantically worked the ball around the perimeter, it ended up in Vick’s hands in front of the KU bench. With the shot clock winding down and Vick dribbling left, then right, then back left again, the KU senior fired up what wound up being a desperation airball toward the rim.

Garrett, who easily was KU’s best and toughest player in this one, grabbed the rebound, but he couldn’t avoid falling out of bounds and lofted a soft pass back onto the court that WVU’s Jermaine Haley grabbed and turned into the game-winner.

Haley’s coast-to-coast layup with 7 seconds to play put the Mountaineers up 1 and Kansas had one last chance.

Again, the ball wound up in Vick’s hands and, again, Vick chose to settle for a tough 3 instead of driving to the rim.

Sounding a little like he did after KU gave one away at Arizona State for the Jayhawks’ first loss of the season in December, Kansas coach Bill Self put the blame for the late-game collapse on his shoulders.

“It was my fault,” said Self after calling KU’s final two shots “awful.” “I should’ve called timeout. We had no chance on that last possession. I should’ve called timeout.”

So why didn’t he?

Self said the decision was circumstantial, and, if you’ve been paying attention to Kansas basketball at all over the years, you probably weren’t surprised. Self’s teams have made a living off of countering big baskets by their opponents with quick-strike answers on the other end. And the opportunity for just that was present in this one, as well. But Vick’s decision to settle for a jumper instead of attacking the rim sealed KU’s fate.

“Broken floor. Double bonus. Down 1. You drive it,” Self said.

After the loss, Self said he contemplated calling timeout, but chose not to. Asked whether he thought a timeout might be coming, Garrett made it clear that the team was well prepared for the situation but simply did not execute.

“We practice it a lot,” Garrett said of that particular late-game scenario. “It’s the same play that Mario Chalmers hit the shot on (in the 2008 national title game), so we weren’t looking to call a timeout. And we knew we were in the double bonus, so we were basically trying to get downhill and draw a foul.”

Both teams opened Saturday’s game hot from the floor — Kansas made four of its first six shot attempts and West Virginia four of five — but as the first half played on, the offensive output leveled off and improved defense and sloppy offense became the story on both ends of the floor.

The teams combined for 12 turnovers in the game’s first eight minutes, seven coming from the Jayhawks and five from the Mountaineers. By halftime, which featured the two teams deadlocked at 23, Kansas had coughed it up 13 times — this time, unlike in the past, against very little West Virginia pressure.

“That first half set basketball back a few decades,” Self said after the loss. “So many of those turnovers weren’t forced, it was more reputation forced. But give them credit for that. … You look at the turnovers and unforced errors; you could say some of that could be attributed to inexperience, but not there at the end.”

A year ago, it was the end of the game in Morgantown where Kansas was at its best, storming back from a double-digit deficit in the final 6 minutes to steal the win and snap a four-game losing streak at WVU Coliseum.

In this one, it was at the end where the Jayhawks were at their worst.

So, it’s on to the next one for a Kansas team still trying to piece everything together and ever-so-slowly running out of time to do it. Luckily for the Jayhawks, that next one comes a little more than 48 hours after this one, so there won’t be much time beyond the long trip home to sulk and stew over another one that got away.

But there’s little doubt that this team knows it has problems. And, according to Lawson, it’s not just on game night when the Jayhawks’ inability to close out games gives Kansas fits.

“We do it at practice, too,” said Lawson of this team’s late-game struggles. “We take it for granted in practice when we scrimmage against the (scout) team and they score at the end and we don’t get stops. We take it for granted. And it’s something that coach preaches about a lot. He gets mad at us a lot, and we look at him like he’s crazy. Guys have got to take that stuff seriously moving forward.

“It’s definitely frustrating. The whole loss is frustrating. I hate losing. But we can’t dwell on this. We’ve got to play Monday, so we’ve got to put this behind us as soon as possible.”

Added Self: “We’ll be OK. We’ll be OK. You know, you can’t get this one back, so you’ve got to put it in your rearview mirror, so to speak. Yeah. We’ll be OK. We’ll be excited to play Iowa State.”

Comments

Adam James

There is no way around it, that was a bad loss. Coach Self will re-group the guys and we will recover. We need to have a short memory and get ready for the Cyclones.

3 weeks, 6 days ago

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Bryce Landon

I missed almost all the game except for the last 3-plus minutes, which I caught on my phone with scoring updates from CBS Sports. To go from up 6 with ninety seconds left to losing is maddening.

Adam, you're right, this was a bad loss. We just lost to a team that (A) was winless in Big 12 play prior to today, (B) was sub-.500 on the season prior to today, and (C) lost at TCU by 31 points earlier in the week. We lost a game we could not afford to lose to a WVU team we had no business losing to. And we lost in the worst possible way - falling from ahead in the final minute-and-a-half. It's inexcusable. No, it's worse than inexcusable, it's intolerable.

This Jayhawk team has had more trouble finishing opponents than Slick Willie had finishing with Monica. These guys lack a killer instinct and the mental toughness necessary to slam the door on an opponent. If falling from ahead to lose to Arizona State didn't teach them the importance of closing out games, what will?

To quote Larry Brown after his 1988 KU team blew a big lead in a loss at Nebraska, "We're not that good. Good teams don't let things like that happen."

3 weeks, 6 days ago

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RJ King

Keep your politics and juvenile comments off of this site. They're neither cute, funny, or necessary to make your point.

3 weeks, 5 days ago

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Shannon Gustafson

Especially when it's factually wrong. I'm pretty certain the stain on her dress is indicative of Bill "finishing".

Of course a virgin JW wouldn't know anything about this so using it improperly in a comment just proves it. Maybe Bryce thinks "finishing" with a women means marrying them?

3 weeks, 5 days ago

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Bryce Landon

And you probably finger yourself to pictures of Michelle Obama.

3 weeks, 5 days ago

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Marius Rowlanski

Comm'n Bryce, First Lady, wife, and a pretty good mom. It's just unnecessary and doesn't represent any political parties viewpoint.

Stick with the NO POLITICS policy.

3 weeks, 4 days ago

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Shannon Gustafson

I see you didn't dispute anything I said, wonder why that is?!?

One of these days I'm going to post pictures of you on here and everyone is going to have a good laugh at the difference between your online personality and your reality. I'll also post something about myself that you continually get wrong that will shock you, and make your posts on here to me look even more ridiculous.

3 weeks, 3 days ago

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Barry Weiss

With Texas Tech losing at Baylor, a win would have left us all alone at the top...now we are tied with 3 other teams at 4-2. We must take down Iowa State Monday night.

3 weeks, 6 days ago

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Dane Pratt

K-State got off to a very rocky start but is suddenly looking very much like a contender. Could make an argument they are playing the best basketball in the conference right now.

3 weeks, 6 days ago

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Marius Rowlanski

And Wade is coming back. Weber is doing a decent job at KState but I wouldn't make that argument.

3 weeks, 6 days ago

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Shannon Gustafson

Wade's been back for a couple games now.

3 weeks, 5 days ago

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Marius Rowlanski

Damn... How did he do?

3 weeks, 4 days ago

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Shannon Gustafson

Bad in their initial losses, good in their wins that followed.

3 weeks, 3 days ago

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Steve Zimmerman

By now, every opponent should know already, to score easily vs KU; just drive or cut or shoot 3 when 'defended' by either Vick or Grimes. They're so easy to blow by and shoot over. They're responsible for most points made from downtown or cutting lane or simply drive to the rim. If you see Vick, he doesn't go back on D immediately every after 3pt he makes. He seems to enjoy the moment waaaay too much. It's so sad that up till now the staff hasn't addressed that. He seems to think he's the best out there. He needs to stay humble and hungry. Keep improving every game.

3 weeks, 6 days ago

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Brad Watson

Raw Talent...Yes,,,,,but this team is hard to understand.....keep at it...Coach will figure out the right formula...but we might not repeat this year....this team falls asleep all the time...and talent can not beat desire...this team lacks a hungry attitude...no way we should have lost the ASU game or this one...I like the McCormack kid...I hope he gets more floor time ...I like the roster...we just need to finish the meal...clean the plate please!

3 weeks, 6 days ago

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Mallory Briggans

This game was lost in the first 10 minutes of the first half ….Turnover after turnover kept West Virginia in the game . A team who had just got beat down by 31 by TCU. We don't have the killer instinct to put a bad team away . And Coach Self doesn't get a pass either .McCormack gave you good energy off the bench plus somewhat of an inside presence and size ...you take him out and West Viginia goes inside because Lightfoot wasn't physical enough on the inside . Dotson made one bonehead turnover after another he kept him in ….maybe Charlie playing would have gotten Dotsons attention about ball security. ASU game Self took the fall for the loss because of not calling a timeout …...8 seconds to go you need 2 points not 3 to win....Why not call a timeout set a play and discuss the plan of attack …..and OKC the 1 player who gave you energy and defended and was a spark the past 3 games has a couple turnovers you sit him most of the game …...OKC sits …...Dotson plays....Despite his 2 early turnovers Self should have kept OKC in the game more upside with him in than not.

3 weeks, 5 days ago

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Joe Baker

Gotta win the remainder of the home games and win maybe 4/6 road games, they can win the conference. There is clearly no real favorite because TT has reached its ceiling.

This UK game is not important. I have no idea why we are playing these conference challenges in the middle of the season. It risks hurting players for the remainder of the season in a game that means very little. It's hard enough to remain healthy during regular conference games, ie. current B12 injured players.

Let's accept it now, this team is going to lose 2-3 more games. We can only hope everyone else loses as many or more.

3 weeks, 5 days ago

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Shannon Gustafson

5 losses wins the conference and no Self KU squad has ever had 6 losses in conference. So unless we've got 5 losses with more than 3 games to go, I wouldn't get too wound up about it.

Last year about this time everyone was saying it's the worst KU team Self has had, Newman is trash, Svi can't defend, etc. and look how that turned out. Won 5 straight, won the conference, conf tourney, and got to the Final 4 even though most on here had written them off by mid January. It's amazing to watch the same people post the same stuff (and be wrong) year after year.

3 weeks, 5 days ago

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Craig Carson

IF KU losses to ISU, that UK game becomes very important since they really dont want to lose 3 in a row.the way they have played this season and how unconvincing all there home wins have been, i would say they could lose another 5-6 games

3 weeks, 5 days ago

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Craig Carson

WVU did 2 things that got them the win: #1 they shot 3's better than they have all year..seemed whenever KU got some seperation, they'd come down and knock in a 3 and #2..they exploited KU's lack of size..as gifted as Lawson is is offense, he isnt a great rim protector...WVU was very successful in its post ups..they got several 3's of that alone. this is a game where id like to have seen Self go with Lawson AND McCormack to counter what WV was doing...last yyears KU team could shoot its way out of a bad game from Dok..this team wont do that..least not right now..they have lacked the killer instinct to put teams away..they better fix this issue before tomorrow since ISU is full of shooters...i hope they can rebound and beat ISU

3 weeks, 5 days ago

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Jay Scott

If I had a dollar for every time in the last 14 years that the Chicken Littles lost their minds in January.......

3 weeks, 5 days ago

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