On Tuesday night Press Virginia meant success for West Virginia — and one of the happiest/best wins in the history of the program.
Bob Huggins’ group, which is among the more inconspicuous 11th-ranked teams in recent memory, walked out of WVU Coliseum on Tuesday night with an extremely impressive 74-63 victory against the nation’s top-ranked team, the Kansas Jayhawks (14-2).
Fittingly, the final basket came off a Kansas turnover, its 22nd of the game, which led to a two-handed slam by Jaysean Paige, who came off the bench to score a game-high 26 points.
The conquering of Kansas marks WVU’s first win against the nation’s No. 1-ranked team since the ‘Eers pulled off an 87-78 upset against UNLV back on Feb. 27, 1983. It’s considered by many West Virginia fans to be the best home win in the history of the Coliseum.
So, given that Kansas has ownership of 11 consecutive regular-season Big 12 titles, and seeing how this win might help lead to the end of that unreal streak, could Tuesday’s victory be even bigger? Time will decide that. WVU 74, KU 63 was also the Mountaineers’ third straight win at home against Bill Self’s Jayhawks, so this kind of win isn’t a total shocker.
The ending catalyzed a complete covering of the floor by the WVU faithful, who smothered a bouncing huddle of Mountaineer players within 15 seconds.
Court Storm here in Morgantown after West Virginia took down No. 1 Kansas. pic.twitter.com/o7pmofyYma
— Jeff Goodman (@GoodmanESPN) January 13, 2016
West Virginia: Inconspicuous no more.
WVU is now 14-1 the only undefeated team left in the Big 12. It has a top-five defense, a fun and frenzied style that marries well with its physical nature. Few teams are as tough a scout and as rough a wrestle as West Virginia. It will not go quietly into any night, and I’d be shocked if this team is anything worse than a No. 4 seed by the time we get to slotting the 68.
That defense thrives on opponents’ hesitation, and on Tuesday the Mountaineers persuaded Kansas into a season-high 22 turnovers, seven of them coming from starting point guard Frank Mason III.
There’s little shame in losing on the road against an intra-confencee foe who also happens to be ranked. (Just ask Oklahoma.) So for Kansas, maybe this just winds up being a good-looking loss in the end. If not, it marks the start of the streak’s end, but really, let’s not even go there just yet. So much conference play left.
By the way, as is custom in Huggins’ contract, the win nets him another $25,000. Why? Because every time Huggins beats Kansas, it’s mandated in his deal the school pay him a 25 grand. This is not normal, but then, neither is how WVU has become this kind of court bully with a redefined defensive philosophy from Huggins.