Sports

Kansas fights off WVU in OT, wins Big 12 outright

Lawrence, KS (SportsNetwork.com) - An overtime nail-biter saw No. 9 Kansas win the Big 12 regular season title outright with a hard-fought 76-69 comeback victory over No. 20 West Virginia.

The Mountaineers led by eight with under two minutes remaining in regulation to put themselves on the verge of spoiling Kansas' Senior Night, something no team had done in over 30 years.

But the Jayhawks (24-6, 13-4 Big 12), despite losing leading scorer Perry Ellis to an injury and missing all 15 of their 3-point attempts, battled back and survived to win their 32nd straight home finale. They finished 16-0 at home this season and have won 24 straight at Allen Fieldhouse.

Frank Mason III led Kansas with 19 points, Jamari Traylor added 14 points and nine rebounds, and Kelly Oubre Jr. and Devonte' Graham combined for 22 points off the bench for the victors.

"I just felt like we had to make plays, guys were stepping up and we fought back," said Traylor.

Winning in Lawrence is tough enough, but the Mountaineers (22-8, 10-7) nearly pulled off the feat with leading scorer Juwan Staten (ankle) and starting guard Gary Browne (ankle) both sidelined. Staten hit the go-ahead shot in the final seconds against the Jayhawks two weeks ago.

"We just didn't do enough at the end, but I thought our guys played hard," West Virginia head coach Bob Huggins said. "We didn't play very smart."

The rematch was not pretty, with both teams combining for 38 turnovers and West Virginia shooting just 16-of-28 from the foul line compared to Kansas' 34-of-43 showing from the stripe.

Jevon Carter, who scored 25 points in a loss to Baylor on Saturday, shot 0- for-10 from the floor and missed two big free throws late in regulation. Daxter Miles Jr. scored a team-high 23 points, while Jonathan Holton totaled 12 points and 10 rebounds.

Ellis did not get a chance at redeeming himself after missing a potential game-winner at the buzzer against West Virginia two weeks ago. The star forward suffered an apparent knee injury on a collision with a teammate near the end of the first half and did not return.

His injury compounded a miserable start for the Jayhawks, who went nearly nine minutes without hitting a field goal early on and trailed by 18 at one point.

The Jayhawks fell in a 22-10 hole because of their drought and faced a daunting 40-22 deficit after Tarik Phillip scored off the offensive glass with under two minutes to go before halftime. West Virginia pulled down an impressive 14 offensive boards in the first half alone and took a 40-26 cushion in the break.

It was West Virginia's turn to go cold in the second half. Kansas took advantage and used a 9-0 run to pull within single digits, 42-35, following a Wayne Selden Jr. dunk less than five minutes in.

The Mountaineers still held a seemingly comfortable 57-49 lead with under two minutes left in regulation, but after Kansas' Brannen Greene hit a pair of free throws, they threw the ensuing inbounds directly out of bounds. Traylor and Mason both hit buckets in the lane to pull the Jayhawks within two.

Carter went 1-for-2 at the free throw line on two straight trips around a Mason layup to keep the Jayhawks within two, and Graham tied things with two free throws after he was fouled away from the basket with 11.5 seconds left.

After Carter missed a straightaway 3-pointer, Landen Lucas blocked Nathan Adrian on the right block at the buzzer.

West Virginia turned it over three times and missed two more free throws in overtime, and the Jayhawks, who had not led since it was 6-4, took control with their suddenly deafening crowd behind them.

Traylor's emphatic slam in transition gave Kansas the lead for good at 67-65, and Mason scored the team's final eight points, including six from the foul line in the final minute.

Game Notes

Kansas earned at least a share of the Big 12 title for the 11th straight year ... Kansas only sports one senior on its roster in the seldom-used Christian Garrett, who was inserted into the starting lineup and got his name in the scorebook with an early foul ... The Mountaineers went 6-4 in true road games ... Kansas came in leading the conference in 3-point shooting at 39.7 percent ... Nebraska was the last team win in Kansas' home finale, doing so on Mar. 2, 1983.