MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — West Virginia trailed No. 3 Kansas two points with 24 seconds left in the game.
The Mountaineers (16-13, 5-11 Big 12) had battled with the Jayhawks (24-5, 12-4) for over 39 minutes at the toughest venue in Big 12 basketball and had the chance to tie it up at the buzzer. However, they couldn’t find a way to the basket and guard Joe Toussaint was whistled for a traveling violation. Kansas held on to win 76-74.
The Jayhawks, a 9.5-point favorite, never led by eight points at any point in the game. The Mountaineers seemed to have reverted to some of their old ways from a previous chapter of the Bob Huggins era, forcing 19 turnovers and turning those into 25 points.
On the other end of the court, though, things weren’t quite as pretty for WVU. The visitors turned the ball over 21 times themselves and struggled to shoot the ball, making 45.9 percent of their shots, including 28.6 percent from downtown.
Saturday’s game was a true battle of the starters. Each bench scored just three points, while four of WVU’s starters combined for the other 71 points. Erik Stevenson led the way for WVU, scoring 23 with six rebounds.
Tre Mitchell continued his strong form, adding 20 points on 8 for 12 shooting.
DaJuan Harris paced the Jayhawks, scoring 17 points while making 7 of 9 from the field. Gradey Dick and Kevin McCullar each added 16.
Kansas benefitted from a 50-percent performance from behind the 3-point arc. The Jayhawks made 10 shots from downtown, five of which came from Dick.
With the loss, WVU left a prime opportunity to bolster its case for a bid to the NCAA Tournament on the court. The Mountaineers, a bubble team, now must win out in order to reach 18 wins, a number they previously identified as a target for regular season wins.
They return to the court on Monday when they travel to Iowa State. Tip-off between the Mountaineers and the Cyclones is set for 9 p.m. ET.