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Andy Wittry | | February 12, 2020

No. 3 Kansas sweeps No. 14 West Virginia thanks to stifling defense, timely threes

Bill Self talks March Madness success at Kansas

Historically, if you want to know who's going to win a game between Kansas and West Virginia in the regular season, ask yourself, "Who's the home team?"

Because in the previous six seasons, the two schools split their annual conference series on five occasions with the home team winning all of those matchups. Kansas won 60-53 against West Virginia inside Allen Fieldhouse on Jan. 4 and then on Wednesday night, the Jayhawks were able to flip the script and win 58-49 in Morgantown, sweeping the regular season series against the Mountaineers.

Kansas at West Virginia: Scores, live updates

FINAL | No. 3 Kansas 58, No. 14 West Virginia 49 | FINAL STATS

After a first half filled with foul trouble and poor outside shooting, Kansas stepped up its defense, hounding West Virginia's guards and jumping passing lanes. The Jayhawks picked up the pace, they were finally able to find Udoka Azubuike for a few easy buckets and the lid that appeared to be on the rim finally lifted and Kansas made critical threes down the stretch, thanks to Isaiah Moss. He scored 13 points off the bench, while Devon Dotson scored a team-high 15 points.

West Virginia struggled to go up strong for interior shots and it couldn't find enough clean passing lanes, or at least take advantage of them. Oscar Tshiebwe scored a team-high 14 points for the Mountaineers but just two points after halftime.

5:22 2H | Kansas 49, West Virginia 48

Udoka Azubuike finally got an easy look after sealing off his defender in the post, catching in entry pass from Marcus Garrett and dunked. That came after 3-pointers from Isaiah Moss and Devon Dotson in the minutes prior.

Then Azubuike had another – a short jump hook on the left block. A pair of free throws from Moss the next time down the floor gave Kansas the lead for the first time since Kansas led 10-8.

11:46 2H | West Virginia 41, Kansas 36

Kansas center Udoka Azubuike picked up his third personal foul while playing interior defense against West Virginia's Oscar Tshiebwe, meaning Azubuike and fellow Kansas big David McCormack have three fouls apiece.

There's a good chance we see more small-ball and zone defense from Kansas down the stretch, like we did in the first half.

13:28 2H | West Virginia 41, Kansas 32

West Virginia's Miles McBride dribbled to his left, pulled up and hit a jumper from the elbow as the shot clock was winding down, giving the Mountaineers a nine-point lead and forcing Kansas coach Bill Self to call a timeout.

Kansas had a strong start to the half, scoring six straight points to tie the game at 30, but West Virginia bounced back with its own 11-2 run and all 11 points were scored off of jumpers.

Devon Dotson is just 3-of-10 from the field and Udoka Azubuike is only 1-of-4.

HALFTIME | West Virginia 30, Kansas 24

After a nice post-entry feed to Oscar Tshiebwe, who threw down a ferocious dunk, Kansas coach Bill Self put Udoka Azubuike back in the game with two fouls. However, West Virginia's stifling defense sent Azubuike to the bench after a pass to the Kansas center was swallowed by Tshiebwe and knocked out of bounds off Azubuike.

Then, Azubuike's frontcourt teammate David McCormack picked up his third foul, which sent him to the bench and Kansas went small and switched to a zone defense for the final minutes of the half.

Jordan McCabe used a high screen from Derek Culver for a straightaway three, which is the only reason either team broke the 30-point mark in the first half. The Mountaineers were 3-of-9 from deep in the first half, while Kansas was just 1-of-8.

Tshiebwe led all players with 12 points in the first half.

7:37 1H | West Virginia 20, Kansas 17: Kansas center Udoka Azubuike exited the game with 8:34, to the cheers of the West Virginia crowd, as he picked up his second foul for going over the back after Devon Dotson missed a layup in transition. The dangers of playing without Azubuike showed almost immediately.

West Virginia grabbed two offensive rebounds, and nearly got its hands on a third, on the Mountaineers' very next possession. Kansas ranks 88th nationally in two-foul participation, according to, so we'll see if the Jayhawks' big man returns to the floor in the first half.

West Virginia's Oscar Tshiebwe has a game-high eight points and three rebounds so far and you'd expect West Virginia to try to get him the ball more without Azubuike on the floor.

14:00 1H | West Virginia 11, Kansas 10: West Virginia leads 11-10 early after an old-fashioned 3-point play from West Virginia's Emmitt Matthews Jr. Both teams are focusing on playing through the interior, with just one 3-point attempt for each side.

Each Kansas starter has scored two points so far, while Oscar Tshiebwe leads the Mountaineers in scoring.

Kansas at West Virginia: Time, TV channel

No. 14 West Virginia will host No. 3 Kansas on Wednesday, Feb. 12 at 7 p.m. ET. The game will be broadcast on ESPN+. Live stats are available here.

COLLEGE BASKETBALL RANKINGS: Colorado, Marquette leap in Power 36 | Latest AP poll

Kansas at West Virginia: Preview

When these two schools met in their Big 12 regular season opener, neither team could buy a 3-pointer (6-of-31 combined) and they both turned the ball over too often (30 total turnovers), but despite West Virginia's dominance on the glass, Kansas rode an efficient 2-point shooting night to a seven-point win.

Thanks to Baylor's dominance of 21 consecutive wins, Kansas and West Virginia (and the rest of the Big 12) are currently playing for second place, although there's basketball that seeding for the conference tournament is far from locked up.

Both teams currently have two of the conference's five selections — Devon Dotson (18 points per game, 4.4 assists per game, 4.0 rebounds per game) and Udoka Azubuike (13 ppg, 9.7 rpg, 2.6 bpg) for Kansas, Oscar Tshiebwe (11.5 ppg, 9.1 rpg, 1.2 bpg) and Derek Culver (10.8 ppg, 8.9 rpg) for West Virginia — so some of the best players in the Big 12, if not the country, will share a court in Morgantown.

According to, these are the two most-efficient defenses in the country with Kansas at No. 1 and West Virginia at No. 2. However, the way they defend is different.

Current top-16 seeds revealed midseason by NCAA selection committee

The Jayhawks' average defensive possession take 18.3 seconds — 334th in the country — so they make their opponents work to get a shot off. More than 42 percent of Kansas' opponents' shots are threes, which is five percent more than the national average, so at face value, those stats suggest that teams playing Kansas are often forced to settle for threes — often late in the shot clock.

Kansas keeps opponents off the free throw line and it blocks more than 15 percent of opponents' 2-point attempts (12th nationally). The Jayhawks also do a commendable job on the defensive glass.

West Virginia plays at a faster pace than Kansas, it forces more turnovers and it does a better job at limiting assists on opponents' made baskets.

Thanks to Azubuike, Kansas' greatest strength on offense is its ability to make a high percentage of its shots inside the arc. It makes 55.1 percent of them, to be exact. The Jayhawks are above-average at offensive rebounding and getting to the free throw line, which helps them rank as a top-15 offense in terms of efficiency.

Speaking of offensive rebounding, West Virginia is the No. 1 offensive rebounding team in the country at 40.4 percent.

The Mountaineers struggle at shooting from deep (30.3 percent) and from the free throw line (64.3 percent), but they take fewer threes than most teams in the country (just 30.1 percent of their shots) and they get to the line more often, on a percentage-basis, than almost every team nationally with a free throw rate of 41.7 percent.

Both teams were among the top eight teams in the selection committee's top-16 reveal, which means this game could potentially play a role in the seeding of some of the top teams in the NCAA tournament.

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