MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Modern college basketball is full of teams that spread the floor, shoot from the perimeter and simply try to outscore their opponents.
When two teams that are both tough, physical, and value defense play one another, the result is usually less than pretty.
When No. 3 Kansas beat No. 14 West Virginia in the WVU Coliseum 58-49 Wednesday night, KU coach Bill Self admitted he was just happy to get the win.
“This was not artistic at all,” Self said. “This was a grind it out, tough road win that you have sometimes when you’re going through your second round of conference and certainly in an arena where they’re ready to pounce on you…Regardless of execution or whatever, that was a really good road win for us.”
The win was just the third time Self has been victorious in Morgantown and only his second time in the last seven games.
“We haven’t won here a ton, but I don’t think we’ve ever won here when it’s pretty, I don’t know if we’ve ever won at home when it’s been pretty against (WVU coach) Bob (Huggins),” Self said. “I don’t think you can be an execution team and have a lot of success because they’re not going to let you cut and pass the ball where you want to pass it.”
The Jayhawks shot 20-45 (44.4%) from the floor in the game, but missed 10 three-pointers and turned the ball over 13 times. It was just the third time the Jayhawks failed to crack 60 points in a game this season, and the first time they did so and won.
Self said the key to winning a game like that is being able to clamp down on defense and not let the other team build up a lead. Neither team held a double-digit lead Wednesday night, with each team pushing their leads as high as nine points.
“We do a good job of keeping teams in the game when we go on scoring droughts,” Self said. “West Virginia, as good as they guard, can keep a team in a game because they go on scoring droughts. So when we are playing each other, up 10 or minus 10, it isn’t that big of a deal as it would be with other people because we both have potential, I’m saying this both have potential, to go on droughts.”
Kansas was able to hold the Mountaineers to score just 19 points in the second half, including only one point over the game’s final six minutes.
“The big thing is, their number stayed at 46, 47 or 49, so even when we didn’t score or missed free throws it didn’t hurt us like if they were knocking down shots,” Self said. “We didn’t play great, but we made a couple shots and made free throws and next thing you know, you’re up five or seven.”
Kansas will return home to host the Oklahoma Sooners Saturday morning, while West Virginia hits the road to play No. 1 Baylor Saturday at 4 p.m. EST.