KANSAS CITY, Mo. – In the quarterfinals round of the Big 12 Tournament, No. 1-seed Kansas held the lead from wire-to-wire, knocking out No. 9-seed West Virginia, 87-63.
With the loss, West Virginia (16-17, 4-14 Big 12) is eliminated from the Big 12 Conference Tournament, ending conference play.
Kansas (26-6, 14-4 Big 12) started out the gates light hot and didn’t look back. Christian Braun found Big 12 Player of the Year Ochai Agbaji for an alley-oop dunk. Then, Agbaji knocked down a transition three. It took another transition basket by KU’s Mitch Lightfoot for WVU head coach Bob Huggins to call timeout.
KU held onto the lead for the entirety of the game.
The Mountaineers couldn’t shoot the ball into the ocean in the first half. WVU shot 5-of-31 (16 percent) from the field heading into the break. Taz Sherman, Sean McNeil, Jalen Bridges and Kedrian “Keddy” Johnson all went scoreless in the opening frame. The second half was a different story as the team shot 52 percent from the field, hitting 5-threes.
Agbaji created problems for West Virginia all day, finishing with 18 points on 7-of-15 shooting. The senior guard was dunking the ball and connecting on outside shots. WVU could do nothing but foul the conference’s player of the year.
Frustration set in the first half of the Big 12 quarterfinals as WVU head coach Bob Huggins was thrown out of the Kansas game on Thursday afternoon. Sherman drove to the paint, complaining about a no-call. What ever Sherman said was not what the official wanted to hear, issuing the fifth-year senior a technical foul. Huggins yelled at the officiating crew, showing his displeasure and was eventually thrown out of the game by Doug Sirmons.
At the beginning of the second half, Sherman should aggression and got to scoring. The fifth-year senior was scoreless in the first half, but helped a quick 7-0 run to begin the second. Sherman finished with 10 points, which all came in the first five minutes of the second half.
Coming into this game, one category the Mountaineers would have to beat Kansas in to have a chance was points in the paint. Like the first two matchups, the Jayhawks out-scored WVU 48-22 in points in the paint.
Notable scorers for West Virginia were Malik Curry (19), Sherman (10) and Isaiah Cottrell (9).
West Virginia will now await their postseason destiny as the NIT or CBI Tournaments could invite the Mountaineers to participate. WVU will not receive an at-large bid from the NCAA Tournament. The last time West Virginia participated in one of these lower tournaments was the CBI Tournament in 2019.
If West Virginia is not invited or choses not to participate in a postseason tournament, their season will have concluded on Thursday.