Kansas erases 16-point deficit, downs West Virginia

Trailing by 16 points twice in the first half, the 10th-ranked Kansas Jayhawks started to play with a resolve.

Some might argue that they started to beat the No. 6 West Virginia Mountaineers at their own game.

Kansas came all the way back Monday with a strong defensive effort and timely shooting from Sky Mykhailiuk and Devonte’ Graham to take down West Virginia, 71-66.

As a result, the Jayhawks (15-3, 5-1) assumed sole possession of first place in the Big 12, all while breaking a three-game road losing streak to West Virginia (15-3, 4-2) in Morgantown.

A big play came with less than eight minutes left, with Kansas still down by 10. Graham went to the basket to score, drawing a fourth foul on West Virginia’s best player, Jevon Carter.

As Carter went to the bench, Graham made the free throw to cut the Mountaineers’ lead to seven.

By the time West Virginia was able to get Carter back onto the floor three minutes later, Kansas had the momentum and soon took the lead.

“I feel like when he’s in the game, their offense flow way better,” Graham told ESPN. ‘He create and make plays for others. He’s just an offensive threat. Without him in in the game, they really struggled, and we kind of made a run.”

In the end, Mykhailiuk and Graham carried the Jayhawks down the stretch, combining for 26 points in the second half, when Kansas outscored West Virginia 43-25.

Defensively, Kansas held West Virginia to 10 for 28 percent and 1 for 13 on threes after intermission.

On Saturday, both teams get back into action, with the Jayhawks hosting the Baylor Bears, while West Virginia hosts Texas.

A few questions and answers about the Big 12 basketball race

Sitting around on a Sunday afternoon wondering about a few topics of discussion in the Big 12 basketball race:

First, how did West Virginia contain Oklahoma’s Trae Young? Young, OU’s sensational freshman, scored 29 points but had to work hard to get every one of them. West Virginia ended up winning 89-76 in Morgantown even with its own standout, Jevon Carter, on the bench in foul trouble in the second half. Mitch Vingle of the Charleston Gazette-Mail breaks it down.

Second, who is Mitch Lightfoot, and why aren’t Billy Preston and Silvio De Sousa playing for the Kansas Jayhawks? Gary Bedore of the Kansas City Star has some answers. On Saturday, Kansas registered an 88-84 victory at TCU with Lightfoot playing a leading role.

Moving on, how did Baylor finally get its mojo back? Well, for starters, guard Manu Lecomte emerged from his shooting funk and hit a few key three-pointers as the Bears downed the Texas Longhorns, 69-60, in Waco. In addition, senior center Jo Lual-Acuil Jr. out-played UT freshman Mo Bamba. Here’s a recap from the Associated Press.

And, finally, what is going on in Lubbock? Texas Tech kept it rolling with its eighth win in a row Saturday, a 74-58 home victory over Kansas State. Carlos Silva Jr. of the Lubbock Avalanche Journal has the story. Keenan Evans scored 27 to pace the Red Raiders, 14-1, 3-0, who are tied with West Virginia for the early lead in the conference.