For most of Monday night, things were going very well for West Virginia’s ninth-ranked men’s basketball team. The Mountaineers were leading No. 3 Kansas by 14 points on the road inside the final three minutes, and looked set to cruise to their second win over the Jayhawks this year. (In their previous game against Kansas at home on January 24, they posted a convincing 85-69 victory.) Lots of people thought this was over. However, the Jayhawks came up with a crazy comeback to push the game to overtime and then pulled away there, winning 84-80 in the end.
Kansas scored a remarkable 34 points in the final eight minutes (three minutes of regulation and five minutes of overtime). They also outscored West Virginia by 18 over that span. After a ferocious charge late in the second half, they tied the game at 71 with 21.6 seconds left thanks to a pair of crucial free throws from 5’11” senior guard Frank Mason III. Of course, the Mountaineers still had a chance to win this in regulation, but even with a timeout, they were only able to set up a three-pointer from Tarik Phillip. Phillip hit the rim to send the game to overtime, and the Jayhawks dominated there, making the first eight points and pulling away.
Much of the credit for the win should go to Mason, despite him only finishing the night with three field goals on 13 attempts. He was dynamite from the free-throw line, though, making 16 of 18 from the line. He also played a key role in Kansas’ full-court defense in the final minutes, which forced countless turnovers that turned into points. The Mountaineers have long been renowned for their own press defensive tactics, but some of the same playbook was used effectively against them Monday.
Interestingly enough, this wasn’t the only notable moment for Kansas Monday. Earlier in the night, the crowd in attendance at Allen Fieldhouse for this one broke the Guinness world record for the loudest noise recorded at an indoor sporting event. However, that crowd might not have had much to cheer about at the end of the night if not for the Jayhawks’ comeback. Some of them also didn’t see it; ESPN broadcaster Dick Vitale criticized many for leaving early.
The win puts Kansas in excellent position for the Big 12 title, though, as they’re now two games ahead of No. 4 Baylor. From both a comeback sense and a standings sense, Monday’s result was something for them to roar about.