LAWRENCE, Kan. -- For two days before the game here Saturday against No. 8 Kansas, Bob Huggins asked his West Virginia team in practice to be careful not to lose control of the game and let the Jayhawks run wild before their home crowd.
That crowd had watched its team win 116 of the previous 120 home games, oftentimes when the opponent was undone by a Kansas frenzy.
For 35 minutes, the Mountaineers followed orders, and even avoided disaster by cutting a 12-point deficit to just four points with 5:14 remaining.
Then Huggins' greatest fear arrived in force as Kansas ripped off a 12-2 run and held WVU without a basket the rest of the way in an 83-69 win before 16,300 at the Allen Fieldhouse.
The Mountaineers had no answer on the floor and no explanation after.
"They went on a roll, man," West Virginia sophomore guard Eron Harris said. "They went on a roll and after that it seemed like there was nothing we could do about it."
Harris made two free throws to cut the Kansas lead to 69-65 just 2:06 after WVU messed up a rotation in a zone and allowed a dunk to trail 68-56. Freshman Andrew Wiggins was fouled and went to the free-throw line and made the first and missed the second. WVU, as it has so many times this season, allowed an offensive rebound. Seven-foot freshman Joel Embiid grabbed the miss and was fouled and made two free throws.
"Those are the things that really hurt you," Huggins said.
Harris missed a 3, but blocked a Kansas shot on the other end before teammate Remi Dibo missed a 3. Kansas turned the ball over and Juwan Staten was fouled and went 1-for-2 at the line. Embiid dunked easily, Harris turned the ball over and Naadir Tharpe made a deep 3 for Kansas after missing his first three tries of the game for a 77-66 lead.
Dibo and Harris would miss 3s before easy scores by Kansas, the second another simple shot by Embiid for an 81-66 lead. The Mountaineers didn't make a shot in the final 5:45 and had just one in the final 9:32. That came after missing the final seven shots over the last 7:36 of the first half.
Yet despite those early spells shooting just 39.6 percent, WVU (14-10, 6-5 Big 12) was there until late in the same place where it lost by 26 points a season ago thanks in large part to a 26-9 run that ended that one early.
"We were attacking the basket and hitting open shots, but there came a certain point in this game we couldn't hit shots when we had open opportunities," Harris said. "That happens. Overall, we're a better team than what we were. We're 10 times better than we were in the game last year.
"This is arguably the best team in the league. We're progressing. We're getting better. I say that even though we lost, but we did some great things in this game and we're going to learn from this game. But we've got to put the game in the past quick, like we have all season, and get ready for Iowa State and make sure we beat Iowa State at home."
Iowa State, ranked No. 16, had no trouble in an 84-69 win at home against TCU. Melvin Ejim, the conference's leading scorer, had Big 12 record 48 points for the Cyclones (18-4, 6-4). They're the Big 12's highest-scoring team and no less capable of a big run than the conference-leading Jayhawks (18-5, 9-1), which is No. 1 in scoring in league games.