LAWRENCE, Kan. -- The Allen Fieldhouse was sold out again Saturday, just like the 195 games before the one between West Virginia and Kansas, and the Mountaineers were a lot like they were in the 28 games before their latest loss.
Yet for a surprisingly long time at the start of the game, well before everything changed and the sixth-ranked Jayhawks were on their way to a 91-65 victory before 16,300, WVU was in the lead and seemingly in control.
The score was 16-9 after Deniz Kilicli snatched a missed shot off the offensive glass and put in a short one before completing a three-point play. Aaric Murray then blocked a Kansas shot out of bounds and Jabarie Hinds stole the inbound pass. He dribbled into the roaring student section for a dunk or a layup, whatever he chose, assured of two points and a little momentum he dearly needed to get out of a slump.
Hinds lifted a soft layup into the air that was blocked off the backboard by Elijah Johnson. WVU managed to find the rebound and Eron Harris tried to dunk, but was turned away by a Jeff Withey block, which started one of those adverse sequences that have conquered the Mountaineers throughout the season.
"There's always something you can do to stop a run," Harris said. "But can you do it? Can you, as a team, come together and get the stops you need? To this point, we've proved we can't."
Johnson dunked on the other end and the crowd was awake. Hinds turned the ball over and Ben McLemore drew Murray's second foul in transition. The game went into a timeout with 11:57 to go in the half, but it was all but over for the Mountaineers.
Johnson's dunk and McLemore's free throws started a 26-9 run in which the Jayhawks did so much right and WVU did so much wrong. Kansas made 7 of 12 shots and was active enough to earn nine free throws and make seven.
"We didn't have anything going," Kansas Coach Bill Self said. "Elijah made an unbelievably athletic play and we finally got the thing turned a little bit and did some good things after that."
The Mountaineers, who started 6-for-11, missed 15 of 18 shots and turned it over four times. In one stretch, they missed nine in a row against the NCAA's top-ranked field-goal percentage defense. Four of the nine were blocked while another missed the rim.
There was one narrow opening when Henderson made his third 3-pointer in as many attempts to keep WVU close at 30-25. The Jayhawks missed, but tapped out the offensive rebound and admired Nadir Tharpe's 3. Henderson then drove from an open position on the 3-point line into the crowded paint and had WVU's eighth shot blocked in the half. Tharpe scored on a schoolyard layup to go up by 10 points for the first time.
Tharpe would make another 3 at the end of the half, the fifth straight make for the Jayhawks, who led 45-31.
"Everyone looking saw how we responded to them making shots," Henderson said. "We just didn't have the same energy at all."
The Mountaineers would cut the lead from 16 points to 10 in the second half when Kevin Noreen scored with 16:03 to go, but Withey scored inside against Kilicli and Henderson traveled before Kansas came out of a timeout and had Johnson throw an alley-oop to McLemore for an easy dunk.
Withey blocked Kilicli and Johnson found McLemore open again, this time in the left corner for another 3. Juwan Staten missed a jumper and McLemore dribbled the rebound the other way and fed Kevin Young for a dunk and a 60-41 lead to send WVU into a timeout at the 13:51 mark.
"We just can't overcome those things," WVU Coach Bob Huggins said. "We're not good enough to get down 10, 12, 14 to a team as good as what they are and be able to come back. We don't have enough offensive firepower to be able to come back. We've got to keep the game in reach."