Archive for Saturday, March 8, 2014

KU men wrap up Big 12 regular season at WVU

West Virginia's Bob Huggins reacts during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against TCU, Saturday, March 1, 2014, in Morgantown, W.Va. (AP Photo/Andrew Ferguson)

West Virginia's Bob Huggins reacts during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against TCU, Saturday, March 1, 2014, in Morgantown, W.Va. (AP Photo/Andrew Ferguson)

March 8, 2014

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— Kansas University’s basketball team has compiled a remarkable 86-5 record in Big 12 Conference home games during the 11-year Bill Self era.

That’s 12 games better than Texas, next best in the league at 74-17.

Maybe even more impressive than the home domination is KU’s 65-25 record in Big 12 enemy arenas heading into today’s regular-season finale against West Virginia.

Tip is 11 a.m., in sold-out 14,000-seat WVU Coliseum.

“Well, we’ve got good players,” KU coach Self said, when asked about his team’s road record, which has contributed mightily to the Jayhawks winning the last 10 Big 12 regular-season titles.

“Although we don’t always play well away from home, you’ve got to win games away from home if you want to win the league. We’re most proud of the fact we’ve been able to have success away from home,” Self said.

No other team in the Big 12 is over .500 on the road in Self’s 11 seasons. Texas’ 43-47 mark is next in line, a whopping 22 games behind KU in the loss column. Other road records include: K-State 39-52, Oklahoma 31-59, Oklahoma State 27-63, Baylor 24-66, Iowa State 20-71, Texas Tech 17-74, West Virginia 6-12 and TCU 0-18.

KU’s 65-25 road record is better than all but two teams’ home records in that 11-year span — Texas as well as Oklahoma State (69-22).

“The biggest thing is having good players and players respecting the fact you’ve got to be better and have a tight huddle away from home,” Self said.

“It is probably a more fun locker room on the road after you win. It’s a relief sometimes at home. I don’t think it’s ever a relief to win on the road. I think you enjoy those a little bit more,” Self added.

This year, the No. 8-ranked Jayhawks (23-7, 14-3) are 9-0 at home and 5-3 on the road; unranked West Virginia (16-14, 8-9) is 5-3 at home and 3-6 on the road.

“Home crowds energize the whole team. It seems to me you usually are more aggressive at home than the road,” Self said. “That is evident in the fact you usually shoot more free throws at home than on the road. The aggressive team usually shoots the most free throws.

“I would rather play in a hostile environment against bad players than play in a very neutral environment against really good players,” he added. “Players are the most important quality to homecourt.”

Self, more times than not, has been able to convince his players to remain focused on the road.

“There are distractions. You are out of your routine a bit,” Self said. “Sometimes it’s great to get teams together away from home. That’s where you become a team.

“Also ... any little thing can throw it off a little bit. Next thing you know, two players may have two fouls early in the first half. It’s one thing for it to happen at home, another on the road because it gives so much momentum to the crowd. I think that does spur a crowd on.”

KU did manage to trip West Virginia, 61-56, in Morgantown last season in the Mountaineers’ first year in the Big 12. The Jayhawks, who also rolled, 91-65, in Allen Fieldhouse in 2012-13, defeated the Mountaineers, 83-69, on Feb. 8, back in Allen.

Andrew Wiggins and Wayne Selden had 19 and 17 points respectively for the Jayhawks, who hit 54.9 percent of their shots, 58.1 percent the first half in rolling to a 43-36 lead. Joel Embiid, who will not play today as he continues to rest his aching back, had 11 points and 12 boards.

West Virginia guard Juwan Staten led all scorers with 22 points off 7-of-12 shooting (8-10 free throws), while guard Eron Harris had 17 points off 3-of-10 shooting (8-8 from line).

“We did a great job on Staten and Harris, and they got 36 combined,” Self said. “Their guards are as hard to guard as any in our league. It’ll be juiced. It’s an extremely difficult venue to win.”

Staten leads WVU in scoring at 18.2 points per game with 5.8 assists per contest. Harris averages 17.6 ppg while hitting 85.5 percent of his free throws. Guard Terry Henderson averages 12.1 ppg.

“They don’t turn it over,” Self said of the Mountaineers, who had 14 turnovers in Lawrence but average just 9.5 per outing. “They play through their guards, who are as quick as anybody in the league. They are athletic. We’re athletic.”

Huggy wants win: West Virginia coach Bob Huggins, 0-7 versus KU, said this to Bob Hertzel of the Times West Virginian after WVU’s 14-point loss to KU on Feb. 8. “I told the team, we’re going to win in Morgantown. We’re gonna win. We’re going to figure out how to win.”

This, that: Huggins is 149-89 in his seventh season at alma mater WVU and 739-300 in his 32nd season overall. Self is 3-0 vs. West Virginia. ... In KU’s 10-year run of consecutive Big 12 regular-season titles, the Jayhawks have never been swept in a conference two-game round-robin series. KU has swept Big 12 foes 44 times. ... Last season, Ben McLemore (596 points) broke the KU freshman scoring record, which was held for 28 years by Danny Manning (496 points, 1985). Wiggins has 481 points. Wiggins already owns the KU freshman record for free-throw attempts (181) and free throws made (138). Wiggins’ 16.0 points per game ranks ahead of McLemore’s KU freshman-record average of 15.9 ppg.

Home records of all Big 12 teams in the 11-year Bill Self era at KU: Kansas 86-5, Texas 74-17, Oklahoma State 69-22, Oklahoma 64-27, Kansas State 63-27, Iowa State 56-34, Baylor 49-42, Texas Tech 45-45, West Virginia 8-9, TCU 2-15.

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