LAWRENCE, Kan. - For the longest time Saturday afternoon, West Virginia gave No. 8 Kansas all it wanted at Allen Fieldhouse. And as far as Juwan Staten is concerned, that should come as a surprise to no one.
"We're a good basketball team,'' the West Virginia point guard said. "I think everybody knows that.''
The Mountaineers just aren't quite good enough, at least when it comes to winning on the road against the very best teams in the country. Kansas certainly qualifies as that, and the Jayhawks simply wore down the Mountaineers, pulling away at the end to win 83-69.
The loss snapped a three-game win streak for West Virginia (14-10, 6-5 Big 12), which had won consecutive games against Baylor, Kansas State and Oklahoma. The Mountaineers have no time to dwell on the defeat, though, because Monday night brings a visit from No. 16 Iowa State. That's a 7 p.m. game on ESPNU.
Kansas (18-5, 9-1) won for the ninth time in 10 games.
Kansas got big games from its bench players when 7-footer Joel Embiid got into foul trouble, and super freshman Andrew Wiggins was a huge factor on both ends of the floor. West Virginia, meanwhile, got its usual game from Staten but almost nothing from anyone else, yet still managed to hang close until the five-minute mark.
"We just had some guys that didn't play very well,'' said West Virginia coach Bob Huggins. "We don't have enough players where we can afford to have some not play well.''
Staten played well again. He had 22 points, made seven of his 12 shots and had four assists. He turned the ball over four times, but against Kansas' length and movement on defense, that's not all that bad.
But the Mountaineers got almost nothing from anyone else, be it because Kansas clamped down defensively or they just didn't make shots. In the case of Eron Harris, it was the former, and that was a huge factor.
Just 81/2 minutes into the game, Harris had three 3-pointers. He was in one of those zones where he shoots and the net doesn't even move when the ball slides through. But by game's end he would still have those three 3-pointers and no more. They were his only field goals of the game. The rest of his 17 points came on free throws.
Harris being shut down has happened before. In order for WVU to compensate, someone else has to make shots, and that didn't happen. Terry Henderson didn't make a field goal and five of Remi Dibo's seven points came before the first TV timeout.
"[Harris being shut down] crippled us today because Terry didn't make any shots and Remi didn't score,'' Huggins said.
The reason Harris was shut down was Wiggins. The 6-foot-8 freshman, the No. 1 recruit in the country last year at Huntington Prep, guarded Harris the whole game, but particularly after those three 3s.
"I was guarding him the whole game,'' Wiggins said. "But after that I knew I had to be more aggressive.''
Despite Wiggins' defense on Harris - along with everything else that went right for Kansas, including 55-percent shooting, a 37-28 rebounding edge and forcing 14 turnovers - West Virginia didn't fade until the final five minutes. In fact, the Mountaineers led several times in the first half, were within two midway through the second and the margin was just four, 69-65, with five minutes to play.
"We played pretty good defense,'' Staten said. "We went to the 1-3-1 [zone] early and kind of messed them up. But they finally made some adjustments and at the end they weren't just getting baskets, they were getting easy ones. Give them credit for that.''
What hurt West Virginia more than anything, though, was the difference in depth between the teams. Both teams were in foul trouble early and pretty much throughout the game. It affected the Mountaineers more because they didn't have guys like Tarik Black and Jamari Traylor, who came in when Embiid was in foul trouble and combined for 18 points and seven rebounds.
"Today I'm not sure there was a dropoff at all when Tarik was in there,'' said Kansas coach Bill Self.
Despite the fact Embiid played just 17 minutes, he still had 11 points, 12 rebounds and three blocks. West Virginia just doesn't have anyone who can stack up against that.
West Virginia made just six of its 23 3-point attempts, but even that was misleadingly high. After Harris' three 3s in a row, the Mountaineers were 2 of 16 from outside.
Reach Dave Hickman at 304-348-1734 or dphickm...@aol.com or follow him at Twitter.com/dphickman1.
KANSAS 83, WVU 69
West Virginia (14-10, 6-5)
Min FG FT R A P
Dibo 17 2-9 2-2 3 1 7
Williams 12 1-4 2-4 6 0 4