Williams wasn’t alone in his efforts, as sophomore guard Eron Harris scored 28 points, including five 3-pointers, and junior point guard Juwan Staten continually drove the ball at the rim for points or fouls. He scored 24 points to go along with nine assists and five rebounds. He also connected on 14 of 20 attempts at the charity stripe, drawing high praise from both coaches.
“When you talk about a true point guard, there’s no question he’s the best (in the Big 12),” said Kansas head coach Bill Self.
Huggins took his assessment one step further.
“I think he’s the best point guard in the country,” said the Mountaineer coach. “What he does for us at both ends of the floor (is amazing). We’re in the best league in America, and he’s been first or second in scoring, he’s led in assists, he’s led in assist-to-turnover ratio and he’s in the top 15 in rebounding. There’s not one area that he’s not one of the top guys in the league. What else could you ask him to do?”
The biggest star of the day, though, played on the losing team.
Former Huntington Prep star Andrew Wiggins, projected to be one of the top picks in this year’s NBA Draft, broke the Kansas freshman scoring record with 41 points, and had eight rebounds. He scored from almost everywhere on the court, keeping the Mountaineers from putting the game completely on ice much earlier.
“He’s just talented,” said Williams, who couldn’t help but be impressed with his opponent’s effort. “You can see he put the work in. When you put the work in, that’s usually the result you get. He has a high ceiling.”
If it wasn’t for Wiggins, the game might not have even been competitive. WVU scorched the nets in the first half, shooting 63 percent from the the field and hitting 4 of 6 attempts from 3-point range. That helped the Mountaineers open up a 50-38 halftime lead in front of a sellout crowd of 14,038, and they extended that advantage to 25 early in the second half, taking a 64-39 lead with 16:42 left to play.
“West Virginia played great,” said Self. “Eron Harris, Juwan Staten and Devin Williams all played great. Williams was by far the best big man in the game. We were lucky (WVU) only had 50 points at the half. They were on pace to get 60 at one point.”
The WVU lead was still 17, 85-68, with 4:16 to play when KU made one final charge.
Sparked by five straight points from Wiggins, the visitors went on a 12-0 run and trailed just 85-80 with 1:25 left on the clock as the crowd began to shift in its seats.
The KU defense had WVU right where it wanted it on the next possession, forcing the Mountaineers deep into the shot clock, but a Frank Mason foul with 2 seconds left before WVU would have been whistled for a turnover, put Staten at the line. He sank a pair of free throws to put his team up seven, and the fans stormed the court seconds later to celebrate the victory.
“It felt great,” said Staten. “We got a win in the last game at the Coliseum (this season). It’s spring break, but a lot of students stayed to support us.”
Aside from Wiggins’ heroics, KU got 14 points from forward Perry Ellis and 10 off the bench from Mason.
WVU’s effort was aided by the return of sophomore guard Terry Henderson, who scored just four points after returning from an illness that cost him four games, but gave Huggins 15 quality minutes off the bench.
WVU earned the No. 6 seed for the Big 12 tournament. It will open play at 9:30 p.m. Thursday against third-seeded Texas. The Longhorns won both regular season meetings with the Mountaineers.
— E-mail: email@example.com and follow on Twitter @CamHuffmanRH.