Winning on the road in the Big 12 is a tall task. If you don't believe me, just ask Kansas. The Jayhawks, who were riding an 18-game winning streak, lost 85-69 on Tuesday in Bob Huggins' palace at West Virginia, giving the Jayhawks their fourth straight loss in Morgantown.
While everyone knows No. 18 West Virginia's full-court pressure defense is one of its biggest calling cards for success, it was the offense against No. 2 Kansas (18-2, 7-1) that carried the Mountaineers (16-4, 5-3) to the victory.
1. West Virginia exposed Kansas' interior defense
The Mountaineers' offensive attack was at its best against KU, whose interior defense left a lot to be desired. Simple ball movement on the perimeter and screening in the post exposed standout freshman Josh Jackson, who played at the power forward spot in spurts. Here you can see Jackson unable to fight through the screen, which gives a pretty easy lay-in on the block for the Mountaineers.
Part of the issue for Kansas was its lack of depth up front. Outside of Landen Lucas and Carlton Bragg Jr. -- two forwards who haven't been playing like Bill Self forwards have in years past -- the team is void of a physical presence in the post.
All told, the Jayhawks surrendered 34 points in the paint. Credit Jevon Carter for the Mountaineers, who was active on offense and created ample opportunities to get his guys involved. He finished with just nine points, but his nine assists, which landed mostly in the hands of Esa Ahmad, made the difference in the game. Ahmad finished with 27 points.
2. National player of the year candidate Frank Mason went quietly
Kansas guard Frank Mason, who I picked as my national player of the year, was relegated to a secondary role as Huggins' swarming defense clamped down.
With West Virginia's defensive pressure that extends the length of the court, Mason's presence was critical. Having multiple guards capable of handling the ball is the only way to combat it. And he played 39 minutes.
But he was just 6-for-16 from the field, and had two assists to three turnovers. It wasn't an off night as far as his shooting, but he was baited into forcing ill-advised shots. Instead of doing what he does best by attacking and creating, he was kept on the perimeter and was visibly disrupted by the on-ball pressure from Daxter Miles Jr. and Carter.
3. Bob Huggins gets a big payday for this one
Huggins has a written incentive in his contract for a big payday if he beats one team: Kansas.
That's $100,00 over the last four years with four consecutive wins over the Jayhawks in Morgantown. And according to a report from ESPN's Andy Katz, that money goes directly to cancer research. A good payday, a good cause and a good coach. Heck of a win for the West Virginia program.