Ending the regular season with a loss isn’t how any team hopes to enter the madness that is March. But when you’re Kansas and all but guaranteed no worse than a two seed in whatever bracket, life could be worse. For West Virginia, however, the victory was critical.
Resumes mean everything in college basketball. The Mountaineers 92-86 win over the No. 8 team in the country – led by Eron Harris (28 points), Juwan Staten (24-5-9) and Devin Williams (22-13) – bolsters theirs while improving to .500 in Big 12 play.
That being said, the biggest headline from the game is Andrew Wiggins. It’s no secret the Canadian export entered this season with unreal hype and expectations. Anything short of curing incurable diseases, replenishing unemployment benefits and doing so while averaging 30 points a night would deem him as a bust. And depending who’s asked, he’s more “run-of-the-mill” than one of the future faces of pro basketball.
Perhaps a season’s worth of doubts and frustration in a lethargic Kansas road performance drove the soft-spoken freshman to his breaking point.* Or maybe he was happy to return to the state where he became a high school hoops legend.
Whatever the motivation, in the loss, Wiggins put together the best performance of his collegiate career and one of the top individual performances in the country all year. Putting the Jayhawks on his back, depleting a 25-point lead to five, Catch 22 posted 41 points, eight rebounds, two assists, five steals and four blocks before fouling out in the waning seconds.
The Big 12 Tournament tips off Wednesday, March 12.
* – Wiggins had arguably his finest high school game following the release of an article that tore into him. His response? Try going 24-28 from the floor for 57 points, 13 rebounds and four blocks.