Ben McLemore scored a career-high 36 points and Jeff Withey came up one block shy of a triple-double as sixth-ranked Kansas rolled to a 91-65 victory over West Virginia Saturday afternoon at Allen Fieldhouse.
McLemore’s 36 points were the most by a KU freshman in school history, topping the 35 produced by Danny Manning against Oklahoma State on March 2, 1985.
“They made shots,” said West Virginia coach Bob Huggins.
Kansas (25-4, 13-3) also got 14 points, 10 rebounds and nine blocks from Jeff Withey and 12 points and 10 assists from Elijah Johnson.
The Jayhawks shot 56.7 percent overall (34 of 60), including 11 of 18 from 3-point distance (61.1 percent), while handing out 29 assists for the afternoon.
McLemore made 12 of 15 overall and 5 of 6 from 3 and he also pulled down seven boards.
“Once again it was live-ball turnovers,” said Huggins. “We don’t have enough firepower to make dumb mistakes and just hand people the basketball.”
West Virginia, which drops to 13-16, 6-10, got 20 points from Terry Henderson
and a season-high 17 points and 13 rebounds off the bench from Dominique Rutledge
contributed 11 points, but made just 4 of his 17 field goal attempts; as a team West Virginia shot 32.8 percent (22 of 67).
“What happened with our freshmen before is our upperclassmen covered for them before and there is no one to cover for them now,” said Huggins.
Kansas blocked 13 shots – the most by a WVU opponent this season. The 13 blocks were three shy of the 16 Kansas put on the stat sheet against San Jose State earlier this year.
Today’s 26-point victory was the fourth straight 20-point win for the Jayhawks at home in Big 12 play since losing 85-80 to Oklahoma State back on Feb. 2. Since that loss to the Cowboys, Kansas has beaten Kansas State by 21, Texas by 26, TCU by 26 and now West Virginia by 26 at Allen Fieldhouse.
“We battled back early in the second half and got it to 10 and then our spacing gets bad and guys are chasing the ball and then they go down and dunk in transition and we lose our concentration,” said Huggins. “We just have breakdowns that are hard to overcome.”
WVU has now dropped four straight and five of its last six to assure itself of a losing record in Big 12 play in its first season playing in the conference. It is the first losing record for Huggins in conference play since his first Akron team posted a 6-10 record in Mid-American Conference play in 1985.
“There isn’t any way these guys aren’t worn down with the travel stuff – that’s a fact; it’s not an excuse,” said Huggins.
The Mountaineers return to the road to face Oklahoma on Wednesday night in Norman. The Sooners are coming off a 17-point victory at Iowa State earlier today.
West Virginia wraps up the regular season next Saturday with a 1:30 p.m. game at the Coliseum against Iowa State.