MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (AP) — No. 3 Kansas came out of the gate solidly for once in a Big 12 game.
Freshman Gradey Dick scored 16 points, Jalen Wilson had 14 points and 14 rebounds, and the Jayhawks rode a hot start to a 76-62 victory over West Virginia on Saturday night.
Kansas (14-1, 3-0 Big 12) has won eight straight. Against the Mountaineers, the Jayhawks avoided both the stagnant beginnings and the nail-biting finishes of their first two conference games.
“I think just coming out with energy,” said Dick, who has scored in double figures in a dozen games so far. “What we’ve been talking about in the locker room before games is, when we kind of come out in those sluggish games, we end up playing catchup ball. That’s what we want to try to work on.”
Kansas entered the game making 38% of its 3-pointers but took advantage of open spots in the West Virginia defense early. The Jayhawks made six consecutive 3-pointers to jump ahead 22-10. Dajuan Harris hit his first two from long range, giving him nine straight over three games before both he and the Jayhawks cooled off.
The Kansas lead never got below five points after that.
“We’ve started games when we’ve shot it well. I don’t know that we’ve shot it 6 for 6 from 3 well,” Kansas coach Bill Self said. ”And it was all different guys.”
KJ Adams added 14 points, Kevin McCullar finished with 12 and Harris 11 for the Jayhawks.
Tre Mitchell scored 15 points, Erik Stevenson added 12 and Emmitt Matthews had 11 for West Virginia (10-5, 0-3 Big 12), which has lost three straight since making a brief appearance in the AP Top 25 at No. 24 a week ago.
Stevenson, West Virginia’s leading scorer, kept his temper in check Saturday after fouling out of the previous two games and being called for technical fouls in each. But Stevenson missed 12 of his first 13 shots.
West Virginia started the second half missing 13 of its first 15 shots and couldn’t find any rhythm down the stretch.
“We seemingly miss more 2-footers than any team in American history,” West Virginia coach Bob Huggins said. “It’s hard to make a shot from 2 feet or 4 feet or 8 feet if you’re not looking at where you’re shooting it.”
Dick hit a 3-pointer, fed Zach Clemence for a layup on the Jayhawks’ next possession, then made three free throws after being fouled on a long shot as Kansas extended a seven-point halftime lead to 62-43 with 9:38 remaining.
“Did he miss a shot?” Huggins said of Dick, who sank four 3-pointers and was 4 of 7 from the floor. “Didn’t seem like he did.”
Two seconds before halftime, Wilson was attempting a shot when a shot-clock malfunction caused the buzzer to sound, followed immediately by the inadvertent firing of the musket by the Mountaineer mascot. Play resumed with Adams making a pair of free throws to end the half. The mascot quickly reloaded the musket and fired again when halftime actually arrived.
“I didn’t know you could reload a musket that fast,” Self said.
After a 2-0 week, Kansas figures to move up at least one spot following top-ranked Purdue’s loss to Rutgers.
Kansas: The Jayhawks have beaten the Mountaineers in nine of their last 10 meetings. They outlasted Oklahoma State and Texas Tech to open the Big 12 season after getting off to slow starts in both games. This time, they asserted their dominance early.
West Virginia: The Mountaineers cut down on turnovers committed compared with their first two Big 12 games, but have been held to their lowest point totals of the season in back-to-back games. West Virginia has lost 10 straight to ranked opponents and has four more such games later this month.
Kansas hosts Oklahoma on Tuesday.
West Virginia hosts No. 19 Baylor on Wednesday.
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