No. 2 Kansas outlasts West Virginia
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Travis Releford and Jeff Withey each scored 15 points and No. 2 Kansas nearly relinquished a double-digit lead before beating West Virginia, 61-56, Monday night in a Big 12 Conference game at WVU Coliseum in Morgantown, W.Va., to extend Division I's longest winning streak to 18 games.
Kansas (19-1, 7-02) shot 54 percent from the field in the first meeting between the schools. The Jayhawks have held their past six opponents under 60 points.
Ben McLemore added 13 points for Kansas, which is in the middle of a stretch of six of nine games on the road.
Aaric Murray had 17 points and Juwan Staten added 14 for the Mountaineers (9-11, 2-5), who fell to 0-4 against ranked opponents this season.
West Virginia used several steals to trim a 15-point deficit to eight at halftime but never took the lead in the second half.
Staten scored three consecutive baskets, including a jumper that pulled the Mountaineers within 48-46 with 10:19 left. But they fell silent over the next 3 minutes.
McLemore, Kansas' leading scorer who sat on the bench for most of the first half in foul trouble, hit a layup and made two free throws on the next trip down the court during a 7-0 run that put the Jayhawks ahead, 55-46, with 7:33 left.
West Virginia never recovered. The Mountaineers managed just four field goals over the final 10 minutes.
West Virginia coach Bob Huggins could have picked up a $25,000 bonus for a regular-season victory against Kansas, something that was included in a contract extension signed in November.
But the Mountaineers shot just 37 percent and Huggins fell to 0-5 all-time against the Jayhawks.
Without any players averaging in double-figure scoring for the season, Huggins has jumbled his lineups this season to try to come up with size matchups and points production.
Lately, not much has worked.
West Virginia has lost five of six games. With 11 games left in the regular season, the Mountaineers are in jeopardy of missing the NCAA tournament for the first time under Huggins, their sixth-year coach.
Big East men
• Marquette 63, South Florida 50: Vander Blue scored a career-high 30 points to lead No. 25 Marquette (15-4, 6-1), which moved into a first-place tie with Syracuse in the Big East. JaVontae Hawkins scored 14 points for visiting South Florida (10-10, 1-7).
Top 25 women
• Notre Dame 77, Tennessee 67: Skylar Diggins scored a career-high 33 points and No. 2 Notre Dame (19-1) built a 19-point lead in the second half before withstanding a late rally by the ninth-ranked Lady Vols (16-4). Before the game, Tennessee hung a banner at Thompson-Boling Arena in honor of former Lady Vols coach Pat Summitt, whose 1,098-208 record in 38 seasons gives her the most career wins of any Division I men's or women's basketball coach.
• Saint Francis 72, Robert Morris 63: Despite 21 points and 20 rebounds from Artemis Spanou, Robert Morris (4-15, 3-5 Northeast) fell to host Saint Francis (11-8, 6-2), which was led by Alexa Hayward's game-high 28 points and Alli Williams' 21 points.
First Published January 29, 2013 12:21 am