MORGANTOWN — Welcome to another “Phog-gy Mountain Breakdown.”
Those sort of Kansas vs. West Virginia University matchups usually are reserved for Phog Allen Fieldhouse in Lawrence, Kansas, where the Mountaineers are 0-7 lifetime.
But not this one.
This time it happened right under the noses of 14,212 Mountaineer fans, who sat stunned in the WVU Coliseum Wednesday night watching the Mountaineers melt down in a 58-49 loss to the Jayhawks.
And what a meltdown it was.
WVU scored only three points in the final 9:06 of the game.
The Mountaineers were 0 for their last 9 shots and hit only one of their last 12 field goal attempts. WVU committed five turnovers in the last 5:07 and gave the ball away six times in the last 5:50.
WVU even had a scoring drought that lasted 5:07.
That’s a guide on how to lose a basketball game down the stretch. So is this: While the Mountaineers went “Phog-gy,” Kansas put together a 9-0 run during a span of 4:54 and a 13-1 run over a period of 5:47.
That’s not a formula for winning.
As a result, the Mountaineers didn’t.
But for the longest time, it certainly looked like No. 14 WVU was going to end its recent uninspired play and upset the No. 3 Jayhawks. Why, the Mountaineers led, 30-24, at halftime and true freshman Oscar Tshiebwe was easily the best player on the floor with 12 points and five rebounds.
Both numbers were game-highs at the half.
Even in the first part of the second half, WVU was having its way. Sophomore point guard Jordan McCabe actually was outplaying and outscoring Kansas star point guard Devon Dotson.
Who would have guessed that?
Why, the Mountaineers even led, 41-32, with 13:28 remaining, forcing Kansas coach Bill Self to call a timeout. And what a timeout it was. Eighteen seconds later, Tshiebwe was whistled for his third foul and headed for the bench.
That’s when Kansas mounted a stirring rally that appeared to take the Mountaineers aback. WVU’s players seemed to come unraveled while the Jayhawks surged.
The next thing everyone knew, Kansas had taken a 49-48 lead on a pair of foul shots by Isaiah Moss with 5:22 remaining. Whatever wind remaining in WVU’s sails quickly and quietly dissipated.
The Mountaineers went down without a fight.
What makes that so regrettable and so reprehensible is WVU actually held the lead in this game for a span of 29:34. That’s nearly 30 minutes of a 40-minute contest.
The Jayhawks led for only 7:15 of this game. That’s right, just seven minutes and 15 seconds of this 40-minute game.
But guess what.
It was the right 7:15.
As a result, Kansas now leads the series 14-5 and improved its record in the WVU Coliseum to 3-5.
That’s a shame because WVU pulled out the big guns on Wednesday night.
And, no, that didn’t include the Mountaineer and his muzzle-loader.
I mean, the real big guns.
Pittsburgh Steelers’ star quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and his wife were sitting courtside in preferred seating along with Steelers teammate Ryan Switzer (who hails from George Washington High School in Charleston) and his wife.
Big Ben even cheesed it up with his beard for the video board.
Then there was the Red Panda and her unicycle, who juggled her bowls better than either coach juggled his lineup.
But it all went for naught.
The Phog hasn’t lifted.