Kansas, Duke show why it's hard to beat the king

At various points Monday night, both No. 5 Duke and No. 10 Kansas found themselves trying to avoid lopsided losses. It's an unusual spot for either team, so when it happened to both on the same night, it was truly a mathematic improbability.

The analytics will say that what happened next was even more unlikely: Duke erased a 13-point deficit with eight minutes remaining to win 83-75 at No. 25 Miami, and Kansas, which trailed by as many as 16, came back from nine down with under six to play to win 71-66 at No. 6 West Virginia.

At the same time, it probably shouldn't be that surprising. Duke and Kansas are still ... Duke and Kansas. Even if they're having what is perceived to be a down night (Duke) or even a relatively down season (Kansas), it's going to take more than a good 30 minutes to finish them off.

It's a lesson the Mountain teaches the Viper so very well in season four of Game of Thrones.

The win was particularly important for the Jayhawks, who are chasing a historic 14th straight regular-season conference title. Kansas tied UCLA's NCAA record of 13 straight (1967-1979) last season and entered Monday night in a four-way tie for the Big 12 lead with West Virginia, Oklahoma and Texas Tech.

If there were a game on Kansas' conference schedule that would have been easy to pencil in as a loss, it would have been Monday's tilt in Morgantown. WVU Coliseum has become a bona fide house of horrors for the Jayhawks, who had lost their four previous times in the building, including defeats of 12 and 16 points the past two seasons.

Those losses came during seasons where it was clear the Jayhawks were the better, more talented team. Headed into this one -- and even in its wake -- that was up for debate. West Virginia came into the game off a 72-71 loss at Texas Tech, but for the past two months, it had easily been the more impressive team.

Kansas came in with a three-game win streak but needed a pair of free throws with 15 seconds left to beat Kansas State two days ago.

West Virginia's pressure defense caused all sorts of problems early for Kansas and helped the Mountaineers to a 41-28 halftime lead. It was tied for the fewest points by Kansas in any half this season.

"We didn't play very well, but they make everybody play not very well," Kansas coach Bill Self said. "They're so good and create so much havoc. We got off to such a bad start, but fortunately in the second half when we struggled, the [WVU] lead didn't get over 12."

For Duke, the regular-season ACC title doesn't seem to carry as much value as the Big 12 does for Kansas -- the Blue Devils haven't won a regular season title since sharing the 2009-10 title with Maryland -- but a loss would have dropped them to an eye-opening 2-3 in conference play. Instead, they're a game and half behind ACC-leading Virginia with a game against the second-ranked Cavaliers at the end of the month.

The win at Miami was a reminder that this Duke team will still make some youthful mistakes, but once again, it has the potential to be very dangerous come March.

All three top-25 winners in action on Monday, in fact, faced double-digit deficits and came back to win. No. 23 Michigan trailed Maryland by 14 and came back to win 68-67 on a pair of free throws by Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman with 1.2 seconds remaining.