With less than three minutes remaining in the second half, the message finally sunk in.
The No. 3 Jayhawks trailed by 14 points with 2:58 remaining before waging a furious rally to tie No. 9 West Virginia and then top the Mountaineers 84-80 in overtime.
"Everybody stepped up and made big-time plays," Kansas junior guard Devonte' Graham said. "It was just that confidence we have in each other and the coaches have in us. We just know what we're capable of, and we believe in each other."
Iowa State rallied from a 14-point halftime deficit to win in Allen Fieldhouse on Feb. 4, and Kansas seemed on the brink of disappointing a sellout crowd at home for the second straight time Monday. The Jayhawks not only have not lost two straight games under Bill Self, who is in his 14th season as coach, but the last time it happened was in 1988-89 in the first of 15 seasons Roy Williams coached Kansas.
"All we did tonight," Self said, "in a very unique way, was do what we were supposed to do."
Unique indeed, especially after Kansas had to press to gain the possessions needed down the stretch in regulation to mount the comeback. The Jayhawks eventually forced 21 turnovers, which was key considering they shot a season-worst 34.4 percent from the field. They also made 33 of 44 free throws.
"If you asked any of our players the last time we practiced a press, it was maybe a month ago," Self said. "We actually worked on trapping the other day, but not like this."
Senior guard Frank Mason made just 3 of 13 shot attempts, his second straight off night from the field, but he canned 16 of 18 free throws as part of his game-high 24 points. Mason capped the regulation comeback by making both ends of a two-shot foul with 21.6 seconds remaining to tie the game at 71.
The Mountaineers (20-6, 8-5 Big 12) could not score on the last possession, pushing the game into OT.
After failing to lead the entire second half, the Jayhawks (23-3, 11-2) scored first in overtime as Graham drained a 3-pointer with 4:10 left for a 74-71 lead. Freshman guard Josh Jackson made a layup with 3:03 left, and Graham canned another 3-pointer at the 2:11 mark.
Meanwhile, West Virginia did not score until 1:06 remained in overtime, committing three turnovers and missing three shots before a dunk by sophomore forward Esa Ahmad.
"We were trying to keep things together," said Ahmad, "but we turned the ball over 21 times.
"We handle the press every day in practice, but we didn't tonight," added West Virginia senior forward Nathan Adrian, who added 10 points, seven rebounds and six assists.
The Mountaineers swiped an errant pass by Jackson on an inbounds play and converted it into a follow shot by Adrian with 10 seconds left in OT to make it 82-80.
Still, the 8-0 blitz the Jayhawks used to begin the OT was enough cushion as Mason sealed the win by sinking two free throws with four seconds remaining.
The victory enabled Kansas to gain a two-game lead in the Big 12 after second-place Baylor lost Monday at Texas Tech. The Jayhawks are bidding for a 13th consecutive conference crown, which would tie UCLA (1967-79) for the longest such streak in Division I basketball.
Ahmad scored 20 points and senior guard Tarik Phillip added 18 for West Virginia.
Graham chipped in 18 for Kansas, while Jackson logged his fifth double-double in six games with 14 points and 11 rebounds. Lagerald Vick added 14 points, and Landen Lucas snagged 13 boards for the Jayhawks.
"They shot 34 percent and won," West Virginia coach Bob Huggins said. "Graham killed us last year in the conference tournament and made some big shots. Obviously, you can't let Mason shoot 18 free throws."
West Virginia rolled to an early 16-5 cushion, coupling a hot start from the floor with defense that held Kansas to 1-of-11 shooting from the field.
The Jayhawks roared back with 16 unanswered points to go up 26-21 but could not hold on to the advantage.
An 8-0 run by the Mountaineers to close the half gave them a 39-32 margin at the break. Jevon Carter capped the late spurt by netting a contested 3-pointer with two seconds remaining. Ahmad added 10 first-half points as West Virginia had two 16-5 flurries.
Vick came off the bench to boost the Jayhawks with 10 first-half points. Vick shot 4 of 4 before intermission while the rest of his teammates were 6 of 26. Each of the Kansas starters made just one first-half field goal on 23 collective attempts.
-- Trae Young, a guard from Norman, Okla., who is considering Kansas, was presented his McDonald's All-America jersey on Monday at his high school, Norman North. Young, who averages 43 points, five assists and five rebounds, will announce his college intentions Thursday. Oklahoma and Oklahoma State are also finalists. One Kansas signee, F Billy Preston, was named to the McDonald's All-American Game when teams were announced last month. Preston plays for Oak Hill Academy in Mouth of Wilson, Va.
-- Allen Fieldhouse is the only Big 12 facility in which West Virginia is winless since joining the league in 2012.
-- Bob Huggins was 0-4 against Kansas while coaching at Cincinnati and Kansas State, but he is 4-7 against the Jayhawks as the West Virginia coach.
-- Mountaineers football coach Dana Holgorsen accompanied the basketball team on its trip to Kansas.