News, notes and quotes on No. 8 Kansas' matchup with West Virginia Saturday at 3 p.m. in Allen Fieldhouse on ESPN, while hoping the Phog erupts in thunderous applause when the 1974 Final Four Jayhawks are honored during the game for their 40th-year anniversary.
KU is 17-5 and 8-1 in the Big 12.
SCOUTING WEST Virginia
West Virginia (14-9, 6-4 Big 12), one of the surprise teams in the Big 12, has won four of its last five games, including three straight over Baylor, K-State and Oklahoma. Junior guard Juwan Staten leads WVU in scoring at 18.1 points per game (paces Big 12 with 20.4 ppg in conference games). He also leads the league with 6.0 assists per game and his 1.3 steals per contest ranks third in the Big 12.
West Virginia averages 78.9 points per game and boasts a +7.4 scoring margin. WVU barely outrebounds opponents 36.3 to 35.8, while the Mountaineers are second in the Big 12 in turnover margin at +3.9 and their 1.4 assist-to-turnover ratio is also second in the league. West Virginia averages 6.6 steals per game and forces 13.6 turnovers per contest.
The Mountaineers shoot 44.7 percent from the field, 38.2 percent from three-point range, and 71.6 percent at the charity stripe, while holding foes to 43.6 percent shooting and 34.4 percent from beyond the arc.
WVU, which is 9-0 this season when allowing 69 or less points in a game, has made at least one three-point field goal in 478 consecutive games.
Bob Huggins, the third-winningest active coach behind Mike Krzyzewski and Jim Boeheim, is 147-84 in his seventh season at WVU, his alma mater, and 736-295 in his 32nd season overall.
SELF ON WVU
KU coach Bill Self has great respect for West Virginia.
"They're obviously playing well," Self said. "They won four of their last five. And they got some good wins. A couple of their losses, they could have easily beat Oklahoma State twice, had opportunities both games (73-72 home loss on Jan. 11 and 81-75 road defeat on Jan. 25). They're probably as explosive as any guard pair with Staten and Harris as anybody in our league, so they're good. They're quick, and it seems like to me this is the type of team that Huggs (Huggins) likes coaching."
The 6-1 Staten, who averages 6.0 rebounds per game, has elevated his game in Big 12 play. He's even averaging 40.2 minutes per game in conference action and has scored 55 points in his last two games, including 35 against K-State on Feb. 1.
"He never comes out. It's hard to average more than 40 minutes a game in league play, but he has," Self said. "He plays bigger than his standing height. He's strong, and of course, he puts so much pressure on you with the ball coming at you. He's a good player. He's definitely got a great opportunity to be first-team all-league."
Self knows his Jayhawks will be facing a team that makes few mistakes and causes matchup problems.
"They don't turn it over," Self said. "They play through their guards. ... They really added a lot of perimeter shooting since last year in (Rémi, 6-7 junior forward) Dibo and (Nathan, 6-9 freshman forward) Adrian. Those guys can stretch it and shoot it from the big spots. I think they're a real challenge to guard, especially knowing what our strengths are. I think it's a big-time challenge, and then they will pressure us. I think that Huggs will have them out there trying to take away the next pass, which he usually does, but they're good at it. It should be a good game. They're athletic, we're athletic, there should be a lot of possessions and it should be a fun game to watch."
This is just the third meeting between the schools with KU winning both games last season. The Jayhawks won 61-56 on Jan. 28, 2013 in Morgantown and 91-56 on March 2, 2013 in the Phog. Self is 2-0 against West Virginia, while Huggins is 0-6 all time against KU.
"COMEBACK KIDS" TURN 40
The Jayhawks have great reason to celebrate the 40th anniversary of their magical run to the 1974 Final Four. KU went 23-7 that season, the biggest turnaround in school history after going just 8-18 the previous year.
Nicknamed the "Comeback Kids," KU won the Big Eight title at 13-1 and then marched to the Final Four with thrilling wins over Creighton (55-54) and Oral Roberts (93-90 OT) in Tulsa. Kansas trailed ORU 77-68 with 4:49 left in regulation before rallying and beating Oral Roberts in overtime on its home floor at the Mabee Center.
"Teams just didn't come back like that," former junior guard Dale Greenlee told Jayhawk Insider in 2000 of the era without a time clock and no three-pointers. "I'd look at (Tom) Kivisto. He'd look at me. We'd look at Roger (Morningstar), and Danny (Knight) and Rick (Suttle) and Norm (Cook). We didn't feel we were out of the game. We figured we'd do what we had to do to get back in it."
Unfortunately, KU lost to Marquette in the national semifinals in Greensboro, N.C., and then to UCLA in the consolation game. Still, it was a miracle season for the Jayhawks who truly believed in each other. KU had five players in double figures with center Danny Knight leading the way at 12.4 points per game.
"(It was a) really tight group," said the scrappy Greenlee. "We kind of watched out for each other. Coach (Ted Owens) once said, ‘We played like brothers.' No one really cared who scored."
Kivisto, the consummate senior point guard and one of the greatest leaders in school history, averaged 7.6 points per game and was named All-Big Eight and an Academic All-American. Greenlee, who averaged 11.8 points, was tabbed Academic All-Big Eight.
The team was bolstered by two newcomers in freshman Cook (11.4 ppg) and junior college transfer Morningstar (12.3 ppg) while Suttle (11.3 ppg) served as sixth-man "Super Sub." The players knew their roles from the beginning, unlike the previous year.
"It seemed that there was no one player that had a real consistent year (1972-73)," Greenlee said. "I bet coach had 20 different lineups trying to find a combination. ... My junior year (73-74), early on in the season we pretty much had a set starting five. We knew who we were."