The Jayhawks (21-4, 10-2 Big 12) are aiming for their third straight victory after beating No. 16 Baylor, 74-64, on Saturday in Allen Fieldhouse. Kansas, which was down 23-10 in the first half, scored 47 points in the final 20 minutes in helping secure the victory.
With six games left in the Big 12 schedule, KU is two games ahead of Iowa State (8-4) with Oklahoma (8-5) and West Virginia (7-5) sitting just behind the Cyclones.
SCOUTING WEST VIRGINIA
West Virginia (19-6, 7-5) raced out this season by winning 14 of its first 15 games. However, the Mountaineers have struggled lately, losing three of their last four games while coming off a 79-59 road loss to No. 14 Iowa State on Saturday.
WVU is averaging 75.0 points per game and boasts a +9.2 scoring margin. The Mountaineers also average 37.3 rebounds per game (45.2 percent of its boards come on the offensive end) with a slim +2.7 rebound margin. WVU leads the nation in steals per game (12.0) and in turnover margin (+8.4). West Virginia forces 21.3 turnovers per game while averaging 14.3 assists and 3.1 blocks per contest.
Senior guard Juwan Staten, the Big 12 Preseason Player of the Year, leads the attack with 14.3 points per game, while also pacing the team with 110 assists and 101 free throws made. Sophomore forward Devin Williams is next in scoring (11.1 ppg) while ranking second in the league in rebounding (8.3 rpg). Junior forward Jonathan Holton averages 8.2 points per game and has a team-high 25 blocks.
The last two starters are senior guard Gary Browne (6.8 ppg) and freshman guard Daxter Miles Jr. (6.1 ppg), while some key reserves include freshman guard Jevon Carter (8.1 ppg, team-high 48 steals and 31 three-pointers made) and junior guard Jaysean Paige (6.2 ppg).
WVU is coached by Bob Huggins, who is 169-97 in his eighth season at the school and 759-308 in his 33rd season overall.
After Saturday’s win over Baylor, KU coach Bill Self knows his team will have to be ready quickly for West Virginia’s strong full-court press.
"We practiced for West Virginia for one day about 11 days ago. We spent the entire practice going against eight guys,” Self said. “But that was 11 days ago. (Sunday) we'll prepare in a 30-minute practice. If you're going to play West Virginia and only practice for 30 minutes, you'd be better doing it the second game. Certainly Frank (Mason III), Wayne (Selden Jr.), Kelly (Oubre Jr.) Devonte' (Graham) and Brannen (Greene) need to show up. Hopefully our guys go in with the mindset to score instead of survive."
West Virginia will be the third straight team KU faces which has its own unique defense. Self believes that will be helpful in preparation for the upcoming NCAA Tournament.
"We'll try to simplify it for them, showing them possessions that are good and that people didn't have success with,” Self said. “One of the reasons our league is good is for postseason preparation; there are not many styles that people with throw at us that we haven't seen. There has been a lot of things that happened within our league that will help our team moving forward."
Self isn’t afraid to use his bench; he believes he has “eight starters, any of them can play 25 or 30 minutes” per game. KU’s bench this season has outscored its opponents bench in eight of the last nine games and 17 times overall. The bench is scoring 23.6 points per game while its foes bench averages just 14.3 points per contest.
In Self’s 12 seasons at Kansas, this team currently ranks second behind the 2010-11 squad’s 24.4 bench scoring average. KU’s +9.3 bench scoring differential is No. 1 in the Self era with the 2008 national championship team second at +8.4.
Kansas leads the all-time series with WVU, 3-1. The Mountaineers won the last meeting, 92-86, on March 8, 2014 in Morgantown after KU won the first three showdowns.
Self is 3-1 against West Virginia, while Huggins is 1-7 all time versus Kansas (1-3 at WVU).