The No. 17 West Virginia Mountaineers get their opportunity to avenge the 79-65 loss to the No. 23 Kansas Jayhawks earlier in the season this Saturday inside the WVU Coliseum at 2:00 pm EST on CBS.
In the first meeting, Kansas demoralized West Virginia on the offensive glass receiving 19 rebounds for 25 second-chance points primarily coming from three-point range. The Mountaineers held a one-point advantage at the break behind Sean McNeil, netting a perfect 6-6 from beyond the arc. The Jayhawks caught fire in the second half, hitting five of their first seven three-point attempts and hit a season-high 16 threes, cruising to a 22-point, and coasted to the 14-point win.
Kansas has gone an uncharacteristic 4-5 since the win over West Virginia, including an 84-59 beatdown on their home floor by a hot Texas team. The other four other losses coming on the road, capped off by an 80-61 drubbing from Tennessee. Fortunately, the struggles are not COVID-19 related like some of the Big 12 Conference's programs have experience.
Kansas has shot the ball better outside of Lawrence, but they allow 72.3 points per game on the road to 62.0 points at home since squaring off against the Mountaineers.
West Virginia head coach Bob Huggins has noticed the Jayhawks feeding the ball down to 6’10” forward David McCormack more since the Mountaineers and Jayhawks battled. McCormack grabbed 12 rebounds to go along with a season-high 24 points against Oklahoma State and has averaged 16.7 points and 6.0 rebounds per game in the last three outings.
“They’re throwing the ball to him, and rightfully so. He’s improved, I think, more than anybody I’ve coached against… I’ve never seen a guy get better that fast,” said Huggins. “He’s a heck of a threat for him and now, and they’re really looking to throw him the ball. He can go over his left shoulder, go over his right shoulder, he’s shooting jump shots, he’s always been a great rebounder and shot blocker. I think he’s put himself in a position to be one of the most talked-about guys in the country, the way he’s improved.”
McCormack's 1.7 blocks per game during conference play, along with Mitch Lightfoots 1.1 bpg, has the Jayhawks ranked first the Big 12 in blocks per game at 4.6.
Ochai Agbaji is averaging a team-leading 14.1 ppg, but among the several Mountaineer killers in game one, Christian Braun’s game-high 22 points brutalized the Mountaineers. Since then, he’s hit double figures three times, including an 18-point performance in Tuesday’s win over Kansas State.
Jalen Wilson leads the team in rebounding at 7.0 rpg, is third on the team in scoring at 12.1 ppg, and delivered a 17-point seven-rebound performance against the Mountaineers.
Kansas has dominated the series as of late, winning 11 of the last 13 meetings, including nine of the last 10. Additionally, Kansas has won the last five games over West Virginia with an average margin of victory of 13.8 points during that span.
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