|Tale of the Tape|
|Points Per Game||81.7||69.7|
|Field Goal Percentage||50.1||44.0|
|Field Goal Percentage Against||43.0||41.5|
|3-PT Field Goal Percentage||36.9||32.0|
|3-PT Field Goal Percentage Against||31.7||30.2|
|Free Throw Percentage||70.9||66.0|
|Turnovers Per Game||12.5||12.3|
|Turnovers Per Game Against||15.3||17.4|
|Steals Per Game||7.3||8.4|
|Blocks Per Game||4.5||5.5|
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – West Virginia will take another crack ending its nine-game winless streak in Allen Fieldhouse when the Mountaineers face ninth-ranked Kansas in a 2 p.m. game that will be televised nationally on CBS.
A couple of times West Virginia has taken the Jayhawks to overtime, including a four-point defeat in 2018 when the Mountaineers could not hold on to a 14-point lead with less than four minutes to play.
Call it West Virginia’s Phog Allen fog.
“We’ve had our chances,” West Virginia coach Bob Huggins said Friday morning. “We’ve played pretty well there at times and things have a way of happening.”
A lot of those happenings have been a result of the good players Bill Self has been putting on the floor there for years.
In 2015, when West Virginia lost 76-69 in overtime, it was Frank Mason III, Jamari Traylor and Kelly Oubre. Three years later, it was Mason, Devonte’ Graham, Josh Jackson and Lagerald Vick.
The guys Self will be running out there on Saturday afternoon will be just as good, particularly 6-foot-5 senior guard Ochai Agbaji, who is averaging a Big 12-best 20.6 points per game. Agbaji scored a game-high 22 points in the Jayhawks’ 62-61 victory over No. 15 Iowa State earlier this week, but it was guard Dajuan Harris’ layup with seven seconds left that lifted them to their 13th victory of the season.
In addition to Agbaji, Kansas has three other players capable of making 3s in bunches – 6-foot-7 guard Christian Braun, 6-foot guard Remy Martin and 6-foot-4 guard Jalen Coleman-Lands.
Martin, an Arizona State transfer, has missed the last couple of games after tweaking his knee in the Nevada victory.
“We don’t have any idea if he’ll play or how much he’ll play or whatever,” Huggins said. “We’ve just been concentrating on the guys that have played the last few games, and we’ll deal with it if he comes into the game.”
Huggins said his guys already have plenty to deal with when it comes to Agbaji and Braun, who is fifth in the conference in scoring, averaging 16.1 points per game. There might not be a better one-two scoring punch in the country than those two.
“They’re really good. They’ve probably got two of the best perimeter guys in the country, and maybe more than two,” Huggins said. “If someone is having a bad day they can bring somebody off the bench who can shoot the ball, too. They’ve got a lot of guys that can make shots and have historically made big shots.”
Huggins believes Agbaji, this year, has expanded his game beyond just being a 3-point shooter.
“He’s probably using his athleticism a little bit more,” he said. “He’s got a little more versatility. He was probably behind the (3-point) line a little bit more last year and now he’s a great guy at attacking the rim, and he’s a big-time shot maker.”
Inside, senior David McMormack has been a player who has given West Virginia trouble around the rim. The 6-foot-10 forward scored 17 points and grabbed nine rebounds in last year’s game in Morgantown and had 10 points and 11 boards in the Mountaineers’ loss at Kansas.
However, McCormack saw just nine minutes of court time against the Cyclones and scored just one point. He is averaging 8.1 points and 5.9 rebounds in 15 games this year for the Jayhawks.
“He’s a force,” Huggins noted. “He’s probably the best rim protector in our league, and I think his offense has gotten better and better.”
West Virginia (13-2, 2-1) is coming off a 70-60 home victory against Oklahoma State on Tuesday night. Forward Jalen Bridges scored a career-high 22 points and forward Gabe Osabuohien came off the bench to contribute 12 points and eight rebounds.
Taz Sherman added 13 and sits behind Agbaji among Big 12 scoring leaders with an average of 19.9 points per game. Huggins was asked Friday if he think it matters to Sherman if he finishes first in the Big 12 this year.
He said it doesn’t.
“(Taz) and Gabe are unquestionably our leaders and you’re not a very good leader if you’re selfish, and he’s certainly not that. He just wants to win,” Huggins said.
It’s clear Huggins wants to win a game finally at Allen Fieldhouse and get that monkey off his back.
“We just need to go in and play. I don’t think the Fieldhouse has ever beat us,” he concluded.
Mountaineer Sports Network radio coverage with Tony Caridi, Jay Jacobs and David Kahn will begin at 1 p.m. on stations throughout West Virginia and online via WVUsports.com and the popular mobile app WVU Gameday.
Spero Dedes and Bill Raftery will be on the call for CBS.