West Virginia-Kansas Preview
Even when its star players struggle, Kansas has found ways to win.
The No. 8 Jayhawks will look to get two of their top scorers back on track when they host West Virginia on Saturday.
Kansas (17-5, 8-1 Big 12) won 69-52 at Baylor on Tuesday despite Andrew Wiggins and Joel Embiid combining to shoot 5 of 19 for 19 points, nearly eight points fewer than what the duo averages.
Thankfully for the Jayhawks, Naadir Tharpe stepped up to score 22 points.
The struggles of Wiggins and Embiid marked the second consecutive contest the two talented freshmen were off the mark. Wiggins shot 2 of 12 and finished with seven points before fouling out while Embiid scored eight points on 3-of-9 shooting - though he did grab 10 rebounds - in last Saturday's 81-69 loss at then-No. 25 Texas.
Despite their recent issues, coach Bill Self isn't worried about his team, which leads the Longhorns by one game as it looks for its 10th consecutive regular-season conference title.
"We should be able to get better. There have only been a few games this year where we've been hitting on all cylinders with all our main players," Self said. "We'd better get better or it's going to end sad. I think every team in America would say the same thing. So yeah, there's a lot of room for growth and improvement."
West Virginia (14-9, 6-4) enters having won three straight and four of five after beating No. 21 Oklahoma 91-86 in overtime Wednesday. Guard Eron Harris hit a 3-pointer with 20 seconds left in the second half to push the game into OT and scored six of his team's 10 points in the extra session.
Harris, third in the conference with 17.5 points per game, scored 26 of his 28 points after halftime. Juwan Staten, right above Harris in the Big 12 with an average of 18.1 points, scored 20 and fellow starting guard Terry Henderson (12.5 points per game) added 17.
"They have some great scorers, great guards, so we definitely have to be aware of them," Kansas forward Perry Ellis said.
The Mountaineers snapped a 16-game losing streak against ranked opponents, and they'll encounter a more daunting task at Allen Fieldhouse. Kansas is 50-1 and has won by an average of 20.9 points in its last 51 home games versus unranked Big 12 foes.
"We have to control the game as best we can. Don't give them run-out dunks and try to keep it manageable," West Virginia coach Bob Huggins said. "They're really talented, and the other part is, (Self) can coach. So when you look at it, where are the weaknesses? They've got really good players."
This will mark only the third time these teams have played, with both previous matchups coming last season. The Jayhawks swept the series with a 91-65 home victory March 2.
Staten shot 6 of 15 and totaled 17 points in the two meetings, while Harris scored 13 on 4-for-22 shooting - 0 for 9 from 3-point range. Henderson played well in the game at Kansas, scoring 20 points and going 6 of 9 from beyond the arc.