Kansas-West Virginia Preview

BY foxsports • January 11, 2016

Just over a week ago, the Big 12 Conference provided what was likely college basketball's most thrilling game.

There's a good chance there will be another from that conference Tuesday night.

First place will be on the line when top-ranked Kansas visits No. 11 West Virginia in a matchup that was closely contested last season.

Kansas and West Virginia are both 14-1 overall and 3-0 in the Big 12. The Jayhawks have won 13 straight for their longest run in three seasons and the Mountaineers have taken seven in a row.

This contest is another showdown after the Jayhawks outlasted No. 2 Oklahoma 109-106 in triple-overtime last Monday.

West Virginia will face both those teams this week, and coach Bob Huggins is impressed by what Bill Self has done with Kansas.

"I think this might be Bill's best team that he's had since we've been in the league," Huggins said. "I think they're really, really good."

An uptempo game figures to be on tap with Kansas second in the nation in scoring at 88.4 points per game and West Virginia sixth at 86.0.

The Jayhawks have dropped their last two visits to the WVU Coliseum, falling 62-61 on Feb. 16. Perry Ellis missed a contested layup as time expired to set off a frenzied celebration.

Kansas then rallied from 18 down for a 76-69 overtime home win over West Virginia on March 3. Frank Mason III scored 19, including the final six points of the extra session.

West Virginia forced 30 turnovers in those games after forcing an NCAA-best 19.4 per game in 2014-15. The Mountaineers lead the nation again with an average of 20.8 this season.

"I think they're maybe doing it better this year than they did last year," Self said.

Mountaineers guard Daxter Miles Jr. is expected to return after missing Saturday's 77-60 home win over Oklahoma State with an ankle injury after starting 49 straight games. He scored a career-high 23 the last time these teams met.

West Virginia outrebounded Kansas by a total of 17 last season, grabbing 43 offensive rebounds. The Mountaineers have an average rebound margin of plus-11.8 and are second in the nation with an average of 17.3 offensive boards.

Devin Williams averages a team-high 14.5 points, with six Mountaineers averaging at least 7.7.

"They're on attack mode all the time on both ends," Self said. "And they have so many interchangeable parts, they're a very deep team too."

Six Jayhawks average between 6.5 points and 16.0 points, with Ellis the top scorer. Kansas is shooting a conference-best 50.1 percent and is 45.9 percent on 3-pointers to rank second in Division I.

"They've shot the ball so well, obviously you've got to try to figure out a way to guard them," Huggins said.

The Jayhawks were held to their lowest point total on 41.8 percent shooting in Saturday's 69-59 win at Texas Tech. Mason scored 17 and Ellis added 15 with each grabbing 10 boards.

"Anytime you can get a win on the road, it's a great win," Self said. "It's a double-figure win even though the game may have been a little closer than that."

This is the sixth time a top-ranked team has visited West Virginia, which has lost the last four such games since beating UNLV in 1982-83.

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