Counting tonight’s game, Bob Huggins and Bill Self have seen their teams lock horns in the Big 12 tournament three out of the last four years. In their most recent Big 12 Tournament matchup No. 18 West Virginia lost to No. 9 Kansas in the championship game by a final score of 81 to 70.
A lot has changed since last year’s matchup. All five West Virginia starters from that game are no longer on the team. Lamont West and Logan Routt are the only two West Virginia players that remain who played in that game. The only Kansas player still with the team who played in last year’s Big 12 Championship game is reserve Mitch Lightfoot.
How did the two teams get there? Well, the Mountaineers, who finished last place in the Big 12, took down the No. 7 seed Oklahoma Sooners and followed that up by upsetting the No. 2 seed Texas Tech Red Raiders. Kansas received the first round bye and took down the No. 6 seed Texas Longhorns.
West Virginia’s Keys to Success
Keep Kansas Out of Transition
As usually is the case, this Kansas teams likes to get out and run. The three guard lineup of Ochai Agbaji, Devon Dotson and Quentin Grimes hopes to get out in transition and get the ball into the hands of of Dedric Lawson, who leads the conference in scoring and rebounding. If this turns into and up and down the court shootout, that does not bode well for WVU.
West Virginia is ranked 338th in the country in allowing fast-break opportunities. That is something Kansas is well aware of and will be looking to attack.
Clean Up the Glass
During West Virginia’s two game surge in the Big 12 Tournament they have dominated the glass. West Virginia outrebounded Texas Tech 44 to 30 and Oklahoma 46 to 36. Derek Culver needs to crash the boards and get help from Matthews, McCabe and West. Speaking of Culver…
Keep Derek Culver Out of Foul Trouble
It’s essential that Derek Culver is able to get closer to the 32 minutes he had against Texas Tech than the 13 minutes he had against Oklahoma while battling foul trouble. It’s very likely he will be defending Dedric Lawson and needs to stay disciplined on defense.
Keep the Turnovers Down
In West Virginia’s loss in Lawrence they committed 24 turnovers. In the win in Morgantown West Virginia had only 13 turnovers. Jordan McCabe needs to do a good job taking care of the ball with help from Haley and Matthews Jr. along with Brandon Knapper spelling him off the bench.
STUNNER. COURT STORM.
West Virginia shocks Kansas. pic.twitter.com/rXTqyWyxDr
— CBS Sports (@CBSSports) January 19, 2019
Get to the Free Throw Line…And Make Them
A big part of the upset over Texas Tech was going 20 of 22 at the free throw line, 90 percent. It’s tough to ask for a repeat of that, but West Virginia needs to attack the rim and get to the line to and cash in get a win over the favored Jayhawks.
Someone Need to Get Hot From Deep
West Virginia was 7-of-19 from three point range against Texas Tech. Jordan McCabe was 2-of-7. A bounce back from McCabe with him hitting four or five three-pointers would be a huge boon for the Eers.
Tip off time: 9 p.m. (20 minutes after the end of Kansas State-Iowa State so more like 9:20 to 9:30 p.m.)
Television network: ESPN2
Live Stream: WatchESPN