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Bock: West Virginia in Must-Win Situation Hosting No. 3 Kansas



Photo: Kelsie LeRose / WVSN

I think it goes without saying that every game in the Big 12 is a must-win game. Especially this year as it appears every team has had no guaranteed victory. But for West Virginia on Saturday, it is an absolute must-win as they host No. 3 Kansas at the coliseum.

WVU has put themselves in this situation after not finishing out both road games against Kansas State and Oklahoma State. Now their backs are against the wall facing a top-3 team in the country.

There’s more bad news for West Virginia as the team will be without starting guard Kedrian Johnson due to suffering a concussion in the previous game. The NCAA still hasn’t cleared Manhattan transfer Jose Perez. Mountaineers will need someone off the bench to step up big time.

There is optimism for West Virginia. WVU is 6-3 against Kansas in Morgantown since 2014. The WVU Coliseum has not been friendly to a Kansas program that handles business well on the road. The Jayhawks also have squeaked out two conference victories over Oklahoma State (69-67) and Texas Tech (75-72).

“[Kansas] could be 0-2 just like us,” WVU G Erik Stevenson said on Friday. “But the ball bounced their way in certain moments and I credit that to just how hard they play.”

Stevenson made a point that the difference between West Virginia and Kansas is that the Jayhawks have been able to close out games so far.

“That’s the difference between us being 12-2, 2-0 in the league and top-15 in the country and 10-4, 0-2 and outside the top-25 is just being consistent,” Stevenson said.

The Big 12 so far through one week of league play has shown that every game in the conference will matter. Every single game will be a must-win. Every single team in this conference can beat any team in the country and make the NCAA Tournament.

West Virginia cannot afford to be 0-3 in the Big 12 before hosting a ranked Baylor team next Wednesday, who will be bringing ex-Mountaineer Jalen Bridges back for his return to Morgantown. Between that potential distraction and Baylor being Baylor, West Virginia has to upset Kansas on Saturday night.

So far this season, the transfer portal experiment has been successful for Bob Huggins and his coaching staff. The first two games of the Big 12 slate have turned some fans to be cautious about a repeat of last season. Huggins and the program refuse to let last year happen again.

“I never want to think about last year again,” Huggins said in December.

Bock: West Virginia’s Real Test to Not Repeat Last Season Begins Now

Up until the Buffalo game, West Virginia played like a top-25 team and even got recognized as one last week. With the recent struggles, the pressure is completely on WVU to get under the win column on Saturday.

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