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WVU Basketball

No. 7 WVU and No. 3 Kansas Meet in an Unusual Matchup of Opposing Styles



(Dale Sparks/WVU Athletic Communications)

In most seasons, college basketball games between West Virginia and Kansas would be a matchup between teams with a similar style, using multiple big men together and scoring in the post. This year’s game between the No. 7 Mountaineers (7-1, 1-0 Big 12) and the No. 3 Jayhawks (7-1, 1-0), however, will look a little different.

“They’re just smaller, they’re playing smaller,” WVU coach Bob Huggins said Monday. “It’s different than having those two bigs that they generally have. It spreads you out a little bit more and they really try to dribble penetrate.”

Kansas coach Bill Self has turned to a more perimeter-centered offense this season, to much success. The Jayhawks are attempting more three-pointers than a year ago, 18.6 per game in 2019-20 compared to 21.4 this season, and are also making them at a high clip, 34.4% last season vs 39.2% this year.

This shooting improvement has been led by junior guard Ochai Agbaji, who leads the team with 15.3 points pergame with 21 three-pointers and shooting 47.7% from beyond the arch. Redshirt-freshman Jalen Wilson has also provided a nice boost, averaging 14.3 points and eight rebounds per game while shooting 37.5% from three.

The Mountaineers, however, look much the same as they did a year ago, working their offense through big men Derek Culver (14.4 points per game) and Oscar Tshiebwe (8.8). Huggins has involved WVU’s guards more this season with point guard Miles ‘Deuce’ McBride leading the team with 15 points per game.

Against Kansas, however, Huggins said he does not plan to adjust WVU’s style to match the Jayhawks’ smaller gameplan.

“They’ve got to guard us too,” Huggins said. “We’re going to have a bit of a size advantage [over Kansas] for the first time in about 20 years.”

Even with a smaller lineup, the Jayhawks are still averaging 43.3 rebounds per game, out-rebounding opponents by an average of more than 10.

Like the Mountaineers, The Jayhawks’ only loss this season has come at the hands of No. 1 Gonzaga. Kansas lost to Gonzaga in its season-opener on Nov. 26. Since then, the Jayhawks have rattled off seven consecutive victories, including wins over then-No. 20 Kentucky, No. 13 Creighton and No. 15 Texas Tech.

Kansas defeated WVU in both meetings last season, despite the Mountaineers holding a halftime lead in both contests. WVU has not won at Kansas since joining the Big 12.

WVU and Kansas will tip-off at 9 p.m. Tuesday evening from Phog Allen Fieldhouse in Lawrence, Kansas. The game will be broadcast on ESPN2.

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