|Points Per Game
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|Steals Per Game
Tip-Off: 6:00 pm Est
Location: Kansas City, Missouri. Sprint Center
The #18 West Virginia Mountaineers (24-9 13-7) meet the #9 Kansas Jayhawks (26-7 15-5) in the Big XII Conference Tournament Championship inside the Sprint Center.
The Mountaineers lost both regular season games to the Jayhawks by an average margin of 6.5 points.
In the first meeting, The Mountaineers held a 15-point lead early in the second half before Kansas dwindled it down and took the lead in the final minutes of the game.
In game two, West Virginia had a 12-point lead with just over 10 minutes to go, then the Jayhawks made their run and eventually won the game. There was a lot of controversy surrounding the game with Kansas shooting 35 free throws to the Mountaineers two.
Kansas Center Udoka Azubuike has not played during the Big XII Tournament due to a sprained MCL in his left knee he suffered in practice this past Tuesday. It has left Kansas vulnerable along the front line but Forwards Malik Newman, Mitch Lightfoot and Silvio De Sousa have stepped up in his place.
Kansas Starters and how they performed against West Virginia in the first two meetings:
Senior guard Devonte’ Graham (6’2” 185-lbs) averaged 15.5 points, 5.5 rebounds and 6.5 assists. In the first two games of the Big XII Tournament he is 2-11 from three and 13 of his 25 points have been from the free throw line.
Senior guard/forward Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk (6’8” 205-lbs) was a Mountaineer killer in the game in Morgantown with 17 points but had nine points in Lawrence. He averaged 4.0 rebounds and 4.5 assists. He is averaging 12.5 points in the tournament.
Freshman guard Marcus Garrett (6’5” 180-lbs) had two points in the first game but eight points and three rebounds in the second matchup. He had a solid game in the semifinals versus Kansas State with eight points and five rebounds.
Sophomore guard Malik Newman (6’3” 190-lbs) averaged 10 points and five rebounds. He has come on strong in the tournament, scoring 30 points versus Oklahoma State and 22 points against Kansas State, while shooting 65.5% (19-29) from the field and 64.4% (9-14) from behind the arc.
Sophomore forward Mitch Lightfoot (6’8” 210-lbs) scored six points and grabbed five rebounds in the first game. Played nine minutes in the second meeting and didn’t produce a stat. He has been starting for Udoka Azubuike in the Big XII Tournament and has averaged eight points and 4.5 rebounds.
Coming off the bench:
Freshman forward Silvio De Sousa (6’9 245-lbs) didn’t play much in the first meeting because it was only his second game back after the NCAA cleared him to play. He has found himself playing the most minutes he has seen all season in the last few games and has produced in the tournament. Silvio had 11 rebounds and eight points in the Semifinals against Kansas State and six points and eight rebounds versus Oklahoma State.
Junior Guard Lagerald Vick (6’5” 175-lbs) averaged 11 points and four rebounds. He is averaging 11.5 points on 56% shooting in the tournament.
The biggest concern going into this game is the Jayhawks ability to shoot the three. They have hurt the Mountaineers in crucial times with the deep ball, most importantly in transition. Overall, Kansas has only shot 33.3% (15-45) from behind the arc against West Virginia this year.
Mountaineer guard Daxter Miles Jr had 22 points in the last game versus the Jayhawks. He went 6-9 from behind the arc and has been hot in the Big XII Tournament, shooting 66.7% (10-15) from three. Add his hustle and defense into the mix and he is a candidate to be the Most Valuable Player of the tournament.
Jevon Carter doesn’t want to go home empty handed and he’s playing like every game is his last. He had a double-double in the quarterfinals versus Baylor with 18 points and 11 assists. Against Texas Tech in the Semifinals, Carter hit three straight threes’ in the second half to match the Red raiders offense. He ended the game with 17 points, four rebounds and four assists.
Carter played well versus Kansas in the two meetings. He averaged 14.5 points 4.5 rebounds and 5.5 assists.
Forward Sagaba Konate hasn’t played as well in the Big XII Tournament as he did in the regular season but still managed 11 points, five rebounds and three blocks against Texas Tech. He should have a big game versus Kansas with Udoka out of the lineup. Sags averaged 12.5 points eight rebounds and four blocks against Kansas this season.
Esa Ahmad did not play well in the Semifinal after scoring 21 points and grabbing eight rebounds against Baylor in the quarterfinal. Esa had a good game in the first meeting versus Kansas with 15 points and five rebounds but was not a factor in the second game. He will need to step up for the Mountaineers to knock off Kansas.
Forward Wesley Harris had a solid game against Texas Tech with seven rebounds and seven points. He averaged four points and 4.5 rebounds this year versus Kansas. They’ll need him to continue to hit the boards in the championship game.
The Mountaineers just need to continue to play like they have the last two games and limit the Jayhawks open looks. They must win the rebounding battle and they will probably need to do it by a margin of eight or more.
Jevon Carter and Daxter Miles are two players that are playing at a high level at the right time of year. These two look unbeatable at the moment and I don’t know if anything will stop them from bringing home the Big XII Tournament Trophy.
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