Getting to know: West Virginia basketball
No. 14 Kansas returns home to take on lowly West Virginia in Allen Fieldhouse.
The Jayhawks (19-6, 8-4) have won back-to-back games since falling on the road to in-state rival Kansas State. The Mountaineers (10-14, 2-9) have only won two games against league foes all year, though one of them was against KU.
Kansas' 18-game home court winning streak, which includes 17 victories in Allen Fieldhouse and one at Sprint Center, is tops in the Big 12 and is the seventh-longest active streak nationally.
Tipoff is slated for 3 p.m.
Series history: This series started when WVU joined the Big 12 Conference in 2012-13, with KU holding a 10-5 advantage. The Jayhawks have won four of the last five meetings. KU is 6-0 against West Virginia in games played in Allen Fieldhouse.
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BREAKING DOWN WEST VIRGINIA
No. 1 — F Derek Culver | 6-10, 255, fr.
Culver’s remarkable rookie campaign has been one of the few bright spots for West Virginia.
As a freshman, Culver is averaging 11.7 points per contest to go along with 8.7 rebounds per outing. Culver has scored 13.2 points per game in Big 12 play, a mark that leads the Mountaineers in league action.
In conference play, Culver has registered four double-doubles. He scored 17 points and collected 12 rebounds against Kansas State, while notching 15 in each category against Oklahoma State. Against OU, Culver’s first career start, he finished with 13 points and 14 rebounds. Culver also went for 23 points and 12 rebounds at Texas Tech.
No. 15 — F Lamont West | 6-8, 222, jr.
The supporting cast has taken a hit since the dismissals of Esa Ahmad and Wesley Harris. Sagabe Konate (knee) and James Bolden (ankle) are also sidelined and their status for Saturday remains uncertain.
Still, West will be a player to keep an eye on. He’s averaging 9.8 points per game to go along with 3.7 rebounds per contest. He’s made 129 3-pointers during his career, and could take advantage of a KU defense that gives up triples.
Earlier this season, West scored a career-high 27 points on 7-of-11 shooting from 3-point range against Saint Joseph’s.
No. 14 — G Chase Harler | 6-3, 210, jr.
Harler has started in 17 of 24 games this season, but his role may have to be increased this weekend.
This season, Harler is averaging 4.7 points and 1.1 rebounds per game. Harler has scored a total of 190 points in his career, including 113 this season. Harler posted seven points and two blocks against Texas.
In high school, Harler was a two-time West Virginia Gatorade Boys Basketball Player of the Year, and was also a three-time West Virginia First Team All-State selection.
ONE THING WEST VIRGINIA DOES WELL
About the only green box on West Virginia’s KenPom page is offensive rebounding. The Mountaineers are collecting 36.8 percent of the offensive rebounds, which ranks 14th in the nation.
ONE AREA WEST VIRGINIA STRUGGLES
West Virginia struggles in a lot of areas, but it particularly has troubles shooting the ball. The Mountaineers are shooting just 31.6 percent from long range, and connecting on just 47.4 percent of their 2-point shots.
MEET THE COACH
The Mountaineers are coached by Bob Huggins, who is 264-141 in his 12th season at WVU, his alma mater, and 854-352 in his 37th season overall. West Virginia has lost five of six games since defeating the Jayhawks in Morgantown on Jan. 19.
KU is a 14-point favorite over West Virginia, and I forgot Vegas lines could be that high for a minute. It has been awhile since the Jayhawks were double-digit favorites. West Virginia is down, in terms of both players and in the conference standings. Give me KU in a lopsided win on a Saturday afternoon in Allen Fieldhouse.
My prediction: Kansas 85, West Virginia 66