NCAA Saturday Afternoon Basketball: Kansas/West Virginia Preview

by Big Al Staff

CBS broadcasts a battle between two nationally-ranked Big 12 teams at 2 PM ET.

Kansas has won two of their last three games after they defeated Kansas State on Tuesday, 74-51, as a 17.5-point favorite. The Jayhawks pulled away with an 18-3 run in the second half fueled by two 3-pointers from Christian Braun, who led the team with 18 points. The sophomore is fourth on the team with a 9.8 points-per-game scoring average. David McCormack scored 18 points, with Ochai Agbaji adding 15 points.

Agbaji leads the team with a 14.1 points-per-game average. David McCormack is the second-leading scorer with a 12.3 points-per-game average while pulling down 5.7 rebounds-per-game.

The Jayhawks can struggle to score baskets. Their 49.0% shooting percentage inside the arc this season is 210th in the nation. The kenpom adjusted offensive efficiency numbers still rank the Jayhawks 35th in the nation. They pull down 31.4% of their misses, 74th in the country. They rank 22nd in adjusted defensive efficiency, with their interior defense leading the way. Kansas leads the Big 12 by holding their opponents to just 44.6% shooting inside the arc.

Kansas had lost four of five games before their 23-point win against the Wildcats. With a 12-6 record, the Jayhawks rank 23rd in the Associated Press poll. Kansas, 6-4, is fourth in the Big 12. They have quality victories against Creighton, West Virginia, Texas Tech, and Oklahoma. Their four losses in conference play were against Texas, Oklahoma State, Oklahoma, and Baylor. The Jayhawks have also lost to Gonzaga and Tennessee in non-conference action.

West Virginia has won three of their last four games with their 76-72 win at Oklahoma State on Tuesday as an 11-point favorite. Taz Sherman hit both his free throws with 6.4 seconds left in the game to ice the victory. Sherman led the team with 18 points. He is third on the team with a 12.4 points-per-game scoring average. 

Sophomore Miles McBride leads the team with a 15.1 points-per-game scoring average, and junior forward Derek Culver is adding 14.0 PPG with 10.4 rebounds-per-game. Sean McNeil is the fourth player for head coach Bob Huggins scoring in double-digits as he averages 10.6 points-per-game.

West Virginia went on hiatus for two weeks after a COVID outbreak within their program in mid-January. They returned to the court on January 23rd in a 69-47 win at Kansas State as an 11-point favorite in their first game since January 9th.

The Mountaineers are 4-3 since losing two players in their frontline rotation at the beginning of the month. Isaiah Cottrell suffered a season-ending Achilles injury in their game against Northeastern. The four-star freshman was averaging only 5.6 minutes-per-game, but he gave the Mountaineers’ depth at forward with potential upside as their highest-rated freshman. The more significant loss was Oscar Tshiebwe, who stepped away from the program for personal reasons. The sophomore led the team with a 10.2 points-per-game scoring average last season but had taken a step back this year by scoring 8.1 points-per-game while adding 3.8 rebounds-per-game.

West Virginia ranks 17th in the current Associated Press poll with a 12-5 record. They are tied for second in the Big 12 with a 5-3 mark. They have resume-building wins against Texas Tech and Oklahoma State. The Mountaineers' five losses were against Gonzaga, Texas, Kansas, Oklahoma, and Florida.

“Press Virginia” has not been effective this season for Huggins as his team ranks only fourth in the Big 12 with a 20.7% defensive turnover rate. West Virginia is 44th in the nation and seventh in the Big 12 in adjusted defensive efficiency at kenpom. The Mountaineers are 15th adjusted offensive efficiency because of their ability to generate second-chance scoring opportunities. West Virginia ranks 10th with a 36.5% offensive rebounding rate.

Kansas won the first meeting between these two teams in Lawrence on December 20th in a 79-65 victory as a 1-point favorite. For this rematch in Morgantown, BookMaker lists West Virginia as a 2.5-point favorite with the total set at 142.

All photographic images used for editorial content have been licensed from the Associated Press.

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