Kansas basketball: Five things to know about West Virginia

(Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
(Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images) /

The Jayhawks open up Big 12 play next Saturday against West Virginia. Here are five things to know about Kansas basketball’s first conference opponent.

Kansas basketball picked up a really solid win last Sunday against Stanford. The road victory allowed the Jayhawks to finish the non-conference season on a high note, and go into the new year with some momentum.

West Virginia finished strong in 2019 too.

The #16 Mountaineers won a road game against the top-five Ohio State Buckeyes 69-57. It’s the biggest achievement of the year for head coach Bob Huggins and West Virginia, and now, they’ll look to get their second win in a row against a top-five team.

Here are five things to know about West Virginia:

1. West Virginia only has one loss

So far this season, West Virginia is 11-1 with their single loss being on the road against St. Johns 70-68. The Mountaineers have a number of quality wins due to their tough schedule, including Wichita State, Pittsburgh on the road, and most recently Ohio State. West Virginia has moved up to 16 in the most recent AP Poll, while Kansas basketball moved into third.

2. The Mountaineers don’t rely on three-pointers

According to KenPom, only 29.2% of West Virginia’s shots come from behind the arc, which is well below the national average of 37.6%. This is particularly interesting considering teams have attempted a three-pointer against Kansas on 49.2% of their shots this season.

3. West Virginia struggles from the free throw line

So far this season, West Virginia is only shooting 66.7% from the charity stripe, which is good news for Kansas basketball. The Jayhawks struggle from the line as well, shooting an awful 65.9%. It seems like neither squad will have an advantage on the line, which is probably good news considering it’s normally a major liability for both teams.

4. Bob Huggins plays a deep bench

The Mountaineers currently have 10 players averaging at least 10 minutes per game, plus two others that are both getting around eight minutes per game. Even West Virginia’s most common lineup is on the court for 10.5% of the time. Compare that to Kansas basketball, who’s most common lineup is on the court for 18.2% of the time, and even their second most common lineup is on the court for 15.5% of the game.

5. The Mountaineers play through their bigs

West Virginia’s two highest-scoring players, freshman Oscar Tshiebwe and sophomore Derek Culver, are both big men averaging around 11 points per game. The Jayhawks will have to shut down the Mountaineers’ inside presence to disrupt their offense. Big men Udoka Azubuike and David McCormack will have their work cut out for them on defense.

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Starting off 2020 and the Big 12 schedule with a win is important for Kansas basketball. The road to another Big 12 title starts on January fourth, in Allen Fieldhouse. The game time is set for 3:00 PM and can be streamed on ESPN+.