Still tied for the lead in the Big 12 standings, No. 5/6 Kansas (24-4, 12-3 Big 12) faces West Virginia (13-15, 6-9 Big 12) Saturday in yet another pivotal game. The Jayhawks narrowly defeated West Virginia 61-56 January 28 and will need to build on that performance to emerge victorious a second time.
Elijah Johnson had one of the best games ever by a Jayhawk Monday in a controversial 108-96 overtime victory over Iowa State. Johnson scored a jaw-dropping 39 points and dished out seven assists to lead Kansas to a sixth consecutive victory. Kansas has returned to normal since their three-game losing streak to begin February (which began immediately after Kansas last played West Virginia), and looks ready for a successful March and April.
West Virginia has struggled this season. There is no way around it. Two games under .500 and with little to no chance for an NCAA tournament bid, coach Bob Huggins has to be ready for the 2012-2013 season to come to an end. The Mountaineers are on a three game losing streak, and are searching for anything that will make them successful.
Players to watch for:
#15 Elijah Johnson: After his aforementioned outstanding performance against Iowa State, it will be interesting to see what Johnson can do for an encore performance. If Johnson has truly figured it out, and has the confidence he displayed last March, Kansas can be absolutely unstoppable the rest of the season.
#1 Naadir Tharpe: Tharpe has been successful at times this season, mainly when he and Johnson are in the game together. With an assist to turnover ratio of 1.5:1, Tharpe is a valuable ball handler for the occasionally turnover-prone Jayhawks. Scoring nine points Monday, Tharpe continues to improve his game in hope of being the starting point guard next season.
#40 Kevin Young: Young is 15 points away from his 1,000th career point. Young should pick it up in the next two games. It could make for an extra special Senior Night for him on Monday against Texas Tech.
# 10 Eron Harris: Harris leads West Virginia in scoring with 9.3 points per game, and went off against Baylor Wednesday, scoring 25 points. Although he only scored two points in the first meeting with Kansas, Harris is still the best offensive threat West Virginia has.
# 24 Aaric Murray: The 6-10 245 pound junior could pose problems for Jeff Withey down low, and is also second in scoring for West Virginia with 8.8 points per game. Murray scored 17 points the first time Kansas and West Virginia played, and was key in keeping his team in the game.
How I See It:
There is no reason for this game to be close. West Virginia is reeling, and has won only three games on the road this season. Allen Fieldhouse is not the place to go for a team that cannot win on the road. Kansas is simply the better team, and will show that Saturday.
Last Time They Met:
Tyler Self and Evan Manning get playing time in this one, and Kansas wins a laugher 88-56.