Game 13: No. 16 West Virginia at No. 3 Kansas – Preview and Prediction

The No. 3 Kansas Jayhawks return to Allen Fieldhouse for the first time in almost a month, as they open up Big 12 play against West Virginia Mountaineers. For the first time in 14 seasons, Kansas enters the Big 12 slate not as the reigning Big 12 champs. They will look to start a new streak on Saturday afternoon in the Phog.

  • Saturday, January 4, 2019, 3:00 pm CDT
  • Allen Fieldhouse — Lawrence, Kan.
  • ESPN+
  • Kansas has won a mind-boggling 28-straight conference openers dating back to the 1991-92 season, with 11 of those in Allen Fieldhouse and 17 on the road. The last time KU lost a conference opener was at Oklahoma, 88-82, on Jan. 8, 1991. This will be the first time Kansas has played West Virginia in a league opener.
  • Kansas has won 61 regular-season conference titles, which is more than any school in NCAA Division I history. Kentucky is next at 53, while North Carolina and Pennsylvania are tied for third at 38. KU has won 18 of 23 Big 12 regular-season titles, including an NCAA record 14-straight from 2005-18.
  • Kansas leads the overall series with West Virginia, 12-5, and the Jayhawks have won six of the last seven meetings.
  • KU ranks second nationally with a 27-game home court winning streak, including 25 in Allen Fieldhouse. Gonzaga leads the nation at 31 and VCU is third at 21.
  • KU is ranked No. 2 in the NET rankings through games of Dec. 31. The Jayhawks’ strength of schedule is No. 1 nationally. KU and Butler are the only two schools with at least four Quadrant 1 wins. KU is 4-2 against Q1.
  • Kansas is No. 3 in both national polls released Dec. 30. Kansas has been ranked in each of the last 209 Associated Press polls, the longest streak in the nation. The Jayhawks have also been inside the top-10 in 94 of the last 108 AP polls.
  • KU leads the Big 12 in field goal percentage at 51.6%, while West Virginia leads the conference in field goal percentage defense at 35.9%.
  • Through 12 games, five different Jayhawks – Devon Dotson, Isaiah Moss, Udoka Azubuike, Ochai Agbaji and David McCormack – have posted 20 or more points in a game this season

Mountaineers to Watch

Oscar Tshiebwe – Freshman, Forward, 6’9″
Tshiebwe, the highest ranked recruit in WVU history. leads a balanced offensive for the Mountaineers. He’s leading all scorers at 11.8 PPG, while second the team with 8.8 RPG.  Last time out against Ohio State, he was a complete non-factor as he was held to no points and four fouls in just eight minutes.

Derek Culver – Sophomore, Forward, 6’10”
With Tshiebwe and Culver, WVU has some studs down low. Culver is second on the team in scoring at 11.0 PPG and leads all Mountaineers with 9.4 RPG. The sophomore notched a double-double against the Jayhawks in the Big 12 Tournament last season with 14 points and 11 rebounds. The Jayhawks will have their hands full with these two.

Prediction

WVU and KU match up well in the post, but Kansas should hold the advantage at the guard position with Devon Dotson.

As with all matchups with WVU, it is imperative that KU takes care of the ball. Kansas has two guards who do that well in Dotson and Marcus Garrett. The Mountaineers forced 22 turnovers in the upset of Ohio State. Turnovers will be higher against WVU just because of the nature of their play, but it’s important to limit them as much as possible.

Kansas does not lose conference openers. They haven’t done so in 28 years. Give me the Jayhawks to handle the Mountaineers and start the conference slate off 1-0.

Kansas 74, West Virginia 62
KU -6.5

AUDIO PREVIEW: LINK

Season Record: 9-3 (6-6 ATS)

Bobby Norell

My name is Bobby Norell. I'm from a small town in northern Indiana. I recently graduated from Indiana University with a degree in Sport Communication. Even though my diploma says I'm a Hoosier, my love for the Jayhawks has never wavered. They'll always come No.1.