West Virginia is coming off arguably their most complete performance of the season beating Texas Tech 78-62 in the first round of the Big 12 Conference Tournament.
The Mountaineers held the Red Raiders to 36-percent shooting, while forcing a total of 15 turnovers. After allowing 42-points in the paint in the previous loss at home, the defense held Texas Tech to just 22.
On the offensive end, the No. 8 seed West Virginia overcame a slow start to shoot 41-percent from the floor and displayed some of the best spacing and passing that the team had all-season.
Combine all of that with just 9 turnovers, winning on the glass and hitting 15-17 from the free throw line and it equals a convincing win all-around.
“Our turnovers are down. We’re rebounding the ball better. I think we know each other better. I think we’re making plays now that we couldn’t make early because we thought they were going to zig and they zagged. And I think now they understand a little better,” head coach Bob Huggins said.
But winning that game is one thing, up next is a matchup with No. 1 seed Kansas.
The Mountaineers are 0-2 against the Jayhawks this season but came within a possession inside Allen Fieldhouse Feb. 25 falling 76-74. In that game, West Virginia had the ball with a chance to tie the game but was unable to get a shot off and eventually turned the ball over.
It was one of 21 turnovers in the game for West Virginia but the two teams continued to exchange blows back and forth. Now, they’ll do it again in Kansas City.
It’s quick turnaround for West Virginia as the game will tipoff at 3 p.m. Thursday which means that there isn’t going to be a lot of time to prepare.
Still, it’s a golden opportunity to keep the Big 12 Tournament hopes alive for the Mountaineers as they are playing their best basketball down the stretch. The matchup also presents the opportunity for a potential seed shifting type of win.
The leadership on the team has been critical down the stretch holding the team together as the Mountaineers have now won four of their last five games to cement their place into the NCAA Tournament Field.
“We’ve got a lot of upperclassmen that they know it’s it and they want to make a run so they’re trying to help the younger guys certainly get better and do the right things,” Huggins said.
Now, they’re trying to knock off the top team in the league along the way.