History Vs. Attitude: Which Will Hold Sway In WVU-Kansas Rematch?
How much does West Virginia’s gaudy home record against Kansas factor into tonight’s game against the Jayhawks? It could give some players who were around for last year’s 65-64 home upset of KU a bit of confidence, or at least knowledge that the adidas-funded squad isn’t unbeatable. Only Chase Harler and Logan Routt have been on the team for more than one of those wins, though, so that history probably doesn’t play as big of a role as West Virginia fans would like.
However, this Mountaineer team has a few of its own issues to deal with, most notably an attitude problem that has hurt them of late – at least in the eyes of head coach Bob Huggins. Following his lecture about poor attitudes after the Oklahoma loss, Huggins had to be looking for some response from his team.
“I’m extremely bright, good-looking and have a lot of redeeming qualities,” Huggins deadpanned. “But I can’t read minds. I don’t know what they think. You get to a point in time where you have no idea what they are thinking.”
|WVU (18-5/6-4) vs. Kansas (20-3/9-1)||Date: Wed Feb 12||Time: 7:00 PM ET|
|Venue: WVU Coliseum||Loc: Morgantown, WV||Series: Kansas 13-5|
|NET: WVU-9 Kansas-4||TV: ESPN+||Last: Kansas 60-53 (2020)|
|Twitter: @BlueGoldNews||Facebook: BlueGoldNews||Web: BlueGoldNews.com|
It’s good that Huggins’ dry wit was back in place, but does that mean that his team received the message? And is that enough to overcome the twin evils of bad shooting and poor passing that have been major parts of the few losses this year?
“They were good, not great, but they were good (in practice). I don’t know,” Huggins said, perhaps having to wait for game action to see if the words resonated. “I think it’s a combination of a lot of things. People patting you on the behind too much, listening to people you shouldn’t listen to. Probably not as into it as you were when you were really excited to start the season.”
That doesn’t seem to have ben a problem for the Jayhawks, who have approached most every game as a critical one as they attempt to reclaim the regular season Big 12 title.
WVU’s defense will have the challenge of slowing Kansas’ transition game, which Huggins sees as their biggest offensive tactic. While center Udoka Azubuike gives them a post presence to go to, and Devon Dotson scores inside, outside and at the line, it’s the running game that accounts for critical points. Huggins noted that his team has worked on transition defense this week, while KU head coach Bill Self is wary of WVU’s evolved defensive style.
“Regardless of who they have out there, (the WVU guards) do a great job hawking the ball,” Self said. “I think they’re pressuring and pressing more than what they did the first time we played them. They keep bodies fresh. They hawk the ball. They’re certainly talented (enough) that they can go get their own late in the clock or something like that, but they’re quick and athletic.”
SWISHES AND MISSES
Kansas is shooting to win its 10th conference game for the 26th-consecutive season, a streak which started in 1995. The current run of 25 seasons with at least 10 league wins is the longest active streak in the nation.
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Bob Huggins on Sean McNeil’s status: “He didn’t eat much for three days. He (practiced) a little bit yesterday.”
McNeil was on the court for Tuesday’s practice session.
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Kansas, largely on the strength of Azubuike and David McCormack, leads the Big 12 in field goal percentage at 48.6%. WVU counters with a league-best 37% mark in field goal percentage defense. The head-to-head battle of the bests continues on the board, where KU leads the conference in rebounding defense (32.2), while WVU leads in rebounding offense (41.4).
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Count Taz Sherman among those whose attitude remains strong, even in light of Huggins’ post Oklahoma remarks. He noted that his outlook remains positive, and that he hasn’t been tuning coaches out.