West Virginia is coming off arguably its most complete performance of the season after defeating 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 15 total 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, No. 8 seed West Virginia got off to a slow start shooting 41 percent from the floor and displayed some of the best spacing and passing the team has had all season.
Combine all of this with only 9 turnovers, the win on the glass and 15-17 hits from the free throw line and it amounts to a solid 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 felt That they’re going to wobble and they got jinxed. And I think they understand a little bit better now,” head coach Bob Huggins said.
But winning that game is one thing, next is a matchup with No. 1 seed Kansas.
The Mountaineers are 0-2 against the Jayhawks this season, but came into possession after falling 76-74 inside Allen Fieldhouse Feb. 25. In that game, West Virginia had a chance to tie the game, but was unable to make the shot and ended up turning the ball over.
It was one of 21 turnovers in the game for West Virginia, but both teams continued to trade back and forth. Now, they’ll do it again in Kansas City.
It’s quick turnaround for West Virginia as the game starts at 3 p.m. on Thursday which means there isn’t going to be a lot of time to prepare.
Still, this is a golden opportunity for the Mountaineers to keep their Big 12 Tournament hopes alive because they are playing their best basketball. The matchup also presents an opportunity for a potential seed shifting type win.
Leadership on the team has been key to the vibe holding the team together as the Mountaineers have now won four of their last five games to solidify their spot in the NCAA Tournament field.
Huggins said, “We have a lot of big players who know this is it and they want to run so they’re definitely trying to help the young guys get better and do the right things.”
Now, they are looking to unseat the top team in the league.