Published March 08, 2014
Morgantown, WV – Morgantown, WV (SportsNetwork.com) - The eighth-ranked Kansas Jayhawks close out yet another highly successful Big 12 campaign, as they take on the West Virginia Mountaineers in the regular-season finale at WVU Coliseum.
Bill Self's Jayhawks have already captured the conference crown. It marks the 10th straight Big 12 title and NCAA record 57th conference crown in school history. The team enters this contest having won five of the last six games, including an 82-57 rout of Texas Tech on Wednesday to move to 14-3 in conference play.
Bob Huggins' Mountaineers have been out of the conference race for some time. West Virginia has some big wins on the season, but just not enough of them. WVU has dropped four of its last five games, including a 72-62 road loss at Oklahoma on Wednesday. The loss to the Sooners dropped the Mountaineers to 16-14 overall and 8-9 in league action.
Kansas has won all three previous meetings with West Virginia and seeks a regular-season sweep after earning an 83-69 win in Lawrence on Feb. 8.
Kansas shot 51.9 percent from the floor overall and went 21-of-29 from the free-throw line to earn a 25-point win over the Red Raiders. Tarik Black got a start in place of center Joel Embiid and made the most of it, posting a career-high 19 points. Naadir Tharpe and Perry Ellis added 16 and 13 points, respectively.
A potent offensive squad, Kansas is extremely efficient, averaging 79.4 ppg on a healthy .498 shooting. The Jayhawks have also excelled on the boards, outrebounding foes by 7.6 rebounds per game. Freshman star Andrew Wiggins headlines the youthful Jayhawks with 16.0 ppg. Ellis (13.2 ppg, 6.4 rpg) and Embiid (11.2 ppg, 8.1 rpg) have been a potent one-two punch up front. Embiid is currently sidelined, nursing a back injury and although he won't suit up for this game, he should return for the postseason. Selden (10.2 ppg) and Tharpe (9.2 ppg, 5.1 apg) are in the mix as well.
West Virginia won't shy away from running and gunning with the Jayhawks, especially in Morgantown, where the team has played well. On the year, the Mountaineers are averaging 78.0 ppg, thanks in part to the potent scoring duo of Juwan Staten and Eron Harris. Staten is headed for all-conference honors, ranking second in the Big 12 in scoring at 18.2 ppg and first in the conference assists (5.8 apg). Harris isn't far behind in the scoring column, ranked fourth in the league at 17.6 ppg. Harris is the team's resident sniper, shooting .418 from behind the arc, with 81 3-pointers to his credit. Terry Henderson is a viable third option at 12.1 ppg.
The Sooners went on a 23-7 second half run to distance themselves from the Mountaineers and sending West Virginia home with a 10-point loss in hand. Staten led the way with a game-high 24 points. However, Harris struggled, netting just five points on 2-of-9 shooting, before fouling out down the stretch. Devin Williams added 14 points and 12 rebounds for a double-double, while Gary Browne chipped in 12 points off the bench.