Sports

Jayhawks set sights on outright crown

Lawrence, KS (SportsNetwork.com) - The ninth-ranked Kansas Jayhawks set their sights on the outright Big 12 title on Tuesday evening, as they play host to the 20th-ranked West Virginia Mountaineers at Allen Fieldhouse.

By virtue of Iowa State's win over Oklahoma on Monday night, the Jayhawks secured a share of their 11th straight Big 12 championship, as they hold a 1 1/2-game lead atop the league standings with two games to play. Bill Self's squad outlasted Texas on Saturday, 69-64 to move to 23-6 overall and 12-4 in conference play. The Jayhawks are a perfect 15-0 at home this season.

Bob Huggins' Mountaineers are assured of a top-five finish in the conference. West Virginia boasts of a 22-7 overall record and a 10-6 league ledger. The team did have a three-game win streak halted at Baylor on Saturday, 78-66, but has 11 road wins on the season, the most in the Big 12.

Kansas owns a 3-2 advantage in the all-time series with West Virginia thanks to a thrilling 62-61 victory in Morgantown on Feb. 16.

The Mountaineers were short-handed against Baylor and couldn't overcome it in a 12-point loss in Waco over the weekend. Starting point guard Juwan State was scratched from the lineup prior to the game due to knee and groin injuries. Compounding the problem was the loss of fellow guard Gary Browne (ankle) just three minutes into the game. Freshman guard Jevon Carter stepped up and tried to fill the void, hitting seven 3-pointers and finishing with 25 points. Fellow freshman Dexter Miles Jr. added 11 points to the cause, but West Virginia shot just .403 from the floor overall, while the hometown Bears shot a solid .511 from the field. A big difference came the free-throw line, where Baylor outscored West Virginia, 22-8.

Staten is listed as questionable for this game, while Brown is doubtful. Not having Staten on the floor changes everything for WVU. The 6-foot-1 senior is the straw that stirs the drink for West Virginia, leading the team in both scoring (14.5 ppg) and assists (4.6 apg). Sophomore forward Devin Williams (10.8 ppg, 8.1 rpg) gives the team a real threat in the frontcourt. Carter (8.8 ppg), who has just one start on the season, will need to step up again if West Virginia's backcourt remains thin in terms of depth.

For the 26th straight season, Kansas reached 23 wins, with Saturday's five- point win over the Longhorns. Neither team excelled at the offensive end, with Texas shooting just .377 from the field and Kansas coming in at a worse .362. The real difference in the game came at the charity stripe, where Kansas went 26-of-32, while Texas was just 12-of-18. Junior forward Perry Ellis was unstoppable for KU, as he recorded a huge double-double consisting of 28 points and 13 rebounds. Kelly Oubre Jr. and Frank Mason III provided other scoring outlets for Kansas, with 15 and 12 points, respectively.

The Jayhawks are not an offensive juggernaut by any stretch of the imagination at a modest 71.7 ppg. However, the team does shoot a decent .444 from the floor, including nearly 40 percent from behind the arc (.397). Ellis is the team's leader in both scoring (14.5 ppg) and rebounding (7.2 rpg). Mason (12.1 ppg) is the only other Jayhawk currently averaging double digits in the scoring column, although Wayne Selden Jr. (9.6 ppg) and Oubre (8.8 ppg) aren't far under that mark. The trio have combined for 109 of the team's 185 3- pointers to date.