The West Virginia University Basketball Team is coming off of a thrilling victory on the road over the Texas Longhorns Wednesday night. Head Coach Bob Huggins was satisfied with the energy and effort his team put forth in the second half and overtime and hopes it continues Saturday against his former team, the No. 18 Kansas State Wildcats.
WVU (8-6, 1-1) did to the Longhorns what other teams had done to the Mountaineers for most of the season. Down by as many as 13, the Mountaineers came back to steal one in Austin.
Kansas State (12-2, 1-0) has won six games in a row with their last coming against No. 22 Oklahoma State this past Saturday. Their two losses came against two teams West Virginia also lost to, Gonzaga and Michigan.
Like Texas, KSU has not shot the ball well this year. They are shooting 43% from the field on the year and are led by senior guard Rodney McGruder (14.7 PPG). McGruder is the only Wildcat scoring in double-figures.
With the shooting woes, the Wildcats get plenty of second chance opportunities, ranking 2nd nationally in offensive rebounds per game (16.4). Sophomore forward Thomas Gipson leads the team in total rebounding, pulling down 6.6 per game.
KSU has done a good job with ball control this season. They are 29th in assists per game and also have a 1.26 assist to turnover ratio.
In the Texas game, Huggins switched up the starting frontcourt from Aaric Murray and Deniz Kilicli to Kevin Noreen and Dominique Rutledge. All four players seemed to respond well to the change. It will be interesting to see what Huggins decides to do Saturday.
Point guard Juwan Staten did not play in the second half or overtime of the Texas game. Afterwards, Huggins said all players needed to be on the same page. Will Staten respond positively to the criticism from his head coach?
This game has the potential to be very similar to the Texas game. For West Virginia, they need to hit the boards and protect the basketball. Neither team shoots the ball well but both are excellent rebounding squads. The Mountaineers may need to "win ugly" just like they did Wednesday night.
Although this will be the first time these two schools play in-conference, both met last season in Wichita, KS and the Mountaineers escaped with a double OT win in front of a very pro-KSU crowd. The first meeting all-time was during the 1949-1950 at the old Mountaineer Field House, which was a Kansas State victory. The all-time series is tied 1-1.
The game is set to tip Saturday at 1:30 p.m. ET and will be aired on the Big 12 Network (check local listings).