The Jayhawks enter the last week of Big 12 play with nothing to play for in terms of the streak, but still need a win somewhere to lock up the top seed for the Big 12 tournament. The easier of the two opportunities comes tonight as Kansas hosts West Virginia, who knocked off the Jayhawks in maybe the weirdest game of the conference season thus far.
The season low for free throws attempted by a West Virginia opponent is 11, set by who else but Kansas, as the Mountaineers are by far the worst team in the league at sending people to the free throw line. They back that up by being the best team in the league at forcing turnovers, on 26.1 percent of their opponents possessions, but in general if you can advance the ball on them you should be able to score more often than not, so long as they are being called for the fouls they so often commit.
Offense wasn't the problem in the last meeting, however, as the Jayhawks scored more than a point per trip. The Jayhawks allowed West Virginia, the league's second best offensive rebounding team, to rebound over half its misses. With Cliff Alexander unlikely to be cleared by gametime, the Jayhawks will have to take on the Mountaineers without one of their top rebounders. (of course, they did in the previous game as well, but this time we won't have thousands of arguments about it).
The big key to stopping the Mountaineers is stopping Juwan Staten, who leads the Big 12 in assist rate and is among the best in the league at drawing fouls. Little known fact, there also is a provision in the rulebook giving him 4 steps instead of 2, which makes him even more deadly.
Also deadly is Devin Williams, who is not just the best defensive rebounder in the league but is one of the best offensive rebounders as well. Despite standing 6'9" and 6'7", he and Jonathan Holton provide maybe the best 1-2 punch on the offensive glass in the conference.
Though it backfired in the first game, the best strategy with West Virginia probably is to let them shoot jumpers and grab the rebound (but actually box out this time). The Mountaineers shoot just 31.2 percent on threes, and freshman Jevon Carter is their only true deep threat.
Even though they are just 5th in the league at getting to the line, I expect the Jayhawks to get a bit friendlier whistle in Allen Fieldhouse and if they can limit West Virginia even to just their average on the offensive glass, I think the Jayhawks will clinch the outright Big 12 title on Senior Night.