No. 3 Kansas will aim to continue its winning ways and inch closer to a 21st Big 12 regular-season title on Saturday when it hosts West Virginia in Lawrence, Kan.
The Jayhawks (23-5, 11-4), who reside tied atop the conference with No. 8 Texas, began their current five-game winning streak with an 88-80 victory over the Longhorns on Feb. 6. They posted a 63-58 triumph over No. 24 TCU on Monday to give them seven wins in eight games following a three-game skid from Jan. 17-23.
“We haven’t accomplished jack, but we’ve put ourselves in a favorable position to maybe do something,” Kansas coach Bill Self said. “Everybody talked about our sky’s falling when we lost three in a row. In this league, that can happen easily. But we’ve recovered pretty good since then.”
Gradey Dick had 19 points versus the Horned Frogs to help the Jayhawks overcome a subpar performance from Big 12 scoring leader Jalen Wilson, who finished with just seven points after making 3 of 11 shots from the floor.
“I’ve said all along, we’ve got five guys that can all go out there and play and take over the game. And that’s the beauty of our team,” said Wilson, who has averaged 19.9 points and 8.5 rebounds per game this season.
“We’re all going to have some type of effort to win. … That’s part of a championship team.”
In a 76-62 victory at West Virginia on Jan. 7, Dick had 16 points and Wilson added 14 as Kansas received double-digit scoring performances from all five starters.
Tre Mitchell, who scored 15 points in that game, had a season-high 22 on Monday as the Mountaineers (16-12, 5-10) snapped a three-game losing skid with an 85-67 victory over Oklahoma State.
“I liked his versatility. He can step out on the floor and make shots,” West Virginia coach Bob Huggins said of Mitchell. “He can play in the post. They put a smaller guy on him because he was making shots out on the perimeter, and he took them inside and scored inside. That was without question by far his best overall performance.”
Mitchell made 8 of 15 shots from the floor and 6 of 7 from the free-throw line for the Mountaineers. By comparison, he sank just 10 of 33 shots from the floor and totaled 29 points over his previous five games.
“I’m going to keep being me and believing in my game,” Mitchell said. “I believe it’ll speak for itself at the end of the day. (Monday) might have gotten my teammates a little bit more confidence in me again. I doubt they lost any, but now that they see I got it going a little bit, it’s good for everybody.”
Erik Stevenson, who contributes a team-best 14.6 points per game, followed up a 27-point performance in West Virginia’s 78-72 setback to Texas Tech last Saturday with 23 points versus the Cowboys.
Stevenson has made 11 of 20 attempts from 3-point range over the last two games, although he went 0-for-5 from beyond the arc and 4-for-19 from the floor in the previous contest versus Kansas.
–Field Level Media