As the West Virginia Mountaineers get ready to play in Allen Fieldhouse against the Kansas Jayhawks on Saturday, there is only one thing on the Jayhawks’ mind: a victory that will move them closer to winning nine straight Big 12 championships.
It is hard to win at Allen Fieldhouse no matter what team you are. For the Mountaineers it will be even tougher to come out with a victory. This is the first time in Big 12 play that the Mountaineers will get to visit the tradition of the Phog. With a great performance on Wednesday night against the Iowa State Cyclones, these Jayhawks are playing great as a unit. Elijah Johnson had a electrifying game in which he took over the last few minutes of regulation and most of overtime. I guess you could say he had a coming out party. This was his best game he has ever had in a Jayhawk uniform.
With Johnson finally snapping out of his funk and playing like nothing can stop these Jayhawks, they will be ready for anything the Mountaineers bring their way. The Mountaineers coach, Bob Huggins has been here before and will have his team prepared for the pregame video and the game itself. It has been a struggle this season for the Mountaineers not just by losing games but also having to travel long distances to do so. They are coming off a disappointing loss at home against the Baylor Bears where they had a chance to win but couldn’t pull it out.
The last time these two teams played in Morgantown, the Jayhawks got off to a great start and putted around a little bit only to be up by eight at the half. The Mountaineers defensive pressure hurt the Jayhawks and the Jayhawks hurt themselves by turning over the ball too many times. They defeated the Mountaineers 61-56. Kansas seniors Jeff Withey and Travis Releford led the Jayhawks by scoring 15 points apiece. Withey even had four blocked shots for the game.
This game will be a totally different story as the Jayhawks are finally putting all the pieces together at the right time. All they need now is to get Ben McLemore going again. He has had his ups and downs this season and hasn’t had a very productive game in scoring the last few games. Coach Bill Self commented on his performance,”He has had his ups and downs and he has been more consistent at home and (his) stats back that up. He is young and just figuring it out. I think that every time that he goes through something, he becomes better for it. Everything is a learning process and we certainly need him to play great moving forward, because he is our most talented guy, but he has got to find ways to help the team win when things aren’t going great and I think he is becoming more complete that way.”
When all the cylinders are working right, these Jayhawks will be hard to beat. They come from every angle to pull out victories. With only three games left in the regular season, with two being at home back to back, the Jayhawks are focused in pursuing their goal. They will not let another team come into the Fieldhouse to beat them. Senior night is Monday night when Texas Tech comes in, a night of celebration for these seniors who have stepped up and put this team on their backs this season. Kevin Young, Releford, Withey and Johnson will be honored and it will be an emotional night.
Johnson said this about the next few games, “We’ve got two games left at home,” “I don’t think Travis (Releford), Jeff and Kevin (Young), including myself, want to leave any bad taste these last two games in the Fieldhouse. I’m pretty confident in those games in terms of going out and playing hard.” He will be attacking again and playing in a zone the next three games. The Jayhawks are focused and are ready to march into March. Look for them to once again make it nine straight Big 12 championships and if Oklahoma State can beat Kansas State it will be an outright championship.