The WVU Mountaineers are struggling for the first time all season. On Wednesday, coach Huggins and his team dropped their second game against Kansas this year, 58-49.
The Morgantown faithful went home very disappointed with another loss to the Jayhawks, especially with how this contest ended.
WVU led by six at the half and held the same lead with less than nine minutes remaining. That was the last good news in the game for the Mountaineers.
Kansas held them to just three points in the last nine minutes and left the WVU Coliseum with a nine-point win.
It’s a very discouraging loss for WVU hoops in part because it was at home. The Mountaineers were previously undefeated in front of their home crowd. It also solidified the season sweep for Kansas, who beat WVU at Allen Fieldhouse on Jan. 4.
The defeat is two straight for the Mountaineers and now three in their last five games. They need to right the ship soon before their seed for March Madness becomes a lot worse.
WVU has been projected as a No. 2 seed for this year’s NCAA Tournament, but that could be changing shortly if it doesn’t get in the win column.
Things don’t get easier, either. The Mountaineers travel to Waco this Saturday to take on the No. 1 overall Baylor Bears.
Baylor’s won an incredible 21 straight games and is 11-0 in the Big 12 Conference.
Bettors in the Mountain State have even more ways to bet on college basketball and WVU. The online sports betting apps available in the state have expanded to three.
Let’s revisit the Mountaineers’ tough home loss and look ahead to their big road matchup on Saturday.
Mountaineers Fall Again
WVU lost its first home game of the season thanks to a dismal second half. It only managed to score 19 points in the final 20 minutes and blew a nine-point lead. The defeat drops WVU’s record to 18-6 overall and 6-5 in the conference.
The Mountaineers could not buy a bucket, and Kansas scored the game’s final nine points en route to its ninth straight win. The Jayhawks are now 21-3 on the year and sit one game behind Baylor in the Big 12.
WVU didn’t shoot particularly well all game and committed too many turnovers to beat a quality side like Kansas. It shot less than 32% from the field and turned the ball over 19 times.
Even winning the rebound differential by 11 wasn’t enough for the Mountaineers. The 49 points were WVU’s lowest total in any game this season.
Freshman sensation Oscar Tshiebwe led the team with 14 points; however, he scored just two in the second half. Jordan McCabe was the only other Mountaineer with double-digit points.
Coach Huggins was obviously disappointed with the poor finish, but knows he has a young team that can continue to grow. According to the Associated Press, he said:
“I would hope that as they mature and get better and go through the grind, I would hope that they would respond and get tougher, be more active, guard better, pass better.”
WVU will need to forget about this result quickly and get its minds right for the next game. Baylor is one of the most talented teams in the country and has been playing great basketball for several months.
WVU Basketball Preview
The Baylor Bears are ranked No. 1 in every poll and are in great shape to lock up a top seed in the Big Dance. They’ve won 21 in a row since dropping the second game of the year against Washington.
Even with the tremendous season thus far, the Bears are just one game ahead of KU in the race for the conference crown. Although both teams can secure No. 1 seeds in the NCAA Tournament, Baylor would love to win at least the Big 12 regular season.
This weekend’s matchup is actually the first of two for WVU and Baylor. They’ll meet again in Morgantown to close out the year on March 7.
Part of what makes Baylor so challenging to beat is that it gets consistent scoring from multiple players every night. Guard Jared Butler leads the squad in points with 15 per game.
Many others contribute, though. MaCio Teague is second on the team averaging over 14 points, while Davion Mitchell and Freddie Gillespie each score about 10 per contest.
The Bears are also solid on the defensive end of the floor.
They feature four players who average more than a steal per game, including Mark Vital with 1.8. The 6′ 9″ Gillespie is a force inside as well, averaging more than two blocks.
As a whole, Baylor is ranked fourth in the country in points allowed. It surrenders just 58.3 points per game.
This will undoubtedly be a tough matchup for WVU on the road. It’s put together a fantastic season so far but is just 3-5 away from home.
Baylor is hitting on all cylinders, so it appears that the Mountaineers will need to do something special this weekend to pull the upset.
WVU Betting Odds
While the betting odds for this game haven’t been released yet at WV sportsbooks, the Mountaineers are likely to be sizable underdogs. According to ESPN’s Basketball Power Index, they only have around a 26% chance of coming away victorious.
Despite what the numbers say, college basketball upsets occur on a nightly basis, so there’s no reason WVU can’t put together 40 great minutes. Perhaps the tough loss against Kansas is just what this team needed as added motivation heading into the weekend.
Hopefully, the Mountaineers can make it a fun experience on Saturday and at least keep it a close game against top-ranked Baylor.