After ending the non-conference schedule with a flurry, the West Virginia men’s basketball team came into Lawrence, Kansas on Saturday understandably full of confidence. That wasn’t enough to get another win over a top-five team, but there’s no time to sulk.
The Mountaineers face the Oklahoma State Cowboys in Stillwater, Oklahoma Monday night. WVU can ill-afford to fall to 0-2 in Big 12 play with so many other good teams in the conference.
What might have been for the West Virginia men’s basketball team on Saturday
A win on the Jayhawks’ home court would have sent West Virginia even higher up the polls and established them among the early favorites in the Big 12.
Early on, things looked promising for WVU, namely center Oscar Tshiebwe. Tshiebwe started out 6-for-8 from the field, grabbed 10 rebounds and helped the Mountaineers limit Kansas to just 24 points through the first half.
Because of that defensive prowess and Tshiebwe getting loose, West Virginia took a six-point lead into the locker room. The Jayhawks then demonstrated why they are ranked so highly.
Kansas big man Udoka Azubuike came alive in the second half, scoring the bulk of his 17 points in that period. The Jayhawks also adjusted their strategy to deny Tshiebwe the ball, limiting him to just two points in the final frame.
Miles McBride, the freshman who had played the hero against Ohio State, tried to work his late-game magic again. It wasn’t enough to overcome Kansas’s defense, however. As a team, the Mountaineers only shot 28% from the field and missed all their 3-point attempts in the second half.
Thus Kansas remains the favorite to win the Big 12 and has now won seven of its last eight games against WVU. The Mountaineers have now lost eight consecutive games at Allen Fieldhouse as well and this loss dropped them back one spot to 17 in the AP Top 25.
West Virginia will have an opportunity to exact some revenge on February 12 when the Jayhawks visit Morgantown, but there is much work to be done between now and then. Monday’s game is important for the Mountaineers for several reasons.
Previewing West Virginia’s contest against the Cowboys
Heading into the matchup, WV sportsbooks have the Mountaineer’s as slight favorites.
Oklahoma State enters Monday’s game at 9-4 overall and 0-1 in Big 12 play. Their conference loss came in an 85-50 drubbing by the 22nd-ranked Texas Tech Red Raiders.
That doesn’t mean WVU should take the Cowboys lightly, however. They have non-conference wins over Mississippi and Syracuse on their résumé thus far.
Additionally, Oklahoma State’s averages aren’t far off West Virginia’s. The two teams average the exact same number of steals per game, for example.
Like the Mountaineers, the Cowboys want to get their first conference win. They could be even more motivated to get the taste of a lopsided loss out of their mouths.
West Virginia can ill-afford to let this one slip, however. Saturday’s conference home opener for WVU sees that same Texas Tech team come to Morgantown.
Starting out the Big 12 season 0-3 might be too big of a hole for WVU to climb out of. The contingent of highly-respected teams in the conference includes Baylor as well.
In order to pull its record to .500 in conference play, West Virginia has to find a way to keep Tshiebwe a factor and score when he’s limited. Containing Oklahoma State guard Lindy Waters III will be paramount as well.
This time last week, the Mountaineers were on the highest of highs. If they want to avoid coming home experiencing the lowest of lows, they must reign in the Cowboys.
Current WV sports betting odds for WVU Hoops
Betting on college basketball in West Virginia will surely gain some momentum now that the WVU football season is over. DraftKings WV Sportsbook and FanDuel Sportsbook have the latest odds for WVU’s next game and futures for March Madness.
WVU vs. OSU
|WVU vs. OSU
|Odds updated Jan. 6, 2020.
WVU hoops futures
|Big 12 Conference Champion
|Final Four Appearance
|Updated: Feb. 6, 2020