With the Liberty Bowl taking place today in Memphis (that's where I'm at currently), and with the Scouting Report Curtis and I put together earlier this week, let's keep this short and sweet. The Kansas State Wildcats (10-2, #62 kenpom ranking) returns to action for the first time in 2016, taking on a typical Bob Huggins coached West Virginia Mountaineers squad.
Know Your Opponent
West Virginia (11-1, #19 AP, #17 Coaches, #9 kenpom) is exactly what you would expect out of a Bob Huggins team. They play very hard, they commit turnovers, they turn you over, they hit the glass hard, they've got a couple of shooters, and they play up-in-your-shorts defense.
They're currently #2 in adjusted defensive efficiency, #1 in defensive turnover% (an amazing 30.1% of possessions result in turnovers), #1 in 3PFG% defense, #1 in defensive steal%, and #1 in offensive rebound% (snaring nearly half of their missed shots off the glass). Conversely, they are four up from dead last in defensive FTA/FGA, meaning they foul - a lot.
So why aren't they among the top 5 in the country? They struggle a bit with interior defense, don't shoot the three or FTs particularly well, and have a bit of a turnover problem themselves.
For comparison's sake - West Virginia pasted San Diego State (who has a similar profile to ours) by 22 earlier in the season on a neutral floor.
Keep a close watch on:
Devin Williams is a legit post player. The goggled 6-9, 255 junior is a beast on the glass and gets to the line frequently, averaging 15.5ppg and 9.1rpg.
Senior guard Jaysean Paige provides upperclassman leadership off the bench, and also hits the three at a 42% clip. Gotta keep an eye on him.
The Mountaineers typically bring pressure man, all day, every day. Their guards are quick and athletic enough that they should be able to guard the three point line while not giving anything up on the interior. Besides, I think Huggins is too arrogant to play that 2-3 zone that would kill K-State.
Offensively, they're going to want to play faster than average, especially by creating turnovers and getting out in transition. They're a team that can bog down a bit in the halfcourt set.
F Wesley Iwundu, 6-7 210 Jr
F Dean Wade, 6-10 225 Fr
F Stephen Hurt, 6-11 265 Sr
G Justin Edwards, 6-4 200 Sr
G Kamau Stokes, 6-0 170 Fr
West Virginia Mountaineers:
F Jonathan Holton, 6-7 220 Sr
F Esa Ahmad, 6-8 225 Fr
F Devin Williams, 6-9 255 Jr
G Jevon Carter, 6-2 195 So
G Daxter Miles, Jr., 6-3 195 So
3 Keys To The Game
1. Find points any way possible.
If we can't score, we can't win this game. A couple of things are certain - we should get some transition opportunities, and we should get some free throw opportunities. Got to take advantage. Efficient scoring will give us the best shot.
2. Limit turnovers.
Turnovers are going to play a huge role in this game, both ways. If we can stay at or below our season average of 12.5 turnovers per game, we'll have a shot. WVU forces the issue well, and committing a bunch of turnovers - especially multiple in a row - can dig large holes very quickly.
3. Make it ugly.
I hate to say it, but slow this game down. Keep scoring in the 60s and we've got a chance.
All stats by http://www.kenpom.com, or by the respective university's sports information.