West Virginia Mountaineers vs. Kansas Jayhawks Pick & Prediction JANUARY 20th 2024

Kansas seems to have regained its mojo after a surprising loss at UCF and will go into Saturday’s Big 12 outing against West Virginia in Morgantown after playing what coach Bill Self called the most complete game his Jayhawks have had on the road “in quite a while.”

The No. 3 Jayhawks (15-2, 3-1 Big 12) routed Oklahoma State 90-66 in Stillwater to keep a share of the conference lead a week after giving up a 16-point, first-half lead in an eventual 65-60 loss to the Knights.

They bounced back from that setback with a 78-66 win over then-No. 9 Oklahoma before cruising past the Cowboys. Once they established a double-digit cushion in the first half they never let up, building a 28-point advantage less than eight minutes into the second half.

That put to rest their tendency for becoming lackadaisical after building an early lead.

“I thought we were better,” Self said. “You know we had 11 turnovers. I’m anxious to watch the tape on some of those. Seemed like there were some fouls there that they were just going to get the game over with.

“But I actually thought we took care of the ball better. Certainly we didn’t let what happened to us in Orlando happen here.”

A key factor in the resurgence has been the play of Johnny Furphy. The 6-foot-9 freshman guard from Australia started the two games, totaling 22 points and matching his season high with 15 against the Cowboys on 3-of-4 shooting from 3-point range.

Teammate Hunter Dickinson compared Furphy to a “young Franz Wagner,” his former teammate at Michigan who was the eighth pick in the 2021 NBA Draft.

Self conceded that Furphy “kind of looks like” former Duke NBA star and NBA player Mike Dunleavy but reined in comparisons to Wagner.

“He’s a long ways from being that,” Self said. “He’s got to get stronger in a lot of things, but he’s doing really well.”

Furphy also had seven rebounds, two assists and two steals against the Cowboys.

West Virginia will be playing the last of a three-game stretch against Top-25 opponents. The Mountaineers (6-11, 1-3) split the first two with a 76-73 win over then-No. 25 Texas at home and a 77-63 loss to No. 15 Oklahoma on the road.

They took an early 18-12 lead against the Sooners, who shot 63.6 percent in outscoring the Mountaineers 48-38 in the second half and dominated the rebounding 33-19 for the game.

“The things that stand out most to me are fast-break points and second-chance points, not to mention the rebounds,” West Virginia coach Josh Eilert said. “We didn’t rebound it whatsoever.”

The Sooners enjoyed a 13-2 advantage in fast-break points and 11-6 in second-chance points.

The Mountaineers have four players with double-figure scoring averages topped by Montana State transfer RaeQuan Battle’s 19.0 but remain without No. 2 scorer Jesse Edwards. The transfer from Syracuse averaged 14.8 points in 10 games before going down with a wrist injury in mid-December.

Transfers Quinn Slazinski (Iona) and Noah Farrakhan (Eastern Michigan) also have double-figure scoring averages of 14.1 and 12.6, respectively.

–Field Level Media

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