On Saturday afternoon, the No. 17-ranked West Virginia Mountaineers will host No. 23 Kansas at the WVU Coliseum, which is a must-win game for both teams.
On Thursday, Jayhawks coach Bill Self and forward Ochai Agbaji spoke with the media about the upcoming trip to Morgantown.
“We are going to play a team that’s ranked higher than us, in their building. We got to go there, it’s got to be a fist-fight. We have to rebound and take care of the ball. Those have always been the keys to beating Bob’s (Huggins) teams,” Self said.
“(Saturday’s game) Is very important,” Agbaji said. “It’s just an important game all-around because West Virginia games to us always mean a lot, especially when we go there.”
“We’ve always have to be focused going there, its exciting but we’ve got to be really locked-in this week,” Agbaji added.
Agbaji, a junior forward, acknowledged and explained the difference from the first game between WVU and KU to this time around. Remember, Oscar Tshiebwe was still with the Mountaineers for the first game in Lawerence.
“They’ve (WVU) switched to four-around-one, playing around (Derek) Culver. Different look defensively and offensively, so it’s going to be a different game than it was here in Lawrence,” Agbaji said.
Coach Self also took notice of the recent small-ball play by WVU since the transfer of Tshiebwe .
“Well they’re playing smaller. They lose a talented big (Tshiebwe) and I think their team actually got better,” Self said. “They’re putting more shooters on the court. They’re playing faster offensively. They’re definitely pressuring more than what they did when playing two bigs.”
“They look more like the West Virginia we’ve seen the past several years than what I thought they look like just because the lineups they had out there the first time we played them,” Self added.
On the game on Dec. 22, Kansas shot the lights out from three, shooting 16-of-37 (43%). KU guard Christian Braun shot 6-of-10 from three the first time against the Mountaineers. Both Self and Agbaji don’t expect West Virginia to make the same mistake as last game and play zone.
“West Virginia, the vast majority of the second half and end of the first half, played zone. In the zone is where we (Kansas) got up a lot of threes,” Self said.
“They played us in zone, I don’t see them doing that this time again,” Agbaji explained. “Them playing us in zone and us getting a lot of open shots and knocking them down. We were just hot that night.”
The Mountaineers and Jayhawks will tipoff their second game of the season against each other in Morgantown, starting at 2 p.m. Coverage will be on CBS.