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WVU to get full roster back ahead of game against Kansas State

West Virginia will look to win their first Big 12 game of the year against Kansas State on Saturday, and they will look to do so with a full roster.

After being without Taz Sherman, Gabe Osabuohien and Kobe Johnson in their Big 12 opener last Saturday, the Mountaineers (11-2, 0-1 Big 12) fell to Texas 74-59. The Longhorns forced 20 Mountaineer turnovers, and being without their leading scorer in Sherman and arguably their best defensive player in Osabuohien, West Virginia could not overcome the Texas defense.

A week later however, West Virginia looks to have all of their players back according to head coach Bob Huggins.

“We don’t have any other issues, guys have been really good,” Huggins said. He then confirmed the status of the three guys saying, “I believe so,” on having a full roster on Saturday.

As for Kansas State, they have had COVID-19 issues of their own. The Wildcats (8-5, 0-2 Big 12) were without their head coach Bruce Weber and were forced to play with only eight guys on Tuesday against Texas. In the 70-57 loss to Texas, Kansas State out-scored 35-29 in the first half, but their lack of depth was too much to overcome in the second half.

Kansas State’s leading scorer on the season is Nijel Pack who averages 15.6 points per game along with 42.5% from three-point range. Pack who looks to be healthy heading into Saturday, scored 21 points against Texas, including making 3-of-7 of his three-pointers. Kansas State’s second leading scorer Markquis Nowell has not played in either of Kansas State’s first two Big 12 games, but if he is able to play against West Virginia, he has been able to average 12.8 points per game this season.

Huggins said he knows of Kansas State’s ability to score the ball, and thinks Weber has done a good job turning this team around compared to a season ago.

“He’s got more shot makers than I can remember being at [Kansas State] in a while. He’s got a lot of guys who can make shots, guys that can make hard shots,” Huggins said. “They’re terrific defensively, and I think [Weber] has done a great job with roster management.”

As for who will be suiting up and playing for Kansas State on Saturday, Huggins said compared to last year, having to plan for who is healthy and who is not is more of a struggle than it was last year.

“It’s not near as bad as it was a year ago to be honest with you. A year ago we didn’t know anything. A year ago, are they going to show up or are they not going to show up,” Huggins said.

The Mountaineers have not played since last Saturday, as their mid-week conference game against TCU got postponed due to health and safety protocols within the TCU program. The Mountaineers are hoping to get another performance from Jalen Bridges who had 18 points last Saturday, but Huggins is more focused on getting the young guys to learn how to play.

“After all this time, I learned you can’t turn it over 20 times and expect to win,” Huggins said. “I don’t think we played terrible, I just don’t think you can turn it over 20 times. And particularly you can’t turn it over to them for baskets.”

West Virginia and Kansas State are set to tip off at 2 p.m. at the WVU Coliseum, with the game being televised on ESPN+.

Photo by Dale Sparks, All Pro Photography

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