Kansas Basketball: West Virginia Players Who Will Give Jayhawks Trouble

Austin ChristensenContributor IIJanuary 28, 2013

Jan. 26, 2013; Stillwater, OK, USA; West Virginia Mountaineers guard Eron Harris during the second half against the Oklahoma State Cowboys at Gallagher-Iba Arena.  Oklahoma State won 80-66.  Mandatory Credit: Alonzo J. Adams-USA TODAY Sports
Alonzo J. Adams-USA TODAY Sports

The second-ranked Kansas Jayhawks (18-1) appear to be nearly flawless. They rebound well, have good interior defense, shoot well and get up and down the floor quickly. Their lone loss this season came against a ranked Michigan State team.

By three.

Although it may appear to be an uphill battle, the West Virginia Mountaineers (9-10) are upset-minded as the Jayhawks invade Morgantown tonight. The Mountaineers have a duo of players who could cause major problems for the heavily favored Jayhawks.

West Virginia more than likely won't have any success moving the ball inside and trying to score on the interior. Jayhawk seven-footer Jeff Withey is averaging over four blocks a game and won't be allowing any Mountaineer movement near the hoop. The Mountaineers will likely be using outside shooting as their "sling" to bring down the Goliath in Kansas.  

Eron Harris is one of West Virginia's leaders from the perimeter.

Harris, a true freshman out of the Hoosier state, is shooting 42 percent from beyond the arc this season and 46 percent from the floor. When he makes his outside shots, the Kansas defense will be forced to spread out and will open the interior for better WVU shots. This will be crucial for West Virginia to succeed in tonight's Big 12 matchup.

Sophomore guard Juwan Staten, the team's leader in assists, also needs to have a huge game in order for West Virginia to be able to compete with and beat the Jayhawks.  

Staten is currently averaging 3.1 assists per game and his ability to find the open man will be crucial in order to soften the stifling Jayhawks defense.  Although he's in a shooting and scoring slump, is still one of the team's co-leaders in points per game.  Driving and dishing will be a must for him and the Mountaineers in their attempt to knock off one of the most dominant programs in the nation.

Coming off of an embarrassing 14 point loss in Stillwater against Oklahoma State, and having lost four of their last five, tonight's game is a great chance for Bob Huggins' squad to redeem themselves and get back on track in Big 12 play.  West Virginia has lost four games by a combined 10 points; it's been a season of near-misses for Morgantown's Mountaineers.  A win tonight against a formidable foe would certainly help ease the pain of West Virginia's regular season.