By Cam Huffman
West Virginia has faced an Associated Press No. 1 nine times in its basketball history, five of those games in Morgantown. An AP No. 2 has visited the WVU Coliseum twice, the last time when UCLA made the trip in 2007.
One of those numbers will change tonight when Kansas (18-1, 6-0 Big 12) comes to the Coliseum for a Big Monday showdown with West Virginia (9-10, 2-4 Big 12), scheduled for a 9 p.m. start on ESPN.
The Jayhawks, whose only loss came to No. 21 Michigan State on Nov. 13, were No. 3 in the AP Top 25 and No. 2 in the USA Today Coaches Poll last week, but the action on the court is sure to change those positions when the new polls come out today.
Duke, No. 1 in both polls last week, was blown out at Miami on Wednesday, while the Jayhawks won on the road against No. 11 Kansas State and at home against Oklahoma. When the bus rolls up to the Coliseum this evening, KU will likely step off ranked No. 1 by the coaches and No. 2 by the writers.
History gives the Mountaineers a decent shot. In 19 games against an AP No. 1 or No. 2, WVU has won seven, including an 87-78 upset of No. 1 UNLV in the Coliseum in 1983 and a 70-65 victory over No. 2 UCLA at home in 2007.
But the statistics tell a very different story.
Losers of five of their last seven games, the Mountaineers are last in the Big 12 in field goal percentage (.395), while the Jayhawks (.480) lead the 10-team league. Kansas (.349) also leads the way in field goal percentage defense, while WVU (.433) is next to last.
Freshman guard Ben McLemore leads Kansas in scoring, averaging 16.2 points per game, to go along with 5.5 rebounds. Seven-foot senior center Jeff Withey is averaging 13 points and 8.4 rebounds per contest.
Tonight’s game will be the first all-time meeting between the Mountaineers and the Jayhawks.
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Tonight’s game will also be WVU’s first-ever “Stripe the Coliseum” night. Fans are asked to wear either gold or blue, depending on where their seats are located. A detailed map can be found at www.wvusports.com/content/StripetheColiseum.jpg.
WVU successfully pulled off a similar promotion for its first-ever Big 12 football game against Baylor.
Tickets for tonight’s game are still available and can be purchased at www.wvugame.com.