The reason West Virginia has to control the pace of play is that Kansas is almost obscenely talented. Consider that 6-foot-8 freshman Andrew Wiggins was the consensus No. 1 recruit in the nation last season while playing at Huntington Prep. Despite some up-and-down performances, Wiggins leads the Jayhawks in scoring, averaging 15.9 points.
But Wiggins might not even be the best freshman on his own team. Joel Embiid, a 7-foot, 250-pounder, is averaging 10.9 points, 7.6 rebounds and 2.5 blocked shots in just 22.7 minutes per game, and in the minds of some analysts has played his way into being the potential top pick in the draft, should he decide to come out.
"And oh, by the way,'' Huggins said. "The other guy on that front was a McDonald's All-American.''
True, that would be second-leading scorer Perry Ellis, a 6-8 sophomore averaging 13.2 points and 6.7 rebounds. Throw in junior guard and stabilizing force Naadir Tharpe and freshman Wayne Selden Jr., and this is arguably the most talented team in the country.
"And Bill [Self] can coach, too,'' Huggins said of the Kansas coach. "He's going to be in the Hall of Fame, so it's not like you're going to outcoach them.''
So what does West Virginia have going for it? Well, again, the Mountaineers have begun to come together of late, integrating freshmen and newcomers with a group of three primary scorers who are just in their second seasons at WVU - Juwan Staten, Eron Harris and Terry Henderson. Staten has been magnificent of late, essentially winning games against Baylor and Kansas State, and Harris and Henderson are both capable of big scoring performances. Harris had 26 points just after halftime of Wednesday's 91-86 overtime win against No. 21 Oklahoma.
But again, that's not enough talent to match up with Kansas. The Mountaineers still have to control the tempo and dictate the style as much as possible. That's difficult in a road venue, especially one like Allen Fieldhouse, but it is still the goal.
"We go in with the attitude that if we do what we're supposed to do then we're going to win the game,'' Huggins said.
Reach Dave Hickman at 304-348-1734 or dphickm...@aol.com or follow him at Twitter.com/dphickman1.