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Wednesday’s Pregame Shootaround: Good games out west tonight

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GAME OF THE NIGHT: UNLV at New Mexico, 9:00 p.m.

This is a huge game for UNLV. Enormous. Bordering on season’s-over-if-they-lose territory. The Rebels are 10-6 on the year right now, with a win over Mississippi State anchoring their resume right now. That ain’t good. And given the fact that the Mountain West is a bit down this season, they really only have a few more chances to land a win over an NCAA tournament team. Picking up a win at New Mexico could end up looking really good six weeks from now. The Rebels have a ton of work left to do, which means they need to start doing it.

Tonight.

WHO’S GETTING UPSET?: No. 12 Baylor at Texas Tech, 9:00 p.m.

The Bears did a lot of damage early on this season, but they haven’t done a thing notable since beating Kentucky on Dec. 6th besides get blown out by Iowa State. The Bears strength is their front line, but Isaiah Austin has had a bit of a disappointing sophomore season. Texas Tech is better than they’ve been given credit for. They have some size and talent up front and gave Iowa State some trouble at home two weeks back.

MID-MAJOR MATCHUP OF THE NIGHT: Buffalo at Toledo, 7:00 p.m.

The Bulls are one of the more talented teams in the MAC, headlined by the player of mid-major all-american Javon McCrea. But Toledo was one of the last teams to remain unbeaten this season, winning 12 games in a row to start the year.

FIVE THINGS TO WATCH FOR:

1) No. 16 UMass heads to Fairfax where they will be taking on George Mason at the Patriot Center.

2) No. 4 Michigan State will be banged up tonight when they head to Northwestern, as Adreian Payne is a game-time decision with a sprained foot.

3) The most entertaining game of the night will happen at 11:00 p.m. tonight when Washington pays a visit to Berkeley to take on Cal.

4) No. 10 San Diego State will put their perfect MWC record on the line tonight when they host Fresno State.

5) Marshall Henderson will make his debut in SEC play this season as the Rebels host LSU tonight.

NOTABLES:

  • TCU at No. 9 Oklahoma State, 8:00 p.m.
  • St. Bonaventure at No. 24 Saint Louis, 8:00 p.m.
  • Notre Dame at Maryland, 7:00 p.m.
  • Georgetown at Xavier, 7:00 p.m.
  • Auburn at Tennessee, 7:00 p.m.
  • Florida State at Miami, 9:00 p.m.
  • Purdue at Illinois, 9:00 p.m.

Ellis, Lucas lead No. 6 Kansas past No. 10 West Virginia

Kansas forward Landen Lucas (33) blocks a shot by West Virginia guard Tarik Phillip (12) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in Lawrence, Kan., Tuesday, Feb. 9, 2016. (AP Photo/Orlin Wagner)
AP Photo/Orlin Wagner
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In the first meeting between No. 10 West Virginia and No. 6 Kansas, the Mountaineers dominated in their 74-63 win in Morgantown. Bob Huggins’ “Press Virginia” attack forced 22 Kansas turnovers, with the Jayhawks playing far too fast and loose with the basketball while also getting out-toughed by the Mountaineers. In the rematch Kansas (20-4, 8-3 Big 12) looked far better equipped to deal with West Virginia in both of those areas, winning by the final score of 75-65.

Kansas committed 15 turnovers, with Devonte’ Graham responsible for five of them, but they did not allow West Virginia (19-4, 8-3) to use those chances to kickstart their offense. The Mountaineers scored 13 points (one fewer than Kansas, which took advantage of ten WVU miscues) off of those turnovers and did not register a single fast break points. Having to play in the half-court more than they would have liked, West Virginia could not execute at the level they did in beating Baylor Saturday.

As a result Bob Huggins’ team shot 37.3 percent from the field and 5-for-20 from beyond the arc. The Mountaineers have shown signs of being able to win games in which they don’t force a high turnover count, but that wasn’t the case at Allen Fieldhouse.

If not for West Virginia grabbing better than 34 percent of their misses and scoring 14 second-chance points, the margin is likely even greater than the ten-point outcome due to the contract in offensive execution. Kansas pushed the ball early, getting out to an 8-0 lead, and as the game wore on the Jayhawks were much better in finding quality shot opportunities. Bill Self’s team shot 56.1 percent from the field with Perry Ellis scoring 21 points to lead five Jayhawks in double figures.

The tandem of Ellis and Landen Lucas, who grabbed a game-high 16 rebounds, won the battle against a WVU front court missing the suspended Jonathan Holton. Devin Williams, who went for 17 and 12 in the first meeting, finished the rematch with a respectable 14-point, nine-rebound effort but he didn’t get much help in the post from the likes of Elijah Macon and Nathan Adrian.

After having Self question their toughness in a home win over Kansas State six days ago, the Jayhawks have responded with wins over TCU and West Virginia. Obviously it’s tough to read too much into beating the Horned Frogs, because even with that game being in Fort Worth it’s one Kansas was expected to handle with ease. The Mountaineers posed a different, and far more rigorous test, and Kansas got the job done.

As a result the Jayhawks have brought West Virginia back to the pack in the Big 12 title race, making Saturday’s game at No. 3 Oklahoma even bigger than it already was.

VIDEO: North Carolina head coach Roy Williams collapses on sideline

Roy Williams
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North Carolina head coach Roy Williams collapsed during the second half of No. 2 North Carolina’s visit to Boston College on Tuesday night:

Roy Williams has dealt with vertigo in the past; it’s not abnormal for him to collapse on the sideline during games, and given that his team is currently losing to Boston College, it’s understandable that he may have screamed himself dizzy.

He had to be helped off the floor:

It does appear that this isn’t something serious, according to a North Carolina release, that said Williams is “doing OK”.