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Huggins Previews Kansas

Bob Huggins fielded a variety of questions on Monday’s Big 12 teleconference, but the most important was obviously tonight’s Big Monday matchup against potential No. 1 team in the country, Kansas. As one would expect when facing a likely top seed in the NCAA Tournament, the Jayhawks pose plenty of problems.

Huggins announced the signing of JUCO guard Tarik Phillip on Wednesday.

“There’s a lot of things (that stick out) obviously,” said Huggins. “They’ve got great balance. I think they’re very, very good defensively. They don’t beat themselves. They do a great job of ball security and don’t get out of sorts. They don’t get out of what they’re good at doing.”

No player makes that statement truer than starting shooting guard and leading scorer, Ben McLemore. Averaging 16.2 points per game, the freshman is shooting 51.0% from the field and 45.6% from beyond the arc while also pulling down 5.5 rebounds per game.

“He’s terrific,” said Huggins. “He’s got great athleticism; he’s got great lift. He’s an outstanding shooter. I think, as importantly as that, he likes taking big shots. He’s taken some huge shots for them down the stretch of games that a lot of people kind of shy away from – and he relishes that role.”

For the Mountaineers, this game is bigger than most – with the Stripe the Coliseum plans, a Big Monday national television audience and the 18-1 Jayhawks in town, there’s a lot on the line. In fact, in Bob Huggins’ latest contract, an amendment for a $25,000 bonus for every win over Kansas was added. The Mountaineers’ head man downplayed that aspect, however.

“I have no idea (how that came about); you’d have to call my attorney,” he said when asked earlier today. “I had nothing to do with it.”

Regardless, tonight’s contest is a big one for all involved. According to Huggins, however, it sure doesn’t feel like it in Morgantown.

“Honestly, there hasn’t been the kind of hoopla that you’d think there would be around town,” he said. “The papers sure didn’t blow it up today as being a huge game. I’m sure it has a lot to do with our play.”

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