Huggins preps WVU, coaches predict standings, Kansas still the class of the Big 12

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. —West Virginia coach Bob Huggins described Kansas’ Allen Fieldhouse as follows.

“I don’t know who has a bigger home court advantage than KU does,” said Huggins, whose Mountaineers will enter their first Big 12 season. “We went in there and lost by, I think it was 106, my year at Kansas State. My 7-2 center fouled out in seven minutes. It’s hard. It’s a hard deal.”

Huggins — who has excelled in the Big 12, Big East and the MAC — earlier noted he felt schools in his current league, by and large, “probably” enjoy the best home-court edge in the nation.

“(In the Big East) we played in a lot of NBA arenas,” Huggins said. “There were a lot of teams that didn’t have their own arena, so it wasn’t on campus. I think that makes a huge difference.”

Iowa State trailed only Kansas in Big 12 home attendance last season.

The Jayhawks’ drew an average of 16,445 fans.

The Cyclones attracted an average of 13,015.

“Fred’s got that place energized, no question about it,” said Oklahoma State coach Travis Ford, whose team fell victim to Hilton Magic last season in the form of a buzzer-beating, game-winning Scott Christopherson three-pointer from near mid-court. “I went to Iowa State when I played at Missouri and they’ve always loved basketball and it hasn’t always been about winning and losing. They still come and support it. But when you’re winning it becomes that much better.”

NO WALL: ISU swingman Melvin Ejim’s a history major, but playing in China early this summer while nearly making the Nigerian Olympic team didn’t allow time for any sight-seeing.

The Great Wall had to wait.

“Hopefully next time,” Ejim said.

He was one of the last three players cut from Nigeria’s Olympic roster.

So there could be a next time — somewhere.

Ejim, who grew up in Toronto, is something of an Olympic free agent for 2016 and beyond.

“I didn’t play in any FIBA games, so I still could be (able) to play for Canada or Nigeria,” Ejim said. “We’ll see how it goes.”

OLD-TIMERS: Texas coach Rick Barnes ended his Q & A segment with a question for the audience.

Specifically, for former North Carolina player-turned-coach, then ESPN commentator Matt Doherty.

“How old are you, Matt?” Barnes asked.

Doherty’s reply: “Not as old as you.”

THE PICKS: Coaches’ projected conference finish, with first place votes in parenthesis: 1. Kansas (9) 81 pts.; 2. Baylor (1) 63; 3. Oklahoma State 60; 4. Texas 58; 5. Kansas State 54; 6. West Virginia 45; 7. Oklahoma 34; 8. Iowa State 28; 9. Texas Tech 19; 10. TCU 9.

WEBER RE: SELF: New Kansas State coach Bruce Weber was asked about following Kansas coach Bill Self at Illinois, then ending up his in-state rival in the Big 12.

“It was difficult to follow him at Illinois,” said Weber, who was fired last season. “The kids liked him, the fans liked him and I had to get them sold that, ‘Hey, We’ll be OK.’ We actually did pretty good. It was a good run for us.”

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