All five Kansas State starters scored double figures and the Wildcats overcame a 12-point first half deficit to defeat seventh-ranked West Virginia 79-75 Saturday evening at Bramlage Coliseum in Manhattan, Kansas.
Sophomore point guard Jamau Stokes, who was listed as questionable for tonight’s game with a sprained ankle suffered in the final minute of Wednesday night’s victory over Oklahoma State, matched Barry Brown for team scoring honors with 15 points.
D.J. Johnson added 14 while Wesley Iwandu and Dean Wade contributed 13 apiece.
West Virginia, now 15-4, 4-3, was unable to hold on to a double-digit lead for the second straight game; WVU led Oklahoma by 15 points in the second half before falling, 89-87, in double overtime. It’s the first time this season the Mountaineers have lost back to back games.
“We haven’t had that edge and we need to get that edge back,” West Virginia coach Bob Huggins said.
Tonight, the defense once again struggled to get stops in the second half and West Virginia also turned the ball over a season-high 23 times.
Three different players had four turnovers and six had at least two bobbles.
“We turned the ball over 23 times to their 16,” said Huggins. “It’s carelessness. It’s a (three-point) game when Esa (Ahmad) throws it away and how does Nate (Adrian) have four turnovers? He’s the most intelligent basketball player I’ve had in years and year and years.
“How does he turn it over four times? He turned it over four times trying to make plays that weren’t there,” Huggins said.
After missing its first six shots of the game, West Virginia made seven of its next nine and eventually took a 12-point lead, which it enjoyed on three different occasions in the first half, before K-State scored 10 straight over the remaining 1:13 to reduce the Mountaineers’ lead to two at halftime, 38-36.
The Wildcats took control of the game midway through the second half when they led by 11. But West Virginia responded by scoring 12 of the next 13 points over a three-minute span to retake the lead on Tarik Phillip
’s traditional three-point play with 5:07 left.
The two teams exchanged points before layups by Wesley Iwundu, Jamau Stokes and Iwandu put the Wildcats ahead, 73-68, with 2:18 to go.
Brown managed to take the ball away from Jevon Carter
and was fouled by Carter, which led to a free throw to give K-State a six-point margin with 1:49 remaining.
’s 3 seven seconds later cut it to three, 74-71, but two Brown free throws and a layup gave Kansas State enough room to collect its 15th
victory of the year.
The Wildcat win snaps West Virginia’s two-game winning streak in Bramlage and puts them in a tie with the Mountaineers in the league standings with four wins.
Kansas State shot a sizzling 54 percent in the second half, had a 25-15 advantage in points off turnovers and outscored the Mountaineers, 40-28, in the paint.
“We’ve got to guard,” Huggins said. “We can’t keep turning people loose at the rim. We’re just letting people straight-line (drive) us.”
Phillip came off the bench to lead West Virginia with 20 points.
Carter scored 14 and grabbed a season-high 10 rebounds, while Daxter Miles Jr.
West Virginia shot 41.8 percent for the game, but converted just 44 percent of its field goal attempts inside the 3-point line.
Mountaineer bigs Brandon Watkins
and Elijah Macon
fouled out, while Sagaba Konate
finished the game with four fouls. WVU was whistled for 30 fouls during the game, compared to just 19 for Kansas State.
“We have 14 fouls and they have the most physical guy in the league (Johnson) and he ends up with four fouls,” Huggins said.
West Virginia wore its customary home white uniforms tonight to accomodate Kansas State's "Black Out" promotion. An announced crowd of 12,528 watched today's game.
WVU has a quick turnaround with Kansas, ranked No. 1 in the coaches’ poll, set to come to the Coliseum on Tuesday night.
“We still control our own destiny and we’ve got to stop making excuses and go out and beat people,” said Huggins. “We can get better and we’re going to get better.”
That game, already announced a sellout, will tip off at 7 p.m. and will now be televised on ESPN. The Jayhawks improved to 18-1, 7-0, with a 79-67 win over Texas earlier today.