No. 17 WVU Wins Fight at K-State
In a physical game from start to finish No. 17 West Virginia used its press defense to wear down Kansas State in a 65-59 victory on Tuesday night at Bramlage Coliseum in Manhattan.
West Virginia (17-3, 5-2) rattled Kansas State (12-9, 5-3) forcing the Wildcats to turn the ball over 25 times. West Virginia also added to a nation leading total of steals with 13 more tonight in the victory.
The Mountaineer defensive intensity also forced Kansas State into a backcourt violation, two five-second calls on different inbounding situations as well as one-ten second call with the Wildcats struggling to move the ball over the half court line.
It was midway through the second half when West Virginia began to separate from Kansas State. Tied at 40 with less than 12 minutes to play, West Virginia forced Kansas State into a turnover and forward Nathan Adrian scored a layup to go ahead by two points. After, West Virginia applied the press off of the layup, and forced another Kansas State turnover.
Devin Williams dove towards the ball for a steal and passed the ball to Jaysean Paige. Paige followed with a dunk to put West Virginia ahead 44-40 with less than eleven minutes to play.
After Kansas State made a free throw, West Virginia made a few hustle plays on the other end. Gary Browne scored on a put back after a missed shot. Then Tarik Phillip had a momentum swinging old-fashion three-point play to give West Virginia its largest lead of the evening at 49-41.
Phillip led West Virignia in scoring with 12 points off the bench. Phillip shot 50-percent from the field.
From there West Virginia would cling to its lead for the rest of the night. Kansas State cut the deficit to as little as 51-48 with less than six minutes to play. When Kansas State cut the lead, West Virginia guard Juwan Staten hit a mid-range jump shot from the corner to extend the lead again for the Mountaineers.
Staten finished the game with 11 points and three assists while battling through a wrist injury during the second half. He collided with a Kansas State defender early in the half, but played through pain.
Also down the stretch, Williams made free throws to keep extending the Mountaineer lead. He went four for four from the line in the final three minutes. Williams finished the game with eight points and nine rebounds for West Virginia.
For Kansas State, Marcus Foster led the Wildcats in scoring with 15 points on the night.
The game embodied physicality from the start. In the first half, the two teams combined for 25 total fouls. Five West Virginia players including starters Staten, Browne and Jon Holton all picked up two fouls in the first half. Foster, Jevon Thomas and Thomas Gipson, starters for Kansas State all registered two fouls before halftime too.
Holton picked up a technical 19 seconds into the game and had his personal foul at the 15:42 mark. West Virginia Head Coach Bob Huggins had no choice but to leave him on the bench for the rest of the first half.
While Staten, Holton and Browne were looking on, Phillip provided scoring off the bench. At the 6:43 mark of the first half, Phillip drove the lane and was fouled. He knocked down two free throws to start a 12-2 run for the Mountaineers.
Phillip hit another pair of free throws and knocked down a three pointer from the top of the key at the 5:22 mark during the run. West Virginia would cap the run with a layup by Daxter Miles to go ahead of the Wildcats 23-17.
Kansas State ended the half strong by getting to the free throw line. Wesley Iwundu and Stephen Hurt combined for five points from the line to cut the West Virginia lead to just 26-22 with 2:23 remaining in the first half.
Then, Nigel Johnson had a layup after stealing the ball from Jevon Carter. Going into the locker room, West Virginia led 26-24.
The win for West Virginia marks the first win at Kansas State since joining the Big 12 Conference. West Virginia returns home on Saturday to take on Texas Tech.