In a game that matched up two nearly identical teams, it took two overtimes to settle this future Big 12 Conference battle. West Virginia overcame foul trouble and bad free-throw shooting to defeat Kansas State 85-80 in double overtime.
Senior forward Kevin Jones scored a career-high 30 points and added 12 rebounds to lead the Mountaineers. Jones and fellow senior Truck Bryant combined for 54 points. In addition, freshman forward Aaron Brown added seven big points in the overtimes to give WVU a spark.
After Kansas State had taken a 64-61 lead with 20.5 seconds left in regulation, Jones hit a three right in front of WVU’s bench to tie the game at 64 and send the game to a first overtime.
WVU took an early lead in the first overtime and kept it for much of the five minutes. The Mountaineers took a three-point advantage of a deep shot by Brown.
But, a jumper by KSU guard Rodney McGruder with under five seconds to play in the halftime period tied the game at 74, and Bryant’s last-second three hit off the front of the rim to send the game to a second overtime.
Brown gave WVU four more points in the second overtime, but the game stood tied at 80 with 1:56 to play. Two missed shots by both teams kept the game tied with 41.2 as Huggins called a timeout.
Player of the Game
Following the timeout, WVU scored a layup from Jones. On the other end, McGruder missed a three, and WVU freshman point guard Gary Browne hit one of two free throws to take a three-point lead.
Following a KSU timeout, another missed three allowed Jones to seal the game at the free-throw line.
WVU shot 49.2 percent for the game but just 58.1 percent form the free-throw line. Kansas State shot 44.1 percent from the field and 53.8 percent from the line.
Both teams forced 18 turnovers and grabbed 37 rebounds.
West Virginia struggled to score early, as it dealt with turnovers and getting out-toughed at times. KSU scored nine of the first 11 points forcing a timeout by Huggins early in the game.
Obviously disappointed with his guard, Huggins entered walk-on freshman guard Paul Williamson into the game for shooting purposes. While Williamson didn’t score or shoot any in his limited time, it seemed WVU calmed down a bit.
The Mountaineers went on a 13-4 run led by five points from both Bryant and Jones to take a 15-13 lead.
After some ugly plays by freshman point guard Jabarie Hinds, he sat out much of the final 10 minutes of the half as fellow Browne took the lead.
The rest of the half went fairly back and forth after the Mountaineers were able to stretch their lead to five at 27-25. Kansas State would eventually take a 31-30 lead at the half.
Bryant and Jones combined to score 24 of the Mountaineers’ 30 first-half points.
Kansas State came out in the second half and took a seven-point lead off of a 3-pointer by guard Will Spradling. He was the key for the Wildcats early in the second half. After WVU cut the lead to just three, Spradling hit another long shot to make it a six-point game.
Junior forward Deniz Kilicli was strong in the early parts of the second half to match Spradling. He hit four of five WVU shots in a stretch midway through the second half.
Unlike its game vs. Mississippi State last week, the Mountaineers wouldn’t let the game get out of hand.
With 12:03 left to go in the game, Kilicli was called for his fourth foul, and that sent him to the bench. A bit later in the half, Browne picked up his fourth, as well. That meant big minutes for redshirt freshman forward Kevin Noreen and Hinds.
WVU cut the lead to one at 52-51 on a tough layup by Jones. Two straight misses at the free-throw line by freshman forward Keaton Miles kept the Mountaineers from gaining the lead.
A turnover by Hinds led to a layup on the other end by Kansas State to give the Wildcats a three-point lead. Another play almost exactly the same occurred to Browne later in the second half.
Yet, WVU fought back. A layup and free throw by Jones with 4:19 left gave the Mountaineers their first lead at 57-56 since the first half. Kansas State would quickly answer with four straight points to take a three-point lead into the final media timeout.
WVU, up one at 61-60, couldn’t find the hoop on a Kilicli layup that fell short of the rim, and Kansas State came back and hit a free throw to tie it up at 61-61. After a missed second free-throw attempt, Kilicli grabbed a rebound and looked to go up the floor but was called for a travel with 1:09 to play.
The Mountaineers, somehow, were able to force overtime.
McGruder led Kansas State with 20 points. Forward Thomas Gipson had 15 points and 10 rebounds. For WVU, Kilicli had 12 points and seven rebounds despite foul trouble. Brown finished with 10 points.