It was the third-straight loss for the Mountaineers (10-8, 2-3 Big 12 Conference), and their second consecutive loss by more than 10 points, and Saturday's defeat was similar in ways to Monday night's loss to Texas at the Coliseum.
Led by a strong showing from senior guard Shane Southwell, Kansas State (14-4, 4-1) was able to use its strong defense – aided by an impressive offensive showing – to pull away from West Virginia.
Things didn't start so poorly for West Virginia, as the game went back and forth in the opening minutes. The Mountaineers made three of their first four shots of the game and held an 8-3 lead in the opening minutes.
But things started going downhill shortly after that for the Mountaineers.
Kansas State would regain the lead for good with a little more than 15 minutes remaining in the half when Southwell would hit the first of his X three-pointers of the game. The three started a 21-6 run for the Wildcats, who used efficient offensive play and their usual excellent defensive play to get the Mountaineers out of their rhythm for the majority of the game.
After a Devin Williams jumper with more than 12 minutes left in the first half, West Virginia missed its next four shots – and turned the ball over three times – and didn’t see another made field goal until five minutes later. When Gary Browne finally hit a shot to end the drought, Kansas State followed it up with a 7-0 run, and the Mountaineer deficit grew to 13 just like that.
Things didn’t get any better for the Mountaineers in the final 20 minutes of play as the Wildcats came out of the locker room quickly as an 8-1 KSU run stretched its lead to 20 points within the first two minutes of the second half.
Kansas State entered the game as the Big 12’s best scoring defense, allowing opponents to score just 60.1 points per game heading into Saturday’s contest and holding conference opponents to an average of 18 points below their season average in its first three Big 12 wins of the season.
The Wildcats would continue that defensive success Saturday against the Mountaineers, as WVU shot 33 percent from the field and scored 23 points below its season average.
In addition to its struggles shooting the ball, West Virginia was uncharacteristically loose with the ball. WVU turned it over 15 times, and its junior point guard Juwan Staten – who entered the game second in the Big 12 in assist-to-turnover ratio – had a career-high seven turnovers after turning it over just seven times in the Mountaineers’ first four Big 12 games.
Kansas State came into the game averaging just 67.5 points per game, but got hot early and didn’t look back on the offensive end. Southwell led the way for the Wildcats with 20 points and five rebounds and four assists, while KSU big man Thomas Gipson had 20 points of his own to go with six boards.
Freshman Marcus Foster played just 13 minutes in the game, as he was limited in the first half due to foul trouble, but still scored 15 points for the Wildcats.
After struggling in the last two games, Eron Harris got back on track in this one for the Mountaineers. The sophomore guard scored 21 points, including four threes, and went 7-of-8 from the free throw line.
Staten earned his second double-double of the season and was the only other Mountaineer in double figures, scoring 15 points and pulling down 11 boards. Williams scored nine points and had seven rebounds for WVU.
Following a streak of five-straight games in double figures, Terry Henderson scored just two points Saturday.