The Mountaineers, behind a career-high 35 points from the junior point guard Staten, defeated Kansas State 81-71 at the WVU Coliseum.
Staten, who added five assists and four rebounds, capped off his career day with a demonstrative dunk with 20 seconds to play. He gave out high fives in celebration as he walked off the court. It was his greatest day yet as a Mountaineer.
"I try not to put too much pressure on myself ... I just go out there and play my game," Staten said. "I'm trying to win. If I have to create every play, I will do whatever it takes."
He was 18-of-21 from the free-throw line – the most free throws for a Mountaineer in a game in 51 years. His free-throw performance came after making just 1-of-9 in his last game.
It’s the most points scored by a WVU player since Feb. 13, 2009 when Da’Sean Butler had 43.
"The kid cares, and he works. He puts in the time and studies film. He wants to be a really good player. I’m really proud of him," said WVU head coach Bob Huggins. "I’m proud of the fact that he hasn’t backed off. He’s the kind of guy you hope has success, because he deserves it."
WVU (13-9, 5-4 Big 12 Conference) is 3-1 since its 22-point loss at Kansas State (15-7, 5-4) on Jan. 18 – its only loss coming by six points at No. 11 Oklahoma State.
It’s just the third time ever that West Virginia won a Big 12 game by 10 points or more.
WVU is now tied for fourth in the Big 12.
This is the first Big 12 winning streak for the Mountaineers that doesn’t include TCU, Texas or Texas Tech. And that string of wins can grow on Wednesday, as West Virginia faces Oklahoma at the Coliseum.
"We've been saying all year that we're close. I think now we're better than ever. We're coming out aggressively ... and playing with a lot of heart," Staten said. "We hope to win a lot more game like this."
With a little more than two minutes to play, junior forward Remi Dibo hit a three to put the Mountaineers up 71-67. Following a turnover by the Wildcats, sophomore guard Terry Henderson was fouled and made two free throws to extend the lead to six.
West Virginia would finish KSU off at the free-throw line.
WVU decided to change up its offense for the game, as it learned from the Mountaineers' first meeting with Kansas State. West Virginia opened it up and allowed Staten to control the game, drive the lane and kick the ball to open shooters.
In total, WVU shot 43.4 percent. Sophomore guards Eron Harris and Terry Henderson combined for 24 points. Dibo had 10.
Kansas State made 50.8 percent of its shots led by guard Marcus Foster who had 23 points and forward Thomas Gipson who had 19 points, but it wasn’t enough.
WVU was 29-of-37 from the free-throw line. Kansas State was just 8-of-19.
"We thought we could get to the free-throw line, and we were able to," Huggins said.
West Virginia would trail 8-3 early but would go on a 9-0 run behind five points from Henderson and four from Staten to take a 12-8 lead.
The Mountaineers got the crowd into the game on a nice ally-oop dunk from Staten to Henderson to tie the game at 19. West Virginia would use an 8-1 run – the last four points coming without Staten on the floor – to gain a 27-22 advantage with 7:21 left in the first half.
The Mountaineers would lead the rest of the half and head to the locker room with a 39-31 lead over the Wildcats. WVU ended the half on a 10-2 run. In recent games, the end of the first half had been a weak point for the Mountaineers.
Harris, Henderson and Staten combined for 34 of the team’s 39 first-half points.
Early in the second half, WVU would take a 10-point lead on a three from Staten – his fifth of the season. The lead would quickly disintegrate, though, as the Mountaineers couldn’t find success offensively outside of Staten in the first five minutes of the second half. Kansas State would cut the lead to 45-42 via a 10-3 run in which four different players scored for the Wildcats.
WVU would regain an eight-point lead before KSU tied the contest at 53 with a little more than 12 minutes to play. A quick 7-0 run gave the Mountaineers another lead, but once again, they were unable to pull away.
WVU would go up by seven once again at 68-61 with a little more than four minutes to play. A minute later, Kansas State would make it 68-67 and force a West Virginia timeout with 3:01 to play up 68-67.
WVU would finish the game on a 10-4 run to earn the win. Kansas State made some crucial mistakes and turnovers in the final three minutes that allowed the Mountaineers to run away at the end.
"We just had to play some defense and get some stops. We weren't really executing our offense either," Henderson said. "We just played hard, listened to the scouting report and executed down the stretch."
KSU guard Shane Southwell finished with just five points after scoring 20 in the teams' first meeting.
WVU was able to win despite being outrebounded by three and outscored in the paint by 22. The Mountaineers were also able to overcome the fact that Kansas State shot 61.5 percent from the field in the second half.
West Virginia doubled its number of assists from its first meeting. It had 12 on Saturday.
A total of 10,121 fans watched the game at the Coliseum.