The #18 Wildcats are far from a model of efficiency on the court. They like to dirty up the game (I mean that in a good way), mix it up and slow things down. That didn’t figure to be the best formula to come away with a win against West Virginia in Morgantown but Kansas State found a way to win 65-64. They did so despite the fact that the officials, by my estimation, were overly zealous and uneven with their whistles. A slew of questionable calls went against K-State as they were called for 22 personal fouls compared to just 12 that went against the Mountaineers.
WVU scored the first three points of the game but otherwise held a lead in the first half for just two minutes and three seconds. While the score favored K-State for the vast majority of the half, they could never distance themselves beyond five points. The second half started with a 8-0 run for the Mountaineers. They built a five point lead of their own just two minutes in, but K-State recovered to build a seven point lead of their own just a few minutes later. However, after a Rodney McGruder three put the Wildcats up 48-41, Aaric Murray scored the next four for WVU. For the final 13 minutes of the game, neither team could build a lead beyond three points. An Eron Harris jump shot gave West Virginia a 64-63 lead with 26 seconds left, but Shane Southwell made a pair of free throws and then blocked a last second shot attempt by Gary Browne to save the day for Bruce Weber’s crew. It was hard fought, it was close and it was ugly at times though both teams shot right around 51%. In the end the Wildcats narrowly escaped with the win and improved to 13-2 on the season.
For Southwell it wasn’t just a late game flourish. He played a significant role throughout the game scoring a season high 17 on 5-7 shooting. He was active in all phases of the game and finished with four rebounds, three assists, a steal, two three pointers and of course had the crucial block at the end. McGruder was the only other Wildcat in double figures with 17 points of his own to go along with six rebounds. Jordan Henriquez played just 18 minutes but went for nine points and seven rebounds before he fouled out. Thomas Gipson, Will Spradling and Martavious Irving combined for just seven points on 2-8 shooting.
West Virginia was led by sophomore guard Jabarie Hinds who finished with a career-high 15. He was 6-10 from the floor and 2-2 from three but was just 1-6 on his free throws. Aaric Murray and Terry Henderson were also in double digits with eleven and ten points respectively. As a team West Virginia played the Wildcats nearly even on the glass (25 rebounds to K-State’s 26), but it was a collective effort as seven Mountaineers had at least two boards but none of them had more than five.
With the loss, WVU falls to 8-7 on the season and 1-2 in the Big 12. Things don’t figure to get any easier as they have to travel to Ames to take on an Iowa State team (11-4, 1-1) that pushed Kansas earlier this week and crushed Texas by 20 this afternoon.
The Wildcats (13-2, 2-0) figure to have a much easier go of things as they head to Fort Worth for a Wednesday game with TCU (9-7, 0-3). Just today the Horned Frogs managed only 40 points in their loss against Baylor. The lack of scoring continues a trend for TCU. They average just 56.2 points per game which ranks them 341st out of 347 Division I teams in that category. Sophomore Kyan Anderson and senior Garlon Green each average a shade over twelve points per game but no one else on the team averages better than 7.4 ppg.