No. 17 Mountaineers turn up pressure, throttle K-State 65-59
MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) West Virginia coach Bob Huggins and Kansas State counterpart Bruce Weber had vastly differing opinions of the No. 17 Mountaineers' rough-and-tumble, 65-59 victory Tuesday night.
''I thought it was beautiful,'' Huggins said. ''I've never had an ugly win, ever.''
If ever there was one, though, this might have been it: The Wildcats turned the ball over 25 times, the Mountaineers 20, and the teams combined for 54 fouls in a herky-jerky affair.
All of which led Weber to declare the game, ''Awful.''
''It's just bad basketball, but they're what, 17-3? I'd be happy too,'' Weber said with a shake of his head. ''It's just their style. They make you play basketball.''
Tarik Phillip matched a career-best with 12 points for the Mountaineers (5-2 Big 12). Juwan Staten added 11 points, their leading scorer limited all night by foul problems.
The Wildcats played most of the way without Nino Williams, who had been averaging 21 points his last two games. The senior forward appeared to be dealing with a left knee injury, spending time on a stationary bike and then wrapping it in ice during the second half.
''He tweaked his knee,'' Weber said. ''Hopefully it's not going to be a season-ending thing.''
Marcus Foster led the Wildcats (12-9, 5-3) with 15 points, but also committed six turnovers. Wesley Iwundu added 12 points, yet missed a crucial free throw in the closing minutes.
In fact, the foul line proved to be nearly as good defensively as the Mountaineers. Kansas State was just 20 of 35 from the stripe, including a 2-for-7 effort from Jevon Thomas.
''I've never been in a game like that,'' Foster said. ''It was like a fight.''
Considering the teams are two of the scrappiest in the Big 12, it was hardly a surprise that the game was played at a slogging pace that prevented either from gaining any momentum.
The teams combined for 27 turnovers in the first half alone, Kansas State getting whistled for a 5-second call on four occasions. They also combined for 25 fouls and shot 26 free throws.
Those are rugged numbers for a game, let alone a half - err, unless you're Huggins.
''That's what we do,'' West Virginia guard Jevon Carter said. ''We pick teams up full court, try to turn them over, make them uncomfortable. That's just what we do.''
West Virginia led 49-41 midway through the second half, finally putting together a couple of solid offensive possessions. Phillip was the surprising catalyst, following up a three-point play with another bucket with 8:31 remaining to keep Kansas State at bay.
As the Mountaineers got into foul trouble - Jonathan Holton and Jaysean Paige had each picked up their fourth by that point - the Wildcats tried to make one last run.
Foster's first free throw with 2:04 left made it 55-50, but the All-Big 12 guard missed the second of them. Another missed opportunity by Kansas State in a night full of them.
The Mountaineers were still leading 63-57 after Foster's 3-pointer with 24 seconds left, but Staten made the first of two free throws at the other end to put the game away.
''When you play K-State, they're probably the most similar team of anybody in the conference to us as far as getting all the grinding baskets and 50-50 balls,'' Mountaineers forward Devin Williams said. ''We knew what to expect coming into today.''
The Mountaineers used 12 players in the game, far more than a normal team. Part of it was foul trouble, but part of it was keeping fresh bodies on the floor to keep up their frenetic pace. ''It wears on you,'' Huggins said, ''just wears on you. That's the idea.''
The Wildcats may have had 25 turnovers, but the Mountaineers weren't a whole lot better. They committed 20 of them, and Kansas State actually had a 12-11 edge in points off turnovers.
West Virginia: Won at Bramlage Coliseum for the first time in three tries under Bob Huggins, who coached the Wildcats in 2006-07. ... The Mountaineers are 10-1 away from Morgantown.
Kansas State: Coach Bruce Weber was called for a technical foul for yelling at the officials late in the first half. ... The Wildcats had won six straight against ranked teams at home.
West Virginia returns home to face Texas Tech on Saturday.
Kansas State visits ninth-ranked Kansas on Saturday.