The No. 10 West Virginia Mountaineers (17-6, 10-4) manhandled the Kansas State Wildcats, forcing them into (7-19, 3-14) 18 turnovers and limiting them to just 29.4% shooting from the field to go onto a 65-43 victory Saturday evening.
West Virginia point guard Jordan McCabe got the starting nod over leading scorer Miles “Deuce” McBride, who's been battling minor injuries the past week. McCabe finished the day with seven points and two assists, while McBride played a reduced 23 minutes and scored five points.
“He didn’t start out really well, but I thought as the game went on, he started to feel a lot more comfortable,” said West Virginia head coach Bob Huggins. “He’s got to make some of those shots that he had, but he’s really capable, and that’s why you want him out there because for us, spreading the floor and keeping Derek down there alone has been pretty good for us.”
The Mountaineers and the Wildcats had to earn every bucket in the early going, but West Virginia’s ball movement gave them an early edge. Gabe Osabuhien grabbed the offensive rebound, kicked it out to Jordan McCabe - he drove down the right side - dished it off to Osabuohien - he delivered it to Emmitt Matthews, who drove down the baseline for an easy dunk as the Mountaineers grabbed the early 11-4 advantage and forced a Kansas State timeout.
Kansas State clawed their way back into the game as West Virginia went over four minutes without a field goal and cut the lead to one, but a quick 5-0 spurt from guard Sean McNeil and the Mountaineers took a four-point advantage into the break 26-22.
“I thought the second half we played pretty well and were pretty efficient - the first half was a miserable half for both teams,” commented Huggins. Later adding, “Our defense was better in the second half. It was much better in the second half.”
West Virginia opened the second half outscoring Kansas State 11-4 and began a 17-2 run nearing the midway point to take a 59-34 lead with just over five minutes to play.
McNeil led all scorers with 16 points and Derek Culver pitched in 11 points and snagged six rebounds. “In the second half, Sean started making some shots for us, Taz (Sherman) scored, got Derek involved a little more.
On the defensive end, Osabuohien was stingy and did the dirty work on the glass, grabbing seven rebounds.
“He’s terrific - particularly when we switch defenses, and we try to gap everything a little more – he stops penetration from all directions. He was terrific,” said Huggins.
West Virginia controlled the Wildcats throughout the second half. A team that just come off beating the No. 7 Oklahoma Sooners, and although it was a battle, Mountaineers won big 65-43.
The Mountaineers are back in action Tuesday night as the No. 2 Baylor Bears come to Morgantown with tipoff set for 5:00 pm EST and broadcasting on ESPN or ESPN2.
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