WVU uses two overtimes to win at Kansas State
WICHITA, Kan. - Truck Bryant had seen enough of Kansas State to reach a conclusion.
"They play just like us," West Virginia's senior guard said. "They do everything we do."
Of course, Bryant said that Tuesday, two days before the Mountaineers - coached by Bob Huggins - and the Wildcats - coached by Huggins protege Frank Martin - mirrored one another for the entire Wichita Wildcat Classic.
In the end Thursday, the Mountaineers were able to undo the ties that bind these two teams and defeated Kansas State 85-80 in double overtime before a capacity crowd of 15,004 at Intrust Bank Arena.
The game was tied at 80 with senior Kevin Jones scoring inside off an entry pass from Deniz Kilicli with 26.6 seconds to go. Kansas State's Rodney McGruder missed a 3-pointer and WVU's Gary Browne grabbed the rebound and went 1-for-2 at the foul line. McGruder missed again and Jones went 2-for-2 at the line to end the game.
Jones finished with a career-high 30 points and 12 rebounds as WVU survived despite going 18-for-31 at the foul line.
Freshman Aaron Brown's second 3-pointer of the game came with the shot clock ticking toward the buzzer put WVU ahead 73-70 with 50.9 seconds remaining in the first overtime. The Wildcats scored and Bryant went 1-for-2 at the free-throw line, but McGruder scored in the lane to tie the score 74-74 and force the second overtime.
Kansas State led by seven points in both halves and WVU led by as many as five points in the first, but the game was otherwise close throughout and featured 17 ties, nine lead changes and back-and-forth play at the most dramatic moments, including a 3-pointer by Jones to even the score 64-64 and force overtime with 13.3 seconds left in regulation.
The Mountaineers had their chances late in regulation. Down three with 3:37 left to play, Bryant made two free throws and Jones scored inside to force the Wildcats into a timeout with 2:15 remaining. Browne then drew a charge to force a turnover, but he nearly gave it back and had to call a timeout. Jabarie Hinds drove and passed to Kilicli at the rim, but Kilicli missed.
The Wildcats missed a 3-pointer, but Jordan Henriquez grabbed the rebound and was fouled. He made the first free throw and missed the second to tie the score 61-61, but Kilicli traveled with the rebound and turned the ball over with 1:09 remaining.
Bryant fouled Angel Rodriguez, who went 1-for-2 at the line. Kilicli then lost he ball out of bounds off his leg before Kansas State's Thomas Gipson scooped up an airball and scored on the rebound. Jones rescued WVU and sent the game to overtime on the next possession.
Bryant scored 24 points while Kilicli and Brown added 12 and 10, respectively. The Mountaineers shot 49.2 percent for the game (31-for-63), but were 5-for-17 from 3-point range. They had 14 assists and 18 turnovers.
"They take things away from you," Huggins said. "You watch all their games and nobody runs offense. They're like we were the last your years. They take you out of what you want to run and you end up having to ball-screen. You end up having to spread it out and play one-on-one. Everything is off the bounce. We haven't done a very good job of that."
McGruder led Kansas State with 20 points. Gipson had 15 points and 10 rebounds. Will Spradling made four 3s and scored 16 points.
The Wildcats (5-1) opened a 41-34 lead early in the second half, which matched the largest lead in the first half, but the Mountaineers (5-2) would stay close. A hook shot by Kilicli in the paint made it 46-42 and actually pushed WVU's shooting percentage to 50 percent in a game defined by defense.
Kilicli was WVU's offense early in the second half and had 10 of the team's first 15 points, but he picked up his fourth foul with 12:03 to go. He went to the bench with the Mountaineers trailing 50-46.
WVU had a chance to take the lead, but freshman Keaton Miles missed two free throws. Kansas State scored in transition off a WVU turnover for a 54-51 lead. Jones was fouled shooting a 3-pointer. He went 1-for-3 to make the Mountaineers 9-for-20 in the game. Kansas State missed and Browne came out of a timeout and flipped in a whirling left-handed layup to tie the score.
After Kansas State scored in transition, Jones answered with a layup and a free throw with 4:17 to go to give the Mountaineers their first lead since it was 29-27 with 3:12 to go in the first half.
It didn't last long. McGruder scored for Kansas State and Bryant lost his dribble to Rodriguez, whose layup made it a 60-57 game.
WVU won the second meeting between the two schools that will soon both occupy the Big 12 and the first since a win in 1951. The Mountaineers also rewarded Huggins, who coached Kansas State in 2006-07 to a 23-12 record, the most wins the team had had in 19 years. The Wildcats broke an eight-year postseason drought with an appearance in the NIT.
WVU plays host to Miami at 7 p.m. Saturday. The game inside the Coliseum will be televised by ESPN2 and the Mountaineers, who lost last Saturday at Mississippi State and earlier at home against Kent State, no longer have quite as much pressure to win one of these non-conference games to use toward a NCAA bid.
"We talk to them about it every day," Huggins said. "Some guys say you shouldn't talk about that, you shouldn't put pressure on them. The reality is I don't want a guy coming to me saying, 'I wish I would have known. If I would have known, maybe I prepare a little harder, play a littler harder.'
"I don't want that to be on me. I want to make sure they know where we are and what we've got to do and what's got to happen so they can't come back and say, 'I wish I would have known.' "
Contact sportswriter mikecasazza at email@example.com or 304-319-1142. His blog is at blogs.dailymail.com/wvu.