WVU basketball: Kansas State adds to WVU's misery
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. -- West Virginia is still looking.
Confident they were changing their fortunes after Wednesday's comeback win at Texas, the Mountaineers left the Coliseum Saturday with another loss to a ranked and RPI top-100 team.
Kansas State, No. 18 in the Associated Press poll and No. 43 in the RPI, used a late run to push back WVU's rally and emerged from a series of late swings to beat the Mountaineers 65-64 before a crowd of 10,039.
"We had it," WVU guard Terry Henderson said. "I think we had this game. Down the stretch, we had mental lapses we can't have. We can't allow that to happen as a team."
The Mountaineers, three days removed from erasing a 13-point second-half deficit to win on the road against the Longhorns, (8-7, 1-2 Big 12) are now 0-3 against ranked opponents and 0-7 against the RPI top 100.
"They're better than people realize," Kansas State Coach Bruce Weber said.
They had opportunities against Kansas State with a lead in the final minute and then three shots when they had a chance to win in the final 20 seconds, but nothing went right. The Wildcats had their game-winning points come at the foul line with 21.4 seconds to go, nearly stole the ball on WVU's final inbound and then blocked the game's final shot.
"We're getting better, we're making steps in the right direction, but instead of taking a big step today we took a very small one," forward Kevin Noreen said. "There really aren't any moral victories right now. We need to get to 20 (wins). Dropping one like that hurts."
WVU was ahead 41-36, its biggest cushion of the entire game, early in the second half, but couldn't maintain the lead. The Wildcats (13-2, 2-0) scored 12 unanswered points to go up 48-41, the largest lead either way, but the Mountaineers reacted with six unanswered points, all from Aaric Murray.
The spurt ended on a questionable goaltend call against Murray, but Jabarie Hinds tied the score 50-50 with a 3 from the left side. The score would be tied once and the lead would switch five times after that. Neither side led by more than three points, that when Shane Southwell's layup gave the Wildcats a 59-56 lead with 4:10 remaining.
The Mountaineers would get close and Gary Browne's layup made it 61-60, but Southwell's steal preceded a tricky layup on the right side by Angel Rodriguez with 2:13 to go.
After Murray scored inside with 1:17 remaining, Kansas State missed a mid-range jumper and the Mountaineers took the lead when Eron Harris sunk a leaning jumper from the right side with the shot clock running close to zero.
Southwell was fouled by Dominique Rutledge with 21.4 seconds to go and made both his free throws.
"It was a dumb foul," Harris said. "I don't even think it was a foul, honestly. I think the guy just tripped. But, whatever, he got fouled and they go up. That's the difference in the game."
Hinds missed a short jumper, but WVU retained possession when the rebound went out of bounds in front of WVU's bench with 9.1 seconds left. On the inbound, Hinds stumbled working free from Rodriguez and Browne's inbound pass was tipped into the backcourt.
"It was a designed play for me to get the ball to the basket, try and draw a foul, penetrate, kick, but I think I tripped or something like that and got a tip on the ball and I couldn't catch it," Hinds said.
Browne recovered and had to hurry to his basket. His short shot at buzzer was smothered by Southwell.
"Gary ran it down, I screened his man and he tried to get a shot," Rutledge said. "It was all we could do."
The Wildcats were led by 17 points from Southwell and leading scorer Rodney McGruder. Kansas State shot 51 percent in the game, but just 37 percent in the second half. One best rebounding teams in the NCAA, the Wildcats outrebounded WVU 28-27.
Hinds led the Mountaineers with 15 points. Murray scored 11 and Henderson added 10. They shot 51 percent in the game, but just 43 percent after halftime, and were 4-for-8 from 3-point range. The Mountaineers also missed 10 of 22 free-throw attempts.
"I thought we competed for the most part," Coach Bob Huggins said. "The problem is we don't for a consistent period of time. Did all nine guys that played today compete? Absolutely not. Most of them did. When your guy is dunking it at one end and you haven't gotten to the foul line, you're probably not competing real hard."
WVU played the entire game without point guard Juwan Staten, the team captain who had started the first 14 games, but was benched and didn't play after halftime of Wednesday's win.
"He's going to get on the same page with me or he's not going to play anymore," Huggins said.
The first half was closely played. There were three ties and three lead changes. Kansas State never led by more than five points and WVU never led by more than three. The Wildcats made 7 of their first 10 shots. The Mountaineers made 6 of their first 10. Kansas State shot 68 percent from the floor. WVU shot 65 percent. Both teams made three 3-pointers.
There were only two differences and both teams did well to exploit them. Kansas State was called for 13 fouls. Four players had two fouls and one had three. The Mountaineers were 8-for-14 at the foul line. Kansas State was 3-for-6 as WVU was called for just five fouls.
Kansas State, No. 18 in the nation in rebounds per game and No. 6 in offensive rebounds per game, had a 12-4 edge in rebounds and a 7-0 lead in second chance points. The Mountaineers didn't have an offensive rebound until the first missed shot of the second half and that led to a Browne put-back basket.
Henderson scored in transition on successive possessions and the Wildcats took a timeout as WVU matched its largest lead at 39-36. A layup by Hinds matched the largest lead either way, but the Wildcats needed 63 seconds to tie the score 41-41 and were in the lead again less than a minute later. They finished a 12-0 run with a 3 from McGruder for a 48-41 lead with 14:30 left to play.
Contact sportswriter Mike Casazza at email@example.com or 304-319-1142. His blog is at blogs.dailymail.com/wvu.