MANHATTAN, Kan. -- One of the final few things West Virginia could hold onto in a season that has been slowly slipping away is that the Mountaineers hadn't been blown out. Not by one of the ranked teams. Not on the road. Not even when facing a laughable deficit.
But that got away from WVU on Saturday in a 78-56 loss to Kansas State at the Bramlage Coliseum. The Mountaineers matched the largest deficit in a game, finished with its lowest point total and shooting percentage and lost by the largest margin of the season.
It's the third straight loss and the sixth in the 11 games since putting a scare into then-No. 10 Wisconsin in the Cancun Challenge Nov. 27, an effort that generated bit of optimism for a program that finished 13-19 last season.
"It seems like last year is continuing right now to this point in our lives," sophomore guard Eron Harris said. "It's very frustrating personally. I'm just in a state where I don't know what to do."
The Mountaineers (10-8, 2-3 Big 12) trailed by 13 points at the half before a sellout crowd of 12,528, the largest crowd they've played in front of this season. They'd trailed by 14 points at halftime twice, including Monday's loss to Texas. The Wildcats (14-4, 4-1) led by 25 points a few times in the second half, matching the advantage Missouri had in a win against WVU on Dec. 5, a game that saw the Mountaineers rally and get as close as eight points late.
Kansas State scored the first five points of the second half and let WVU get as close as 15 points before scoring the next 10. A 3-pointer from Shane Southwell was the ninth of the game for the Wildcats and gave them a 55-30 lead while the Mountaineers had only eight baskets of either variety.
The Mountaineers didn't trail by more than eight points in the seven games between the losses to Missouri and Texas, but trailed the Longhorns by at least 10 points for the final 22:11 Monday and trailed the Wildcats by at least 11 points for the final 23:21 Saturday.
"I feel like that game got away from us pretty quick," junior point guard Juwan Staten said. "They came out and hit us first and we had a really hard time coming back from it."
Southwell and Thomas Gipson both scored 20 points. Southwell made 4 of 8 3-point shots and Gipson made 9 of his 11 shots from the floor. Leading scorer Marcus Foster played three minutes and scored three points in a foul-troubled first half, but the freshman scored 12 points in the second half to top his average by two points.
Kansas State came into the game with the Big 12's worst field-goal and 3-point shooting percentages and the second-worst scoring offense. They shot 54.9 percent from the floor -- the best by Kansas State and by a WVU opponent this season -- and made 9 of 21 3-point attempts. The Wildcats had assists on 22 of 28 baskets, including eight from backup guard Jevon Thomas.
"They came down and they got shots inside the last 10 seconds," WVU coach Bob Huggins said. "Everyone wants to talk about their defense -- and their defense is good, don't get me wrong -- but offensively, they make you work. The pass and cut and pass and cut and usually end up with a pretty good shot at the end."