MANHATTAN — At times, it is easy to forget about Shane Southwell.
Marcus Foster is Kansas State’s leading scorer and one of the top freshmen in the Big 12. Thomas Gipson is the Wildcats’ go-to forward and the vocal leader of the team. They make highlight plays and say inspiring things. Southwell scores at a slightly lower rate and cracks jokes.
Next to them, Southwell sometimes takes on a secondary role. But he is capable of more. The senior guard always has been.
Saturday was a good reminder. Southwell did a little bit of everything in a 78-56 blowout victory over West Virginia. He made four three-pointers on his way to 20 points, along with five rebounds and four assists.
Perhaps best of all, he only needed 24 minutes of court time to do it.
“I loved it,” K-State coach Bruce Weber said. “It was an all-around game. He had 20 points on 10 shots and he made all his free throws. … Those are pretty good numbers.”
So good, it was arguably his best game. He helped the Wildcats bury the Mountaineers quickly in the second half.
Few saw that coming. West Virginia (10-8, 2-3 Big 12) entered the game with a deceivingly poor record. Though it has lost three in a row, it fell to Oklahoma State on the final play and has lost to Wisconsin and Gonzaga by single digits.
But K-State (14-4, 4-1 Big 12) played far too well for it to stay close.
The Wildcats made 54.9 percent of their shots, piled up 22 assists and forced 15 turnovers, combining unusually crisp offense with their consistently strong defense.
“In the games we play well, we do it all,” Southwell said. “We had 22 assists on 28 field goals, which is great for us. Our defense is really good, so when we are passing the ball well and we are defending well that is a good recipe to win.”
Added West Virginia coach Bob Huggins: “They really pass the ball. I think that is the best thing they do. I think that is better than their defense.”
It all started with Southwell.
On top of making 6 of 10 shots, he set his teammates up with good shots from the get-go. Gipson took advantage with 20 points and six rebounds, while Foster added 15 points. K-State’s defense took care of the rest.
Eron Harris led West Virginia with 21 points and Juwan Staten had 16 points and 11 rebounds, but no one else on the Mountaineers’ roster did much of anything.
The Wildcats raced to a 37-24 halftime lead, with a dunk from Southwell serving as the main highlight. Then they pulled ahead 55-30 early in the second half when Southwell drained a three.
In between, K-State honored its 1964 Final Four team. Many of those former players walked away impressed. They were watching K-State’s largest conference victory of the season.
“It was a good all-around win,” Weber said. “That is the best we have shot the ball against a good opponent. We have made the three-ball the last two games. And we guarded. Staten is hard to guard, and their three guards keep coming at you … We really locked in … We got on a run and broke their spirit right before halftime.”
The Wildcats have won two straight and 12 of their last 13. They will try to keep that momentum going on Tuesday when they travel to Texas.
If they get another quality effort from Southwell, they will like their chances.
“Shane started a little slow and then got going then he had a couple games where he didn’t get going,” Weber said, “but now he has played three or four games in a row where he has been pretty solid.”