Kansas State University

West Virginia wears down shorthanded Kansas State for 85-66 victory

West Virginia coach Bob Huggins screams the officials during the first half Saturday in Morgantown, W.Va.
West Virginia coach Bob Huggins screams the officials during the first half Saturday in Morgantown, W.Va. Associated Press

One of Kansas State’s most difficult basketball games of the season got even harder moments before it started.

That’s when the Wildcats learned they would take the floor against No. 13 West Virginia on Saturday at WVU Coliseum without senior forward D.J. Johnson, their strongest inside force and most indispensable player.

His absence was notable in an 85-66 loss. The Wildcats (16-9, 5-7 Big 12) knocked off the Mountaineers (20-5, 8-4) last month at Bramlage Coliseum with Johnson scoring 14 points and grabbing eight rebounds. The rematch was much different. West Virginia used its depth to wear down K-State’s shorthanded roster, handing them their most lopsided defeat of the year.

Saturday’s box score

“He was the difference in the (first) game,” K-State basketball coach Bruce Weber said. “In that game you can throw it inside. Today, you don’t have that inside force. I wish Dean (Wade) would play a little stronger inside and try to get some things around the hoop. Maybe that’s to come in the future. But you miss (Johnson). There is no doubt about it.”

Johnson missed the game with an injured ankle. He sprained it late in a narrow loss against Kansas on Monday, and the ailment caused him too much discomfort to play Saturday. He tried to suit up, participating fully in warm ups and taking part in the pregame captain’s meeting, but he was a late scratch from the lineup.

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“It’s a matter of time,” Weber said when asked if Johnson could miss future games. “He gave it a shot and tried to run around on it. But he had too much pain and didn’t think he could do it.”

Without Johnson, Weber was forced to alter K-State’s starting lineup for the first time. first 24 games.

The Wildcats opted to go with a small lineup that featured freshman Xavier Sneed taking over at small forward, Wesley Iwundu sliding to power forward and Dean Wade moving to center. The combination worked initially, as K-State raced to a 14-6 lead, but that success was short-lived.

Once both teams went to their benches, it was obvious West Virginia had the advantage.

The Mountaineers were at their best inside, where they pummeled the Wildcats for 50 points in the paint – the most allowed by K-State during Weber’s five seasons as coach – and 47 rebounds, a whopping 21 more than the visitors.

“DJ is probably the X-Factor for this game,” sophomore guard Kamau Stokes said after scoring 12 points. “We definitely needed him to rebound and as an inside presence. Dean and Isaiah (Maurice) played good today, but having that extra body means a lot, especially when you bring it tough like D.J.”

The Wildcats aren’t known for their depth. The bulk of their scoring comes from six players, and Weber has preferred to use an eight-man rotation in most games.

By comparison, the Mountaineers regularly use as many as 12 players and substitute rapidly to keep players fresh in Bob Huggins’ full-court defense, nicknamed Press Virginia.

It was only a matter of time before West Virginia pulled away.

“They stepped it up,” Weber said, “and they have a lot of bodies. It probably took a toll on us, and then we lost our poise.”

K-State did its best to keep things competitive. The first half was rarely a thing of beauty, but the Wildcats got by with an unorthodox approach and tied the score 34-34 at halftime.

Weber got creative with lineups, at times using four bench players together. Perhaps the strangest lineup was starting guard Barry Brown alongside reserves Carlbe Ervin, Brian Patrick, Austin Budke and Maurice.

Surprisingly, it worked. After Huggins picked up a technical foul early in the second half for arguing a foul call, Stokes hit a pair of free throws to give K-State a 39-36 lead.

Once again, though. That success was short lived.

West Virginia dominated the rest of way and closed the game on a 49-27 run.

“Defensively, we needed to get stops,” Stokes said. “We played pretty strong defense in the first half and then in the second half we let them do whatever they wanted.”

K-State didn’t shoot the ball well enough to keep up. Offensively, it was a bad day across the board. It made 16 of 46 attempts from the field, 7 of 21 from three-point range and 27 of 40 from the free-throw line.

That was perhaps the strangest aspect of this game. The Wildcats got to the line 19 more times than the Mountaineers, but lost handily.

“They missed a lot of free throws,” Huggins said. “That helped us. We can’t take any credit on defending those.”

West Virginia can take credit for showing diversity on offense. Twelve different players scored for the Mountaineers, with Jevon Carter scoring a game-high 19.

Wesley Iwundu led K-State with 14 points, while Stokes had 12 and both Barry Brown and Sneed had 10. But there weren’t many easy baskets to go around. Brown missed all five of his shots from the floor and Stokes missed five of six. Only Patrick had a strong shooting game, making all four of his shots for a career-high 11 points.

Add it all up, and the Wildcats were left with their fifth loss in the past six games. They remain within reach of the NCAA Tournament, but they are running out of time to improve their postseason resume.

“We can’t implode,” Weber said. “We have to stay together as a group. We have been a great group all along. They owe it to themselves, and I think they will come back and play well together.”

They could use a bounce-back effort in their next game Wednesday against Iowa State at Bramlage Coliseum, as well as Johnson in the starting lineup.

Kellis Robinett: @kellisrobinett

No. 13 WEST VIRGINIA 85

KANSAS STATE 66

TableStyle: SP-bkwideplayersCCI Template: SP-bkwideplayers

Kansas State

Min

FG-A

FT-A

R

A

F

Pt

Iwundu

29

4-7

4-5

8

0

3

14

Sneed

20

4-8

0-0

1

1

4

10

Wade

33

1-6

3-4

8

2

2

5

Brown

33

0-5

10-16

4

3

3

10

Stokes

26

1-6

10-12

2

1

4

12

Patrick

18

4-4

0-0

0

1

0

11

Budke

17

1-5

0-3

2

0

2

2

Ervin

10

0-1

0-0

0

0

3

0

Maurice

6

1-2

0-0

1

0

2

2

Schoen

2

0-1

0-0

0

0

0

0

Winter

2

0-1

0-0

0

2

0

0

Kinnamon

2

0-0

0-0

0

0

1

0

McAtee

2

0-0

0-0

0

0

0

0

Totals

200

16-46

27-40

26

10

24

66

Percentages: FG .348, FT .675. Three-Point Goals: 7-21, .333 (Patrick 3-3, Iwundu 2-2, Sneed 2-5, Ervin 0-1, Winter 0-1, Brown 0-2, Budke 0-2, Wade 0-2, Stokes 0-3). Team Rebounds: None. Blocked Shots: None. Turnovers: 19 (Iwundu 6, Stokes 4, Brown 3, Ervin 2, Sneed 2, Maurice, Wade). Steals: 9 (Brown 5, Iwundu 3, Patrick). Technical Fouls: None. Fouled Out: None.

TableStyle: SP-bkwideplayersCCI Template: SP-bkwideplayers

West Va.

Min

FG-A

FT-A

R

A

F

Pt

Adrian

19

3-5

1-3

5

0

4

7

Ahmad

19

5-6

1-1

1

3

3

11

Macon

16

3-4

2-2

3

0

4

8

Carter

31

6-11

5-5

9

2

2

19

Phillip

33

2-12

3-4

4

6

3

7

West

19

3-5

0-0

9

0

3

6

Konate

13

2-3

2-2

4

1

3

6

Miles

12

0-2

2-2

1

0

3

2

Myers

11

2-6

0-0

4

3

1

4

Watkins

9

2-3

0-0

3

0

2

4

Bolden

8

3-5

1-2

2

0

0

9

Bender

4

0-0

0-0

1

0

1

0

Routt

2

1-1

0-0

1

0

0

2

Harler

2

0-1

0-0

0

0

0

0

Long

2

0-0

0-0

0

0

0

0

Totals

200

32-64

17-21

47

15

30

85

Percentages: FG .500, FT .810. Three-Point Goals: 4-12, .333 (Bolden 2-2, Carter 2-4, Adrian 0-1, Harler 0-1, Phillip 0-1, West 0-1, Miles 0-2). Team Rebounds: None. Blocked Shots: 2 (Ahmad, Konate). Turnovers: 17 (Carter 4, Phillip 4, Ahmad 3, Adrian 2, Myers 2, Konate, Macon). Steals: 6 (Carter 2, Phillip 2, Adrian, Miles). Technical Fouls: team, 18:37 second; Macon, 10:47 second. Fouled Out: None.

Half: Tied 34-34. Att: 14,074.

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