Familiar Cold Stretch Sends WVU To Another Defeat
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Just when you started thinking that maybe, just maybe, that Coliseum magic was coming back to West Virginia’s struggling basketball team, Kansas State said abracadabra and turned a 42-42 cliffhanger into a 64-51 victory.
Kansas State coach Bruce Weber called a time out with the score tied at 42 and pulled an ace out of thin air, outscoring WVU 16-2 to take command and put it on cruise control to win their 20th game against six losses and protect their thin lead in the Big 12 Conference over Texas Tech and Kansas.
As for the Mountaineers, it was more of the same as they went through their fourth straight game scoring 53 or fewer points.
The loss gave Bob Huggins’ team a 10-16 record, 2-11 in the conference.
“They made all the shots. We didn’t make any,” Huggins said. “That’s the name of the game, making baskets. That’s basketball.”
WVU shot 34.6 percent from the field and just 21.7 percent from 3. Kansas State’s figures were 44.4 percent and 39.1 percent from 3.
Derek Culver had his sixth double-double with 11 points and 13 rebounds when he wasn’t getting hacked and bumped around inside while Lamont scored 16, but that was no match for the Wildcats, who got 21 points from Barry Brown Jr. and Xavier Sneed, who scored 19.
“Man, oh man, Derek competed his butt off,” Huggins noted. But every time he got the ball he was in a double-team and K-State used four different centers against him.
“He has to learn to score through contact,” Huggins said, referring to the ways teams are roughing him up, not worried about outside shooting from the Mountaineers.
Jevon Carter, taking some time off during the NBA’s All-Star break, was at the game with his girl friend, women’s player Naomi Davenport, and the former two-time National Defensive Player of the Year at WVU had the best assist of the night, presenting the Norma Mae Huggins Cancer Fund a check for $27,500 from sales of “Treadmill Mentality” T-shirts to aid the cause.
Sometimes you have those games where nothing goes the way you expected it and this turned out to be one of those first halves.
For example, it was expected that K-State’s star, Dean Wade, the preseason Big 12 Player of the Year, would miss the game with a foot injury and that Kamau Stokes would also sit out with a foot injury.
Both started for the Wildcats.
Then there was the matter of K-State being atop the league and WVU last, having dropped its last three games by 78 points combined.
No contest, right?
It took a late basket by Barry Brown, who had scored 29 against WVU in the first meeting of the teams, to allow the Wildcats to take a 30-28 lead into the locker room … and if WVU had been able to make any shots through the final 10 minutes of the first half they would have had a sizable lead.
But as they have in almost every Big 12 game, WVU’s shooting went into a long cold spell. Before Brandon Knapper made a long three from downtown Westover to tie the score at 28-28 the Mountaineers had hit just one of their last 10 shots, seven of them in a row.
So why was it close?
Well, Culver was muscling the Wildcats inside, has he has muscled everyone he’s gone against in the Big 12, finishing the half with eight points and eight rebounds.
And Lamont West, who has not had much shooting luck lately, had nine.
The play was sloppy, as most games in which WVU participates is, with 18 field goals and 20 turnovers combined by the two teams in the first half.
But that was nothing compared to the way the second half started as the Wildcats’ Makol Mawein had an open dunk and he somehow managed not only to miss it, but to miss everything and have the ball said out of bounds … not under the basket but across the sideline.
Barry Brown began heating up for Kansas State as they edged their way to a 42-35 lead, but Lamont West had some steam of his own as he hit a couple of free throws and then canned a tree, followed by Culver completing a fast break with a score.
West’s thre ended a string of 11 straight Mountaineer misses from 3-point range.
Just like that, in 57 seconds the 7-point lead was gone and the game was tied as K-State called time out to regroup.
Coach Bruce Weber made the most of the time out as Kansas State came out and got a slam from Mawein, making up for the spectacle of the earlier miss, and then a three from Sneed to quickly boost the pump the lead back up to 5 at 47-42.
Huggins, figuring if it it worked for Weber, might work for him and he called a time out to try to change the flow.
K-State stretched their run to 12 straight points and 54-42 lead despite even yet another amazing missed dunk by Mawein, this one also bouncing off the rim and out of bounds over the sideline.
The Wildcats waltzed home from there.