Manhattan, KS (SportsNetwork.com) - The Kansas State Wildcats shoot for their sixth win in the last seven games, as they entertain the 17th-ranked West Virginia Mountaineers in a Big 12 Conference clash at Bramlage Coliseum on Tuesday night.
West Virginia claimed victory in 14 of its first 15 games to open the 2014-15 campaign, but the team has split the last four to fall to 4-2 in conference. The Mountaineers had to go to overtime in last Saturday's bout with visiting TCU, but managed to slip by in an 86-85 final. As a result, WVU improved to 7-2 at home this season -- the two setbacks coming against LSU (74-73) and Iowa State (74-72).
Kansas State knocked off Oklahoma State at home on Saturday, 63-53, as it rebounded from a 77-71 loss at nationally-ranked Iowa State four days earlier. For their efforts, the Wildcats enter this evening's fray at 12-8 overall and 5-2 in conference, and while the team is just 1-4 in true road games, it is 10-2 in front of the hometown faithful, with victories coming for K-State in each of its last four tilts inside Bramlage Coliseum.
K-State owns a 4-2 lead in the all-time series with WVU, including a 2-0 mark in Manhattan. The Mountaineers won the most recent encounter though, taking an 81-71 decision in at home last February.
West Virginia needed a pair of free throws from Jevan Carter in the final second to push its way past TCU in overtime on Saturday. The Mountaineers got double-double performances from Juwan Staten (18 points, 12 assists) and Devin Williams (18 points, 12 rebounds), 15 points and eight boards from Jonathan Holton, and 10 points and three steals from Daxter Miles, Jr. in what wound up being a nip-and-tuck battle throughout. WVU shot 40.8 percent from the floor, 24 percent from 3-point range, and turned in a 22-of-32 showing at the foul line, while the Horned Frogs finished with percentages of .491 overall, .429 from distance, and .636 at the charity stripe. TCU won the rebounding battle (47-37), but committed 19 turnovers.
Staten is averaging a team-best 15.2 ppg, and he also serves as WVU's primary playmaker with 80 assists. Williams is netting 11.2 ppg while also spearheading the Mountaineers' rebounding effort with 7.9 rpg, and there are five others who net between 6.4 and 9.9 ppg for a squad that produces 77.7 ppg, despite shooting knocking down only 41.7 percent of its field goal attempts and 29.9 percent of its long-range launches. The team's defensive allowance stands at 64.2 ppg, but it has been its ability to force turnovers that has WVU in the favorable position it is as foes are guilty of a whopping 21.9 miscues per outing, its +9.9 turnover margin ranking it first in the country.
Nino Williams scored 20 points, his second straight game with at least that many, as he helped power Kansas State to its recent win over Oklahoma State. Williams went 10-of-13 from the floor, the team as a whole dropping 57.1 percent of its total shots, while at the same limiting the Cowboys to 43.2 percent field goal efficiency, which included a dismal 3-of-14 effort from 3- point range. The Wildcats didn't perform any better from distance (2-of-8), but went 13-of-16 at the foul line, narrowly won the rebounding battle (23-19), and made a 10-point halftime lead stand up. Marcus Foster and Justin Edwards both reached double figures as well for K-State, netting 14 points apiece, with the former also dishing out five of the team's 16 assists.
Kansas State is far from an offensive juggernaut, as the team averages just 65.7 ppg despite shooting a solid 46.1 percent from the floor. Fortunately, the Wildcats perform well at the defensive end most nights, yielding just 62.7 ppg while forcing an average of 13.3 turnovers per outing. KSU is in the black with regard to rebounding margin (+2.8), but on the negative side of the ledger in turnovers (-0.4). Foster (13.7 ppg) leads three players in double figures, with Williams (12.0 ppg) and Thomas Gipson (11.2 ppg) being the others.