Morgantown, WV (SportsNetwork.com) - Jevon Carter and Gary Browne each made late free throws to help 21st-ranked West Virginia secure a 76-72 victory over Kansas State on Wednesday night.
Brandon Watkins had 14 points and nine rebounds to lead the Mountaineers (19-5, 7-4 Big 12), who bounced back from a pair of blowout losses to Oklahoma and Baylor. Juwan Staten finished with 11 points and six assists against the struggling Wildcats.
"Do you draw pictures when you golf? A guy told me you write the number, not draw a picture of what you did," said West Virginia coach Bob Huggins. "I'm going to say today was a win, but it was frustrating."
Nino Williams matched a career high with 22 points for Kansas State (12-13, 5-7), which has dropped five games in a row to fall below .500 for the first time in 11 years. The slide began with a 65-59 home loss to West Virginia on Jan. 27.
The Wildcats played their third straight game without top scorer Marcus Foster after he was suspended by coach Bruce Weber for violating team rules.
West Virginia saw a 10-point lead disappear late in the second half. Jaysean Paige drained a 3-pointer to make it 67-57 with 5:27 remaining, but then missed three free throws after being fouled on a 3-point shot.
K-State answered with a 12-0 run to take a 69-67 lead with 2:25 to play. West Virginia tied it on a pair of Nathan Adrian free throws and moved back in front on a Devin Williams layup following a K-State turnover.
With 41.2 seconds remaining, the Wildcats had a chance to tie it, but Nigel Johnson missed both free throw attempts.
Carter was 2-for-2 at the foul line with 19.8 seconds left to make it 74-70. Browne was fouled and hit two free throws after Justin Edwards missed a running layup for K-State.
"I thought we had some pretty good looks, but not enough to get a win," Weber said.
It remained a tight game deep into the first half, but a dunk by Watkins off his own missed free throw put West Virginia up 35-25 with five minutes left.
K-State scored the next six points before a Paige three from the top of the key capped an 11-2 West Virginia run. Johnson hit two free throws to make it 46-35 at halftime.
The last time the Wildcats were below .500 was when a home loss to Missouri on Jan. 28, 2004 also dropped them to 12-13 ... West Virginia shot just 28 percent in the second half after shooting 62.1 percent in the first half ... Carter and Paige each had 10 points ... Johnson and Edwards scored 14 points apiece.