Morgantown, WV (SportsNetwork.com) - A couple of Big 12 Conference teams hoping to put an end to their respective losing streaks get together on Wednesday night, as the Kansas State Wildcats pay a visit to the 21st-ranked West Virginia Mountaineers.
Kansas State (12-12, 5-6 Big 12) hasn't won a game since topping Oklahoma State at home on Jan. 24 (63-53), the team losing four in a row since. The Wildcats were most recently in action versus visiting Texas this past Saturday, and they came up short in a 61-57 final. K-State has lost its last three games on enemy hardwood to fall to 1-6 in true road tests this season.
West Virginia fell to a couple of ranked foes in the last week or so, first losing at Oklahoma on Feb. 3 (71-52), then at home to Baylor this past Saturday (87-69). As a result, the Mountaineers enter this fray at 18-5 overall, which includes a 6-4 league ledger -- two games behind first-place Kansas at the moment.
Kansas State owns a narrow 4-3 lead in the all-time series with West Virginia, but it was the Mountaineers who came out on top in the most recent encounter, claiming a 65-59 decision in Manhattan back on Jan. 27.
In that first meeting, both teams were rather careless with the basketball as they combined for 45 turnovers, and neither shot well with WVU hitting a mere 36.4 percent from the floor, and KSU 36.7 percent. Tarik Phillip paced the Mountaineers with 12 points in 16 minutes off the bench, while the Wildcats were led by Marcus Foster with 15 points.
Had Kansas State played just a little better at both ends of the court in the recent clash with Texas, it may have had a shot at pulling out the victory. As it was, the Wildcats shot just 31.9 percent from the field while allowing the Longhorns 54.1 percent success. The only reason they were even in contention is that they went 19-of-25 at the free-throw line, and nailed 8-of-16 3-point attempts. Nino Williams led the way in defeat with 13 points, while Tre Harris and Nigel Johnson chipped in with 12 and 10 points, respectively.
The Wildcats boast three double-digit scorers on the season, but Foster (14.0 ppg) is serving an indefinite suspension. Thomas Gipson (11.2 ppg, 4.7 rpg) is next on the list, but he missed all seven of his field goal attempts in the UT game, and will need to up the ante significantly if K-State has any chance in this contest. Williams (11.0 ppg, 5.0 rpg) has been a solid contributor for a team that puts up just 63.9 ppg, but allows only 63.0 ppg.
Devin Williams recorded a monster double-double with 20 points and 15 rebounds, but that effort went to waste as West Virginia was hammered at home by Baylor over the weekend. Jevon Carter added 13 points and Daxter Miles, Jr. 10 for the Mountaineers, who shot just 36.4 percent from the field, which included a 6-of-23 showing from beyond the arc, and they committed 16 turnovers. As for the Bears, they drained 54.9 percent of their total shots, and had a 43-35 rebounding edge, as well as a 25-15 advantage in points at the foul line.
Juwan Staten (14.4 ppg) and Williams (11.7 ppg, 8.3 rpg) have been the most consistent contributors for West Virginia this season, helping the team net 75.6 ppg despite shooting efforts of only .412 overall, .294 from 3-point land, and .657 at the charity stripe. Fortunately, the Mountaineers have been an opportunistic bunch in forcing an eye-popping 21.7 turnovers per contest, giving them a +9.1 differential in that category.