|Field Goal %||45.1||47.2|
|Three Point %||45.0||39.1|
|Free Throw %||60.9||63.2|
The West Virginia Mountaineers (8-7) dropped to 0-3 in the Big 12 after losing on the road to Kansas State (11-4, 1-2) 71-69. WVU held a 21-point early second half lead before Kansas State out-scored the Mountaineers 50-27 in the final 18 minutes.
“They made shots. We didn’t make shots.” Explained West Virginia head coach Bob Huggins after the game. “We trusted people in some ISO’s that didn’t get it done. They trusted in people in ISO’s that did get it done. It’s my fault. I’m in charge of picking the right guy and obviously I didn’t’ pick the right guy. So, it falls on my shoulders.”
The Mountaineers led 5-3 early before Lamont West went 3-4 from three-point range during a 15-0 run as WVU took a 20-3 lead mid-way through the first half. While West heated up, Kansas State went 0-6 (0-2 3pt) from the field and 0-4 from the free throw line.
The Mountaineers played tough in the first half out-rebounding the Wildcats by 10 and holding them to just 29.2% from the field.
West Virginia maintained their double-digit lead throughout the first half and led my as many as 18. Lamont West finished the half with 11 points, leading all scorers, and Derek Culver had eight points and 4 rebounds on his way to a double-double.
West Virginia came out of halftime with a 15-point advantage and started the second half on a 6-0 run to go up 21 in just over a minute of play. Then Kansas State got rolling.
The Wildcats scored six-straight, prompting Huggins to take a timeout.
Less than three minutes later Huggs had to call another timeout. WVU committed three-straight turnovers, handing K-State a 9-0 run and were within six.
Coming out of the timeout, Jordan McCabe turned the ball over that led to a Barry Brown dunk on the other end finishing off a 17-0 run. Derek Culver ended the run on a tipping in his own shot.
The Mountaineers went up 10 after Culver grabbed an offensive rebound on a missed free throw. He went back up strong, absorbing the contact and completed a three-point play with 8:51 left in the game.
Although West Virginia had a couple of responses, their lead continued to dwindle The Mountaineers couldn’t stop Kamau Stokes and Mike Mcguirl combining for 35 second half points.
“We knew he (McGuirl) could shoot.” Said Huggins. “He’s not a straight-line driver like Brown is but we knew he could make shots. I think everyone but the guy guarding him knew.”
Huggins reflected on how McGuirl got his 15 second half points. “We’re in front of him – their standing there looking at each other and we let him step into a shot, that’s the first one he made. And that’s really the one that kind of got him going and I got a guy just standing there watching him shoot. You never ever give up step-in shots. We gave step in shots. Those are easy shots. Those are ‘HORSE’ shots.”
Brown was aggressive, with his 20 second half points, driving down the lane.
“We tried everybody on him. It wasn’t like he did it against one particular guy.” Explained Huggins.
Hugs went on to explain his frustration with his team’s defense. “The puzzling thing to me is that he has it on his right side he’s right handed – he’s a very heavy right-handed driver and a very heavy right-handed finisher and we continued to drive let him drive it right. It’s not like they weren’t told its not like we don’t practice it.”
WVU committed five turnovers during that span and Kansas State would take the lead as Barry Brown laid it in with 29 seconds left in the game.
K-State went 7-11 from three-point range, 18-29 from the field and only 3 turnovers to complete the second half comeback. “I thought we had shots. We had good as shots as they had, they just made theirs and we didn’t make any.” Said Huggins. “We turned it over 17 times. We can’t do that. We don’t shoot it well enough.”
After only six turnovers and going 8-11 from the foul line in the first half, West Virginia committed 11 turnovers and went 6-12 from the charity stripe in the second.
Huggins talked about putting the wrong trust into players and more trust into freshman Derek Culver.
“Our best player (Culver) has practiced all of about eight or nine days.” Stated Huggs. “And, I got 4-year guys and 3-year guys and 2-year guys that ought to know what they are doing and he’s our best player. He’s the guy that has kept us in games. We got to continue to work harder with him then were working with some guys that, quite frankly aren’t trust worthy.”
Huggins took responsibility for his decision to put trust in his veterans late in the game. “At the end of the day, I’m the one in charge and it falls on my shoulders.”
West Virginia hosts Oklahoma State at noon on Saturday inside the WVU Coliseum.