West Virginia (15-4, 4-3 Big 12) picked up right where it left off against Oklahoma in Saturday night's loss to Kansas State (15-4, 4-3 Big 12). The Mountaineers missed their first six field goals and enabled the Wildcats to jump out to a quick 9-2 lead. But just when you thought the Wildcats might run away with it the Mountaineers turned it on, forced a few turnovers and Daxter Miles and Jevon Carter hit some big buckets that were part of a 16-1 West Virginia run that propelled the Mountaineers to an 18-10 lead.
West Virginia controlled the game for the next several minutes and for a large portion of the first half it looked as if the "Press Virginia" team which dominated Baylor was back on the court and ready to take over. That stretch, however, proved to be fools gold and West Virginia committed several turnovers, watched Kansas State make a number of offensive rebounds and within two minutes the Mountaineer watched a 12 point lead dwindle to two as K-State ended the first half on a 10-0 run and cut the lead to 38-36.
The momentum that KSU earned from the final two minutes of the first half carried into the second half as well and Kansas State quickly took the lead, pushed it out to a game high 11 points and held the momentum until there were six minutes remaining. For the first 14 minutes of the second half the Wildcats completely outplayed West Virginia,continually beating the press and forcing the Mountaineers into a zone but a sudden flagrant foul on freshman Sagaba Konate changed everything. After Konate was elbowed the Mountaineers gained some unexpected momentum and turned in an 11-0 run to go up 66-65, their first lead since the beginning of the second half.
But similar to the final minutes of Tuesday's contest against Oklahoma, West Virginia was simply out-executed down the stretch by its opposition. Kansas State found multiple ways to attack the Mountaineers half-court defense and earn easy buckets and the Wildcats forced West Virginia into multiple turnovers to quickly recapture the lead and hold on to it for the remaining few minutes. In the end 23 turnovers proved to be too many for the Mountaineers to overcome and as the clock hit zero a jubilant home crowd cheered as Kansas State earned its first signature win of the season with a 79-75 over West Virginia.
After the contest Bob Huggins talked with IMG's Tony Caridi about some of the issues that plagued the Mountaineers in the four point loss.
"We have got to guard and we can't keep giving up shots at the rim," Huggins said. "We had two guys (Elijah Macon and Brandon Watkins) at the five position that fouled out and the other one (Sagaba Konate) had four. So we got 14 fouls, (Kansas State) has the most physical guy in the league and he ends up with three or four fouls. I can't coach everybody but I can coach our guys so I'm going to have to coach our guys to be better at it. I don't know what to tell them but I have to find something. It's frustrating for me and for them.
"The reality of it is that we haven't had that edge and we need to get that edge back. I told them in there that we have three losses in the league and we play Kansas twice. They're leading the league. We can still control our own destiny we just have to go beat people and we have to stop making excuses and we have to guard."
The Mountaineers will take on the No.2 ranked Jayhawks on Tuesday and will look to regain that edge that Huggins in front of a sellout crowd at the Coliseum.