The West Virginia Mountaineers (10-16, 2-11 Big 12) battled the No. 23 ranked Kansas State Wildcats (20-6, 10-3) for nearly 30 minutes tonight in Morgantown before the train derailed late in the second half, giving way to a Wildcats win by a final score of 65-51.
West Virginia came out in the first half and showed a little bit of fire, as Lamont West jumped a passing lane to pick off a pass to Dean Wade and laid it in for the game’s first points. The Mountaineers led 13-11 at the under-12 timeout, and found success feeding the ball inside to Derek Culver.
The freshman showed signs of competence as the half continued, with Jordan McCabe dishing a pair of beautiful assists as the Mountaineers built their lead to six midway through the half. Moments later, Emmitt Matthews got in on the fun with a nice two-handed catch in transition that lead to a dunk to put the Mountaineers back up by three.
Brandon Knapper nailed a three with just over a minute remaining in the half to tie the game at 28, but the Wildcats had the final word with a jumper from Barry Brown as the first half came to a close.
The first eight minutes of the second half followed the trend of the first period, with the Mountaineers and Wildcats trading body blows. Kansas State led by seven points just after the first media timeout of the half, but Lamont West went on a 5-0 run of his own to erase the Wildcats’ lead.
And then things fell apart.
After a fast-break layup by Derek Culver tied the game at 42-42 with 11:55 remaining, the Mountaineers allowed the Wildcats to mount a 14-0 run in just over four minutes to effectively put the game on ice.
West led the Mountaineers with 16 points, 7 rebounds. Derek Culver turned in his sixth double-double of the season with 11 points, 13 rebounds. Brandon Knapper finished with 10 points and Emmitt Matthews Jr. added 9 points. Chase Harler and Jermaine Haley combined to give West Virginia the remaining 5 points.
The Mountaineers return to action on Saturday when they travel to Waco, Texas to take on the Baylor Bears. That game is scheduled for a 2:00PM EST tip, and will be broadcast on ESPNU.