WVU v. Kansas State: This is true



Amazing what a road win against one of the league’s most talented teams can do for you. West Virginia gets its third-lowest point total of the season, shoots barely 40 percent from the floor, misses 15 of 23 3-point shots and darn near gives away an eight-point lead … but wins.

Afterward the Mountaineers are quizzed about a game against the team that pretty much embarrassed them two weeks ago and, wouldn’t you know it, they’re making you take dictation.

“We feel we need to pay this team back,” point guard Juwan Staten said. “We’ve been in every single game but that one. They came out and hit us in the mouth early. They showed they were tougher than us and they were more physical and they wanted it more – that day. We don’t feel like that’s how it really is.”

Well, how is it really? Well, Kansas State is 1-3 on the road, and that’s all in conference play. The win is against — all together — TCU. The Wildcats only scored 65 points in that one and followed with 60 at Kansas, 64 at Texas and 75 at Iowa State. Shooting percentages? Try 52.5 at TCU, 44 at Kansas, 42.6 at Texas and 42.2 at  Iowa State.

That probably ought not tell us very much. Kansas State struggles on offense (No. 9 in the Big 12 in scoring, shooting and 3-point shooting). Life is naturally harder away from home. But Kansas State has made its name on defense (No. 2 in scoring defense, No. 3 in field-goal percentage defense, No. 1 in 3-point percentage defense). Teams generally don’t guard as well away from home as they do at home, and a lot of that has to do with the home team playing typically above expected norms on offense.

Kansas State has had some off days of defense on the road. Let’s disregard TCU, which might go winless if it doesn’t get one against Texas Tech. At Kansas, Kansas State forced seven turnovers and had just one steal. The Jayhawks are the worst in the league in turnovers and turnover margin, but also helped themselves with 20 assists on 32 baskets on the way to shooting 56 percent from the floor. And a fella named Andrew Wiggins got cozy during the proceedings.

At Texas, the Longhorns threw in a 3 at the buzzer — it happens — but nevertheless won shooting 45.6 percent from the floor, 3-for-12 from 3-point range, 12-for-20 at the foul line and losing the rebounding battle. They had only 10 turnovers, though, and Kansas State had just two steals. Texas point guard Javan Felix wouldn’t stay out of the lane and had 22 points.

At Iowa State, the Cyclones shot 48.1 percent, made half of their 3-point shots and outscored Kansas State 20-12 at the free throw like in a 81-75 win. Melvin Ejim — don’t look now, but he’s leading the Big 12 in scoring — had 20 points on five baskets and a kid named Matt Thomas (that’s not a Wiggin-like joke … I had no idea who Thomas was before the game) came off the bench and made four 3s on the way to 14 points.

Here’s the … the … key, I think. Kansas led by 17 at the half, Texas by four and Iowa State by 12. Kansas State is not engineered to play from behind. It’s built to be a front-runner and to guard and pass and cut and play physical. Get behind and good lock. The Wildcats are 13-1 when they lead at the half and 2-4 when they trail. The largest halftime deficit they’ve overcome to win a game is five points.

The Mountaineers, who, if we’re being honest with one another, don’t enjoy much of a home court advantage, know their duty this afternoon.

“This is a real big game because Kansas State the first time, we went out there and we definitely got stepped on,” forward Remi Dibo said. “We never came close to making it a game. Everyone on the team is really looking forward to this one.”

I know you’re looking forward to this …

No clue what the crowd will be today, but there’s really no reason for, say, 5,200. But as you watch or listen or witness, here’s a reminder of the scene at Kansas State and its Octagon of Doom. The Wildcats are 11-1 with 11 straight wins (they lost the opener to Northern Colorado).

65 Responses to “WVU v. Kansas State: This is true”

  1. Josh24601 says:

    Stomp on em, Staten.

  2. Josh24601 says:

    Browne puts it away. Shew.

  3. jtmountaineer says:

    If Juwan Staten isn’t the Big 12 Player of the Week, it’s gotta be Jae Crowder.

  4. Josh24601 says:

    Well that was nice to win.

  5. Dann White says:

    Does anyone have any extra nitroglycerin tabs I could borrow? My chest is just a bit tight after that half.

  6. Foul Shot says:

    Great win.
    Nice to defend the home court after watching K. State rub it in a couple of weeks ago.
    Hoping Staten does not start getting the NBA bug. Witness our last few NBA prospects who are all D Leaguers or something similar.
    It is starting to look like an interesting Feb. and March.
    It seems Huggins is able to get things back on track, the jury is still out on Holgs.

  7. Parks says:

    Staten was a god among men today. He is quickly becoming the best player in the league. What a difference a year makes. I said next year would be special and it will, but if Staten keeps this up WVU will shock a lot of people over the next month/ month and a half. Great win today!

  8. JoeinNy says:

    Mike did the coaches and players read your column from earlier in the week?

  9. Parks says:

    And I’ll add this– the offense today was what it should be every game. It was extremely efficient because of what it let the guards do. However, and there were still breaks at times, but the defense today created so many run-out opportunities that it really let our offense settle. After watching the Oklahoma/Iowa state game, we have a chance to really build a cushion in conference play come Wednesday.

  10. smeer says:

    Mike can add “prophet” to his resume.

    the team has fight and this bodes well

    it will not get any easier

    moments when we look like world beaters

    moments – well – things that make you go “what the?”

    this might sound sacrilegious but I am losing a little patience with Eron, That sequence where he forced a three and blew a floater. He needs to let the game come to him and work to get himself open for his bread and butter three. Young guy wrestling with the passing of the leadership mantle to Staten?

    Personally I think Henderson is a better athlete, better able to create a shot/drive. But as shared by others, for every great play he makes a bonehead. Remind myself – they are both sophomores. Williams likewise took some ill-advised shots but you can see the potential. I really like Adrian. I did not expect him to play such good D – but that seems to be what gets him on the floor. Dibo (at least on O) has begun to gain some confidence – still painful to watch him attempt to play D.

    this is still a very very very young team with many missing pieces and somehow wins

    Staten is to WVU basketball what Tavon was to WVU football.

    anyone think Huggs has lost the ability to coach? we get spanked on rebounds and shooting percentage and still win. Could this be one of his best years with a flawed team?

    anyone notice how little Noreen played in the second half?

  11. jtmountaineer says:

    It would be unfair of me not to mention that Dibo’s crucial 3 was made on a kick-out from none other than Devin Williams. If he can do that a few times each game…

    It’s possibly being overstated what this game means to the season’s possibilities. We’re so starved for quality wins that two in a row have some talking tourney. But these last two games are huge steps forward. And it cannot be overstated what Staten means to this team, or how rewarding it is to see a fellow’s hard work rise to his talent and produce what we’re all seeing. Special stuff.

  12. Shoot4show says:

    Huggs changed the offense for Staten to take the ball off the bounce… and take advantage of the new rules. Staten gets 21 attempts from the stripe, hits 18, and we win in spite of letting the opponent shoot 51% and Harris and Henderson scoring a combined 2 points in the 2nd half. Twenty-one free throw attempts, sports fans. If you have a guard who can can pressure the rim and a couple capable shooters that the oppnent has to respect, you have to play like this under the current rules. Welcome to the new college game.

  13. MontanaEer says:

    Sounds like Huggins has the same bug that’s going on out here.

  14. Mack says:

    I think WVU is working on becoming an NIT lock. As for the NCAA tournament, I think WVU would be lucky to get the wins to become a bubble team and that loss at Virginia Tech is going to absolutely kill them in any “bubble” argument.

    The big hurdle that WVU still needs to overcome before the end of the year is they still need to beat a ranked team.

  15. jtmountaineer says:

    We won’t get the chance to beat another ranked team until next Saturday, it seems, with Oklahoma losing yesterday. That will make the third consecutive game against a team ranked in the top 25 the week before we’ve gotten them. Hopefully the result will be the same as the last two.

    In other Big 12 news, it is looking more and more like Texas is the real deal and our loss to them not simply the result of us playing terribly.