WVU Sports with Mike Casazza

WVU v. Kansas State: This is true

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2014-02-01_11-51-18_733

 

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).

Mike Casazza February 1, 20144:59 pm

I feel like we ought to take a bow, by the way. WVU changed the offense to let Staten, Harris and Henderson take the ball off the bounce … which means let Staten take the ball off the bounce. The Mountaineers wanted to spread the Wildcats and disarm their packed-in help defense. If the space was there, Staten (or someone with the ball) would drive. If the drive was contested, then the driver would see who helped and get the ball to that open man.

Mike Casazza February 1, 20144:47 pm

Also, Baylor beat Oklahoma State. WVU is 5-4 in the Big 12 and alone in fourth place. As expected.

Mike Casazza February 1, 20143:52 pm

I’ll say it: Staten making a case for Big 12 POTY. It’s early. It’s the Iowa Caucus. But if WVU winds up with a winning record in the league and Staten is the reasons why, then why not?

Mike Casazza February 1, 20143:50 pm

Browne makes two free throws with 41.5 seconds to go and it’s 77-68. This is the win WVU had been searching for.

Mike Casazza February 1, 20143:49 pm

Staten goes 8:15 between points and WVU actually built on the lead in that span. Was a five point lead, is a seven-point lead.

Mike Casazza February 1, 20143:47 pm

Sideline of Doom!

Mike Casazza February 1, 20143:46 pm

Bleh. All Foster does is drive into Williams and he gets two free throws.

Mike Casazza February 1, 20143:45 pm

KSU with as bad a turnover as you’ll see. Dibo hits a 3 and KSU turns it over again. Eight steals for WVU and Henderson’s two free throws with 1:55 to go put WVU ahead 73-67. That ought to …

Mike Casazza February 1, 20143:41 pm

“We’re close.” Staten misses a layup. Williams misses a tip dunk. Ball bounces wildly out of bounds just past Dibo. KSU ball.

Mike Casazza February 1, 20143:40 pm

I’ll be stunned if this play isn’t for Staten. Might even be mad, too.

Mike Casazza February 1, 20143:39 pm

Important to remember KSU missed went 0-for-2 at the line on back-to-back possessions, too.

Mike Casazza February 1, 20143:37 pm

Five possessions without a shot for Staten. KSU on a 8-2 run. Staten miss, Foster layup, WVU timeout. It’s 68-67 with 3:01 to go.

Mike Casazza February 1, 20143:37 pm

Naturally, Gibosn goes 2-for-2 to make it 68-63 with 4:01 to go.

Mike Casazza February 1, 20143:36 pm

KSU is 5-for-15 at the foul line, is also No. 9 in the league in foul shooting.

Mike Casazza February 1, 20143:34 pm

And Harris needed one. Instead air balls a 3 with nine seconds left on the shot clock. Bad moment there.

Mike Casazza February 1, 20143:33 pm

Dibo with the left hand! That was enormous. WVU didn’t want the high screen and the possession stalled.

Mike Casazza February 1, 20143:32 pm

KSU forcing Staten high off of screens now, which will leave shooters open.

Mike Casazza February 1, 20143:30 pm

Two free throws give Staten a career-high 29 points and WVU a 64-59 lead.

Mike Casazza February 1, 20143:26 pm

Ten dunks/layups this half. Twelve baskets this half. That’s either super efficient and effective offense or dreadful defense.

Mike Casazza February 1, 20143:23 pm

And Southwell vindicates him. Buckle up, folks.

Mike Casazza February 1, 20143:23 pm

What a vital five seconds here. Weber clearly thinks this possession is crucial with the way Staten is going so he calls a timeout down 60-53 with five ticks on the shot clock and 8:59 left in the game.

Mike Casazza February 1, 20143:22 pm

Browne at PG, dribble handoff to Staten for a jumper. See where this is going?

Mike Casazza February 1, 20143:19 pm

I have Harris going 0-for-2 and Henderson going 1-for-4 in that span.

Mike Casazza February 1, 20143:18 pm

Staten scored six of WVU’s eight points to end the half and has 11 of the team’s 16 this half, including the first eight. He’s scored seven times in that run. Six of those scores have answered KSU scores.

Mike Casazza February 1, 20143:16 pm

And there’s Henderson. No need for that. Just a total waste of a possession. He got in there and tried to make something happen, and that’s good. But when you’re got, you’re got. He doesn’t seem to grasp that all the time.

Mike Casazza February 1, 20143:14 pm

And 8-0 run ties the score 53-53 here with 12:17 to go.

Mike Casazza February 1, 20143:13 pm

Higgins is in the building, ya’all. The fouls are 8-5 as well. This is a reversal from the first half.

Mike Casazza February 1, 20143:13 pm

Uh oh…

Mike Casazza February 1, 20143:11 pm

Ugh, Browne foul puts him on the bench. Henderson is in. Staten is PG again.

Mike Casazza February 1, 20143:10 pm

Lord,he’s wearing them out. Another foul and two more free throws for Staten. He makes one and it’s 53-45. After that KSU start, the lead now is now a point shy of what it was at the half.

That’s a big response stretch for WVU and Staten.

Mike Casazza February 1, 20143:09 pm

Browne in the game really puts Staten in a SG role here. This is interesting.

Mike Casazza February 1, 20143:08 pm

And a Dibo 3 helps, too. WVU is up 52-45.

Mike Casazza February 1, 20143:08 pm

I like everything about what just happened. Staten protected his vertical space and got a stop. Browne played PG and handed it off to Staten, who drove and got canned by D.J. Johnson. Gotta make him pay or think about it when he drives.

Mike Casazza February 1, 20143:06 pm

…five. that’s a three-point play and it’s 47-45. Wonder if WVU thought it achieved something substantive by not blowing the end of the first half…

Mike Casazza February 1, 20143:01 pm

This is concerning if you’re WVU. KSU is running a layup line at WVU’s defense. Four dunk/layups this half.

Mike Casazza February 1, 20143:00 pm

Six unanswered and basically uncontested points for KSU? How about a Staten drive and an and-one? WVU can do that.

Mike Casazza February 1, 20142:58 pm

And a timeout by Huggins. Wonder if he’s spooked b something. Possible back-to-back no dribble dunks?

Mike Casazza February 1, 20142:55 pm

Ninety seconds in and Huggins has made three subs.

Mike Casazza February 1, 20142:54 pm

Staten has a 3 and six free throws among WVU’s last 11 points. It’s also when WVU has created separation.

Mike Casazza February 1, 20142:35 pm

…I mean, barely got the ball back. KSU missed four shots on that possession and Watkins was fouled getting a rebound with 2.8 seconds left. He went 0-for-2 at the foul line, but WVU finally finished a half nicely and leads 39-31.

Mike Casazza February 1, 20142:33 pm

Staten knew the clock situation there and went for the two-for-one. He makes two free throws for a 39-31 lead with 44.8 to go. WVU will get the ball once more and presumably use a timeout.

Mike Casazza February 1, 20142:29 pm

I’ve been told Foster’s first step is as good as anybody’s in the Big 12. That looked like it. Yikes.

Mike Casazza February 1, 20142:28 pm

John Higgins <3 WVU.

Mike Casazza February 1, 20142:26 pm

Staten! Should have reversed it! Free throws?

Mike Casazza February 1, 20142:26 pm

WVU has had its chances here, but leads just 31-27 despite 10-1 and 9-0 runs. The errant Harris pass into the corner to Staten (?) led to a Spradling layup and KSU’s first points off turnovers. Baylor had none against WVU Wednesday.

Mike Casazza February 1, 20142:20 pm

Honest question: Does any team guard the perimeter worse than WVU? It’s remarkable for a team that does so much of its offense on the perimeter.

Mike Casazza February 1, 20142:19 pm

And Southwell says, “Sshhh!”

Mike Casazza February 1, 20142:19 pm

For real, KSU might get blown out here. Definite danger zone.

Mike Casazza February 1, 20142:16 pm

The 3-on-1 breaks will get a workout during practice for both teams this week. But overall, WVU is doing what it must to win this. Shooting, getting turnovers, not getting murdered on the boards. KSU has six turnovers and hasn’t scored in almost three minutes. That’s an 8-1 run that follows a previous 9-0 run.

Mike Casazza February 1, 20142:09 pm

With 8:59 to go, WVU is in the bonus with seven fouls. KSU has only drawn three.

Mike Casazza February 1, 20142:09 pm

Instead, Gipson scores and KSU has the softest hands and the friendliest rolls.

Mike Casazza February 1, 20142:08 pm

“We’re close.” Beautiful play with the Staten lob to Henderson for the dunk and then Henderson poked a ball free and flat out whiffs trying to collect it. Would have been an easy two the other way for WVU.

Mike Casazza February 1, 20142:04 pm

KSU shooting a tidy 8-for-13 with two second-chance scores for five points. So in essence, 8-for-11. The Wildcats also have 12 points in the paint.

Mike Casazza February 1, 20142:03 pm

And there’s another play that drives you crazy. Adran get open behind the defense after a score and hurries a lone 2 while KSU has the numbers. Adrian misses and Browne is caught in a bad spot and gets his second foul as he kinda sorta tries to rebound. It’s tied at 17 now with 11:52 to go.

Mike Casazza February 1, 20142:02 pm

WVU would like to keep Adrian on Gipson, but KSU runs some neat stuff to get switches.

Mike Casazza February 1, 20142:01 pm

And there’s the play that drives you mad. Thomas misses a 3 short (I think it was deflected) and Foster gets it, back-dribbles to his spot and makes an uncontested 3. Yuck.

Mike Casazza February 1, 20142:00 pm

Adrian giving offense after giving up offense, but a corner 3 puts the Mountaineers ahead 17-12. Precisely what they needed to do.

Mike Casazza February 1, 20141:59 pm

And a second tick tack call on Omari Lawrence against Browne, this time a less slight foul on the ball handler.

Mike Casazza February 1, 20141:58 pm

Ooh. Officials call a foul off the ball as Browne is held as he cuts. That’s very rare.

Mike Casazza February 1, 20141:57 pm

I suppose Henderson’s willingness to be a part of the game is a plus. He didn’t show up for the better part of 30 minutes against KSU. Made the first shot and then disappeared. HE’s 2-for-5 here, but active.

Mike Casazza February 1, 20141:54 pm

Nothing really notable here except learning Harris is possible made out of feathers because Southwell blew him away with a seemingly soft shoulder on the post. Harris gets the call and we’re tied 8-8 with 15:41 to go. Williams came in for Noreen several possessions ago.

Mike Casazza February 1, 20141:51 pm

Staten! He’s missed a layup AND two free throws. I think he should perhaps defer to Eron Harris and I’ve been saying this for many, many days now.

Mike Casazza February 1, 20141:51 pm

One thing teams dislike about playing KSU is that the players walk under shooters — and WVU barked about this in the game two weeks ago. And “Higgins in a WVU game” is a thing. So let’s watch.

Mike Casazza February 1, 20141:49 pm

Oh! John Higgins is the referee. First game since the roadie against Texas Tech that the Mountaineers left fuming.

Mike Casazza February 1, 20141:47 pm

WVU won’t play a more physical team than KSU, which makes the Dibo thing interesting. He’s not a physical guy. Noreen stands to be in foul trouble early. But perhaps the method is to keep Williams and Watkins out of foul trouble (on the bench) for a while. Because those two have eaten, drank and slept foul trouble the past few games.

Mike Casazza February 1, 20141:43 pm

Haven’t mentioned this, but Will Spradling can’t beat WVU today. I mean, he can … but WVU ought not let that happen.

Mike Casazza February 1, 20141:41 pm

This is a big recruiting visit weekend for WVU football. They have sections 60 and 62, which is pretty much right across from me. I’m watching because there’s a parade of mammoth people filing in there and because people are turning their heads to look or going up stairs to get autographs.

But US Cellular also handed out Bob-Huggins’-head-on-a-sticks today at the game and Dana Holgorsen has one and is tapping people on the leg or shoulder and then putting the Huggins head in front of his face before people look.

Mike Casazza February 1, 20141:38 pm

WVU is 1-1 in gold. KSU wears purple and it’s awesome.

Mike Casazza February 1, 20141:37 pm

Some oddities today: WVU wears gold jerseys and Remi Dibo starts over Devin Williams. Truth be told, Staten, Harris, Henderson, Noreen, Dibo has more PT together than other lineups lately.

Mike Casazza February 1, 20141:09 pm

Not for nothing, but if we’re talking about the buoyancy of winning, we should remember Kansas State (hereafter KSU) snapped a two-game losing streak Tuesday against Texas Tech. And for all the talk about offensive woes, the Wildcats have scored at least 70 points in 8 of 12. Then again, they average 70.2 points per game in that span.

It helps when you hold 17 of 20 opponents below their scoring average and 11 of them under 60.