Juwan Staten scored a career-high 35 points to lead West Virginia past Kansas State. The Mountaineers beat the Wildcats 81-71 Saturday afternoon at the WVU Coliseum.
"I just wanted to win," said Staten. "I saw opportunities and I took them. We're just happy to win. They kind of embarrassed us down there at Kansas State and that really got to us."
Kansas State's Marcus Foster started the game off by picking up an easy basket underneath after a break down in West Virginia's defense.
Eron Harris for the Mountaineers answered on the other end with a three pointer but the Wildcats continued to pound the ball inside giving them a 6-3 lead early on.
Terry Henderson evened the score after hitting a three from the top of the key. Good shooting for the Mountaineers managed to keep them in play after bad defensive start. The score remained even at 8 with 15:41 remaining in the first half.
"We responded, we didn't give up," said Henderson. "We pulled it out. This is perfect timing. We made it a tough one and we came out with a win."
The three's continued to fall for the Mountaineers. Nathan Adrian knocked down a three from the corner to give the Mountaineers the lead. West Virginia led Kansas State 17-15 with 12:33 to play in the first.
Foster picked up another basket underneath for the Wildcats but Henderson soared down the other end finishing the possession off with a big-time alley-oop dunk.
After both teams traded a couple baskets the score was tied once more. West Virginia and Kansas State stood even at 21-21 with 9:00 remaining in the first half.
A missed breakaway layup from the Wildcats led to Harris burying a corner shot to bring the Mountaineers up by 5. West Virginia led Kansas State 27-22 with 6:55 remaining in the first.
"We had guys in the game who were going to get the job done, and they got the job done," said Harris. "It was good to get this win in front of our fans."
Staten found himself at the free throw line twice, late in the first half. Staten's free throws extended the Mountaineers' lead to 35-29 with 2:36 on the clock.
"He [Staten] wants to win," said head coach Bob Huggins. "I think that's the biggest thing. The kid cares. He puts time in, he studies film, and he wants to be a really good player. I'm really proud of him."
Staten led the Mountaineers in scoring with 35 points while Henderson contributed with 13 and Harris chipped in with 11.
Eight Wildcat turnovers helped the Mountaineers carry a 39-31 lead going into halftime. The Mountaineers shot 3-8 (38 percent) from behind the arc while Staten scored 11 points in the first half.
Thomas Gipson found the first points for the Wildcats going one of two from the free throw line. However, West Virginia's first points of the second half came from another three pointer. This time Staten swished home a three to extend the Mountaineers' lead to 42-32 early in the second half.
Two quick baskets for Kansas State forced the Mountaineers to call a time out. Kansas State narrowed their deficit to six with 17:46 left to play.
Foster drove to the hole with 15:07 remaining in the second half; Foster completed the old fashion three-point play. Kansas State trailed West Virginia 47-45 midway through the second half.
Foster was the leading scorer for the Wildcats with 23 points while Gipson scored 19.
Remi Dibo got in on the action after hitting a catch and release three-ball from the top of the key. Dibo's three allowed the Mountaineers' lead to grow to 52-45 with 14:04 remaining the game.
The Mountaineers shot 23-53 (43 percent) from the field, 6-14 (43 percent) from beyond the arc and 29-37 (78 percent) from the foul line.
Nigel Johnson was able to bank home a layup while Omari Lawrence knocked down two free throws. The Wildcats tied the game at 53 with 12:17 left to play.
The momentum shifted back toward the Mountaineers after Staten knocked down a mid range jumper and Dibo hit a short-corner jumper. The Mountaineers led the Wildcats 62-55 with 8:09 remaining.
The Wildcats answered though as an alley-oop dunk from Foster made it a one-possession game. The Wildcats trailed the Mountaineers by three, 62-59 with 7:15 remaining.
Kansas State went 30-59 (51 percent) from the field, 3-13 (23 percent) from three-point land and 8-19 (42 percent) from the free throw line.
Wesley Iwundu found a breakaway layup while Foster picked-up a bucket in the paint. The Wildcats fought back to make it, 68-67 Mountaineers with 3:01 remaining.
Dibo hit a big-time three late in the game to give the Mountaineers some breathing room.
Juwan Staten added the exclamation point with 30 seconds remaining. A breakaway dunk sealed the win for the Mountaineers.
"We've been saying all year we're close," said Staten. "We're playing with a lot of heart. We hope to win more games like this. Our confidence is really high right now."