Derek Culver dominated inside to lift the 12th-ranked West Virginia Mountaineers over the Kansas State Wildcats at home, 66-57. Culver notched his fifth double-double of the season, reaching double-digit scoring and double-digit rebounds as the Mountaineers ground out the win.
Bob Huggins wasn’t entirely pleased with the win, but he was in a much better mood after their first bout with K-State.
“We were much more ready to play than what we were out there,” Huggins said. “They’re hard to play against.”
Kansas State hopped in front with an early 7-0 run, forcing the Mountaineers to play a quick game of catch-up.
That all stopped when Culver began to assert his will in the first half. He would spark a 14-2 run for the Mountaineers, coinciding with a nearly five-minute scoring drought. The run was capped off by a three-pointer from Brandon Knapper, who made his return after missing WVU’s previous game against Texas Tech with an illness.
This run put West Virginia in the lead, and it would get as high as 9 points in the first half.
The Wildcats didn’t give up that easily. They would claw back in the final minutes to get back within three points at halftime.
The second half got off to a bruising start, with 7 fouls called in the first five minutes.
The game’s tempo picked up as the minutes drew on, and that seemed to work in WVU’s favor. The Mountaineers got off to another run, this time outscoring the Wildcats 12-2 to get their lead into double digits.
The Wildcats didn’t get the help from their three-point shooting that they had in their last matchup. They made just 3 of their 17 attempted shots from deep.
“It wasn’t a good shooting night for anybody, was it?” Huggins said. “We didn’t shoot it, they didn’t shoot it, and it makes it an ugly game. I don’t mind ugly games as long as we win them.”
There were a total of 44 fouls called between the two teams, including two technicals against Kansas State. The Mountaineers would capitalize on 64.3 percent of their free throws, while the Wildcats sunk 69.2 percent.
Culver continued his domination in the second half, finishing with 19 points and 14 rebounds on 53 percent shooting. He was the only Mountaineer in double figures — Chase Harler and Oscar Tshiebwe were next in line with 8 points each.
West Virginia also returned to form on the boards, taking the margin by 7 rebounds.
David Sloan led the Wildcats with 13 points, while Xavier Sneed was right behind with 11 points.
Iowa State is next on the docket for West Virginia. The Cyclones come to Morgantown on Wednesday for the first meeting between the two teams this season; that matchup tips off at 7 p.m. on ESPN2.