Cover Photo: Ben Queen/USA Today
Morgantown, West Virginia – The West Virginia Mountaineers are 10-2 and ranked #24 in the nation as they embark on their first Big 12 Conference matchup up this evening at 7:00PM at the Fred Bramlage Coliseum in Manhattan, Kansas to face the 11-1 Kansas State Wildcats.
West Virginia is currently a 1.5 point underdog, but the Mountaineers are far more battle-tested against quality opponents than Kansas State so far this season. Kansas State has beaten solid teams like LSU, Nevada, California, Nebraska and Wichita State, but none of those teams were ranked at the time. Kansas State’s only loss this season was at an 8-6 Butler team.
Kansas State is led by Keyontae Johnson, a senior forward transfer from Florida, who is averaging 17.7 points and 6.8 rebounds per game. “I feel like we’ve been successful,” Johnson said. “We’ve been playing as a team these last few games. Conference games are going to be dogfights, and we figured out how to fight at the end, so going into conference play, I feel like we’re ready for it. It’s why we came to K-State, just to play against the best conference.”
Johnson continued: “Whether we’re ready or not, we’re about to face it. The thing about the Big 12 is you can’t get too high, and you can’t get too low, and I believe we’re developing. We’ve put in the habits that we need to give us a chance, and so what we have to do is every night, bring the kind of energy and passion and focus, so that we can put ourselves in position to win games.”
West Virginia has been impressive early on but the real season begins tonight. The Mountaineers, who are led by Erik Stevenson (14.5 points per game) and Tre Mitchell (12.8 points per game), know that tonight’s game will be a real indicator of whether they are a legitimate contender or not.
West Virginia at Kansas State begins tonight at 7:00PM and will be shown live on ESPN+.