Cover Photo: WVU Athletics
On Saturday night, the Mountaineers lost 76-82 during overtime to the Kansas State Wildcats in a vicious battle at Bramlage Coliseum. The two teams were tied 66-66 at the end of regulation, but the Wildcats outscored the Mountaineers 16-10 in OT. This makes the third time in the last four years that the Mountaineers have lost their Big 12 opener. With this win, Kansas State has improved to 12-1 overall and 1-0 in the conference.
“We seemingly had the game under control, but then we did some stupid things to let them get back in the game,” said coach Bob Huggins following the loss. The first half was marked by the Mountaineers dominating the glass, especially on the offensive end. They had a major 17-3 lead in the opening 8:39, eventually leading 31-12 going into the second half. On the MSN postgame radio show, Huggins said, “We passed the ball in the first half. We were cutting, and we looked like a basketball team. We were defending…better. We’re not a very good defensive team, but we were defending better.”
The Wildcats ended up owning much of the second half though. After senior guard Erik Stevenson fouled out within the first minute of the second half, the Mountaineer offense began struggling. In the half’s first 10 minutes, they had more turnovers (6) than made field goals (4-of-11). During this same period, the Wildcats outscored the Mountaineers 23-10, and continued working to erase WVU’s early lead. Eventually, the Mountaineers would lead an 8-0 run before Kedrian Johnson would drain the trey to send the game into overtime. Alas, the Mountaineers couldn’t maintain this momentum. The Wildcats quickly retook the lead, finishing with the six-point victory.
So what can the Mountaineers learn from this loss? The first thing they must tackle is their turnovers. WVU is averaging 12.8 turnovers per game, which is 194th in the country. This resulted in the Wildcats scoring 22 points off the mistakes made. WVU F Mohamed Wague came in this season and started making waves. Averaging 5.7 points and 3.7 rebounds on 76 percent shooting, Wague is starting to make a name for himself. In their fight against the Wildcats, Wague had a double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds on 3-of-4 shooting, however struggled with his free-throws, shooting 4-of-10. He’s a young player and still learning, but appears to be an upcoming major player for the Mountaineers. Finally, the presence of another veteran guard such as Jose Perez was much needed. Kedrian Johnson, Erik Stevenson, and Joe Toussaint all fouled out of the game, placing a lot of pressure on sophomore guards Kobe Johnson and Seth Wilson. The NCAA is currently reviewing Perez’s appeal, which should get back to WVU within the next few days.
Hopefully the Mountaineers can learn from their mistakes and pull together for upcoming games against nationally ranked teams, such as Kansas and Baylor.