In a sloppy game, Kansas State fell 89-81 at West Virginia on Saturday ending Kansas State’s four-game winning streak while helping West Virginia put a quality win on their NCAA Tournament resume with conference tournament week quickly approaching.
The Wildcats started the game on an 8-0 run that ended with Keyontae Johnson scoring his first of 16 first-half points on a layup attempt that forced the West Virginia head coach Bob Huggins to call a timeout and get his team reset.
After the timeout, Kansas State quickly saw its lead evaporate when Erik Stevenson made it a one-possession game after drilling a 3-pointer with 16:35 left in the first half. The Wildcats then went nearly two minutes without scoring to allow the game to reach a 16-14 score when Ish Massoud ended Kansas State’s drought with a tough, contested 3-pointer on the wing.
Within the scoring drought for Kansas State, the Wildcats had three turnovers, including a pair of Markquis Nowell’s five first-half turnovers. The senior point guard did have seven assists in the first half and five steals on the defensive end. But the large volume of turnovers and no points were more glaring.
After Massoud’s 3-pointer, Kansas State opened a 10-point lead at 24-14 when Cam Carter converted on a layup after a West Virginia turnover. Emmitt Matthews scored 14 points in the first half, including a layup to make it 28-24 with just over 6:45 left in the first half.
West Virginia then converted for nine points, making it a 33-31 game. Kansas State was able to regain the lead though when Johnson scored his 14th point of the first half with a layup with less than 2:00 left in the half.
An Emmit Matthews layup with 33 seconds left in the first half sent the teams to the locker room with West Virginia leading 39-37.
Nowell scored his first bucket of the game when he drilled a near 40-foot jumper near the West Virginia logo in the second half to make it a 44-41 game. West Virginia cut any momentum Kansas State was trying to build though when Matthews promptly slammed a dunk through the rim on the other end.
The Wildcat point guard hit another logo 3-pointer to make it a 50-47 game while also giving himself nine points in the first 6:00 of the second half. But again, West Virginia responded with a 3-pointer of their own to go back up six.
Stevenson put the Mountaineers up five points after he drilled his third 3-pointer of the game, to give him 15 points. He was the second Mountaineer to score at least 15 points. Stevenson’s triple started a run where West Virginia made 6-of-7 shots to take a 61-54 lead after Tre Mitchell’s jumper.
On consecutive possessions, Johnson made 3-pointers to reach 22 points on the game, including 22 of the Wildcats’ first 57 points as a team. But following the second made triple, West Virginia blocked a layup attempt by Nowell and Stevenson cashed in his fourth triple — reaching 18 points in the game — of the game to take a 64-57 lead.
Stevenson drilled a fifth 3-pointer to put his team in the lead 69-59, West Virginia’s largest lead of the game to that point.
Nowell went on a mini individual run scoring five consecutive points to make it a 72-64 game. Thigh Tykea Greene lost control of the ball, recording Kansas State’s 17th turnover of the game, which prevented Kansas State from having an opportunity to make it a two-possession game again. West Virginia responded by taking a 12-point lead after Joe Toussaint floated in the air on a reverse layup after a badly missed 3-pointer by Johnson.
Stevenson then converted on two shots at the rim to put West Virginia up 84-69, reaching 27 points on the game on 11-of-21 shooting in the game with five made 3-pointers. But Carter hit a 3-pointer to make it a 10-point game with just over two minutes left, but it was too little too late for the Wildcats.
Johnson’s two free throws at the end of the game helped him secure a career-high 23 points in his last game at home.
With the loss, Kansas State ends Big 12 play with an 11-7 record and a 23-8 overall record. West Virginia may have secured an NCAA Tournament spot with Saturday’s win over Kansas State, which improves West Virginia’s record to a sub-par 7-11 in league play.
Kansas State’s regular season is now over, and the Wildcats are now waiting to see their final Big 12 seeding and opponent for the conference tournament in Kansas City.