Scott Sewell-USA TODAY Sports
Shane Southwell scored 20 points in 24 minutes as K-State routed West Virginia 78-56 on Jan. 18. The teams meet again Saturday in Morgantown.
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — When Kansas State forward Shane Southwell stepped into the WVU Coliseum for Friday afternoon’s shootaround, he fondly remembered his previous trip there.
On Jan. 12 of last year, Southwell made the tying and go-ahead free throws with 22 seconds left and then blocked Gary Browne’s final shot to preserve K-State’s 65-64 victory.
“It was maybe top-five best moment for me,” said Southwell, who playfully jawed with the WVU students after the horn. “It was a really fun experience, and the fans were really loud. It was just a great game.”
West Virginia and the Wildcats could be destined for another suspenseful matchup Saturday—certainly more suspenseful than their first meeting this season in Manhattan, Kan., when K-State coasted to a 78-56 romp that stands as WVU’s sloppiest game to date (15 turnovers and only five assists).
“We’re definitely looking for revenge,” said Mountaineers point guard Juwan Staten, whose seven turnovers also were a personal-worst. “They just outplayed us and we didn’t like the fact how bad they made us look. We’re looking to come out and even the score.”
While going 4-0 in Big 12 games inside Bramlage Coliseum this season, K-State is 1-3 on the road, although the last two losses—67-64 at Texas and 81-75 at Iowa State—were laudable efforts.
Though Kansas State doesn’t possess exceptional athleticism or shot-blockers, Bruce Weber’s team puts up stingy defensive totals: ranking 15th nationally in points allowed (60.1 per game), 14th in 3-point defense (28.3 percent) and 26th in points per possession.
According to West Virginia coach Bob Huggins, “They do a great job of gang-guarding you,” as his players witnessed first-hand two weeks ago.
“When you got the ball, you were looking at four guys in the paint,” said Terry Henderson, who shot 1-of-8. “We’ve really got to swing the ball and move and cut hard, so we can get them out of place.”
SCOUTING KANSAS STATE
Tipoff: Saturday, 1:30 p.m. in Morgantown (Big 12 Network)
Records: The Wildcats (15-6, 5-3) were projected as a No. 8 seed in Jerry Palm’s most recent bracketology, released Friday. West Virginia (12-9, 4-4) is coming off a 66-64 win at Baylor that, if nothing else, at least resurrected NIT hopes.
RPIs: K-State is No. 38 and WVU is No. 83.
Coach: Bruce Weber (355-169 in 16 seasons overall) may be in the midst of one of his best coaching jobs, replenishing K-State’s roster a season after Rodney McGruder graduated and point guard Angel Rodriguez unexpectedly transferred. Weber is 42-14 in his second season at K-State.
Kansas State’s top players: Swingman Shane Southwell (11.3 points, 4.9 rebounds, 3.1 assists) isn’t as physical as Oklahoma State’s Le’Bryan Nash (who lit up WVU for 29 points), but he’s similar in other areas. “They’re four-guys who can bounce the ball,” Huggins said. “That’s a hard guard for us; that’s a hard guard for anybody.” … Beefy forward Thomas Gipson (11.8 points, 6.2 rebounds) dropped 20 on WVU and followed up with a season-high 24 at Texas. “He plays with a great base,” Huggins said. “He scored the ball against (Texas center Cameron) Ridley, which is pretty tough, because he found angles and he created space for himself.”… Freshman shooting guard Marcus Foster, who leads the Wildcats in scoring (13.4), was plagued by fouls in the first meeting against West Virginia yet still produced 15 points in 13 minutes.
WVU roster notes: Juwan Staten is performing like an All-Big 12 player, averaging 17.2 points, 5.9 rebounds and a league-high 6.0 assists. He made the game-winning reverse layup at Baylor after milking most of the final 35 seconds. … Eron Harris ranks second in the league in scoring (17.3) and third in 3-point accuracy (42.5 percent). After the Baylor victory he said: “It’s the first time in a while I’ve been a part of a big win, and we’ve got bigger wins to get.” … Terry Henderson said WVU expects to shoot better than the 32 percent it produced at K-State. “We always shoot better at home,” he said, speaking like a guy who has made only 6-of-27 shots in his last three road games. … Devin Williams hasn’t reached double-digit scoring in five games, making just 10-of-33 shots in the slump. He has averaged less than six rebounds during that stretch and played a mere 14 minutes at Baylor.
Line: West Virginia favored by -3.5.
Prediction: West Virginia 72-70