MORGANTOWN, W. Va. – (January 23, 2021) — After a two-week hiatus due to COVID-19, the No. 14-ranked West Virginia basketball team defeated a young Kansas State team on Saturday afternoon, 69-47.
WVU coach Bob Huggins had to throw in a different starting line-up this game by adding in Jordan McCabe and Taz Sherman, after not knowing who was going to make the trip.
“I don’t know who we were going to have until yesterday afternoon,” Huggins said. “We wanted to give Seny (N’diaye) some time.”
Before Saturday, Seny N’diaye recorded eight total minutes as a freshman from Huntington Prep (WV). Against the Wildcats, N’diaye was in the game for nine minutes and finished with two points on one-shot attempt. The six-foot-10 forward gave West Virginia another big man to use in the paint to fend off defenders. N’diaye’s day was over after a technical foul called on him in the second half.
“He’s just a guy that the only thing he cares about is winning. He doesn’t care if he scores, he doesn’t care about how many rebounds he gets, how many blocks. He just wants to win,” WVU teammate Jalen Bridges said about N’diaye.
“So, Seny going forward the rest of the season and the next couple of years, sky is the limit. He’s a whole bunch of potential,” Bridges added.
Kansas State (5-11, 1-7) at one point of the first half, was struggling to get a shot up. The Wildcats turned the ball over 12 times in the first 12 minutes. The Mountaineers took full advantage and started the game, 21-4. KSU finished the game committing 28 turnovers.
WVU scored 26 points off of the Kansas State turnovers.
Bruce Weber’s group got the deficit down to eight points, but the Mountaineers cruised to a 22-point victory.
Deuce McBride led away with 18 points on 7-of-12 shooting. The sophomore guard shot 4-of-7 from three.
McBride, after Saturday, is shooting 45% from three on the season.
Bridges finished with 12 points, shooting 5-of-6 from the field. The redshirt freshman has stepped it up for the Mountaineers after Tshiebwe transferred, averaging 8.8 points-per-game.
Derek Culver recorded eight points, along with four rebounds. Culver was one of the players not able to practice the last two weeks and was banged up the week before. The junior forward should get back into his rhythm sooner-than-later.
The Mountaineers shot 44% from the field while shooting 40% from three. Kansas State out-rebounded West Virginia, 37-24. The rebound category was the only important statistic that they did better than WVU.
WVU practiced all together for the first time yesterday. This was the first time that the team was together since the Texas game on Jan. 9. McBride reflected on playing with his teammates after the two-week break.
“It felt great,” McBride said. “Blessed to be able to play the sport, being out there with my brothers competing. It’s nothing better than that.”
Beating a young, struggling Kansas State team may not be the most appealing win to fans, analysts and the tournament committee, but coach Huggins told the team that this was the biggest win of the year thus far.
“It was the biggest win of the year because we were coming off of a loss and a game we could have, should have won. And then, we get hit with the COVID-19 stuff and we really hadn’t had a time where we were down to basically four guys,” Huggins explained. “Not all because of COVID, but either the contact tracing and everything that goes along with that.”
“It’s hard to get anything done with four guys,” Huggins added.
The No. 14 Mountaineers will get a day off to rest up before hosting No. 12 Texas Tech in Morgantown at the WVU Coliseum on Monday night. Coverage will be on ESPN, starting at 9 p.m.