MANHATTAN, Kan.–Things seem to be coming together for the West Virginia University basketball team over the last three weeks.
After walloping TCU on Tuesday, the 12th-ranked Mountaineers (14-2, 3-1 Big 12) square off against Kansas State on Saturday afternoon.
Last season things weren’t so promising for WVU at the Bramlage Coliseum. After jumping out to a 20-3 lead in the first half and leading 36-21 at the break, the Wildcats outscored WVU 50-33 in the second half on their way to a 71-69 victory.
Now, Bob Huggins’ squad is revamped and looking to avenge that loss.
The Mountaineers are playing good defense and last game mixed in the scoring threat they have lacked at times this year. Instead of one offensive threat on the roster, WVU has several.
Four players average between 9.2 and 11.8 points a game. The Mountaineers’ bench presence has been crucial to their success.
Last time out Miles “Deuce” McBride came off the bench and scored 11 points. The freshman guard scored in double figures in his last seven games.
However, the play of senior Chase Harler and sophomore Brandon Knapper really ignited WVU.
Defensively, the Mountaineers are shutting down opponents. Currently WVU is second place in the Big 12 in scoring defense (59.3) and they have a scoring margin of nearly 13 points per game.
Kansas State (7-9, 0-4) is off to its worst start since the 1970-71 campaign. The Wildcats are without Dean Wade and Barry Brown, who were the team’s heart last year.
Opponents have found early success or had a big start after halftime against Kansas State. Against Texas last Saturday, the Wildcats allowed a 12-0 run to start the second half.
Kansas State is led by senior Xavier Sneed (14.6 points) and junior Cartier Diarra (12.6). Outside of those two upperclassmen, no one is averaging more than 7.1 points.
Tipoff is set for 2 p.m. (ET) on ESPNU.