A late second-half run was not enough for No. 12 West Virginia to overcome a 17-point halftime deficit as the Mountaineers fell to Kansas State, 84-68.
Kansas State and West Virginia teetered back and forth with one another, going run for run for the first 10 minutes of the contest. That was when the Wildcats took off for a 27-8 run over WVU, taking a commanding lead.
West Virginia struggled to get the ball inside to its big men Oscar Tshiebwe and Derek Culver, giving up 13 first-half turnovers on offense. That would be fuel for the Big 12 leaders in steals to generate 22 points on the other end.
“We weren’t getting the shots we were used to getting,” said guard Chase Harler. “Turnovers — we just kind of shot ourselves in the foot. We missed a lot of easy ones early and kind of just dug ourselves a hole.”
Many of Kansas State’s first-half points came from the paint — 32 to be exact — but Kansas State was also a lethal 5-of-8 from deep. West Virginia struggled to shoot with a 36.7-percent clip from the field and headed to the locker room trailing 42-25.
After another see-saw beginning to start the second half, West Virginia bgot back into contention with a 20-4 run, mainly led by forward Gabe Osabuohien and Harler. They forced 16 second-half turnovers, which they turned into 13 points.
“Basketball is a mental game,” Osabuohien said. “Coach had put players on the floor that were giving 100 percent and we reaped what our effort was. It made the game close, pulled it, but we just couldn’t — the lead was too big.”
Besides the run, Osabuohien called the team’s overall effort “not good enough.”
They would get as close as six points away from tying it up, but the Wildcats would get back on top of the ball behind Diarra’s 16 second-half points.
Two other Kansas State players would score in double figures: Xavier Sneed (16 points) and DaJuan Gordon (15).
West Virginia’s leading scorers would all come off the bench. Miles McBride and Harler led the way with 11, while Osabuohien added 10 before fouling out late in the second half.
Kansas State hung with West Virginia on the boards, as the visitors grabbed just one more rebound.
Neither Tshiebwe nor Culver logged a double-digit stat in the box score. Tshiebwe scored 8 points on 80 percent shooting and grabbed 8 rebounds, while Culver matched his scoring total with 3 rebounds.
As a team, the Mountaineers finished 44.6 percent from the floor with 18 total turnovers and 12 assists.
The Mountaineers have one day off before they return to the court when they face Texas at home on Monday at 7 p.m.
“For me, [the quick turnaround] is good,” Osabuohien said. “Any time I lose, I get anxious for the next game so I can go out and get a win because I hate being in the losing column.”