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The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, February 1, 1:30 p.m. (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Site: WVU Coliseum (14,000) -- Morgantown, West Virginia. Television: Big 12 Network, MASN. Home Record: K-State 11-1, WVU 6-4. Away Record: K-State 1-3, WVU 3-4. Neutral Record: K-State 3-2, WVU 3-1. Conference Record: K-State 5-3, WVU 4-4. Series Record: Kansas State leads, 4-1.
GAME NOTES: The West Virginia Mountaineers open up a two-game homestand at WVU Coliseum on Saturday afternoon when they welcome the Kansas State Wildcats to town for a Big 12 Conference battle.
Kansas State is in the midst of an impressive season at 15-6 overall, and with its 66-58 victory over Texas Tech on Tuesday night, it improved to 5-3 in the Big 12. The Wildcats' latest victory came on their home floor, where they've won 11 of 12 this season, but they have not had such good fortune on the road (1-3).
WVU has won two of three and is fresh off arguably its most impressive triumph of the season on Tuesday night, when it went on the road and took a 66-64 victory at Baylor. The Mountaineers have now won two of three to improve to 12-9 overall and 4-4 in conference action.
The Wildcats claimed the first contest between the teams this season, 78-56 at home on Jan. 18, to improve their standing in the all-time series to 4-1.
The Wildcats nearly blew their most recent contest, as they saw their 14-point second-half lead dwindle to just one with under seven minutes to play, but they never allowed Texas Tech to take the lead in the second stanza as they held on for the eight-point victory. While they shot a modest 44 percent from the field, including 3-of-15 from 3-point range, they were carried by their defensive effort, which held the Red Raiders to less than 34 percent shooting. Will Spradling was the catalyst in the triumph with 17 points, while Nino Williams and Wesley Iwundu contributed 13 and 11 points, respectively.
Kansas State's offensive output has been modest at best this season, as it shoots 42.7 percent from the field for 68.1 ppg, but its strength unquestionably comes on the other end of the floor, where it holds opponents to just 40 percent shooting and 61.1 ppg. Marcus Foster is inconsistent from the field (.386) and has more turnovers (46) than assists (42) but has drained a team-best 44 3-pointers on his way to 13.4 ppg. Thomas Gipson has been solid in the paint with 11.8 ppg and 6.2 rpg, while Shane Southwell (11.3 ppg) is a stout defender with 24 steals and 20 blocks.
After battling with Baylor wire-to-wire, WVU earned the thrilling two-point win earlier in the week when Juwan Staten broke a tie by converting a reverse layup with three seconds left. The team shot a modest 40 percent from the field, but it made eight 3-pointers and earned extra possession by winning the takeaway battle, 17-6. Staten finished with 15 points and also had nine assists to just one turnover. Remi Dibo came off the bench to score 13, while Eron Harris and Terry Henderson put up 12 and 11 points, respectively.
The Mountaineers have had little issue putting points on the board this season, shooting greater than 45 percent from the field (including 38.3 percent from 3-point range) for 78.2 ppg, which is enough to mask its lackluster scoring defense (70.8 ppg). Harris scores 17.3 ppg and has been deadly from beyond the arc, draining 57 3-pointers at a 42.5 percent clip. Staten is right on his heels for the team's leading scorer with 17.2 ppg and chips on 5.9 rpg and 6.0 apg for good measure. Henderson (12.2 ppg) and Devin Williams (9.1 ppg) are also in the midst of stellar seasons.
It'll be strength versus strength with WVU's offense trying to score against Kansas State's stout defense. Expect the Mountaineers to come out on top, especially considering the Wildcats' road woes this season.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: West Virginia 70, Kansas State 67
02/01 11:56:59 ET
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