The No. 14 West Virginia University men’s basketball team returned from its two-week, COVID protocol absence hot, but had to hold off a young Kansas State team in the second half before pulling away for an eventual 69-47 win Saturday in Manhattan, Kansas.
For West Virginia (10-4, 3-3 Big 12), it was the Mountaineers’ first game in two weeks following a pause due to COVID-19 protocols. Star forward Derek Culver only returned to practice on Friday and finished with just eight points and four rebounds, fouling out with four minutes left in the second half.
Any rust did not hurt the Mountaineers much however as Kansas State (5-11, 1-7 Big 12) shot just 38.1 percent in the game and committed 28 total turnovers against just nine assists. The Wildcats put together a bit of a run to end the first half, holding WVU to just four points over the final four minutes. It was already too little, too late, however, as the deficit at halftime was still 14 points.
KSU cut West Virginia’s lead to as close as 10 points in the second half, but never got any closer as the Mountaineers cruised to a 22-point victory.
West Virginia was able to travel all 11 of its scholarship players for the game, despite coach Bob Huggins not knowing who would be available as late as Thursday afternoon. Huggins went with a new-look lineup for Saturday’s game, starting Jordan McCabe and Taz Sherman in place of Sean McNeil and Emmitt Matthews.
Sophomore point guard Miles “Deuce” McBride stuffed the stat sheet with a team-high 18 points, three rebounds, five assists and four steals. Redshirt-freshman forward Jalen Bridges scored 12 points while Sherman chipped in 10. Kansas State was paced by senior Mike McGuirl’s 12 points.
WVU was called for two technical fouls in the game, one on freshman Seny Ndaiye for trying to trip a Kansas State player while walking back to the benches and the other on Kedrian Johnson for trash talk.
West Virginia will have a quick turnaround, hosting Texas Tech for a 9 p.m. tip-off on Monday in the WVU Coliseum. Kansas State will have a few days off before traveling to Waco to play Baylor.