By Ryan Decker, Originally written for West Virginia Illustrated
It’s a quick turnaround for No. 7 West Virginia (15-3) following its heart-breaking loss in overtime Wednesday night.
The Mountaineers’ first home loss in nearly a full calendar year came just three days prior to the team heading to Manhattan to take on Kansas State (14-4), and ended a three-game losing streak.
Press Virginia will attempt to start another run of victories Saturday against the Wildcats.
Kansas State began the year winning 12 of its opening 13 games, but have dropped two of its last four contests since suffering a two-point loss to in-state opponent Kansas to begin the new year.
Over that same time period, West Virginia has lost a pair of one-possession ball games, registered double-digit victories over TCU and then-No. 1 Baylor, and defeated in a close one Texas last weekend.
Overall, WVU is the superior team scoring-wise, and bests the Wildcats in rebounds, assists, and steals per game, among other categories. Meanwhile, K-State does hold slight statistical advantages in field goal percentage, and points allowed.
Two areas that West Virginia has struggled in this season – shots from the charity stripe and shots from behind the arch – are two things the Wildcats do well.
Bruce Weber has seven players on his team who’s season average from the free throw line is better than WVU’s team average, and has the same number of players with shooting percentages from three-point land better than the Mountaineers’ team mark.
Weber’s team is led by Barry Brown, who’s scoring at a pace of nearly 13 points per game.
Senior forwards D.J. Johnson and Wesley Iwundu are each averaging better than 12 points and five rebounds per contest. Brown and Kamau Stokes are the main threats from behind the arch for the Wildcats.
Defensively for the Wildcats, Jevon Carter will be the focal point. Carter has scored in double figures in each of the last nine games, including his double-double – 23 points and 11 rebounds – performance Wednesday night.
Carter has also knocked down multiple 3 pointers in exactly half of WVU’s games this season.
Esa Ahmad and Nathan Adrian have been the other consistent scorers for Bub Huggins this season, and Elijah Macon will be looking to build off his 13-point performance against Oklahoma on Saturday.
WVU has avenged the two previous losses this year with a pair of easy victories, and will be looking to do the same Saturday. Tipoff is set for 6 p.m. ET.
Interesting note: Each of WVU’s three losses this season have come against teams (Temple, TTU, and OU) that wear a shade of red. The color red isn’t found in the KSU uniform.