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Kansas State wins slugfest against West Virginia

The SportsXchange

MANHATTAN, Kan. -- Kansas State took a double-digit lead early in the first half and never saw the lead dip below 10, but the 13th-ranked Wildcats' 71-61 victory over West Virginia on Monday night at Bramlage Coliseum was anything but comfortable.

The Wildcats (21-5, 10-3 Big 12) committed 28 fouls, and they were fouled 21 times by West Virginia.

"Coach (Bob) Huggins' teams play very good defense, and they're very physical," Kansas State coach Bruce Weber said. "They try to disrupt you. It was a very hard game to officiate. I know people get upset; I got upset a little bit. I would not take (the officials') job for anything. I thought they managed the game pretty well for the most part."

Kansas State took a half-game lead in the Big 12 standings over Kansas and Oklahoma State, who square off in Stillwater, Okla., on Wednesday night.

"We had some runs, and they had some runs, but it was easy to get disrupted," Weber said. "I'm pleased that our kids kept their poise for the most part."

Huggins also didn't take issue with the refs.

"If you foul, they're supposed to call it," Huggins said. "What I thought was really frustrating was we couldn't make a (darn) shot."

Kansas State held West Virginia to 40.5 percent shooting from the field.

Junior guard Will Spradling led the Wildcats in scoring, tying his career high with 19 points.

"I thought I got it started on the defensive side," Spradling said. "I took two quick charges and then made two quick 3s. That got me pumped right off the bat. I just fed off that."

Four other Wildcats joined him in double figures. Nino Williams scored 13 off the bench, Angel Rodriguez and Thomas Gipson added 11 apiece, and Rodney McGruder had 10.

Weber appreciated the fact that with leading scorer McGruder barely cracking double figures, he could count on other contributors.

"Probably the best thing about our team is that every game it's somebody else," Weber said. "Rod had good numbers, not great numbers. Tonight it was Will and Nino stepping up. We had good balance. We had five guys in double figures. That's really positive."

Deniz Kilicki led West Virginia (13-13, 6-7) with 16 points. He was the only Mountaineer in double figures. Aaric Murray had nine points and a game-high nine rebounds.

West Virginia fell behind by double digits after less than eight minutes and by 16 twice in the first half. The Mountaineers could get no closer than 13 until the final minute of the game, as they scored the final 10 points of the night.

Sophomore guard Jabarie Hinds said the blame for the sluggish first half fell squarely on the Mountaineers.

"We weren't passing the ball," he said. "We were just holding the ball. We didn't have that much movement in our offense, so it was kind of easy for K-State to defend us."

West Virginia scored the final five points of the first half to cut the lead to 13, but Kansas State opened the second half on a 10-2 run to put the game away.

Kansas State used a stifling defense to shut down the struggling Mountaineers' offense in the first half. West Virginia shot just 30.4 percent (7-for-23) and trailed 33-20 at intermission. Particularly ineffective were the starters, who scored just seven points. Five of those came in the final minute of the half from Hinds.

West Virginia was as cold as the 27-degree wind chill outside. The Mountaineers went 5:19 in the first half without scoring. During that stretch, K-State went on a 12-0 run to open up an 18-4 lead.

Kansas State used the outside shot early. The Wildcats made three 3-pointers and two Rodriguez free throws before Gipson scored Kansas State's first 2-point field goal at the 13:22 mark of the half.

NOTES: Huggins made his first visit to Manhattan since leaving the Kansas State program following the 2006-07 season to return to his alma mater. Huggins led the Wildcats to a 23-12 record that season, the most wins at Kansas State in 19 years. Kansas State extended its streak of at earning least 20 wins per season to seven with a victory over Baylor on Saturday. The streak started under Huggins. ... Monday's game was the fourth time this season the Wildcats played against a former head coach. Kansas State defeated West Virginia 65-64 in Morgantown, W.Va., earlier this season. The Wildcats also defeated Oklahoma and head coach Lon Kruger twice.
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