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Kansas State running strong again on another roster built by Jerome Tang, transfers

Jan. 8—MORGANTOWN — You might see it as two coaches on different ends of the spectrum, that being WVU men's basketball coach Josh Eilert and his counterpart Tuesday in Kansas State's Jerome Tang.

Or maybe Tang has simply become a transfer whisperer of sorts.

In either case, both WVU (5-9, 0-1 Big 12) and K-State (11-3, 1-0) had numerous holes to fill heading into the season and both programs leaned on the transfer portal to fill them.

And that's where the similarities stop.

WVU STATS While WVU's top-rated portal class has been derailed through eligibility issues, NCAA suspensions and injuries, the Wildcats are rolling for a second consecutive season under Tang with a roster he basically rebuilt from scratch each season.

How does Tang get a host of new guys to gel so quickly ?

"I haven't had that conversation with him yet, " Eilert said. "He has done a great job there and the K-State community is very excited about having him and his staff there. He's done a fabulous job there."

After taking the Wildcats to the Elite Eight last season, K-State returned with just one starter.

A second expected starter, forward Nae'Qwan Tomlin, was removed from the team last month and is now playing at Memphis.

That left guard Cam Carter and a key role player in forward David N'Guessan from keeping the cupboard bare.

And Tang and the Wildcats have kept chugging along with a lot of new faces in a lineup that struggles to shoot and score, but is one of the top rebounding teams in the Big 12.

Will McNair Jr. was brought in as a graduate transfer from Mississippi State. Arthur Kaluma was brought in from Creighton. Tyler Perry transferred over from North Texas.

In a non-transfer world, these may be players that went unnoticed, but not to Tang.

"He put together a lot of talent last year and he's doing the same thing this year with a lot of new guys, " Eilert said. "They may not be the team they were last year, but he's got a resilient group that finds a way to win."

WVU's transfer class never really had that opportunity, as transfer guards RaeQuan Battle, Noah Farrakhan and Kerr Kriisa only came into the Mountaineers' lineup once highly-touted transfer center Jesse Edwards had left it with a wrist injury.

On paper, WVU's transfer class was supposed to have the Mountaineers contending for another spot in the NCAA tournament, maybe even challenge for Big 12 supremacy.

That just hasn't worked, though.

"It takes time to mesh and it takes time to build chemistry, " Eilert said. "I was probably naive enough to think we're going to float three new guys into an equation and it was all going to work out perfectly."

WVU's transfers have all performed. It's top five scorers are all transfers.

Edwards, when healthy, was one of the top rebounders in the Big 12. Kriisa has been the assist-guy he was touted to be when he transferred from Arizona.

Quinn Slazinski, a transfer from Iona, is having his best statistical season, averaging 15 points and five rebounds.

Yet it hasn't all clicked at the same time for the Mountaineers, who will try to avoid their first three-game losing streak of the season today.

"That takes time. A lot of times when teams bring in a lot of transfers, that's a lot of new personalities and new faces, " Eilert said. "It's not lost on me that I knew chemistry was going to be a problem, especially bringing in guys as late as we did in the summer, but then also floating guys into the equation mid-season. It's something we have to work through each day."

KANSAS STATE at WVU WHEN: 7 p.m. Tuesday WHERE: WVU Coliseum TV: ESPN + (Online subscription needed)

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