Wildcats roll past West Virginia, Huggins
By ARNE GREEN
Special to The Telegram
MANHATTAN — The only thing missing was a cage.
Fortunately for No. 13-ranked Kansas State, by the time West Virginia coach Bob Huggins’ return to Bramlage Coliseum deteriorated into a foul fest, the Wildcats were firmly in control.
The Wildcats blew the game open with an early 12-point run and never let the Mountaineers back in it to claim a 71-61 Big Monday victory and first place in the Big 12. Kansas and Oklahoma State, who started the week tied with K-State for the league lead, meet Wednesday night in Stillwater, Okla.
By the time the two teams dusted themselves off, 48 fouls had been called, including a pair of technicals as K-State improved to 21-5, 10-3 in the league. West Virginia, making its first visit to Bramlage as a Big 12 member, fell to 13-13, 6-7.
Will Spradling scored 19 points to lead K-State, with Nino Williams adding 13 off the bench. Angel Rodriguez and Thomas Gipson each had 11 points and Rodney McGruder 10.
Deniz Kilicli paced West Virginia with 16 points.
After trailing by 21 less than four minutes into the second half, West Virginia got it back to 54-40 on Gary Browne’s two free throws with 9:33 left. But on the next possession, the Mountaineers’ Eron Harris fouled out when he was whistled for a personal and technical after knocking Spradling to the floor. Spradling made all four free throws to push the lead back to 18, and Rodriguez’s three-point play on a steal and layup made it 61-40 at the 8:23 mark.
West Virginia scored the game’s last 10 points.
K-State opened the second half with a 10-2 run to lead 43-22 on Spradling’s two free throws after Huggins was called for a technical foul with 16:25 left. Huggins complained when a foul was not called on Kilicli’s shot in the lane.
Spradling got it started for the Wildcats with a three-point play and Rodriguez chipped in with a 3-pointer.
But West Virginia clawed back with a seven-point spurt of its own from Kilicli and Aaric Murray. Rodriguez drilled another 3-pointer and McGruder made a free throw to push it back to 18, and after a three-point play from Kilicli, Williams scored at the 12:05 mark for a 49-32 Wildcat lead.
The Wildcats took their biggest lead of the first half, 33-15, on Spradling’s 3-pointer with 1:21 left, only to see Jabarie Harris close out the period with a three and fast-break layup.
After Kilicli opened the game with a reverse layup for West Virginia, K-State quickly took control on back-to-back 3-pointers from Spradling and Shane Southwell.
The Wildcats then used a 12-point spurt to pull away with Gipson scoring five straight to make it 18-4 with 11:27 left in the period. West Virginia turned the ball over five times during the stretch before Murray ended a drought of nearly 5 1/2 minutes at the 10:58 mark.
K-State shot 50 percent from the field and knocked down 4 of 9 from 3-point range while holding West Virginia to 30.4 percent overall.
Gipson had nine points and Spradling eight at the break for the Wildcats. Jordan Henriquez grabbed five rebounds.
Hinds’ five points led West Virginia, with Murray scoring four and grabbing six rebounds. The Mountaineers outrebounded K-State, 15-14, in the half with each team turning the ball over eight times.