Postgame Thoughts and Player Ratings: Kansas State 78, West Virginia 56

WVUSouthwell
Three thoughts from Kansas State’s 78-56 victory against West Virginia on Saturday at Bramlage Coliseum:

1. K-State made West Virginia look bad.
West Virginia entered Saturday’s game with one double-digit loss on its resume — an 80-69 setback against Texas. Every other game it had played was a victory or a close loss. It even pushed Wisconsin and Gonzaga. But the Mountaineers were no match for the Wildcats. K-State handed them (by far) their worst loss of the season. This one was over by halftime. Reasonable people can disagree on how much West Virginia contributed to the lopsided game. It looked bad by itself. But K-State definitely made it look worse. Outside of Eron Harris and Juwan Staten, the Mountaineers couldn’t get anything going. And Staten lost seven turnovers. That’s an ugly number, considering West Virginia had five assists as a team. K-State piled up 22 assists, played strong defense and got balanced scoring from Thomas Gipson, Shane Southwell and Marcus Foster. That led to a rare easy conference victory.
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The Week Ahead: Kansas State looking for confidence-boosting win vs. West Virginia

Kansas State’s hopes of a second-half turnaround begin on Saturday against West Virginia.

The first half of the season didn’t go the way Kansas State hoped it would.

First came an unexpected loss to North Dakota State. Next came narrow defeats against Texas, Oklahoma State and Baylor. The result is a 2-4 overall record and three-straight losses in Big 12.

With a favorable closing schedule, the Wildcats are hoping for a stronger second half and another trip to a bowl game. Both certainly seem possible. They have the look of an improving football team (fourth-quarter leads over ranked teams in back-to-back games and solid defensive numbers) but they need to learn how to win close games.

The journey begins on Saturday against West Virginia, a team that has looked excellent at home and shaky on the road.

Here is a look at that and everything else you need to know about the week ahead:
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Kirk Schulz excited about West Virginia

For the second time in a few weeks, Kansas State president Kirk Schulz proudly welcomed a new member to the Big 12 today.

This time, he welcomes West Virginia, a university out of the Big East that has won two BCS bowl games and recently went to the Final Four.

“They immediately bring very competitive athletic programs to the conference,” said Schulz, who serves as the chair of the Big 12′s expansion committee. “They are consistently the top football program in the Big East. Under coach Bob Huggins they have been outstanding in men’s basketball, as well. They have been successful in other sports. They bring a lot to the table, immediately.”

Schulz also said West Virginia will be a nice academic fit with the Big 12.

The Mountaineers won’t, however, be an easy geographical fit for the Big 12. When the conference added TCU, it added a school from within its footprint. No matter where you are, it’s easy to get to Fort Worth for a game. But Morgantown, W. Va.? That’s a different story.

“It clearly is a concern,” Schulz said. “Part of the conversation we had was really focused around the additional travel time we would face with them in the conference, but at the same time we felt that the other positive attributes about West Virginia were more important than the travel considerations.

“… As a conference, we’re competing against the Pac-12 and the SEC. The only way to do that is to bring in the strongest programs that we can. That’s what we’ve done.”
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