The hotly anticipated return of Bob Huggins to Kansas State to face his old squad lived up to billing, going two overtimes and resulting in a 85 - 80 victory for the Mountaineers. It was the kind of gritty road win that can help define a young team early in the season.
Kevin Jones was a beast, as usual, draining a game tying three with fourteen seconds left in regulation. The senior forward made one big play after another when the Mountaineers needed it most, and finished the night with yet another double double, going for 30 points and 11 rebounds.
The Mountaineers relied heavily on their upperclassmen for points, getting 24 out of Truck Bryant and 12 from Deniz Kilicli. Kilicli had a strong second half scoring 10 of his points in the second frame. Unfortunately for the Big Turk, it was costly turnovers down the stretch in regulation that almost helped seal the game for the Wildcats.
The Mountaineers got 66 of their 85 points from the upperclassmen Jones, Bryant and Kilicli.
The Mountaineers performed admirably in a tough road environment, keeping the margin close for the entire game and battling back whenever things got out of hand. Freshman Keaton Miles fouled out, but provided a number of hustle plays for the Mountaineers. Kevin Noreen filed a lot of minutes as a backup when Kilicli was in foul trouble.
The Mountaineers next face the Miami Hurricanes on Saturday night in Morgantown.
As could be expected when Bob Huggins and Frank martin square off, defense has ruled the day so far. Neither the Wildcats nor Mountaineers have shot particularly well, shooting 40 and 33 percent, respectively.
The Mountaineers are paced offensively by Kevin Jones and Truck Bryant. Jones has been his usual opportunistic self gobbling up 13 points and 5 boards in the first half. Bryant has also found his offensive streak going for 11 points.
The Mountaineer freshmen guards have struggled against the Kansas State pressure. Jabarie Hinds and Gary Browne have each turned the ball over three times apiece.
In general, the Mountaineers have hung tight by playing tough defense and contesting every rebound. Walk on Paul Williamson saw some minutes early off the bench for the Mountaineeers. Aaron Brown contributed a big three in his brief appearance in the ballgame. If the Mountaineers can continue to handle KSU's pressure defense and haul in their share of rebounds, they can win this game.