WVU out-toughs Kansas State on Saturday at the Coliseum

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MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (WVU Athletics) -- Kansas State got the basketball game it wanted but West Virginia showed today on its home floor that it can play that way too.

The Mountaineers got a game-high 19 points and 14 rebounds from sophomore forward Derek Culver to upend the Wildcats 66-57 in a rough and tough Big 12 game at the WVU Coliseum on Saturday afternoon.

It was Culver's 15th double-double in points and rebounds and his 26th double-figure rebounding effort in 47 career games as a Mountaineer.

"The big fella had a pretty good game," West Virginia coach Bob Huggins said.

A sellout crowd of 14,224 watched both teams slog through the mud for most of the afternoon with neither team capable of stringing together many baskets.

"They're hard to play against," Huggins said. "(Kansas State coach) Bruce (Weber) does a great job. They got us all spread out and made enough shots that we chased them."

Culver was West Virginia's most consistent offensive threat, but the two biggest baskets came from guard Chase Harler in rapid-fire succession after K-State made it an eight-point game with 3:12 remaining.

Harler's open jumper with one foot inside the 3-point line to make it a 10-point game with 2:23 left and the next time down the floor he was behind the line to bang in a triple with 1:41 remaining. The senior made another 3 to finish with 8.

"Chase has been really good and he gives us so much leadership," Huggins said.

Otherwise, West Virginia once again struggled to hit open shots. The Mountaineers were 6-of-19 from 3 and 21-of-50 overall from the floor for 42 percent. Besides Culver, the other 11 guys who played today shot a combined 13-of-35.

"If we could ever make a perimeter shot where we've got to spread them …," Huggins said. "The problem is you don't make a perimeter shot and now you've got to throw it to those two bigs to have any chance at all to win the game. We just keep chucking up perimeter shots that are just not going in and I tried everybody.

"For whatever reason we're just not making any shots," Huggins added.

Fortunately, WVU's defense was up to the task today by limiting the Wildcats to just 18-of-49 for 36.7 percent. The 3-point line was WVU's undoing out in Lubbock earlier this week but today it was an ally as K-State made just 3-of-17.

The Mountaineers did a much better job containing guard Cartier Diarra, who burned West Virginia for a season-high 25 points in K-State's 16-point win out in Manhattan two weeks ago. Today he scored just 8 on 3-of-9 shooting. Xavier Sneed has been another Mountaineer slayer in the past and today he got 11, but was just 2-of-13 from the floor and missed all seven of his 3-point attempts.

Guard David Sloan led the Wildcats, now 9-12, 2-6, with 13 points.

"They're really physical, they chuck every cutter and they make things hard," Huggins said.

West Virginia's biggest lead was 14 points with nine minutes remaining in the game. K-State's biggest advantage was four with four minutes gone in the first half.

The Mountaineers had a 30-27 edge at halftime.

The difference in the game was West Virginia's bench, which outscored Kansas State's 32-18. Six of the seven players Huggins inserted into the game off the bench this afternoon got into the scoring column, including sophomore guard Brandon Knapper, who missed the Texas Tech game because of the flu.

Today's victory boosts West Virginia's record to 17-4, 5-3 and keeps the Mountaineers within range of Baylor and Kansas which are both ahead of them in the Big 12 standings. No. 1-ranked Baylor (7-0) is playing TCU this afternoon while No. 3 Kansas (6-1) is facing Texas Tech.

The win also pushed Huggins past Adolph Rupp into sole possession of seventh place in all-time wins in NCAA history with 877 and he is now two shy of Dean Smith at No. 6 with 879.

"It's a long year and we're 21 games in now, plus two exhibition games, and the whole deal. They like everybody else get a little cranky sometimes and you wear on each other a little bit," Huggins explained. "Consequently, we don't get as much done at this time of the year, which is why a lot of people cut back so much because you wear on each other."

West Virginia remains in Morgantown to face Iowa State on Wednesday night at the Coliseum. That game will tip off at 7 p.m. and will be televised nationally on ESPN2.

Tickets still remain for that game and can be purchased by logging on to WVUGAME.com.