Manhattan, Kan. (WVU Athletics) -- It was a bad day at the office for West Virginia. The 12th-ranked Mountaineers suffered their worst loss of the season Saturday afternoon at Bramlage Coliseum in Manhattan, Kansas as the Wildcats rolled to a 84-68 victory.
K-State (8-9, 1-4) led by as many as 24 points early in the second half when West Virginia finally showed some signs of life. The Mountaineers used a 25-7 run over a seven-minute span to reduce their deficit to six on a Brandon Knapper 3 with 7:48 remaining.
After two Cartier Diarra free throws, West Virginia had two good looks from 3 to slice into the lead but both attempts by Sean McNeil and Knapper couldn't go down. K-State then scored the next seven points and never looked back in registering its first Big 12 win this season and moving one game closer to .500.
Today's poor performance by the Mountaineers was puzzling considering how well they played earlier this week against TCU in a 32-point victory.
It was really two extremes in a matter of just four days.
"We weren't ready," West Virginia coach Bob Huggins said on his postgame radio show. "We weren't ready yesterday and we weren't ready today. This is so much a mental game. (Kansas State) was desperate and I told (his team) that. The talk in the media around here was desperate – 0-4 in the league – and they came in and just took it to us."
This afternoon, the Kansas State backcourt was really the difference with Diarra scoring a career-high-tying 25 points and Xavier Sneed adding 16.
Freshman DaJuan Gordon was another big contributor today with 15 points.
West Virginia (14-3, 3-2) turned the ball over 18 times and got just 27 points from its starting five of Derek Culver, Oscar Tshiebwe, Emmitt Matthews Jr., Jordan McCabe and Jermaine Haley.
Culver got into early foul trouble and spent a good portion of the first half on the bench while Tshiebwe had some success scoring close to the goal in Culver's absence.
"We missed four or five layups to start the game and we shot 50 percent from the free throw line. How are you going to win?" Huggins said. "We turn it over 18 times again. We're not going to win doing that."
The Wildcats used the 3-ball to take a 17-point halftime lead and continued to bomb away as they connected on nine of their 18 triples for 50 percent.
K-State shot a sizzling 59.2 percent overall from the floor and 68 percent from the free throw line, two percentage points above its season average.
"We said, 'Run them off the (3-point) line' which is what we did to Texas Tech and that's what we did to TCU," Huggins explained. "Run them off the line and run them to help. Our help guys were standing their holding hands with their guys. They weren't where they were supposed to be and we didn't run them off the line. We let guys stand there and make shots."
Kansas State also held its own on the glass trailing West Virginia by just one board. It was K-State's 17th win at Bramlage Coliseum under coach Bruce Weber against a Top 25-ranked team and his 100th in 125 games inside the facility.
West Virginia's offense today came from its bench with Chase Harler and freshman Deuce McBride scoring 11 each, while junior Gabe Osabuohien contributing a season-high 10.
For McBride, it was his eighth straight double-digit scoring performance.
Today's loss dropped West Virginia into a three-way tie with Oklahoma and TCU in third place in the conference standings with Baylor remaining undefeated with this afternoon's win at Oklahoma State.
Kansas also knocked off Texas to stay one game behind the Bears.
"It's gone – a great opportunity – and you can't get this back," Huggins said. "We had three seniors and some sophomores who were here last year up 21 and saw their season crumble right here in this building. They were told that, 'This is where it went south a year ago.' All I can do is tell them."
West Virginia has a quick turn-around by facing Texas Monday night at the WVU Coliseum on Martin Luther King Day. That game will tip at 7 p.m. and will be televised nationally on ESPNU.