Courtesy of K-State Athletics
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Kansas State battled but fell just short in a 71-68 loss at West Virginia on Saturday afternoon in Morgantown. The Cats led by double digits at halftime but were unable to close things out in the second half as they dropped to 8-6 (0-3 Big 12).
K-State, despite playing shorthanded for the second straight game, controlled the first half, leading by as many as 17 and holding a 40-27 advantage at the break. The Cats went 9-for-19 from long range, while Mark Smith, Nijel Pack, and Markquis Nowell combined for 27 points and seven made three pointers in the first half. K-State was also active defensively with six steals and 11 points off turnovers in the opening 20 minutes.
West Virginia opened the second half on a run and chipped away at the deficit. The hosts pulled within two on a pair of occasions, and a three pointer by Sean McNeil gave the Mountaineers their first lead (53-50) with 8:35 remaining. K-State would not hold a lead the rest of the way. The Mountaineers made enough free throws down the stretch, and Nowell’s running attempt from behind the arc fell short as time expired.
The Cats struggled offensively in the second half, going just 11-for-36 (30.6 percent) overall and 4-for-15 (26.7 percent) from deep in the final 20 minutes. Pack finished with a team-high 20 points with six makes from behind the arc. Smith added 14 points, eight rebounds and five assists. Ish Massoud scored 13, while Nowell posted a double-double of 10 points and 10 assists in his return to the K-State lineup.
McNeil had a game-high 26 points for West Virginia on 9-for-15 shooting. Sherman (14) and Kedrian Johnson (11) also reached double figures for the Mountaineers, who improved to 12-2 (1-1 Big 12).