No. 12 West Virginia beats K-State, Huggins moves past Rupp
By MATT THORNSBURY Associated Press
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (AP) — Derek Culver wanted to do something about West Virginia’s worst loss of the season.
The sophomore had 19 points and 14 rebounds to lead No. 12 West Virginia to a 66-57 victory over Kansas State on Saturday, giving coach Bob Huggins another milestone win.
The Mountaineers (17-4, 5-3 Big 12) bounced back from a loss at Texas Tech on Wednesday, improved to 11-0 at home and ended a three-game losing streak to Kansas State.
On Jan. 18 the Wildcats drubbed West Virginia 84-68 in which Culver, the Big 12’s fourth-leading rebounder, was limited to eight points and three rebounds.
“They did us pretty bad last time at K-State,” Culver said. “We don’t forget anything.”
With no one else on the team making more than three field goals, Culver took it upon himself to preserve the home win streak.
“We had to come out here and return the favor,” Culver said. “We didn’t really get them as bad as they did us at K-State, but we came out with aggression and tried to set the tone from the jump.”
Huggins earned his 877th career win to move past Kentucky’s Adolph Rupp into seventh place all time in Division I. Huggins hasn’t paid much attention to the feat, preferring to deflect attention in the past week away from himself.
“You’re not much of a player if you don’t respond after a loss,” Huggins said. “Anybody who’s coached for a while will tell you, it’s so much harder to get up after a big win than a big loss.”
Culver, a 6-foot-10 sophomore, went to the locker room in pain early in the second half after his right elbow collided with Kansas State’s Montavious Murphy. Culver returned to the game wearing a sleeve on his arm a short time later and completed his fifth double-double of the season.
“He’s 6’11” and 250, he’s a pretty big dude,” West Virginia guard Chase Harler said. “He just goes for every rebound and having that mentality (that) you’re going to get more than you miss.”
Sean McNeil sank a pair of free throws to cap a 9-0 run that gave the Mountaineers their largest lead, 49-35, with nine minutes remaining. Kansas State got no closer than eight points after that.
Huggins used 11 players in the first three minutes of the game to try to find the right combination.
Culver, whose layup midway through the first half put West Virginia ahead to stay, went 8 of 15 from the floor. But he made just 3 of 9 free throws after going 14 of 16 from the line against Texas Tech.
David Sloan scored 13 points and Xavier Sneed added 11 for Kansas State (9-12, 2-6).
The teams combined for 44 fouls and 54 free throws. On Wednesday, West Virginia and Texas Tech combined for 50 fouls and 73 free throws.
“Their defense was much better than at our place obviously, but you know, credit to our guys,” said Kansas State coach Bruce Weber. “We’ve made improvement. We’ve battled. I would like them to play a little sharper and crisp, but part of that is how West Virginia plays.”
Kansas State has lost five straight games on the road. The Wildcats made 58% of their field goals in beating West Virginia 84-68 at home on Jan. 18 but shot 37% (18 of 49) on Saturday, including 3 of 17 3-point attempts.
West Virginia has allowed an average of 54 points in its last five home games, 14 points less than its last four road games.
“It wasn’t a good shooting night for anybody, was it?” Huggins said. “We didn’t shoot it. They didn’t shoot it, and it makes it an ugly game. I don’t mind ugly games as long as we win them.”
HONORING A FRIEND
Huggins spoke at a memorial service Friday in Cincinnati for former Bearcats player, assistant coach and long-time radio broadcaster Chuck Machock. A member of Cincinnati’s Athletic Hall of Fame, Machock died Jan. 4 at 82.
Huggins told stories about Machock and referred to him as “my second dad” and my “best friend in the world.”
West Virginia could drop a spot or two in the AP Top 25 after the loss at Texas Tech.
Kansas State hosts top-ranked Baylor on Monday
West Virginia hosts Iowa State on Wednesday
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