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K-State handles West Virginia in Morgantown, 81-67

Cam Carter has to be the Big 12’s most improved player, doesn’t he?

Background: Jan 9, 2024; Morgantown, West Virginia, USA; Kansas State Wildcats guard Dorian Finister (3) dunks the ball during the second half against the West Virginia Mountaineers at WVU Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Ben Queen
Dorian Finister has played more for Tang and the Wildcats recently, and he has give solid contributions.
Ben Queen-USA TODAY Sports

The Kansas State Wildcats picked up a road victory against the West Virginia Mountaineers Tuesday night, pulling away late for an 81-67 finish.

In an arena that has been historically unkind to K-State, the Wildcats (12-3, 2-0 Big 12) looked poised and ready. For all but a few minutes of unfocused carelessness late in the first half, they were the clearly better team.

Cam Carter continued making his case for the Big 12’s most improved player, pouring in 23 points, while also contributing 3 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 steals and a block, with only 1 turnover.

David N’Guessan feasted against an outmanned Mountaineer interior, scoring 17 on 7-8 shooting from the floor. He also had 7 rebounds, 2 blocks, a steal, and the prettiest assist of the night, a post-to-guard lob from one side of the lane across the front of the rim to the other for a Carter flush. The stop-the-presses DNG stat, though: 3 free throw attempts, 3 makes. Let’s not risk jinxing it by commenting further.

Fellow post Will McNair Jr. was also effective, scoring 12 on 5-5 shooting from the floor, while snagging 9 rebounds and 2 steals.

Arthur Kaluma sat for a stretch of the first half with foul issues but managed 17 points on 6-9 shooting, including 4-6 from outside.

That’s four starters in double figures, if you’re counting along.

Tyler Perry and Dorian Finister each added 6 points. Finister’s came on 3-4 marksmanship, while Perry struggled through a 1-8 night. He had 5 assists, but he and Kaluma were each ticketed with 4 of K-State’s 13 total turnovers.

The game was mostly even through the first 10 minutes before back-to-back N’Guessan layups gave the Wildcats a 23-17 lead nearly midway through the opening period. K-State looked like the more balanced, more physical, more cohesive unit, but West Virginia (5-10, 0-2 Big 12) hung around behind solid 3-point shooting and the heroics of RaeQuan Battle. The talented Montana State transfer scored 18 first-half points, making 6 of 9 attempts, including two 3-pointers, and 8 of 9 free throws. West Virginia led 42-40 at the break.

Battle cooled off considerably in the second half, going 1-7 from the floor (0-3 from outside the arc), and finishing with 23 points. K-State, meanwhile, refocused defensively and became the aggressor on both ends of the floor.

Kaluma drained a three from the right corner to open the second half, putting K-State ahead by 1. West Virginia regained the lead on a Battle layup on the next possession. After several possessions in which the teams traded mutual futility, Kaluma knocked down another open three-pointer with 16:15 remaining to establish a 48-45 K-State lead. The Cats would never trail again.

The Wildcat lead reached 10, only to see West Virginia claw back to within 5 on two occasions. But the Cats just got too many open lay-ups, too many dunks (6), too many offensive rebounds (9, in all) and too many wide open three pointers in perfect rhythm for the home team to overcome. The lead ballooned to 15 with 4:31 to play when a McNair layup made it 71-56. From there, it was a matter of playing through the closing buzzer...er, musket shot.

K-State finished 28-52 (53.8%) from the floor, and 19-23 (82.6%) from the line. The Wildcats outscored the Mountaineers in the paint by a whopping 44-22 margin.

West Virginia made 20 of 51 attempts (39.2%) and was an identical 19-23 at the free throw stripe. But after making 6-12 threes in the first half, they only managed 2-11 in the second. K-State won the rebounding battle 35-22 and led for all but 5:54 of game time.

Next Game

The warm-up portion of the league schedule has been fruitful, but it’s over. The Wildcats travel to Lubbock to play 12-2 (1-0) Texas Tech on Saturday at 3:00. The game will be televised on ESPN2, which is, like, actual television. After that, 7 of K-State’s next 10 games will feature ranked opponents.