MANHATTAN — Kansas State (7-18, 3-13 Big 12) plays its last road game this weekend, as the Wildcats travel to Morgantown, W.Va., to take on No. 10/13 West Virginia (16-6, 9-4 Big 12).
Tip is set for 3 p.m., CT at WVU Coliseum. Saturday’s game will air on ESPN2 with Rich Hollenberg (play-by-play) and Fran Fraschilla (analyst) on the call.
Saturday’s game continues a challenging stretch for the Wildcats, as the Mountaineers will represent the 12th ranked opponent, including the 10th in the last 12 games. WVU will be looking to sweep the series for the first time since 2018 after posting a 69-47 win in Manhattan on Jan. 23, while the Wildcats have just one win in their last 7 visits.
●The 12 games against Top 25 foes represent the third-most in a single-season and only trail the 14 in 2015-16 and 13 in 2014-15. The stretch includes a school-record 5 consecutive Top 25 opponents (No. 23/22 Kansas, No. 13/11 Texas Tech, No. 13/13 Texas, No. 23/22 Oklahoma State and No. 23/24 Kansas) from Feb. 2-17. The Wildcats snapped a pair of losing streaks in Tuesday’s win over No. 7/8 Oklahoma, halting a 15-game skid against ranked foes and a 7-game drought against ranked teams at home. K-State is 120-272 all-time vs. ranked opponents, which includes a 2-9 mark vs. the AP’s No. 10 ranked squad. Head coach Bruce Weber has a school-record 27 wins vs. Top 25 opponents, including a school-best 10 vs. Top 10 foes.
●K-State collected its most impressive win of the season, as the Wildcats grinded out a 62-57 win over No. 7/8 Oklahoma on Tuesday night at home. It gave the squad consecutive wins for the first time since December, while snapping a 7-game skid at home. Mike McGuirl played arguably his most impactful game of the season on his Senior Night, rattling off 3 consecutive 3-pointers, starting at the 3:33 mark, to flip a 6-point deficit into a 3-point advantage with 2:14 to play. He finished with a team-high 19 points on 7-of-13 shooting with a career-best 5 triples.
●Since scoring a season-low 2 points on 1-of-11 shooting in the 59-41 loss to No. 23/24 Kansas on Feb. 17, McGuirl has rebounded to average 17.5 points in the last 2 games on 48.1 percent shooting (13-of-27), including 50 percent (7-of-14) from 3-point range, to go with 8.0 rebounds and 3.0 assists per game. He led the team in points (16), rebounds (9) and assists (5) in the win over TCU on Feb. 20.
●Defense has played a pivotal role in the Wildcats’ recent success, as the team has held 3 straight opponents to less than 60 points, including 54 by TCU and 57 by No. 7/8 Oklahoma in the last 2 wins. During this 3-game span, K-State is holding foes to 56.7 points on 39.1 percent shooting, including 22.2 percent from 3-point range, while holding a +4.0 rebounding margin. The Wildcats have now held 101 opponents to 60 points or less during head coach Bruce Weber’s tenure, boasting a 91-10 (.900) record in those contests, including 6 this season with a 5-1 mark.
●Due to various issues this season, including injuries and COVID-related protocols, K-State has had to start 3 true freshmen (Davion Bradford, Selton Miguel and Nijel Pack) 14 games, including 11 of 16 Big 12 contests. The team has started at least 2 true freshmen in each of the last 19 games with Bradford and Pack each starting 21 games and Miguel starting 18. The Wildcats are one of 10 teams nationally to start at least 3 true freshmen in at least one game, while the 60 combined starts by true freshmen rank second nationally behind Kentucky’s 63 and just ahead of Washington State’s 58.
NOTES ON 10/13 WEST VIRGINIA (16-6, 9-4 Big 12)
●No. 10/13 West Virginia (16-6, 9-4 Big 12) has been one of the hottest teams in the country, winning 5 of the last 6 games, including a recent 2-game road sweep of No. 14/16 Texas (84-82) and TCU (74-66).
●West Virginia is averaging 77.6 points on 43.2 percent shooting, including 36.8 percent from 3-point range, to go with 39.0 rebounds, 14.1 assists, 6.9 steals and 2.5 blocks per game, while allowing 72.1 points on 44 percent shooting, including 32.7 percent from 3-point range. They are connecting on 69.4 percent from the free throw line. The team is averaging 78.2 points on 43.9 percent shooting in Big 12 play, including 40.9 percent from 3-point, while is allowing 74.6 points on 45.9 percent shooting.
●The Mountaineers are one of more balanced teams in the Big 12 with four players averaging in double figures led by Miles McBride’s 16.0 points per game. McBride is connecting on 43 percent from the field, including 42.7 percent from 3-point range, to go with team-highs in assists (4.7 apg.) and steals (1.7 spg.). Big man Derek Culver averages a double-double with 15.1 points and a Big 12-best 10.3 rebounds per game.
●West Virginia is led by Hall of Fame head coach Bob Huggins, who has posted an 897-378 (.704) record in 39 years of coaching. His 897 victories rank fourth among all active Division I head coaches and sixth all-time. He has a 307-167 (.648) mark in his 14th season with the Mountaineers.
●K-State and West Virginia will meet for the 21st time in their histories on Saturday with the Mountaineers owning a 12-8 advantage, including an 11-7 mark since the start of the Big 12.
●WVU has won 11 of the last 15 meetings with K-State, as the Mountaineers took advantage of a season-high 28 turnovers by the Wildcats to post a 69-47 in Manhattan on Jan. 23.
●West Virginia leads the series at home, 6-3, which includes a 66-57 win over K-State on Feb. 1, 2020 in the last meeting at the WVU Coliseum.
●Head coach Bruce Weber is 7-11 all-time against West Virginia, including a 2-6 mark on the road, while Weber is 9-11 vs. head coach Bob Huggins. Huggins is 12-7 all-time against K-State, including 6-2 mark at home.
LAST TIME OUT: K-STATE 62, 7/8 OKLAHOMA 57
●Senior Mike McGuirl scored 16 of his team-high 19 points in the second half, including a string of 3 consecutive 3-pointers with under 4 minutes to play, as K-State rallied to knock off No. 7/8 Oklahoma, 62-57, at Bramlage Coliseum on Tuesday night.
●With the Sooners leading 53-47 with 3:57 to play after sophomore De’Vion Harmon made 1 of 2 free throws, McGuirl went on a memorable run of 3 straight possessions with a 3-pointer, starting at the 3:33 mark to close to within 3. He tied it with his second triple 42 seconds later then gave the Wildcats the lead for good with his third with 2:14 to play. He finished the night 7-of-13 from the field, including a career-best 5 3-pointers.
●However, K-State’s defense was locked in, forcing Reaves to take an off-balanced 3-pointer that was eventual knocked out of bounds by the Sooners to give the possession to the Wildcats. Gordon was fouled with less than 2 seconds and calmly hit both free throws to close out the game, 62-57.
●K-State, which posted consecutive wins for the first time since December, has now beaten at least one Top 25 opponent in each of the last 15 seasons, including each of the nine seasons under head coach Bruce Weber. Weber now has 27 wins against Top 25 opponents in his tenure with seven coming against ranked Oklahoma teams. The victory was also the 10th by Weber against a Top 10 foe, enabling him to tie Hall of Fame head coach Fred “Tex” Winter for the most by any head coach in school history.
●The loss snapped Oklahoma’s 3-game winning streak, as the Sooners lost to the Wildcats for the ninth consecutive season at Bramlage Coliseum. They have not won in Manhattan since a 63-60 win in 2012.
●McGuirl was joined in double figures by freshman Davion Bradford (13) and Gordon, who collected his team-leading fourth double-double with 11 points and a team-high 10 rebounds. Freshman Nijel Pack added 9 points and dished out a career-high 9 assists in 38 minutes. It was the most assists by a true freshman since Marcus Foster had 10 against Baylor in 2014.
●Defense was once again key for the Wildcats, which held Oklahoma to 39.3 percent shooting (22-of-56), including 20.0 percent (4-of-20) from 3-point range, while scoring 15 points off 12 Sooner turnovers.
UP NEXT: IOWA STATE (2-17, 0-14 Big 12)
●K-State concludes the regular season with a rescheduled home game with Iowa State (2-17, 0-14 Big 12) on March 6 at 4 p.m., CT on Big 12 Now. The game was suppose to be played on January 13 but was postponed due to COVID-19 protocols. The Wildcats won the first meeting, 74-65, in the Big 12 opener on Dec. 15, 2020 in Ames, Iowa.