Mountaineers seek first Big 12 home win today

MORGANTOWN -West Virginia University’s basketball team, fresh off a 57-53 overtime win at Texas on Wednesday night, returns home today to meet No. 18 Kansas State in a 1:30 p.m. Big 12 Conference game at The Coliseum.

The Mountaineers (8-6 overall, 1-1 Big 12) are looking for their first home Big 12 home win as WVU lost its league debut last Saturday, 67-57, to Oklahoma, in Morgantown.

Kansas State not only brings a national ranking to town, but it also brings a 12-2 overall mark and won its Big 12 opener last Saturday, beating No. 22 Oklahoma State, 73-67.

The Wildcats’ only losses are to a pair of teams that also beat WVU -Michigan ad Gonzaga. If you want to compare scores, K-State lost at Michigan, 71-57, while the Mountaineers dropped an 81-66 decision to coach John Beilein’s Wolverines in New York City. WVU opened the season with an 84-50 loss at Gonzaga while Kansas State lost there, 68-52, on Dec. 15.

Kansas State is 2-2 against ranked opponents, having defeated Florida as well as Oklahoma State. WVU’s only games against ranked teams were the losses to Michigan and Gonzaga.

This is the first of two meetings between the Mountaineers and Wildcats as WVU will play at Kansas State on Monday, Feb. 18.

Leading the way for Kansas State is 6-foot-4 senior guard Rodney McGruder, who is the Wildcats’ only double-digit scorer with a 14.7 points per game average. Sophomore guard Angel Rodriguez, a Puerto Rico native, leads the team in assists with 4.6 per game and is its second leading scorer with a 9.5 average.

Other starters are 6-2 junior Will Spradling (8.9 points per game), 6-7 sophomore Thomas Gipson (7.9 points, 6.6 rebounds) and 6-5 sophomore Nino Williams (7.1 points, 5,.5 rebounds).

West Virginia coach Bob Huggins -who was coaching at Kansas State when WVU hired him away -is led by 6-10 junior Aaric Murray, the team’s top scorer at 10.6 per game and top rebounder at 7.7. Other starters include 6-1 sophomore guard Juwan Staten (10.5 points, 2.9 assists), 6-9 senior Deniz Kilicli (7.5 points, 4.6 rebounds), 5-11 sophomore guard Jabarie Hinds (6.7 points per game) and 6-3 freshman Terry Henderson (8.4 points).

Actually, there are two matchups between the Mountaineers and Wildcats today as the women’s basketball teams will meet at 4 p.m. in Manhattan, Kan. WVU brings a 9-5 overall and 1-2 Big 12 record into the game while K-State is 10-5 and also 1-2. The game will be televised on Root Sports Pittsburgh.