West Virginia overwhelms K-State’s defense in second-half push

Keyontae Johnson
Forward Keyontae Johnson stops to catch his breath against the Baylor Bears. K-State won the home game against the Bears 75-65. (Archive photo by Reece Bachta | Collegian Media Group)

Kansas State fell to West Virginia during the Mountaineer senior night to end the regular season 23-8 (11-7), finishing third in the Big 12 after a Texas win against Kansas.

Momentum was in K-State’s favor to start the game as forward Keyontae Johnson and guard Markquis Nowell controlled the boards in the first few minutes, gaining an 11-0 lead before a West Virginia timeout.

K-State’s fortune would shift due to turnovers and poor offensive production. Both K-State and West Virginia would stall offensively to end the first half, posting under 38% shooting combined.

Guard Desi Sills sat out of the match with a personal family matter. In his absence, forward Ismael Massoud and Nae’Qwan Tomlin played extended minutes.

Tomlin and Massoud would both find themselves in foul trouble early, with Tomlin having two at the half and eventually fouling out in the second and Massoud collecting two.

Guards Tykei Greene and Cam Carter would have to come in for the second half to fill that rotational role.

In the second half, West Virginia’s offense completely overtook the Wildcat defense led by Erik Stevenson scoring 27 points. Three West Virginia players would finish the night with over 20 points.

West Virginia’s offense shot 57% in the second compared to K-State’s 38%, eventually growing their lead to 15 before K-State would rally back to just under 10.

West Virginia’s defense in the second half looked like a completely different unit. Interior pressure on the Wildcats caused K-State to only score 10 points in the paint in the entire half.

Johnson started the game on a scoring tear but quickly cooled off in the second, only scoring eight points. He ended the night with 24 points, six rebounds and two assists.

K-State can bounce back in the Big 12 Tournament as a three-seed. They are slated to play TCU at 8:30 p.m. on Thursday, March 9, at the T-Mobile Center in Kansas City, Missouri.