West Virginia ended its 2022 and started its Big 12 schedule on a rough note in Manhattan, Kansas.
The 24th-ranked Mountaineers (10-3, 0-1 Big 12) fell in their conference opener to Kansas State (12-1, 1-0) on Saturday 82-76 in a hard-fought, oftentimes sloppy overtime thriller. Markquis Nowell logged his ninth career double-double in the win as he led the Wildcats over a faulty West Virginia offense.
WVU held an 11-point lead at halftime, holding K-State under 30 percent shooting. The Mountaineers did show some signs of weakness despite the lead, coughing up seven turnovers and shooting 43.8 percent from the free throw line.
The Wildcats fought back out of the break, clawing to within a possession in under six minutes. Nowell powered the offense, scoring 10 of K-State’s first 17 points in the half while assisting on two more. He finally tied the game back up from the stripe with 13 minutes left.
The game’s high volume of fouls massively impacted the game down the stretch. The officials called 45 personal fouls in regulation, 22 for West Virginia and 23 for K-State.
This kept WVU shooter Erik Stevenson off the court for much of the game. He entered halftime with two fouls and racked up another pair of whistles less than 30 seconds into the second half, including a technical. He earned his fifth with 1:25 remaining in the game, exiting with seven points.
Ismael Massoud of K-State also fouled out in regulation with five points.
The battle continued until the final moments of regulation as the Wildcats were unable to build a substantial lead. They led by as many as eight points in the second half, but WVU was able to stay within reach enough for Kedrian Johnson to hit a game-tying three-pointer with less than a second left on the clock.
WVU wouldn’t have been in that situation if it weren’t for its struggles at the free throw line, however. The Mountaineers missed 15 free throws in regulation, completing just 62.5 percent of their attempts, tying for the lowest rate of the season thus far. They also coughed up 18 turnovers before overtime, seven of which were unforced.
Overtime treated the Wildcats well as the Mountaineers opened the extra period with their 19th turnover. Kansas State turned that into a pair of made free throws, kickstarting a six-point run to give the hosts an early cushion.
West Virginia, on the other end, missed its first four field goal attempts in overtime plus a pair of free throws. WVU didn’t score any points until over two minutes had elapsed in the period.
The ball ended up in Nowell’s hands for the final minute of the game as the Wildcats sealed the victory. He finished with 23 points and 10 assists, leading the game in both categories.
Three more Wildcats finished in double figures: Keyontae Johnson (18 points), Abayomi Iyiola (14) and Nae’Qwan Tomlin (11).
Tre Mitchell notched his first double-double as a Mountaineer, recording 16 points and 13 rebounds. As a team, WVU dominated the glass, grabbing 50 rebounds to Kansas State’s 36.
Mohamed Wague also recorded a double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds. Emmitt Matthews Jr. added 12 points to WVU’s effort.
West Virginia drops its fourth Big 12 opener in its last five seasons with the loss. The Mountaineers look to regroup on Monday to open 2023 with a win when they take on Oklahoma State in Stillwater at 7 p.m. ET.