Kansas St.-West Virginia Preview

BY foxsports • January 25, 2016

Tarik Phillip's flurry of scoring allowed West Virginia to escape with a victory on the road this past weekend and keep its losing streak brief.

He also played a key role in one of his team's other hard-fought Big 12 wins this season, against Kansas State earlier this month.

The ninth-ranked Mountaineers will try for an easier game when the Wildcats visit Morgantown on Tuesday night.

Phillip scored eight of his career-high 20 points in the final minute Saturday against Texas Tech to send West Virginia to an 80-76 victory. Jaysean Paige had a team-best 22 points as the Mountaineers (16-3, 5-2) avoided a third consecutive defeat.

"That shows you how resilient we can be," Phillip said. "We knew this was a must-win for us. We had to leave everything on the floor."

Phillip had 14 points while making six of eight shots at Kansas State on Jan. 2, and none was bigger than his floater with 4.5 seconds left in double overtime in an 87-83 victory.

Paige provided 20 of his 25 points after halftime, and that was his career-best scoring performance until he had 26 in a win over then-No. 1 Kansas on Jan. 12.

Kansas State also fell in double overtime at then-No. 13 Baylor on Wednesday during its difficult start to the conference season but handled Oklahoma State 89-73 on Saturday. The Wildcats (12-7, 2-5) shot a season-best 57.7 percent after connecting at a combined 39.2 in back-to-back losses.

"I think our coaching staff did a good job trying to get them to realize there's still a lot to play for," coach Bruce Weber said. "Even though we've lost these games, if you play the right way - hard and as a team - good things will happen."

While its overall shooting percentage has been up and down, Weber's team has excelled from 3-point range in most of its last four games, connecting at a combined 41.8 percent. The Wildcats were hitting at 27.8 percent in the first 15 contests and went 3 of 19 in the loss to West Virginia.

The Mountaineers fared even worse from beyond the arc at 3 for 20 but shot 47.1 percent overall compared with Kansas State's 44.8 percent. They also had a 43-35 rebounding edge - 15-9 on the offensive glass.

Freshman guard Barry Brown had a career-high 20 points for the Wildcats but has totaled 20 while missing 16 of 24 shots in his past three games. Fellow freshman Kamau Stokes is averaging 15.0 points on 51.3 percent shooting - including a 13-of-25 mark from 3-point range - in his last four.

Stokes, who averaged 8.7 points in his first 15 games, scored 15 in the first meeting with West Virginia but went 1 of 7 from behind the arc.

The Mountaineers have won four straight over the Wildcats and edged them 76-72 in the most recent home matchup Feb. 11. Brandon Watkins led the way with a career-high 14 points off the bench while making 6 of 8 shots, and the West Virginia bench outscored Kansas State's 47-19.

Watkins has scored a combined 14 points in 18 games since that performance.

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