Sean McNeil ended Saturday tying his career-high of 26 points, making him the prime catalyst in West Virginia’s 71-68 comeback win over Kansas State.
The Mountaineers opened the game by missing their first six shots from the field, allowing Kansas State to jump out to an early lead. Further, an 8-0 Wildcats run put the team ahead by 10 at the under-16 timeout, despite only featuring eight active players.
Struggles continued on both ends of the floor for WVU as shots would not fall. The Wildcats continued to click, running ahead by 17 points despite being without their head coach and having only eight active players.
Soon after the under-12 timeout, K-State forward Davion Bradford was called for a technical foul — an opportunity that the Mountaineers would take full advantage of. After McNeil sank two free throws, the team would go on a 6-0 run and force a Wildcats timeout.
It was then West Virginia had settled in, spurning the err of its ways and moving forward. McNeil and Taz Sherman combined for 15 first-half points, keeping the Mountaineers in the game.
But Kansas State would not slow up, ultimately entering halftime in possession of a 40-27 lead.
A reenergized West Virginia team emerged for the second half and opened on a 6-2 run, forcing a K-State timeout. The Mountaineers continued to slowly chip away, with a McNeil three-pointer placing them behind only two points.
Minutes later, another three pointer from McNeil gave the Mountaineers their first lead all game. The two teams began to trade blows down the stretch with neither team gaining a major edge.
McNeil’s impact became further prevalent in the game’s final minutes as he scored five in the last three and a half minutes. But K-State continued to stay alive.
A three-pointer from K-State’s Ismael Massoud gave WVU a slim 69-68 lead with five seconds to go, but WVU’s Jalen Bridges was able to sink two free throws on the opposite end — giving the Mountaineers some breathing room.
On the final shot, a K-State three-pointer fell short, giving West Virginia its first win of 2022.
McNeil led the Mountaineers in scoring while Sherman followed him, ending with 14.
Gabe Osabuohien finished with a team-high 12 rebounds.
Kansas State finished with three scorers in double digits.
West Virginia (12-2) hosts Oklahoma State on Tuesday. The 9 p.m. tipoff will be broadcast on ESPNU.