Junior guard Cartier Diarra tied a career-high with 25 points to lead an all-around impressive effort, as Kansas State ended a 4-game losing streak in Big 12 play with a resounding 84-68 win over No. 12/13 West Virginia on Saturday afternoon before 8,549 fans at Bramlage Coliseum.
The Wildcats (8-9, 1-4 Big 12) connected on 59.2 percent (29-of-49) of its field goals, including 60.9 percent (14-of-23) in the second half, to snap its longest skid to start league play since 2008-09. It was the highest point total and field goal percentage against a Big 12 opponent since scoring 85 points on 61.5 percent shooting (32-of-52) vs. Oklahoma State on Feb. 23, 2019.
Diarra was among three players in double figures for K-State, which has now won 3 in a row against West Virginia (14-3, 3-2 Big 12) for the first time since winning 3 straight to start the Big 12 era from 2013-14. In addition to Diarra’s career-tying 25 points, which included 16 in the second half, senior guard Xavier Sneed and freshman guard DaJuan Gordon added 16 and 15 points, respectively. It marked Diarra’s fourth 20-point game of the season.
K-State grabbed the early lead behind three consecutive 3-pointers, including back-to-back triples from DaJuan Gordon, who scored 13 of his season-high with 15 points in the first half. After the Mountaineers closed to within 26-21 with just under 5 to play before halftime, the Wildcats responded with a 16-4 run, which included 6 in a row, to take a 42-25 lead into halftime. The team scored 22 of their 42 points off 13 WVU turnovers.
K-State grew its lead to as many as 24 points (53-29) with 14:39 to play in the second half before West Virginia slowly started to chip away at the deficit, scoring 25 of the next 32 points to close the deficit to 60-54 with 7:48 to play. However, the Wildcats responded with a 9-0 spurt, keyed by a 6-of-6 combined effort from the free throw line by Diarra, Sneed and junior David Sloan to go with a Diarra 3-pointer, to push it back to 13 (69-54) with just over 5 minutes to play. This time, the team didn’t let off, building the lead back to 20 (81-61) with 1:51 left.
Diarra scored his game-tying 25 points on 8-of-14 field goals, including 4-of-6 from 3-point range, and a 5-of-7 effort from the free throw line to go with 6 rebounds, 4 assists and 2 steals in a career-best 38 minutes. Sneed did most of his damage from the free throw line (7-of-10 effort) to go with 4-of-6 field goals, while Gordon had his 15 points on 6-of-7 field goals, including 3-of-4 from 3-point range, to go with 4 steals in 29 minutes.
In addition to the solid days by Diarra, Sneed and Gordon, Sloan enjoyed an impressive day in his first career start at the point, scoring a season-high 9 points to go with a game-high 5 assists (to just 1 turnover) to go with a season-best 4 steals in a 36 minutes of action.
West Virginia finished at 44.6 percent (25-of-56) from the field, including 27.3 percent (6-of-22) from 3-point range, and made just 12 of 22 free throw attempts (54.5 percent). Three reserves led the Mountaineers, as freshman Miles McBride and senior Chase Harler each posted 11 points, while junior Gabe Osabuohien chipped in 10 points. The bench scored 41 of the team’s 68 points.