No. 13 Wildcats roll past West Virginia, 71-61

Published on NewsOK Modified: February 18, 2013 at 11:30 pm •  Published: February 18, 2013

MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) — Just about every time Kansas State huddled up, coach Bruce Weber reminded his team to keep its poise, even while whistles seemed to be sounding every time they turned around.

They managed to do it better than West Virginia.

Will Spradling scored 19 points, Nino Williams added 13 and the No. 13 Wildcats used a big first-half run to beat the Mountaineers 71-61 on Monday night, spoiling the return of coach Bob Huggins to the school he helped rebuild.

Angel Rodriguez and Thomas Gipson each had 11 points, and Rodney McGruder added 10 for the Wildcats (21-5, 10-3), who slipped into first place in the Big 12 by a half game over ninth-ranked Kansas and No. 14 Oklahoma State. Those two teams play each other Wednesday night.

"It was just a very physical game," Weber said. "I'm glad our kids kept their poise for the most part. ... We stayed the course and stayed strong and did what we needed to."

Physical, indeed.

The officials called 49 fouls, and both teams spent more than 18 minutes in the bonus. The Mountaineers had center Aaric Murray and leading scorer Eron Harris foul out, the Wildcats lost Jordan Henriquez, and there were three others who had four fouls when the game finally ended.

The teams combined to shoot 53 free throws.

"You got to stand your ground," Weber said. "One time I just said, 'What do you want us to do? Let them cut and get a layup?' You have to guard them somehow.

"It was a very hard game to officiate," Weber added. "I know people get upset. I get upset. But I wouldn't take their job for anything."

Huggins received a warm reception in his first trip back to Bramlage Coliseum, where he went 23-12 as coach of the Wildcats during the 2006-07 season. Huggins led the program to the NIT, its first postseason appearance in eight years, before skipping town for his alma mater.

The reception was probably the highlight for Huggins on this night.

He watched the Wildcats use an 18-2 run to seize control in the opening minutes, and then was whistled for a technical foul for arguing with officials in the second half. Moments later, his leading scorer — freshman guard Eron Harris — fouled out after throwing an elbow on defense and then picking up a technical foul of his own.

"I mean, I really like this place," Huggins said. "I like the people. The people have been wonderful. It's nice to see people you haven't seen in a while, but at the end of the day, it's a business trip. We're supposed to win. We didn't."

Deniz Kilicli had 16 points for the Mountaineers (13-13, 6-7), but he didn't get a whole lot of help. The rest of their starters combined for 13 points, with two of them getting shut out.

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