West Virginia and Kansas State: Five Players to Watch


After a crazy win against TCU last Saturday, No. 17 West Virginia will turn its focus to Kansas State tonight.

Kansas State (12-8, 5-2) are coming off a double-digit win against Oklahoma State. The Wildcats had lost to the Cowboys earlier in the year, but found redemption with a 63-53 win in their last outing.

West Virginia (16-3, 4-2) needed heroics from two freshman guards to win in overtime against TCU — in a game that can only be described as thrilling.

The game will feature a plethora of solid talent stemming from both the guard positions as well as the forwards.

Here are five players to watch in tonight’s Big 12 matchup:

West Virginia

Daxter Miles Jr.

Miles is coming off a spectacular performance against TCU. The young freshman guard played a huge role in the Mountaineers’ win. Miles was able to come through in multiple, clutch situations including a game tying layup to end regulation and two major three-pointers during overtime.

Prior to the game against TCU, Miles had not been shooting the ball well. Despite being in the starting lineup, Miles is shooting 38 percent from the floor, but averaging just six points per game.

“Daxter Miles hasn’t made a lot of shots anyways,” said head coach Bob Huggins following the TCU game. “When Juwan (Staten) passed to him and he made that, he proved he’s in the gym. They know who’s in the gym, just like I do.”

Miles scored 10 points versus the Horned Frogs, but his scoring came in the most opportunistic moments.

It will be interesting to see if Miles can grow from his heroic performance and start becoming the consistent, outside shooter West Virginia needs.

Jonathan Holton

Holton is a game-changer when on the floor for the Mountaineers. Holton is a big, athletic force that is the focal point in West Virginia’s full court press.

Jan 5, 2015; Lubbock, TX, USA; West Virginia Mountaineers forward Jonathan Holton (1) drives to the basket against Texas Tech Red Raiders forward Norense Odiase (32) in the first half at United Supermarkets Arena. Mandatory Credit: Michael C. Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

Holton’s found himself in a lot of foul trouble in many of the Mountaineers’ pervious games, but versus TCU he managed to stay clear of foul issues and his increased court presence was felt.

“Stay out of foul trouble, finally,” Huggins immediately fired back when asked of Holton’s performance against the Horned Frogs. “He didn’t rebound as well a I would have liked him to. Our pressure is so much better with him. Jon scored the ball early so we were keying in on him.”

If Holton can continue to stay out of foul trouble, the already stifling West Virginia press can be that much more effective for games to come.

Devin Williams

Another forward for the Mountaineers is Williams, who is starting to come into his own. At the start of the season he wasn’t producing as much as Huggins and company would have liked, but as the seasons progressed, he’s starting to become more of a factor underneath the basket.

Against TCU, Williams tied Staten as the team’s leading scorer, both players scored 18 points. Williams also reeled in 12 rebounds.

While teams like TCU and Kansas State won’t present the challenge of “bigs” under the hoop quite like Texas does, it’s still encouraging to see West Virginia’s young forward playing better ball against tough, Big 12 opponents.

Kansas State

Marcus Foster

Foster is leading the Wildcats in scoring on the year. He’s averaging 13.7 points per game, shooting 42 percent from the floor and 41 percent from beyond the arc.

Against the Cowboys, Foster scored 14 points — good for second best along with fellow guard Justin Edwards.

Foster will be a individual the Mountaineers will need to keep in check as he’s capable of scoring often.

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Nino Williams

N. Williams is the second leading scorer for Kansas State on the season. He’s scoring, on average, 12 points a game and is shooting over 50 percent from the floor. In the game versus Oklahoma State, he paved the way in scoring with 20 points.

N. Williams is also a threat on the boards. On averaging, he’s snagging five boards a game. Against the Cowboys he muscled up seven rebounds.

Kansa State’s Williams squaring off with West Virginia’s Williams will be a intriguing matchup. The two are both capable of making noise inside the paint.

The Mountaineers and Wildcats’ game will begin tonight at 7 p.m. and it will broadcast live on ESPN2.