KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Sean McNeil scored 21 points, Malik Curry added 17 points and No. 9 seed West Virginia beat eighth-seeded Kansas State 73-67 on Wednesday night in the opener of the Big 12 Conference tournament.
West Virginia (16-16) advances to play top-seeded Kansas on Thursday. The Mountaineers lost at Kansas 85-59 in January and again at home 71-58 about a month later.
Neither team led by more than nine points in this one.
McNeil scored four points during a 10-2 run that gave West Virginia a 69-60 lead with 3:29 left. Curry and Taz Sherman made 3-pointers on consecutive possessions during the run.
Kansas State only made two of its final 10 field goals. West Virginia shot 52.8% for the game.
McNeil reached 20-plus points for the third time this season, going 7 of 10 from the field against the Wildcats. The Mountaineers won their second straight game following a seven-game losing streak.
Nijel Pack led Kansas State (14-17) with 18 points. Mark Smith added 17 points and Ismael Massoud had 13. Kansas State's reserves were outscored 29-5.
It was the only Big 12 tournament game of the day as the event was reduced to nine teams because Oklahoma State was placed on one-year NCAA probation and is not eligible to participate in this year’s NCAA Tournament.
Asked after the game about the idea of facing top-seeded Kansas in Thursday's quarterfinal matchup at 2 p.m. on ESPN2, WVU coach Bob Huggins did his best to put all of the pressure on Kansas coach Bill Self the Jayhawks.
"Can I just think about this one for a while," he began. "You know, we have had great games with them over the years. This might be one of Bill's best teams. Actually, I would like to say - make sure you write this - I think Bill ought to win the national championship. I think if he doesn't they probably ought to fire him. No, they're good. We played the first half at their place and played really well, and they came out the second half and we didn't play so well and they played great. I don't remember what happened at home. Seems like a long time ago."
Kansas (25-6) swept WVU this season, winning 85-59 in Lawrence on Jan. 15 and by 13 — 71-58 — in Morgantown, West Virginia on Feb. 19.