|9:30 ET, Mar 10, 2017
Sprint Center, Kansas City, Missouri Attendance: 18,972
No. 11 West Virginia to face Kansas State in Big 12 semis
Two teams entering the game with different feelings will square off in the second semifinal Friday night in the Big 12 Championship at Sprint Center. No. 11 West Virginia, who slogged to a 63-53 victory over 10th-seeded Texas, will face a lively Kansas State team that seemingly punched its ticket to the NCAA tournament with a 70-64 victory over Baylor.
Despite the different paths to the game, the two coaches have the same message for their teams.
"Well, we're trying to win," West Virginia coach Bob Huggins said. "We didn't get it done in the finals a year ago. (There's) no sense playing if you're not playing to win. So we're trying to win."
Likewise, Bruce Weber told his team that they had a chance to put all doubt aside.
"We are not done," Weber said. "We told (the players) the only way you know you're in the NCAA tournament is to win this tournament, so we took one more step toward that. And now we've got to worry about West Virginia and that's what we've got to focus on."
West Virginia seems all-but-certain to land a top-4 seed when the NCAA bracket is announced Sunday afternoon. The Mountaineers finished tied for second in the Big 12, one of the toughest conferences in the country. They own a victory over No. 1 Kansas, and it probably should have been two victories if not for a 14-point collapse in the final 3:00.
The players are following the "one game at a time" philosophy.
"We didn't really pay too much attention to what other teams are doing. It's about us," Jevon Carter said. "We just take it one game at a time, you know. You can't play the next game unless you win the current game, so that was just a message to the team, just focus on this game and whatever happens after that is going to happen."
Coming into Friday's game, Kansas State was on both sides of the bubble, depending on which projection was read. But with the second win over Baylor this season, the Wildcats seem to have locked it up. They played Thursday night as if their postseason lives -- and possibly the job security of Weber -- depended on it.
"I feel like we just came together," said Barry Brown, who led the Wildcats with 21 points against Baylor. "We knew what people were saying, and we didn't want to see the things happen that people were saying outside of this basketball family. We stuck together. We played for Coach, played for one another. We've got to be able to do that for the future."
Weber is not about to get complacent. His Wildcats own a victory at home over West Virginia, but they also suffered their second-worst loss of the season in Morgantown, W. Va.
"You just beat a top-10 team, one of the top RPI teams in the country," Weber said. "You've got another top-10 team that we beat once and they hammered us the second time. We talked about success is when opportunity meets preparation. We've got another opportunity. We've got to be prepared in dealing with their press, dealing with their zones."
With a trip to the Big 12 Championship final on the line, West Virginia and Kansas State are locked in on the same prize.
Updated March 10, 2017