MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (AP) — Sean McNeil scored 19 of his 26 points in the second half and West Virginia rallied to defeat Kansas State 71-68 in Big 12 Conference play on Saturday.

The Mountaineers, who were playing their second game since Dec. 22 because of a pause for COVID-19 health and safety protocols, trailed 18-4 early and 40-27 at halftime.

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West Virginia pulled even at 50 on a McNeil layup with 9:09 remaining and took its first lead on McNeil’s 3-pointer 34 seconds later.

Nijel Pack answered with a 3 for the Wildcats, but Taz Sherman hit back-to-back 3-pointers and McNeil added a bucket in an 8-0 run to put the Mountaineers up 61-53 with 5:49 left.

Pack hit two 3s and a basket in a 10-4 spurt to get the Wildcats within 65-63 with 2:20 remaining. Ismael Massoud’s 3-pointer with 5 seconds to go pulled the Wildcats within 69-68, but Jalen Bridges hit two free throws and Markquis Nowell missed a game-tying 3 at the buzzer.

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McNeil, who matched his career-high, made 9 of 15 shots from the floor for West Virginia (12-2, 1-1), including 7 of 10 after intermission with three 3-pointers. Sherman, who came into the game leading the Big 12 with a 20.9 scoring average, added 14 points. Kedrian Johnson scored 11 with six rebounds. Gabe Osabuohien grabbed 12 rebounds.

Sherman, Osabuohien, and Kobe Johnson missed the Mountaineers’ 74-59 loss at No. 14 Texas on Tuesday.

Pack scored 20 to pace Kansas State (8-6, 0-3). Mark Smith pitched in with 14 points and eight rebounds, while Nowell added 10 points and 10 assists. The Wildcats were without head coach Bruce Weber and two assistants along with players Kaosi Ezeagu and Logan Landers for a second straight game because of COVID-19. Nowell and Davion Bradford returned to action — missing a 70-57 loss to Texas last time out.

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