The word of the day will be "short-handed" when No. 18 Kansas State and West Virginia face off Monday in a Big 12 game in Morgantown, W.Va.
The Mountaineers (10-15, 2-10 Big 12) have been playing without a full squad for much of the season, while Kansas State (19-6, 9-3) has lost two key players in the last week.
Dean Wade left the Wildcats' game Saturday against Iowa State midway through the second half, when his team trailed by just five points. Wade hobbled off the floor and left the arena in a walking boot. The Wildcats struggled without their big man, losing 78-64 on their home floor.
Head coach Bruce Weber said the senior had been hurting all week and had not practiced because of soreness in his right foot. Wade, the preseason Big 12 Conference Player of the Year, missed six games earlier this season with a torn tendon in his right foot. He is averaging 13.6 points and a team-high 6.6 rebounds per game.
Iowa State outscored K-State 23-14 after Wade's departure.
"It is not the same spot, which we were very, very thankful for," Weber said after the game. "He had a boot and he did not practice.
"I think he planted wrong or came down wrong. I do not know if he tweaked it. When I first talked to him, the doc did not think it was that bad, but we will just have to wait and see."
Wade seems unlikely to play Monday, joining sixth-man Cartier Diarra on the injured list. Diarra missed the past two games because of a broken finger on his shooting hand. Weber hopes to have him back by the postseason.
Kansas State still leads the Big 12, but the margin for error diminished greatly when the three teams behind the Wildcats all won on Saturday. Texas Tech and Kansas are 9-4 in the conference, and Iowa State is 8-4.
"We just have to let them know we are still fine," guard Barry Brown said when asked what he would tell his teammates. "It is nice to know we are still in first.
"West Virginia is a good team; we haven't won there yet. It is going to be a tough environment to play in. We are experienced and we just have to go in there with the right mindset."
West Virginia coach Bob Huggins has only nine healthy scholarship players. Last Monday, the school announced that senior forward Esa Ahmad and junior guard Wes Harris had been dismissed from the team for "violation of athletic department policies."
Though not mentioning Ahmad and Harris specifically, Huggins was clearly displeased after a 22-point loss to Texas that preceded the dismissals.
"You have guys that follow the game plan and guys who don't follow the game plan," he said. "You have guys who really compete and guys who don't compete. You have guys who make excuses and guys who try harder."
Center Sagaba Konate played in just eight games -- averaging 13.6 points and 8.0 rebounds -- before suffering a knee injury in December.
James Bolden, the Mountaineers' second-leading scorer (12.2 ppg), has not played since Jan. 26. He has battled an assortment of injuries, including a sore ankle, stretched ligaments in his shooting hand, a full body cramp during a game, an injured left elbow and a banged-up shoulder.
Huggins will rely on an inexperienced group that likely will produce only the third losing season in his 38 years as a head coach.
The Wildcats are 1-5 all-time at WVU Coliseum, with the only win coming in 2013.
Kansas State overcame a 21-point second-half deficit to beat the Mountaineers 71-69 in Manhattan on Jan. 9.
--Field Level Media