West Virginia erasing an 18-point second-half deficit? Enthralling. Iowa State scoring the game-winner on a layup by Georges Niang with 2.5 seconds left? Deflating.

So goes this maddening season of Mountaineers basketball.

Jabarie Hinds scored 20 points — including the tying 3 with 11.6 seconds left — and Eron Harris scored 17 to lead the Mountaineers (8-8, 1-3), who started 0-of-12 from 3-point range before Harris sank a deep jumper in transition with 10:55 left.

Harris hit four 3-pointers in the second-half surge, sparking West Virginia to a 9-of-12 spurt from long range. But for all the big shots Harris hit during the rally, the freshman didn’t get a chance to launch one at the buzzer, tumbling to the floor at midcourt after colliding with a Iowa State’s Chris Babb.

“We’re a call or two away from being 3-1 in the league instead of 1-3.” — WVU coach Bob Huggins

West Virginia coach Bob Huggins, whose team gave up the lead on a late foul call in Saturday’s 65-64 loss to Kansas State, thought Harris was knocked down and should have been attempting the tying free throws.

“That was every bit as much a foul as the one they called on us against Kansas State,” Huggins said.

“I just can’t believe that we come off a home (game) where a guy gets bumped and falls down and it’s a foul, and there’s no question there’s a bump (on Harris) and he falls down and there’s no call.”

Playing in front of 13,000-plus fans at Hilton Coliseum, Iowa State (12-4, 2-1) seemingly took control with an 18-4 run that built a 56-38 margin with 9:04 left. But West Virginia fought back, replicating the Cyclones’ template with a smaller lineup that spread the floor.

Melvin Ejim had 16 points and 13 rebounds — his seventh double-double of the season — before fouling out with 2:01 left for Iowa State. Korie Lucious had 15 points and eight assists, and Will Clyburn added 11 points, but Clyburn’s biggest contribution was his drive-and-dish to Niang in the final seconds.

Off an isolation play, the 6-foot-7 Clyburn drove baseline from the right wing and spun at the low post. That drew help defense from WVU center Aaric Murray, leaving Niang open beneath the basket when Hinds didn’t rotate with the weakside defense.

WVU, already playing without starting guard Terry Henderson (lower back), lost point guard Gary Browne to an ankle injury in the first half.

That led to the return of point guard Juwan Staten, whom Huggins had benched since halftime of the Texas game. Staten produced seven points and seven assists and only one turnover in 29 minutes.

Mountaineers guard Matt Humphrey also was back in the rotation, seeing his first action in four games. The senior scored nine points by making 3-of-4 from 3-point range during the late-game comeback.

The Mountaineers outrebounded Iowa State 38-35 and became the first team to hold the Cyclones under 70 points this season. Both teams shot 41 percent from the floor overall, and though ISU came in as one of the national leaders in 3-point field goals, WVU’s late surge helped it finish 9-of-24 from beyond the arc compared to ISU’s 8-of-24.

The Cyclones were 15-of-19 at the foul line, however, compared to WVU’s 8-of-13. Huggins ended his postgame comments by reiterating his belief that Harris should have gone to the line at the end of regulation.

“I don’t care what they call, but it has got to be consistent,” he said. “It’s got to be consistent throughout the league. They want us to be consistent. The want our players to be consistent in the way we guard and the way we do things. Then they have to be consistent in the way the whistle is blown.”

“We’re a call or two away from being 3-1 in the league instead of 1-3.”

WVU led by as many as eight points in the first half yet went into intermission trailing 29-26.

MORE SMALL BALL?

Huggins was emphatic about sticking with the smaller lineup in future games.

“This team was built to play in the Big East where you have big, physical people. Playing with those bigs hasn’t worked  — just has not worked,” he said. “We need to go small and concentrate on penetrate and pitching.”

Forward Kevin Noreen had 10 rebounds and was the lone big man on the court for much of WVU’s comeback.

Said Huggins: “We played with one big, the one big who actually tried to get a rebound.”

Murray was invisible most of the night thanks to foul trouble. He finished with one point, two rebounds, three blocks and two turnovers in 10 minutes.

Forward Deniz Kilicli played 19 minutes, going 3-of-6 from the floor for six points, three rebounds and two turnovers.

HINDS AGGRESSIVE

His 8-of-22 shooting night wasn’t exactly efficient, and the 2-of-9 effort from 3-point range might indicate he’s still hoisting too many jumpers, but Hinds made a clutch 3-pointer late directly in front of the West Virginia bench.

Down 67-64 and guarded tightly in the right corner by Lucious, Hinds stutter-stepped as if to drive and sent the off-balance defender spilling to the floor, leading to a step-back 3-pointer that evened the game with 11.6 seconds remaining.

17 STRAIGHT AT HOME

Iowa State’s 17-game winning streak at Hilton Coliseum stands as the eighth-longest active streak in Division I, but few of those wins were as helter-skelter as Wednesday’s, when the Cyclones squandered a giant second-half lead.

ISU coach Fred Hoiberg wasn’t overly disappointed with his team’s defensive closeouts, even though WVU erupted for 29 points in the final 8:45.

“We had a game plan going in that we were going to pack it in and make them make shots,” Hoiberg said. “It worked to perfection — that’s what gave us a 17-point lead was packing it in, playing with our toes on the 3-point line.

“Those guys started out 0-for-13, but I think they hit nine of their last 12, and a lot of those were bombs. They hit from 25, 26 feet with a hand in their face. And you know, if they hit those, you shake their hand.”

PHYSICAL, AS PROMISED

Iowa State’s staff tried to prep the Cyclones for West Virginia’s punishing style. Still, Lucious said it was hard to simulate the kind of ruggedness the Mountaineers bring.

“It was very physical — they have a lot of athletes, a lot of strong guys out there,” Lucious said. “They crashed the boards real hard, pushing in our backs, grabbing our arms, but we knew that coming into this game. We got ready for it. So we just tried to play as physical as them.

“We took their blows and we just hung in the game, played together and pulled it out.”

BROWNE UPDATE

Browne contributed two points an four rebounds in 16 minutes before hobbling off in the first half. Moments later on the bench, he used scissors to remove his right ankle wrap. His status for Saturday’s game at Purdue is uncertain.

“I have no idea,” Huggins said. “I thought Doc said he was going to tape him and bring him back out.”

bubble graphic

23

bubble graphic

Comments

  • Larry

    Chad, graywv and Jethro have all three just proven my point. Thank you!

    Bob Huggins has brought the WVU basketball program down to mediocrity. It’s about “Loyalty” now and no longer about winning.

    If Huggins was as loyal to this State as everyone claims, he would step aside and let some young energetic coach with enthusiasm and vision step in and take over this sinking program. He couldn't do any worse. Will the great one ever step aside? No…He’s making millions of dollars while the majority of WVU fans struggle to pay the light bill.

    To those of you who don’t get it and never will…Devin Ebanks signed to play basketball at the University of Indiana. He was not a WVU recruit. He was a TRANSFER. A transfer is someone who “transfers” to one school from another school. Devin Ebanks transferred to WVU as a result of the Kelvin Salmons scandal. He resigned with WVU. Here is the link on Wikipedia…

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Devin_Ebanks

    Go read about it. And please…quit bringing up Ebanks. In 5 years Huggins has only signed one (1) legitimate top flight division 1 player and that was Kevin Jones who took 4 years to mature into the great player that he was.

    And No Jabarie Hinds and Aaron Browne are not great shooters. In the past 5 games Hinds was 21 of 63 (33%) and Browne 10-39 (25%)…Not exactly what I would call “Lighting it up”

    Out of 388 Division 1 Basketball schools, WVU ranks 313 in shooting percentage. So the argument that WVU has good shooters on a good shooting team really holds no water. Sorry…

    Go sell crazy somewhere else…

    • chad

      You've lost it

    • cutty77

      Kelvin Sampson was The Ind.Coach.Eubanks was one of those Rent to own Players,or one and Done Players.Fellows Huggs is a Great Guy,and a Great Coach.But todays Basketball Players are a different Breed.Huggs doesn't want to change,but he has to.His New Contract has a out for him in 2015.He should be able to make it to 15.

  • Don

    Travel down 79 south and watch Fairmont State what a good team and COACH

    • chad

      Fairmont State??? We're talkin big boy basketball here not WV High School Hoops 2.0.

      • Don

        I take Fairmont over WVU right now

        • chad

          Do yourself a favor, don't plan any trips to Vegas. That's like saying Alabama could beat the KC Chiefs.

  • ShinnstonGuy

    I enjoyed the game, though I have noticed that both the men's and women's teams are having to adjust to the more frequent foul-calling in the Big XII. I guess we are used to play hard-nosed Big East basketball. Personally, I miss it.

  • jethro

    agree w chad, i love this state , was born and raised here but in football and in basketball
    its hard to recruit great players to come here
    its hard to get good doctors to come here ,sad but true

  • Larry

    This is beyond outrageous. I see that the Bob Huggins trolls are out in full force after last night's loss. At the end of the day, a great comeback effort is meaningless when you lose. Losing is like kissing your grandmother with her teeth out.

    It has come to the point where the fans are happy just to “stay in the game”. The idea of actually 'winning" has become an afterthought.

    Do a little research and you'll find what I already know…This team has lost 3 out of the last 4 and was lucky to win that OT game at Texas. There is no leadership, no chemistry, only one decent shooter who rarely gets the ball, and a coach who we all know that saw his best coaching days at Cincinnati.

    I’m sorry, but the WVU Basketball program has pretty much stayed in a holding pattern of “not being very good” the past 4 years.

    Huggins responsibility now is re-energizing a team that has lost two consecutive games and sunk toward the bottom of the Big 12. Can he do it? No. It takes shooters to win in the Big 12... and for whatever reason, Bob Huggins has an inability to recruit shooters at WVU. Street players and slow footed players from Turkey won’t cut it in the Big 12.

    It is what it is…

    • chad

      We aren't Kentucky, Duke, NC, or Kansas Larry. Huggs gets the best players he can to come to WVU to play ball. We are not ever going to get the top tier recruits. Never have never will. Some guys he brings in will be hits some will be misses.

      Think about it, if you were a top 50 or 100 recruit would you come to Morgantown WV to play basketball or would you go to Durham NC.

      I read people on hear squakin about how he made the final 4 with Beliens players and thats simply BS. Don't forget Ebanks & Jones were huge spokes in that wheel and they were Huggs players. He developed Joe Alexander into a 1st rounder, and Butler into one of the best players in WVU history. They may have been recruited by JB but Huggs brought their talents to a whole new level.

      • Roy

        So are WVU fans to be always content with just being competitive? So we will never have an NCAA National Championship? Not much to look forward to chad other than going to NCAA Tournament from time to time and get beat or maybe squeak out an NIT occasionally. I thought Huggs said when he came to Motown that a National Championship was not a dream, but it can happen. So get use to it, right?

        • chad

          A National Championship can happen but we're not gonna be a top 10 or 25 program every year. Be realistic. Even KY and NC are down this year

          So we should fire Huggs and hire who exactly? Who has a better chance of elevating WVU to a perrenial top 10 team? Who is going to bring in top tier recruits? Who can sell our program better than an alumni who also happens to be the 3rd winningest active coach? Please tell me who we should get I would love to hear it.

          • Roy

            Pal I never said we should fire Huggs? Sorry if that is what you assumed. I'm just saying what Huggs said in an interview when he came here in an answer to a question to him, that do you think we can win a National Championship in little Morgantown. I think it can happen and do not buy that we will only be good every few years. Good programs reload and not rebuild. The problem with comparing the Kys, etc. their coaches will not be there long if they don't have top 5 or better finishes every year. We just need to get better players, in my opinion.

    • graywv

      Were are you coming from? WVU has some shooters, Harris, Henderson for two and Humphries and A. Brown, for four, Hines and G Brown are ok when they get into the flow of the game. Huggins is a very good coach even though you don't like him, and he will turn this around. We have several new players that came to the game, out of shape,and thinking they were the BOSS! wrong, they are now finding out how to play real basketball for a real coach. This league is going to make you "payup" the 1st year no close calls for us-all calls go to the league original teams just like in Football. PLUS it takes time for players to learn how each league refs call the game! Our reputation of rugged/physcial play works against us, because the refs are looking at us and allows the other team to revive up their play and they DON'T call them on anything!

    • pghmountaineer

      Well said Larry.
      I've said this before and I'm sticking to it. This team will have a hard time wining 6 conference games. The talent is average and the coach appears to have lost the team, or at least doesn't have an answer. But I will say it's near impossible when your bigs don't produce on either side of the ball, foul shootong is so so, and you can't shoot the ball to save your life.
      That makes it near impossioble to win a game in the conference.

  • Chalkdust

    Hang on to our hat folks....This is going to be good team.

  • John

    Huggins continues to be out coached....Ruthledge is a legitimate shot blocker and should have been in game at the end to protect basket (along with Murray). Bad coaching.

    • Stan

      Haha, this is a joke right? Or your name is Rutledge. Legitimate shot blocker, haha.

  • cutty77

    See The Difference Staten makes when he plays in the Game.But you can't fall 18 points behind,when you come all the way back,you have nothing left at the end,and it showed.Huggs needs to go about 7 or 8 guys,and thats it.At the end of the year they may suprise some people.

  • mark

    Loved the moxie in the comeback. Maybe the lid is off the basket now. Can't believe Murray left his man under the basket to guard someone who was ALREADY being guarded! Really made it easy for Iowa State.

  • Wemakerain

    Great game, it was a tremendous effort, but unfortunately we came up just short. Keep on grinding the ball will eventually bounce our way. Glad to see our guys fight for 3 straight games

  • Pghmountaineer

    Hats off to the guys the way they fought back but you have to play for 40 minutes. Wins are going to be hard to come by.