MORGANTOWN, W. Va. — From the depths of a 27-point second-half hole, West Virginia improbably made Senior Day interesting. But making games interesting seems to be the ceiling for these Mountaineers, as opposed to actually winning them.
Iowa State shot 57 percent and hung on for an 83-74 victory Saturday, bolstering its NCAA hopes while dealing the Mountaineers another near-miss at home.
In closing the regular season with its sixth consecutive loss, West Virginia (13-18, 6-12) slipped to 3-6 in conference home games, including five losses that looked winnable in the final four minutes.
Will Clyburn scored 25 points and Korie Lucious had 21 as Iowa State (21-10, 11-7) sank 14-of-23 from 3-point range and swept the season series. But just as with the game in Ames, the Cyclones nearly squandered a giant lead.
Jabarie Hinds scored 19 points, including 4-of-5 from 3-point range, to fuel West Virginia’s comeback from a 55-28 deficit early in the second half.
WVU pulled to within 76-72 after a Matt Humphrey steal led to Terry Henderson’s dunk with 48 seconds. But Iowa State put the game away at the foul line.
“We went into survival mode a little too early,” said Iowa State coach Fred Hoiberg. “We talked about staying aggressive, but we just stood around out there and looked like we were trying to take time off the clock. That’s human nature.”
Aaric Murray contributed 11 points and three blocks before fouling out with 2:22 to play for WVU. Humphrey added 11 points, as did Eron Harris.
Iowa State enjoyed its biggest lead at 55-28 after a Lucious 3-pointer with 15:46 to go. West Virginia countered with a 23-6 surge, highlighted by 14 points from Hinds, including four 3s, trimming the deficit to 61-51.
“We just played 10 times harder in the second half,” Hinds said. “We forced them into some tough shots and got some easy fast-break points.”
After Iowa State stalled the comeback with seven straight points, Huggins was dealt a technical foul, resulting in two Lucious free throws and a 70-53 edge. That sparked WVU on a 12-1 run, pulling to within 71-65 before ISU forward Georges Niang flipped up a no-look 14-footer to beat the shot-clock buzzer.
Deniz Kilicli, playing his final home game, scored four points on 2-of-8 shooting in 34 minutes.
LOPSIDED FIRST HALF
Iowa State made 8-of-13 from 3-point range in the opening half while WVU made 1-of-8, accounting for the Cyclones leading 44-20 at the break.
“Shooting 3s, that’s our MO — we’ve got one of the highest percentages in the country,” Lucious said. “In the first half we made 3s and in the second half we didn’t, so we had to find another way to win.”
BIG 12 TOURNAMENT
The Mountaineers will be the eighth seed in the Big 12 tournament after being surpassed by Texas in the conference standings Saturday when the Longhorns beat Texas Tech 71-69 in overtime.
WVU faces a first-round matchup against Texas Tech on Wednesday at 7 p.m. in Kansas City. Texas earned the No. 7 seed and will face TCU.
Though Kilicli’s parents had seen WVU on television numerous times, they attended their first Mountaineers game Saturday, leading the senior forward to discuss similarities between his father and Huggins.
“When I was 15, I was used to my dad kicking my ass after every game,” Kilicli said. “I would fight him right back all the way home. He would drive the car, and I would get to the back because if he could reach me that was a problem.
“But if he didn’t do that I wouldn’t have been able to play here, because that’s exactly what Huggs does. Only he’s not driving the car, he’s in front of the plane.”
Kilicli reflected on his relationship with Huggins — one that has remained tight off the court even as through the strain of a disappointing season.
“Huggs means so much to me,” Kilicli said. “He is like my dad — that’s how I feel about him. I love him to death.
“It’s just so hard for me that I’m going to leave. He’s been there for me at every high point and every low point. We have a different type of relationship than just a player and a coach.”