AMES, Iowa — No. 15 Iowa State sounded plenty hyped for its rematch against West Virginia, but make no mistake: This game meant more to the Mountaineers than it did to the revenge-minded home team.
Fred Hoiberg’s squad had an NCAA bid locked up, while Bob Huggins’ crew needed a string of victories to get back on the bubble. The Cyclones never trailed by less than four points in the second half and pulled away late for an 83-66 victory.
Relive the in-game updates and analysis from throughout the evening.
IOWA STATE 83, WEST VIRGINIA 66 (Final)
Though West Virginia shot only 38 percent, my supposition is Bob Huggins will be most disappointed by another spotty defensive effort. Three straight opponents have exceeded the 80-point mark against the Mountaineers, who remain the weakest defensive unit in the conference. … Staten led WVU with 19 points, five boards and four assists, while Harris scored 15, but they combined to shoot just 12-of-33. Dibo added 14 points and seven rebounds.
IOWA STATE 79, WEST VIRGINIA 65 (2:42 second half)
Niang has 24 points, Kane 17 and the heretofore unguarded Naz Long has 15 as the Cyclones are in complete command. But save some kudos for freshman point guard Monte Morris, who has 11 assists, seven rebounds and zero turnovers. … Iowa State is on pace to become the third straight opponent to shoot better than 50 percent against WVU.
IOWA STATE 74, WEST VIRGINIA 63 (4:44 second half)
Remember when the Cyclones seemed to be in trouble after Ejim’s picked up his fourth foul with 17:16 left? Well, Iowa State led by 11 then, and now, some 13 minutes later, they still lead by 11—and Ejim hasn’t returned. Hoiberg’s role players are really picking up the slack. … Kevin Noreen fouled near the six-minute mark for West Virginia. He left with zero points and three rebounds.
IOWA STATE 59, WEST VIRGINIA 49 (11:54 second half)
Just when Harris’ putback brought West Virginia back to within 53-49, Long and Niang bury consecutive 3s and—zip—it’s a 10-point bulge again. The next stoppage was due to bring a media timeout, but Huggins wasn’t going to wait and took a 30-second timeout. (Long, who was held scoreless in five of ISU’s last eight games, has 12 points on 4-of-5 shooting.)
IOWA STATE 48, WEST VIRGINIA 42 (15:44 second half)
The Cyclones scored five unanswered points to open the second half, but that’s old news now. Of much greater import was Dibo backing down Ejim into the lane, who was whistled for his third foul after Remi’s miss. Ejim then voiced his displeasure and was hit with a technical—and foul No. 4 with more than 17 minutes left. That’s a double-dumb moment for an Academic All-American.
IOWA STATE 39, WEST VIRGINIA 33 (halftime)
Staten (12 points) and Harris (seven points) didn’t leave the court in the opening 20 minutes, and they might need to play every bit of the second half also. Harris benefited from being fouled on a late 3-pointer by Melvin Ejim (his second foul). … Don’t overlook the importance of Dibo’s six first-half rebounds. He has reached that mark only three times previously this season. Overall rebounds are equal at 25 each. … Niang has 15 points, one off his per-game average, and DeAndre Kane has seven points (albeit on 3-of-10 shooting). Five Cyclones have two fouls at the break, including Kane and Ejim, who has only four points on 2-of-5 shooting. (Ejim leads the Big 12 at 18.9 points per game.) Four WVU players have picked up two fouls—Adrian, Dibo, Noreen and Williams.
IOWA STATE 34, WEST VIRGINIA 24 (3:54 first half)
The Mountaineers strung together a 10-2 run to take themselves off blowout alert, but there was a huge lapse after Niang clanged two free throws only to rebound his miss and put it back. … Devin Williams has eight points and four rebounds in 10 minutes, production like WVU hasn’t seen from him in a while. … Juwan Staten has eight points, but Eron Harris has taken only three shots so far. He’ll need to shake his defender and become more involved.
IOWA STATE 28, WEST VIRGINIA 14 (7:35 first half)
The Cyclones are on an 11-0 spurt that is part of a larger 24-5 run. In the middle of all that, Gary Browne went up for a log rebound near the foul line, appeared to be undercut by Iowa State’s Long and fell to the court, where he was whistled for traveling. Huggins wasn’t his most animated but he said something that didn’t sit well with longtime official Mike Stuart, resulting in a technical. The Mountaineers have one basket in the past five minutes.
IOWA STATE 17, WEST VIRGINIA 14 (10:50 first half)
With Niang and Naz Long hitting wide-open 3s, the Cyclones went on a 13-2 run, prompting Huggins to take a 30-second timeout. Out of the break, Nate Adrian found himself left open at the top of the key and hit a 3 to stop the run, momentarily.
WEST VIRGINIA 6, IOWA STATE 2 (15:34 first half)
The Cyclones have started 1-of-7 from the floor and Fred Hoiberg went half-Boeheim after a ticky-tack foul call against Niang as Dibo backed him down. No technicals yet, but The Mayor was pushing the bounds there. The crowd seems a bit oversensitive as well, no doubt remembering how the first meeting turned chippy at the end.
Fred Hoiberg gets sentimental about Melvin Ejim, one of the first recruits he signed upon taking the Iowa State job four years ago. So how has Ejim transformed himself from a so-called “glue guy” to a Big 12 player of the year candidate? “The biggest improvement he’s made is with his perimeter skills—not only with his shooting but with his playmaking ability and his ball-handling,” Hoiberg said. “He has really become a go-to guy for us, where last year he really just played off guys.”
Bob Huggins called Cyclones forward Georges Niang the most skilled big man in the conference—not the best mind you, but the most skilled. “He’s got what they call an old-man’s game,” Huggins said, meaning it as a compliment. “It’s like the kind of game you see in a 35-and-over league.”
West Virginia will be without guard Terry Henderson for the second straight game, the effects of a lingering illness. That means West Virginia’s starting five includes Remi Dibo and Nathan Adrian, perhaps the most defensively-challenged lineup Huggins has EVER put on the floor.