AMES, Iowa — The trajectory of the Mountaineers’ lost night in the American Heartland—falling behind early, playing catch-up in the middle and ultimately stumbling to a not-that-close finish—exemplified their entire season.

From an uninspiring performance in the nonleague schedule, West Virginia swiftly resurrected its NCAA tournament hopes in mid-February. But after Wednesday night’s latest disappointment, a third straight double-digit loss, the Mountaineers are not close.

BOXSCORE: Iowa State 83, West Virginia 66

Iowa State all but squashed WVU’s at-large chances, pulling away for an 83-66 win that was equal parts retaliatory and remarkable. Sure, we anticipated the Cyclones bouncing back from a 25-point beatdown in Morgantown, but who foresaw that happening with Big 12 leading scorer Melvin Ejim sitting out the final 17 minutes?

Ejim, after picking up his third foul while backpedaling against Remi Dibo just 2:47 into the second half, barked at the call and received a technical that saddled him with a fourth foul. Off to the bench he went for good, penance for a mistake his coach Fred Hoiberg described as “out of character.”

Down 46-35, this was, essentially, West Virginia’s window to rally. Yes, Terry Henderson was ill and absent from the lineup, but Ejim unwittingly had equalized the matchup with his gaffe. Opportunity abounded. This could have been WVU’s bail-out.

Instead, the game became a blowout.

Never were WVU’s defensive deficiencies more apparent than when Iowa State made 63 percent of its shots (14-of-22) after Ejim exited. Naz Long, the latest unheralded role player to exploit West Virginia, made three of his five 3-pointers during that stretch and Georges Niang finished off his 24-point night.

“If we could guard teams, we could tough some of these games out,” said point guard Juwan Staten. “You can talk about the arenas we’re playing in, us not making shots, getting out-rebounded, being young … but the main thing is we’re not playing defense.”

Long went 5-of-7 from deep and finished with 15 points—only his second double-digit performance in 35 career Big 12 games.

“You give D-I players wide-open shots and they’re going to start knocking them down,” said Staten, who twice peeled out of the lane and charged at Long too late. “The guys we want to shoot the ball are shooting it, but the problem is when they’re shooting it, they’re wide open.”

MORE: Huggins discusses technical

Much of the Cyclones’ offense was facilitated by freshman point guard Monte Morris—he of the 12 assists and zero turnovers. And there were pivotal plays aplenty from Niang, whose floor-bound moves were astonishingly difficult to defend one-on-one and whose passing skills carved up double-teams.

“We did a horrible job on Niang,” said Bob Huggins. “Niang’s so good because he really can pass the ball. You can’t run and double him because he’s going to find open people. We ran over to help on him a couple times and they made open 3s.”

West Virginia (15-13, 7-8), just two weeks removed from being the topic of Joe Lunardi’s bubble talk, has backslid precipitously. From the “last four in” the NCAAs to perhaps the last four into its own league tourney. At this point, WVU might not be able to stave off Baylor and Oklahoma State for the last of the six first-round byes.

Yet such is the neighborhood where flummoxed, inconsistent teams reside—particularly in the unforgiving Big 12. Scarce electricity remains from the midseason jolt the Mountaineers generated, and they wear the look of a team that belongs closer to the bottom of the standings than the top.


bubble graphic

84

bubble graphic

Comments

  • David Kennedy

    I'm ready for a good N I T run... Heat it up...

  • John S. Shackeford

    It took one play against Iowa State to know WVU's BB team has learned little or nothing about defense this season When Niang shot a foul shot on a one and one and missed, no one blocked out the foul shooter from the rebound and he scored a layup. Come on. This is stuff 5th graders learn and execute in a game. I don't know if they are not trying or thinking or both. They are very disorganized and that is not a trait of a Huggin's team. They can't play the post on either end of the court due to lack of personnel. I understand that. But to not block out a foul shooter; that's downright depressing. Sounds as if their minds are on Pluto during a game.

  • keatonscorner

    i follow every little detail and information about wvu; i know everything about wvu; i am the authority on wvu; when i comment, people listen because i am god when it comes to wvu; so listen up, waa waa waa, what happened to my wvu

  • peleliu

    Thanks Ollie for all the right choices.

  • eddie blatt

    Mountaineers show a lot of hustle and have improved exponentially this season offensively.
    They just need a big-man to go with Williams to stop all the easy underneath 5ft. and in shots.
    Don't count them out the remainder of the season and in the Big 12 tournament could surprise.

  • Mister Man

    Aight den.

  • Mister Man

    Two or three hours of travel shouldn't be a factor. Smaller schools spend more time on buses.

  • pghmountaineer

    Oh well, we'll get em next year.
    Bring on Spring ball.

  • Low Rider

    From last 4 in the NCAA's to last 4 in the NIT…If we get in? WVU absolutely has to beat TCU and win 1 in the Big 12 Tourney to even squeak into the NIT. It will be a major disappointment if we can't do that, but quite frankly, I put nothing past this team. The bottom line is…if you can't play defense, you can't win!

  • Barry

    Aaron,

    I remember when I first noticed your comments on this site and, although I disagreed, they were well thought out and coherent. Now, it appears, you have degraded your comments to a level that is all to common on this site. Attack those who disagree with your views. Call them Marshall Trolls, say that they are on welfare and let us not forget the well used “Mommas basement”. It is a common tactic to insult your opponent in a debate and not discuss the issues, especially when the debate is being lost.

    It is funny, at times you come across as conceited and condescending. You accuse others as having obsessions, but I have seen you post as much as seven comments in a row with no replies. Maybe you too have an obsession.

    I don’t mean to insult you. I just think that we are all frustrated WVU basketball fans and this is a good outlet. Just try to not let it get to you.

    • Aaron

      My frustration Barry doesn't come from the WVU basketball team, it comes from the legions of individuals who clearly hate West Virginia University and the tactics they take in their post.

      Why do you defend them? Does your hatred of WVU run so deep that you would actually side with those who post the trash they do?

      I'd love an honest debate but I've yet to see anyone with the hatred that you guys have remain intelligent for more than 3 post. Even you, who attempted to carry on a debate about recruiting, within a day, delved right back into the same old trash.

      So why do you and your fellow WVU haters even come to this site?

      • William

        When you can't answer the criticism,
        YOU ATTACK THE CRITIC!

        • Aaron

          What is the basis of your criticism? Surely as one who post during games "I'm loving this" multiple times, you are not a fan of WVU? So why do you watch them play?

      • Aaron

        I will apologize as I don't believe you are not quite as bad as the individual who post as Mad Hatter/William and then hijacks other known monikers but I honestly don't understand why you don't call them out on their ignorance. Worse, far too often, you go along with them.

        You say your a WVU fan but I'm sorry, your post do not support that comment thus I just don't see it.

        • Barry

          I don't know if you have noticed, but I agree with your comments from time to time. Where we (and others)disagree is on the subject of Bob Huggins. I do not like the man for various reasons that I have expressed in the past. Meanwhile I do love WVU athletics, but anytime I say something negative about him, I am labeled a Marshall Troll, live in my Mommas basement, ect.

          Why don't you call out people like GoEers, or Steve and others like them?

          Lastly, people like William do not comment back. People like GoEers won't debate. He will just go on a rant, call you a Marshall Troll and accuse you of getting made if you reply. It is like talking to a teenager. Very immature. You on the other hand are coherent and that is why I direct some of my comments toward you. I may not agree with you, but at least your comments make sense and we have dialogue. I just hate to see you stoop to the level of other posters on this site.

          • Aaron

            Also, I can't help but not that while you post on a story that's 3 days old, I haven't seen you on any of the stories that follow yesterday's win.

            Why is that Barry?

          • Aaron

            Paid? And for all I know Barry is the reasonable personal of Mad Hatter, William, wvrefugee and others.

            You know nothing of Huggins but what you see during a game which means you're ignorant of the facts.

            Until you educate yourself, everything you say is biased.

          • Barry

            All I have to go by is this:

            I have personally seen him scream and cuss at players.
            I have personally seen him throw players under the bus after games.

            Until he stops these actions I will not be a fan or support him in any way.

            I am sorry that I do not just take the word of others. For all I know you are paid to post these things. You certainly spend alot of time on this site.

            All I know is what I have seen with my own eyes and I do not like it. All the excuses in the world for his bad behavior do not take away from the fact that he is clearly a bully. Five transfers in one year tell me there are other problems in Morgantown.

          • Aaron

            You're entitled to you opinion but to be fair, it clouds your judgement and as a result, many of your comments.

            I do wonder, have you ever had contact with any of his current or former players?

            When he was hired, my only impressions were through the news and I did not support the hire. I thought he would come to Morgantown, bring in a bunch of thugs that didn't graduate and not graduate kids.

            Three things happened to reverse my thinking. First, I personally know a player he recruited and as a result, I gained some inside insight to not only the coach but the program and the way he runs it.

            This occurred about the same time I was transferred to Cincinnati where I got to know a couple of UC supporters.

            Finally, I've gotten to know a few supporters who have insight to the program at WVU.

            As a result, my opinion is that what you say is inaccurate and based on emotion.

            I agree that Coach Huggins is as demanding as they come and many have difficulty in dealing with him but he is brutally honest with his players and is not afraid to tell them where they are lacking.

            You saw Pepper in games but you have no clue as to how he practiced or how he interacted with Huggins off the court. If you did, you might be surprised.

            As to his language, I chalk it up to the cusses like a sailor mentality as it's common in college basketball. If I had a dollar for every coach I've seen tell an official their call was "BS" we could all go to Tailpipes and enjoy a burger and shake.

            As to his treatment of officials, I honestly don't see it being any worse than many of the so called "respected" coaches in college basketball. You say you don't care about other coaches but in all honestly, how is his conduct worse than other coaches and why should he be held to a different standard?

            As to him being a drunk, what proof of that do you have?

          • Barry

            In short. I do not like how he treats the players or how he represents the state of West Virginia.

            You should show this to your son and see if he still thinks that I am crazy.

          • Barry

            When Huggins first came to WVU I was a big supporter. I stopped liking him when Peppers was a player here. I remember really liking Pepper and thought that he had a lot of potential. It seemed like Huggins would put him in the game and when Pepper would make one little mistake Huggins would yank him out and yell at him. Then, Pepper wouldn’t get back in the game. I remember when Pepper practically won an NCAA Tournament game and Huggins, when asked about it after the game, acted like it was no big deal. This reminds me of what Huggins is doing with Watkins who also has a lot of potential.

            Now I know that it was reported that Pepper left because his dad got sick, but I still didn’t like the way that he and other players at WVU have been treated. I don’t like the fact that Huggins puts the players down in Post Game Press Conferences. I fail to see any positives that can come from this behavior. Also, he is a bully. He is a bully to the referees, the reporters, and most of all the players. He is foul mouthed during games, and from all accounts a drunk.

            I believe that Huggins knows more about coaching and the game of basketball than all who post on this site put together and I know that he has a lot of wins. But, there are more important things in life than winning. These things might not bother you, but they bother me a lot. And just because I do not like Bob Huggins does not mean that I am not a WVU fan. I love this state more than most. I love living here and am honored to be neighbors to others who call this state home. I believe that WVU represents West Virginia on a national level and I believe this state deserves to be represented with class and dignity and Huggins is not getting it done.

          • Aaron

            You are 100% correct, about my responding to the ignorance of others. It's immature and beneath me and I will not respond to any of them in the future.

            I get that you don't like Coach Huggins but to be honest the only reasons I've seen you list is his demeanor on the court. Is that the only reason you dislike him with the intensity you do?

  • CaptainQ

    At this point, barring the Mountaineers miraculously winning the Big 12 Tournament, WVU's Men's team is NOT going to the Big Dance, period! Their bubble got EXPLODED by Iowa State.

    Right now, the Mountaineers need to focus on getting a winning record so they can be selected for the NIT. The team needs to win one more game out of the three remaining to have a winning Regular Season record, so that needs to be the next goal. Their best chance is against TCU Saturday, so they better not miss it. It's better to get into the NIT than miss the postseason altogether, like WVU did last season.

  • jay zoom

    (truthteller) maybe you should be on the bench with huggie then you two can cry together don't forget to bring the tissues. a comment was made that they are tired from all the travel. thank OLLIE for that. but teams have to travel here as well as we travel there. and most of them don't look tired when they get here. suncrest middle school wants a shot at them - WVU will only have to travel across the street .

  • Mark

    Worst half-court and transition defense I've seen at WVU. I have never seen a team give up so many layups in the half-court defense.

  • GoEers

    This was a great moral victory for the WVU Mountaineers playing in a hostile environment against a very good team. I thought Bob Huggins did an outstanding job coaching this team who was without starter Terry Henderson. The guys played with a lot of heart and are to be commended.
    I thought that the difference was the excellent play of former Marshall Player DeAndre Kane…Big 12 player of the year candidate. Kane played three years for the Marshall Thundering Herd before transferring his senior year. Had he stayed at Marshall, there is no question they would have been a force and probably would have defeated WVU in Charleston. Also keep in mind Marshall was without their leading scorer in that game and if you add Kane…it would surely have been a Marshall Victory. Just sayin.

    Kane’s defensive play was outstanding and his offensive presence was intimidating. Kane finished the game with 17 points, 11 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 blocks and 2 takeaways in a short limited playing time. Yes Marshall had a great player in Kane for 3 seasons. It’s too bad he never stayed for his final year of eligibility.

    My sources are telling me that our next home game with Texas Tech could be a potential sell out so be sure and purchase your tickets early for the best seating.

    • Aaron

      Here's a perfect example Barry. Clearly this is not the gentleman who post as GoEers. Everyone who reads these comments know exactly who it is that's hijacked another posters moniker yet I don't see you saying anything regarding this, for lack of a better word, classless garbage.

      Yet if I read over 5 WVU men's basketball stories, I could find numerous occasions where you agree with this individual. Why?

      • Barry

        First of all, I would not call GoEers a gentleman. The comments that he posts are just name calling and filth. That being said I agree that I should not encourage the hijacking.

        Second, at times I do agree with what this person posts, so, therefore, I agree. Just as in the past I have agreed with you.

    • Barry

      GoEers,

      You are so much more pleasant today. I guess you got over that Marshall Troll obsession? Glad to see it.

    • KeatonsCorner

      I have to Concur. Kane was definitely the difference maker last night. Its too bad he never played his last season with the Thundering Herd.

      One more thing, I think our next game is with TCU not Texas Tech.

      And yes, I am the real and original "KeatonsCorner"

      • GoEers

        Keaton I would hope that you did not think that I (the real GoEers) posted that comment. That obviously was Larry Jeffords. He is using my screenname (just as he has done with yours) to post stupid comments.

        I know who WVU plays next as well as the 2 games after that and I am certainly not into moral victories. I thoroughly expect WVU to be competitive in every game regardless of the circumstances.

        Don't let Larry Jeffords confuse you by hijacking my screenname. Metronews should not allow duplicate screennames.

  • Charleston

    Hats off to the victor, but this was by no means the "slaughter" that most people expected. Again, the Hilton Arena is an extremely tough venue. I believe there two-year record is 29-2 (now 30-2) with the two sole losses against KU. Despite the loss, I was proud of how the team played given our shortcomings (ie. lack of frontcourt defense) and the loss of Terry Henderson. Let's goooo Mountaineers!