MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Behind Jaysean Paige’s career-high 34 points and Tarik Phillip’s 22, No. 14 West Virginia’s reserve guards delivered the knockout blows in a 97-87 win over No. 17 Iowa State on Monday.
The Mountaineers (21-7, 10-5) enjoyed a massive 69-10 edge in bench scoring to sweep the home-and-home series from the Cyclones (19-9, 8-7).
“That’s what reinforcements are supposed to do,” Phillip said. “There’s supposed to be no dropoff when the starters come out.”
Paige made only 1-of-6 from 3-point range but carved up the Cyclones by driving the lane and making all nine free throws. Phillip picked up the slack from deep, hitting 6-of-8 on 3s, and dished out six assists.
“When Tarik makes 3-pointers it makes a defense alert and opens the lane for guys like me to finish and get fouled,” said Paige, who scored 23 earlier this month when WVU won in Ames.
Abdel Nader’s 23 points led six players in double figures for Iowa State (19-9, 8-7). But the Cyclones continued to allow more points than any defense in the Big 12.
“If we can just get middle-of-the-pack, just get three more stops a game,” said coach Steve Prohm. “Our offensive numbers are better than last season, but defensively, we’ve got to keep things tighter. And when they miss, we’ve got to get it.”
Iowa State was outrebounded for the 10th straight game, 43-29, allowing West Virginia to grab 18 offensive boards.
The Mountaineers got 13 points and nine rebounds from Devin Williams, while Jonathan Holton grabbed 10 rebounds.
“Williams had six offensive rebounds and Holton had five. That’s just too many,” Prohm said.
All-Big 12 forward Georges Niang scored 14 for the Cyclones but drew a second-half technical for a post-play bump on Phillip and later fouled out. Matt Thomas scored 14, while point guard Monte Morris and Donte Burton added 13 each.
Morris suffered four turnovers after committing only two in five previous games against West Virginia.
“Our traps were better,“ said Mountaineers coach Bob Huggins. “I thought we had more bounce and that our pressure would be better.”
Averaging 13.4 points per game, Paige exploded for 17 early, including eight in 96 seconds before halftime as West Virginia led 49-41.
Despite sinking its first five field-goal attempts and shooting 58 percent in the opening half, Iowa State trailed thanks to the Mountaineers holding a 14-0 edge in points off turnovers.
McKay returns: Iowa State forward Jameel McKay, back in action after being benched against TCU, produced 10 points, five rebounds and two blocks in 20 minutes. “He and I had time to get back on the same page,” Prohm said.
Miles returns: West Virginia G Daxter Miles returned after missing two games (hamstring). He scored three points in 13 minutes, but had three assists and two steals.
Foul mood: Iowa State was whistled for 21 fouls to the home team’s 14, a rare flip of the script for “Press Virginia.”
“We’re the least-fouling team in the country and they’re one of the most aggressive teams in the country, and we’re plus-seven,” Prohm said. “We’ve got to be more disciplined in those situations, I guess.”