Three takeaways from West Virginia’s 93-68 loss against No. 20 Iowa State in Ames on Wednesday night, a defeat that dropped the Mountaineers to 1-7 in Big 12 and 9-12 overall:
1. Defensive deficiencies
West Virginia allows the most points in the Big 12 (75.3 per game) and possesses the leakiest field-goal percentage defense (44 percent). Iowa State missed several open 3s yet shot better than 54 percent overall by driving to the rim seemingly at will.
“We gave up so many straight-line drives, which is a no-no,” said Mountaineers coach Bob Huggins.
No defender could stay in front of Cyclones guard Lindell Wigginton, who scored on five layups and produced a season-high 28 points.
Huggins lamented how his defenders kept “turning people loose to the middle of the floor” and failed to push ballhandlers toward help.
“Nobody harps on that more than we do in practice,” he said. “They don’t do what they’re taught.”
2. Massive free-throw differential
Iowa State solidified its status as the Big 12’s most accurate foul-shooting team, making 29-of-33. That was the most made free throws by the Cyclones since Dec. 15, 2012, when they hit 30 against Drake.
Nick Weiler-Babb sank 7-of-7 and Wigginton went 13-of-16, singlehandedly outscoring West Virginia at the line (8-of-13).
Coincidentally, WVU entered the night having attempted the most free throws in the conference (500), while Iowa State had shot the fewest (325).
This wasn’t so egregious as the 35-2 free-throw margin at Kansas last season, yet it ended the same for Huggins on a late-game ejection.
“It’s a hard, hard game to officiate and I understand that,” he said. “But I also understand that what’s called on one end needs to be called on the other end. I just ask that it’s equal.”
3. Not much to build on
Aside from Lamont West’s 3-point bombs fueling a 24-point night, and a brief spark provided by Emmitt Matthews, you’d have to dig deep to find any optimism from the latest beatdown.
In the midst of a five-game stretch against probable NCAA-tournament teams, WVU has lost by 31 points at TCU, by 12 to Baylor, by 17 at Tennessee, and then by 25 Wednesday night.
“I detest losing, so I have a hard time looking at any positives,” Huggins said. “We can say Jordan (McCabe) gave us good minutes but he also threw the ball to them when it’s a 12-point game and we’re making a run. You can say Lamont made some shots but so did his man.”
WVU was plagued by 19 turnovers, the seventh time this season they reached that benchmark of csarelessness. For the 13th time this season, West Virginia committed more turnovers than it forced.
After surpassing the 1,000-point threshold on the game’s opening possession, senior Esa Ahmad fouled out for the second time in his college career. (At least there’s this quirky stat: He finished 21-of-34 shooting in his four trips to Hilton Coliseum.)
At least Cyclones guard Nick Weiler-Babb was gracious after his 14-point, six-rebound effort:
“West Virginia’s not playing great right now, but they’re still a great team. Their record doesn’t give them any justice. Everybody in the league, 1 through 10, is a good team.”