MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — On his way to speak with the media, Jermaine Haley stopped and swished a hook shot from just inside half-court.
“Did you see that?” he said.
The Mountaineers may need all the trick shots they can muster when they host the Big 12’s highest-scoring team, Iowa State (20-9, 9-7), on Wednesday night.
“They’re really good offensively,” WVU coach Bob Huggins. “They’ve got eight or 10 guys who can really score the ball. They’re great in transition. I think they’re as talented as anyone in our league.”
Iowa State’s offensive talent leads to 78 points per game and more runs than Usain Bolt.
“They are by far one of the most talented teams we’ve played so far,” said Haley, the junior guard who has scored 54 points over his last three games. “It’s a mental thing in getting ready for them. You have to know who to close out hard on and things like that.”
Stopping runs has not been a strong point for the defensively-challenged Mountaineers (11-18, 3-13), who are coming off a 92-80 road loss against Oklahoma, in which the Sooners closed out the first half on a 13-1 run.
Iowa State used an 18-6 end-of-half surge during its 93-68 win against West Virginia on Jan. 30.
That momentum carried into second-half frustration for West Virginia, which saw Esa Ahmad foul out and Huggins ejected.
Much has changed for the roster since that setback. The dismissals of Ahmad and forward Wes Harris make the Mountaineers a much younger team with three juniors, one sophomore and five freshmen on scholarship.
West Virginia’s senior night will only exist to honor some student managers.
“In the moment, when we talk as a group on the floor, we know what’s causing the runs,” Haley said. “Turnovers are a big part. We tell each other to take care of the ball. We try not to get down on each other. We know we have limited guys right now, so we have to be connected and really strong as a group.”
Iowa State point guard Nick Weiler-Babb bruised his knee in last week’s loss against Texas and may sit out in Morgantown.
“It may be a game-time decision,” Prohm said. “We’ll probably play it safe with him if we have to, just because we have a lot more basketball to play than just Wednesday night.”
Weiler-Babb’s replacement likely would be sophomore Lindell Wigginton, who scored a season-high 28 points off the bench in the first meeting against WVU.