West Virginia struggles to make shots from the perimeter, which places a heavy load on its defense, its depth and its potent post attack.
Those aspects will be at the forefront again when the No. 13 Mountaineers host Iowa State on Wednesday in another key Big 12 Conference game in Morgantown, W.Va.
The Mountaineers (17-4, 5-3 Big 12) showed their inside prowess on Saturday in a 66-57 home win over Kansas State that avenged an earlier loss to the Wildcats. Meanwhile, Iowa State (9-12, 2-6) heads back on the road after a 72-68 loss at Texas on Saturday that was the Cyclones’ third straight setback and eighth in their past 10 games.
There have been plenty of times this year that the Mountaineers have overwhelmed opponents with their depth and toughness, especially in the paint, and they used that formula to push past Iowa State. Forward Derek Culver paced West Virginia with 19 points and 14 rebounds.
It was Culver’s 15th double-double in points and rebounds and his 26th double-figure rebounding effort in 47 career games in his two seasons as a Mountaineer.
“The big fella had a pretty good game,” West Virginia coach Bob Huggins said of the sophomore.
West Virginia once again struggled to hit its open shots, going 6 of 19 from 3-point range and 21 of 50 overall from the floor (42 percent). Besides Culver, the other 11 who played for the Mountaineers on Saturday went a combined 13 of 35 (37.1 percent).
“For whatever reason, we’re just not making any shots,” Huggins said. “The problem is you don’t make a perimeter shot and now you’ve got to throw it to the bigs to have any chance at all to win the game. We just keep chucking up perimeter shots that are just not going in, and I tried everybody.”
Iowa State led by a point at the half at Texas and by as many as eight on Tyrese Haliburton’s jumper with 12:45 to play.
However, the Cyclones allowed a late 11-0 Texas run and surrendered the lead with 1:06 to play. Iowa State ultimately was doomed by two Rasir Bolton missed layups in the final minute and a late turnover that prevented a shot to tie or win the game.
One of Iowa State coach Steve Prohm’s biggest points of emphasis for his team, win or lose, has been a lack of composure and execution during either brief or extended runs by the Cyclones’ opponents. Iowa State remains winless (0-6) on the road this season.
“We’ve had a couple gut punches this year,” Prohm said. “We just have to figure out how to fight through it. Obviously, that’s really disappointing for our team and our guys. We put ourselves in great position to win a game, and in the last minute and a half, it all flipped.”
Haliburton and Bolton scored 14 points each to lead the Cyclones vs. the Longhorns, and Solomon Young added 13 points.
“We were right there,” Haliburton said. “Especially in Big 12, it’s the last minute or two minutes.”
–Field Level Media