On Saturday, the No. 17-ranked West Virginia men’s basketball team took a little step back after the big win over Texas Tech earlier in the week. The Florida Gators rolled into the WVU Coliseum and defeated the Mountaineers late, 85-80.
WVU (11-5, 4-3 Big 12) will have to start to get into a rhythm starting tomorrow night, as they travel to Ames, Iowa, to take on the Iowa State Cyclones.
The Cyclones (2-9, 0-6 Big 12) traveled to Morgantown on Dec. 18 and gave West Virginia a great game. The Mountaineers were down nine points in the second half and came back in the final minute.
If you remember, Taz Sherman made the best defensive play of his career with 20 seconds left. Iowa State was down by one-point after a pair of Deuce McBride free-throws and was in-bounding the ball. Sherman deflected the pass off of ISU’s Tyler Harris and gave the Mountaineers the ball to close the game with more free-throws.
“We were struggling to win. They played very well, they’re hard to guard,” WVU coach Bob Huggins said on Monday. “Steve (Prohm) does a great job, runs great sets. They’ve got a lot of guys that can make shots.”
Since that game in December, the Cyclones have won one game over Jacksonville State (60-45) and have lost every other game since. Iowa State is on a five-game losing streak after playing No. 2 Baylor (76-65), No. 6 Texas (78-72), No. 13 Texas Tech (91-64), Oklahoma State (81-60) and Mississippi State (95-56).
The Cyclones are led by Rasir Bolton and Jalen Coleman-Lands. Both Bolton and Coleman-Lands have been additions to Prohm’s team in recent years. Bolton transferred to ISU in 2019 from Penn State, while Coleman-Lands transferred as a grad transfer this season from DePaul.
Bolton, a junior guard, averages 15.5 points, 5.0 rebounds and 4.3 assists per game. The former Nittany Lion dropped 25 points on the Mountaineers defense in the first matchup. Coleman-Lands averages 12.1 points-per-game on 37% shooting from three.
West Virginia had a roller coaster ride of a week after defeating No. 13 Texas Tech after an amazing second-half comeback led by McBride. Then, Florida came in on Saturday and upset WVU.
Derek Culver was one of the shining spots from the loss on Saturday, scoring 28 points with 12 rebounds.
“Derek and I spent about an hour after practice yesterday (Friday). This game when you break it down is a whole bunch of simple things,” Huggins said. “What makes it hard is that you have to do one simple thing to the next, to the next, to the next in a very rapid succession.”
The No. 17-ranked West Virginia Mountaineers and the Iowa State Cyclones will tipoff in Ames, Iowa, at 7 p.m. Coverage will be on ESPN+.