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Mountaineers Survive Iowa State in Big 12 Opener

MORGANTOWN, W. Va. – (December 18, 2020) — The No. 8-ranked West Virginia basketball team opened up Big 12 conference play against Iowa State surviving, 70-65.

The Mountaineers (7-1, 1-0 Big 12) struggled the majority of the game against the Cyclones (1-4, 0-2 Big 12) until the last four minutes of game time.

WVU coach Bob Huggins talked about the adjustments that were made in the final minutes of Friday night’s game.

“Survival,” Huggins said. “We switched more at those last three or four possessions, we switched on every ball-screen. This has been a habitual problem. If you go back and look at points-in-the-paint, it’s been habitual from South Dakota on.”

At one point West Virginia was trailing by nine in the second half, but behind Oscar Tshiebwe and Deuce McBride, got back into the game.

Mountaineers took the lead with 51 seconds left off of a Taz Sherman layup after trailing since the beginning of the second half.

Rasir Bolton of Iowa State then hit two free throws to retake the lead. Bolton finished with 25 points against WVU.

From there, West Virginia went on a 6-0 run in the final 20 seconds to steal the game. Iowa State turned the ball over twice in that span. Sherman defected an in-bound pass off of Tyler Harris to give WVU the ball back.

A trio of free-throws from McBride, Sherman and Emmitt Matthews sealed the game for the Mountaineers.

Derek Culver recorded 18 points and 12 rebounds on 70% shooting. This marks the fifth game of the season that Culver has recorded a double-double.

McBride also finished with 18 points on 5-of-14 shooting. The sophomore guard also had three steals on Friday night.

In just 21 minutes of play, Tshiebwe scored 12 points on 4-of-5 shooting from both the field and the charity strike.

Culver and Sherman after the game noted that the team knows that they are playing down to their opponents this year and they have no idea why.

“We are a victim of playing down to our competition a lot,” Culver said. “I don’t understand why we do that.”

“I’m guilty too,” Culver added.

“We don’t want to be in a dog fight every game because things happen, somebody could hit a lucky three and now you lose,” Sherman explained. “We just have to continue to work on not playing down to our competition, but just being us no matter who we play.”

West Virginia will take on the No. 5-ranked Kansas Jayhawks on Tuesday as they look to give coach Huggins his first win in the Allen Fieldhouse. Coverage will be on ESPN2 starting at 9 p.m.

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