MORGANTOWN, W.Va.–Winning in Big 12 play is never easy but on Friday night No. 8 WVU made it harder than it should have been.
Iowa State came into the game as a 15-point underdog. The Cyclones (1-3) seemed to put it all together when they rolled into the Coliseum, giving the Mountaineers everything they had.
Shooting woes plagued the Mountaineers once again. However, WVU struggled from the free throw line on top of that.
“We tried every way to lose this game,” head coach Bob Huggins said.
The Mountaineers made just seven-of-15 from the charity stripe in the first half. After the break, they improved there, sinking 18-of-22. Deuce McBride hit two big foul shots as the game was winding down to give WVU a 66-65 lead.
Then Taz Sherman and Emmitt Matthews Jr. each hit their free throws to help finish off Iowa State.
“Desperation,” Huggins said. “We had to make them to stay in the game. That’s concentration. You stand up there and you know you have to make them.”
The Mountaineers struggled out of the gate but only managed to trail by one at the end of the half. In the second half, the Cyclones came out furiously and went on a 12-0 run to take a 43-34 lead.
WVU refused to go away, which is a positive. The Mountaineers pulled within three, 63-60, with 3:54 remaining. That is when WVU went on a 10-2 run.
The Mountaineers shot 38.2 percent from the floor and 21.4 percent from beyond the arc. WVU took 14 shots from long range and made just three.
Derek Culver says the issue has been the fact the team plays down to their opponents.
“We are a victim of playing down to our competition,” the 6-foot-10 forward said. “We do that a lot and I don’t understand why we do that and I’m guilty of it too. I am probably one of the most guilty ones at it.”
That is an understatement considering how this team performed against Richmond five days earlier.
Culver and McBride led the team in scoring with 18 points apiece.
Rasir Bolton scored a season-high 25 points for Iowa State.
“He drove past us, he shot it over us,” Huggins said. “He made some hard shots.”
Cover Photo Credit: Dale Sparks-WVU Sports