Juwan Staten missed two free throws late, and West Virginia (14-2) couldn't make enough shots on Saturday night to beat a quality Iowa State (12-2) team, falling 74-72 at the WVU Coliseum.
Iowa State started the game on a 14-6 run and held a lead for most of the first half. West Virginia couldn't get anything to fall early, making only 6 of their first 25 shots and only 1 of their first 12 threes. The Cyclones handled Press Virginia in the first 20 minutes better than anyone before them, committing only 7 first half turnovers. Somehow, the game was tied at the break 32-32. Other than Devin Williams dominating the boards (10 at the half) and being Juwan Staten (12 points), nothing really went right for West Virginia. A tie was a success.
A Gary Browe three to start the second half gave West Virginia their first lead since the opening minutes, but Georges Niang banked one in from deep seconds later to even the game again at 35. A Jameel McKay dunk at the 10:38 mark gave Iowa State a 53-45 lead, but West Virgina kept battling, with Jaysean Paige hitting a three to to cap a 10-2 run and tie the game again at 55 with 7:40 to go.
The game continued to be tight until the end, with Juwan Staten missing two free throws with 21 seconds to go and the Mountaineers down 71-68. Jonathan Holton rebounded the second miss, and was inches away from having an and-one opportunity, but his shot just rimmed out. Holton made both free throws, and West Virginia fouled Abdel Nader, who sank both of his as well to give the Cyclones a 73-70 lead with 13 seconds to play. Juwan Staten decided not to go for a three, driving to the basket and missing, with Devin Williams rebounding his shot and being fouled. Williams made both free throws to make the score 73-72, but West Virginia was unable to foul quickly, and the clock had ran down to 1.7 seconds before Naz Long was sent to the line. The Mountaineers had no timeouts left, so after Long missed the second free throw West Virginia's only chance was a full-court heave by Nate Adrian that fell well short to give Iowa State the 74-72 victory.
Simply put, West Virginia didn't make enough shots to win this game. The Mountaineers were only 32.4% from the field and 24.1% from three. Iowa State handled the press fairly well, committing 18 turnovers overall and shooting 50%.
West Virginia was led by Juwan Staten with 23 points, 4 assists, and 2 steals, but the only thing Juwan will remember from this game will be the missed opportunities at the line. Devin Williams added 14 points and 15 rebounds, 6 of them on offense. Jaysean Paige added 10 and Gary Browne scored 9. The Mountaineers got very little from Jonathan Holton tonight. Holton only scored 4 points and was 1-5 from the field.
Iowa State was led by Abdel Nader, who scored 19 off the bench after averaging only 5 PPG before tonight. Georges Niang added 16 points and 5 rebounds, but his impact was way bigger than what the box score indicates. Dustin Hogue was the only other Cyclone in double figures, scoring 11.
- Coach Huggins used the same starting lineup as usual: Staten, Browne, Miles, Holton, Williams.
- Iowa State went with a zone late in the second half that bothered West Virginia. To combat this, Bob Huggins put Chase Conner in the game to spread the floor. Conner went 1-3 from three.
- New athletic director Shane Lyons was introduced at halftime tonight in the Coliseum. Here's video of his introductory press conference from earlier today.
- Interesting stat in this great article by John Gasaway (requires ESPN Insider). Before tonight's game, Jevon Carter had played exactly 100 possessions in West Virginia's first two Big 12 games. In those 100 possessions he had 10 steals. Unreal.
- Georges Niang was the chosen "Bum of the Game" by WVU's student section, but that guy is anything but. He's a great college player.
- I love when Fran Fraschilla calls Mountaineer games. The guy seems to be a big fan of Coach Huggins and the West Virginia program in general. He tweeted this yesterday:
WVU in Top 15 with more guys that you've never heard than any team in the rankings. Whole greater than sum of the parts. That's coaching.— Fran Fraschilla (@franfraschilla) January 9, 2015
- Nice crowd tonight, but our fans really need to work on that "booing EVERY SINGLE CALL against us" thing. Sometimes, yes, the Mountaineers do foul.
Next up for West Virginia is a home contest on Tuesday against the Oklahoma Sooners. OU is 2-1 in conference play, beating Baylor in their conference opener, destroying Texas in Austin 70-49, and then losing 66-63 at home to Kansas State. (This league, man.) The game will tip at 7:00 PM and is scheduled to be televised by ESPNEWS.