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WVU vs Iowa State Preview: Riot Ball Home Opener

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The #14 West Virginia Mountaineers open their Big 12 conference home slate against the #17 Iowa State Cyclones Saturday night at 8:00PM ET on ESPN2.

Game Day Vitals

Opponent Information

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Riot Ball, Y'All

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Game Preview

Here it is, folks. Over the next eight days, we are going to find out how good this West Virginia basketball team really is as they face off against three ranked teams in a row: #17 Iowa State, #16 Oklahoma, and #10 Texas in Austin. Before we dive into that, I just want you to stare at this for a while. Drink it in.

The Iowa State Cyclones are legit. While their RPI ranking isn't hugely impressive because of the South Carolina loss, the stats across the board scream at you that Fred Hoiberg is on the hunt for a five seed in March. They are Top 15 in scoring (80.9ppg), Top 20 in shooting percentage (48.9%), and lead the country in assists (18.7.) So, what does that mean specifically? They are super efficient on offense. All five of their starters average in double digits for point production including, our favorite Dolph Ziggler impersonator, Dustin Hogue.

Hogue has started to catch on recently dropping 15 against South Carolina and 17 against Oklahoma State Tuesday night where he usually only gets around ten. This provides ISU another option to go to in situations outside of the two usual suspects: Georges Niang (15.2ppg) and Bryce Dejean-Jones (13.1.) With the Cyclone scoring engine in Hogue, Niang, and Dejean-Jones all being in the 6'6-6'8 range, it's going to be interesting to see if Huggs tries to go with a lineup featuring Nathan Adrian at the 3 with Jonathan Holton and Devin Williams in the back court as he did with the LSU game.

Regardless of the Iowa State size, this game will not be won above the rim. The key will be the composure of the Cyclone back court. Sophomore point guard Monte Morris and junior SG Naz Long must be able to run a quality press breaker for 40 minutes to negate the West Virginia press. If they run can break it for 35 minutes and start throwing turnovers in a bad five minute stretch, it could prove to be the difference in the game especially in a Saturday night powder keg Coliseum.

This one legitimately could go either way. Keep in mind, in their two losses of a neutral site against Maryland and at South Carolina, Iowa State shot 29.7% and 35.1% from the field. #PressVirginia should feed off of the amped home crowd and, if the Cyclones do come across a bad shooting night, it could get ugly.

Prediction: WVU 73, Iowa State 68