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West Virginia survives scare from Iowa State in Big 12 opener

It wasn’t pretty in the slightest, but a win is a win.

NCAA Basketball: Oklahoma State at West Virginia Ben Queen-USA TODAY Sports

The West Virginia Mountaineers found themselves in an unexpected battle with the Iowa State Cyclones (1-4, 0-2 Big 12) Friday night, ultimately coming out ahead in a 70-65 victory to move to 7-1 (1-0 Big 12) on the season.

West Virginia started the game strong, building a seven point lead with 11:36 left in the first half, but Clones guard Rasir Bolton would narrow the margin two minutes later via a made three on a 5-0 run from Iowa State.

That three set the tone for the rest of the half, as the Mountaineers and Cyclones traded blows and the lead six times in the closing eight minutes. Bolton closed the half with a layup, giving Iowa State a one point advantage at the half.

The Mountaineers took the lead back in the opening minute of the second half, forcing a quick timeout from Cyclones head coach Steve Prohm. Iowa State answered by going on a 12-0 run, taking a nine point lead at the 16:00 mark of the second half.

West Virginia would go on a pair of runs of their own, eventually tying the game back up at 51-51 with nine minutes remaining. The two teams fell back into the back-and-forth battle we saw in the first half, with neither team being able to pull ahead enough to put the game on ice.

A pair of free throws from Bolton put Iowa State up, 65-64, with 35 seconds remaining, but the scrappy Mountaineers responded.

In what was arguably one of the only bright spots of the game — after a pair of free throws from Miles McBride up by one — Taz Sherman dived in front of the ensuing inbounds pass, forcing a turnover off of Iowa State’s Tyler Harris.

The Mountaineers shot 4-of-6 on free throws to close out the game.

McBride and Culver led West Virginia with 18 points each, with Culver adding 12 rebounds for his fifth double-double in eight games. Oscar Tshiebwe finished with 12 points, five boards. Sherman finished with 10 points off the bench, and Emmitt Matthews Jr. chipped in 9 points.

The Mountaineers will hit the road on Tuesday, when they’ll take on the No. 5 ranked Kansas Jayhawks (7-1, 1-0 Big 12) in Lawrence. That game tips off at 9PM ET and will be broadcast on ESPN2.