West Virginia played its 34th game Saturday evening, and truth be told, it wasn’t unlike a lot of the ones before it — with one exception. That was the only game the Mountaineers didn’t lead in the second half, which seems minor but also sort of amazing.
When they were good, they were good. When they strayed and didn’t play as hard or as cohesively as they had when they were good, they struggled. There was just enough of the former to neutralize the latter, but even if the margins were smaller, Iowa State played very well, doing what it does and also doing what the Mountaineers do.
Undersized and outscored 34-18 and 40-12 in the paint in two losses to WVU this season, the Cyclones had an 18-14 edge in Saturday’s the first half. They avoided WVU’s pressure defense by outscoring the Mountaineers 11-0 in fast-break points, though WVU certainly helped. All 10 of its first-half turnovers were steals by Iowa State, and many were bad passes or bad decisions by the Mountaineers.
“We turned it over, and you look at the categories that generally we’re very good at — they got 14 second-chance points to our 10. That’s usually in our favor by a bunch,” Huggins said. “Points off turnovers. We got 15, they got 14. We hang our hat on turning people over and rebounding the ball, and we got outrebounded. We’ve got to get more shots. You saw us [for] three days. We don’t shoot the ball very well.”