The Times West Virginian

Bob Herzel

February 11, 2014

WVU  bullies No. 11 Iowa State

MORGANTOWN — Iowa State’s star, Melvin Ejim, rode into West Virginia’s Coliseum on the wave of a Big 12 record-setting 48-point performance against TCU on Saturday afternoon, and when he sank the game’s first shot, you could almost feel everyone on the Cyclone bench thinking, “Here we go again!”

Well, 40 minutes of basketball later, that was still the only basket Ejim, the Big 12’s leading scorer with a 19.8 average, had scored in the game, WVU having held him to six points, 42 fewer than in his last game, as the Mountaineers upset the No. 11 Cyclones, 102-77, before 8,177 rollicking fans.

And when asked after the game how his team managed to hold Ejim to just one basket, West Virginia coach Bob Huggins jokingly replied, “You mean we let him make one?”

Instead it was West Virginia’s own candidate for Big 12 Player of the Year, Juwan Staten, who had the fans chanting “MVP! MVP!”, who stole the show with 19 points, seven rebounds and nine assists while junior guard Remi Dibo recorded his first 20-point game while hitting 6-of-8 3s as the Mountaineers won their fifth game in their last seven.

Two of the last three have been against nationally ranked teams, Oklahoma and Iowa State, with a loss to Kansas sandwiched between the two, lifting WVU’s record to 15-10, 7-5 in the Big 12.

The Cyclones fell to 18-5, 6-5 in the league.

In addition to Staten and Dibo, sophomore guard Terry Henderson arose from a dismal effort at Kansas in which he took only 3 shots scoring two points on free throws, igniting WVU early with a dunk and three 3s in the first 4:30 of the game.

“I knew I had to respond,” Henderson said. “I knew I could play better than I played at Kansas. I just trusted the ability God gave me.”

Henderson scored 13 in the first half and finished with 16.

“From start to finish it was a poor effort on our end,” said Iowa State coach Fred Hoiberg. “We let them come and get way too comfortable. We were not able to come out and challenge WVU’s shooters.”

WVU early in the game opted to go to a matchup zone and it seemed to completely befuddle Iowa State, which was having trouble having anything fall. Normally a good 3-point shooting team and possessing a league leading 194 3s entering the game, Iowa State made only 4-of-23.

“They didn’t know what we were running defensively because we didn’t know,” said Staten, not really joking.

“I told the guys at the half that they were confused because we didn’t know what we were doing in the matchup … but we did it pretty good,” Huggins said.

West Virginia led 52-33 at the half but Iowa State at one point cut the advantage to 15 and seemed to have something going.

“We challenged our guys to come out and play well in the second half,” Hoiberg said. “The start of the period went fine, but then we began to make the same mistakes. We allowed West Virginia to get comfortable.

“You have to give them credit. West Virginia played an excellent game by spacing and exposing us. We will go back home and have a long film session. Unfortunately, tomorrow we have to take off with the NCAA rules, but on Wednesday we’ll get back at it.”

WVU, too, takes Tuesday off but they won’t be traveling and will enjoy it far more.

Everyone got into the act. Nate Adrian had what Huggins called “his best game,” scoring nine points, grabbing five rebounds and making three steals before fouling out, and Kevin Noreen scored eight points off the bench.

It was Gary Browne’s two free throws that took them to 100 points and the 102 were the most they scored since they scored 110 against Maryland-Eastern Shore on Nov. 27, 2007, Huggins’ first season.

NOTES: Iowa State’s Melvin Ejim, who came into the game off a Big 12 record 48-point performance against TCU, entered the game as the only power conference player averaging at least 18 points, eight rebounds while shooting at least 50 percent from the floor and 35 percent from 3-point range … Iowa State had recorded at least 16 assists in 17 games entering the WVU encounter … The Cyclones have featured balanced scoring with at least four players in double figures in 18 of its first 22 games this year … WVU ranked 9th in fewest turnovers per and 29th in assist-to-turnover ratio nationally entering the game … WVU guard Juwan Staten has had one or fewer turnovers in 17 of 31 games prior to Monday night … Eron Harris entered the Iowa State game ranked second in the Big 12 in 3-point field goals made, third in free throw percentage and fourth in 3-point percentage … Harris, who finished with 16 points, was ejected late in the game for a flagrant foul.

Follow Bob Hertzel on Twitter @bhertzel

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