Iowa State basketball kicked off their Big 12 season by blocking two game-winning attempts by Oklahoma State and edging out a win at home. A better effort will have to take place in the Cyclones’ next two games on the road, where they haven’t had much success defeating ranked teams on the road. First up is arguably the best team in the Big 12, West Virginia.
(17)Iowa State Cyclones vs (14)West Virginia Mountaineers
WVU Coliseum | Morgantown, West Virginia
Saturday, January 10th, 2014 | Tipoff – 7:00 PM CT
TV: ESPN2 | Stream: WatchESPN
When it comes to playing ranked teams on the road, Iowa State (11-2, 1-0) is a whopping 9-117 in their last 126 attempts. They’ll potentially have two straight chances to break into the double digits in the win column (if Baylor can stay in the top 25).
More from Men's Basketball
- Iowa State basketball: Comeback over Iowa receives wrong attention
- Iowa State men’s basketball: Thank you, Fred Hoiberg
- Iowa State basketball: Never doubt Hilton Magic
- Iowa State Basketball: Cyclones gearing up for end of season
- Iowa State basketball: Cyclones destroy Texas Tech in Jameel McKay’s first start
Getting a win in Morgantown is likely one of the toughest places to get a win away from Ames this season considering how good West Virginia (14-1, 2-0) is. Let’s not forget one of Iowa State’s worst defeats in the Fred Hoiberg era last season where the Cyclones were noncompetitive from the start.
However, that blowout at WVU Coliseum is the only strike in both teams’ short history together. Iowa State owns a 3-1 record over West Virginia since the Mounaineers joined the Big 12. They didn’t meet prior to that. WVU coach Bob Huggins does have a winning record against ISU — he went 2-1 against them with Cincinnati and 2-0 with Kansas State.
What to watch for
Also see: Five players to watch
West Virginia has been producing high on the offensive end. They do better on the boards, but Iowa State has the edge in points per game and own the nation’s best assist average.
- Points — ISU: 80.9 / WVU: 78.8
- Assists — ISU: 18.7 / WVU: 15.2
- Rebounds — ISU: 36.5 / WVU: 38.8
- FG% — ISU: 48.9 / WVU: 43.2
Unfortunately, the Cyclones haven’t been living up to their offensive averages in the past two games. The Mountaineers are substantially better on defense, but they’re slightly worse than the competition ISU has faced recently.
Feb 26, 2014; Ames, IA, USA; West Virginia Mountaineers guard Juwan Staten (3) scores between Iowa State Cyclones guard Monte Morris (11) and forward Melvin Ejim (3) in the first half at James H. Hilton Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Reese Strickland-USA TODAY Sports
Field goal percentage will be key in this game. Iowa State must get better looks and shoot higher percentage shots. Georges Niang and Bryce Dejean-Jones need to set a goal to break well into double-digits, or in Niang’s case, at least have better efficiency. He needs to live up to his Big 12 player of the year candidacy.
They also have to hope for West Virginia to shoot around their average or worse. As for Juwan Staten, he averages 16.2 points and four assists per game with a 46.3 effective field goal percentage. The offense runs through him; all Iowa State can do is slow him down as best as they can and don’t let forwards Jonathan Holton and Devin Williams dominate inside.
This should live up to top-17 matchup hype. The audience will get to watch two of the best Big 12 point guards square off (Staten and Monte Morris) and there are two potential conference player of the year candidates (although Niang needs to rebound quickly).
Iowa State will have a much clearer focus this time around in Morgantown. Unless the offense is really struggling more than just facing tougher defenses, expect a close one throughout. I really like Niang and BDJ to show up with a huge game, and the Cyclones have all the potential to win. However, Staten will lead his team to their first big conference win of the year.
West Virginia 76, Iowa State 74