After suffering an embarrassing, 25-point loss in Morgantown, Iowa State managed to flip the script and came away with an 83-66 win Wednesday night in Hilton Coliseum in the fourth edition of Riot Ball.
Many have started to hint at it, but this is really beginning to materialize into a true rivalry. A chippy affair throughout, the Cyclones prevailed in spite of Melvin Ejim's
self-inflicted foul troubles. In Ejim's absence, the scoring slack was picked up by Naz Long and Dustin Hogue, both of whom have struggled to put the ball in the basket in recent weeks.
Long was red-hot from outside, draining 5-7 threes en route to 15 huge points off the bench. Hogue was everywhere and did a little bit of everything, scoring 15 points and pulling down 9 rebounds. Hogue scored underneath, in transition and knocked down a corner three for good measure.
Not to be overshadowed, Georges Niang led the way for Iowa State with 24 points on 9-17 shooting, including 2-5 from deep. His 7 rebounds were a welcome sight and he continues to be an excellent passer, racking up 4 assists. DeAndre Kane had a double-double for the Cyclones, scoring 17 points and grabbing 11 rebounds.
While he may not have had an impact game scoring wise, Monte Morris was brilliant. The freshman point guard bolstered his nation-leading assist-to-turnover ratio with a 12-assist, 0-turnover effort. Morris played superb defense throughout the night as well, shadowing Eron Harris. The end result was a 4-14 shooting night for Harris, who was coming off a 32-point game on Saturday against Baylor.
- I already mentioned Ejim's foul trouble. He clearly let his emotions get the best of him and Iowa State is fortunate to be able to come away with the win with Ejim on the bench most of the second half. I'm in no position to scold Ejim, so I won't, but one has to hope The Mayor has a lengthy conversation with the senior tonight.
- It wasn't exactly a comfortable 17-point win. Iowa State got off to yet another sluggish start, but responded with a 24-5 run, building a 14-point lead in the process. As they've often done, however, Iowa State quickly allowed West Virginia to go on a 10-2 run and just like that, the air was sucked out of the building. In the second half, Iowa State built an 11-point lead, but a foul on Ejim, followed up by a technical foul put the Mountaineers right back in the game.
- In case you hadn't noticed, Iowa State allowed 36 fewer points than they did the last time they took the floor against West Virginia. This was one of the better defensive performances from Iowa State in some time. The Mountaineers only shot 35.8% from the floor, 5-20 from outside and the 66 points were the fewest West Virginia has scored in a month.
- The one bright spot for West Virginia was Juwan Staten. We've talked about how difficult Staten is to guard and he showed it Wednesday night. Everyone knows he's not going to settle for outside shots, but he still manages to blow by defenders and get to the basket. He absolutely deserves to be first-team all conference.
- Offensively, Iowa State was outstanding. The Cyclones shot 50.8% overall and hit 9-20 three-point shots. Iowa State also dished out 22 assists while only turning it over 10 times. If you had to critique anything, well than look no further than that 8-17 performance from the stripe. Niang didn't help matters with his 4-9 night.
- The win moves the Cyclones to 22-5 on the year and 10-5 in conference play. As I'm typing this, Texas is only up 4 in the second half on Baylor. Should the Longhorns lose, Iowa State will sit alone in second place in the Big 12. Maintaining that number two spot will be difficult as the Cyclones travel to Kansas State on Saturday, followed up by a road game against a suddenly resurgent Baylor team and will end the regular season against a dangerous Oklahoma State team.