The Riot Rivaly moves indoors as Iowa State hosts West Virginia on Wednesday evening in what will be the two school's first all-time meeting. Mountaineer coach Bob Huggins is no stranger to Ames though, as he spent a season with Kansas State and came away with two wins against the Cyclones, including a 69-60 win in Ames. Onto the storylines...
Last Loss In Hilton? Hmm, Let Me Think About It
The Cyclones will put a 16-game home winning streak on the line, which includes eight straight conference home wins. The last home setback came over one year ago against Missouri on January 11th, 2012. According to Cyclones.com, the streak is tied for the 10th best current streak in the country and ranks as the fourth best home winning streak in Iowa State history.
Trouble on Staten Island
Though he's been arguably West Virginia's most consistent player, Bob Huggins publicly stated this week that he and point guard Juwan Staten are not seeing eye to eye. Staten, who had started every game, was held out of the second half of an overtime win at Texas and did not play in the Mountaineer's loss to Kansas State. Staten's 10.5 points are second on the team and he dishes out a team leading 2.9 assists. Despite the current spat, Huggins made it known that Staten would travel to Ames with the team on Wednesday night, but declined to say if Staten would play.
Bubu is ba-back
Junior guard Bubu Palo was reinstated to the Cyclone basketball team on Monday after sexual assault charges against him were dropped. The former walk on likely won't crack the line up any time soon and it's unclear whether or not he'll be in uniform against West Virginia, but depending on the shape he's in, he could start to see some minutes in the next week or two.
This Message Brought To You By the DNR
In anticipation of West Virginia's arrival, but more specifically the Mountaineer mascot himself, the DNR wants to remind you that there is an anonymous hotline available to turn in poachers. The information can be found here. A $300 bonus awaits if your tip leads to the arrest of anyone caught poaching black bear. That's right, we're watching you Mountaineer mascot guy. Leave our non-existent black bear population alone!
About West Virginia
Record: 8-7, 1-2
KenPom.com Ranking: 98
CBSSports RPI Ranking: 84
Statistical Leaders: Scoring - F Aaric Murary, 10.6 PPG; Assists - G Juwan Staten, 2.9 ASST; Rebounding - F Aaric Murray, 7.5 REB
In their three Big 12 games, West Virginia is scoring an ugly 59.3 points per game on only 36.1% shooting, which includes a brick-tastic 31% from outside. They have faced three pretty solid defensive teams in Oklahoma, Texas and Kansas State, but let's not sugar coat it here; this isn't a very good offensive basketball team right now. To make matters worse, the Mountaineers aren't exactly making it easy on themselves as they've averaged 13 turnovers per game in Big 12 play to only 10 assists. Be that as it may, they very easily could be 3-0 in league play at this point. They led Oklahoma by 12 in the second half at home before allowing the Sooners to go on a 16-2 run to close the game and grind out a victory. In their loss to Kansas State, they led by one with 21 seconds to play but couldn't close out the Wildcats.
I point that out because while on paper, this looks like a game Iowa State should win comfortably, Bob Huggins is too good of a coach to allow his team to lay down on the road and not get after it. Aside from that, this Mountaineer team might be coming in confident despite the 1-2 record as they feel they should be 3-0. Then again, with the issues surrounding starting point guard Juwan Staten and the two deflating losses, this could be a back-breaker game if Iowa State gets out to a hot start.
If there's one thing West Virginia does well, it's attack the offensive glass. They are currently leading the Big 12 with 14.3 offensive rebounds a game, which is allowing them some much needed second chance opportunities.
By now, you're probably aware that Iowa State is one of the highest scoring teams in the country and is the only team in the nation that has scored at least 70 points in every game. Fred Hoiberg has something of an offensive juggernaut on his hands and with as well as Iowa State has shot the ball from outside (39.1% in two league games), very few teams have the firepower to trade buckets with the Cyclones when they're on.
As I alluded to, I have a tremendous amount of respect for Bob Huggins' coaching chops and there's no way he allows his team to come out flat. Look for Huggins to mix up the defensive looks, but also slow the game down on the offensive end to allow his team to keep the game close and grind.
I think he'll be successful at that for about the first 30 minutes, but I just can't see this Mountaineer team being able to keep Iowa State down for a full game. West Virginia has very good depth and could play as many as ten guys, but West Virginia just has not come together like many expected (myself included) and this is not a good game for them to try and find an identity.
The Hilton streak stays alive as does Iowa State's 70-point streak and the Cyclones put this one away during the last ten minutes of the game and move to 2-1 in conference play.
Iowa State 78 - West Virginia 65
Game Time: 8 PM CST
Radio: Cyclone Radio Network