Coming off an impressive win at Ole Miss on Saturday, Iowa State now returns to Big 12 play to take on West Virginia, who has endured their more than fair share of struggles this season. Let’s take a look at what the Mountaineers have to offer on Wednesday night.
Last Time Out
The Big 12/SEC challenge was once again upon us, and Iowa State went on the road and got a big-time top-25 win over Ole Miss 87-73. The Cyclones shot an impressive 69% from the field and even at one point making 13 straight field goals in the second half. Talen Horton-Tucker continued to find his footing leading the way for Iowa State scoring 23 points and 8 rebounds on the afternoon. Marial Shayok added in 17 of his own. Though this does not help Iowa State’s quest in the Big 12 Conference, there’s never a bad time to get this type of win to help bolster the seedings in the NCAA Tournament.
About West Virginia
This is not your typical West Virginia team that we will see tonight. The Mountaineers are in a bit of a rebuilding year and without one of their best players, Sagaba Konate. Things have been particularly tough. Though, per usual this isn’t a team Iowa State can afford to overlook. As any Bob Huggins coached team, they are liable to beat anyone on any given night.
The Mountaineers will look to rebound after back-to-back losses, and defeats in 7 of their last 8 games following an 83-66 loss to Tennessee in their matchup in the SEC/Big 12 challenge. As a team, West Virginia is averaging 74 points per game on 42% shooting from the field, 32% from behind the arc and 68% from the foul line this season. The defense for the Mountaineers has taken a bit of a step back in comparison to years past. As they sit right now according to KenPom, West Virginia is the 143rd adjusted defense in the entire country. They also give up 74 points per game, which is tied for 254th in the country.
Opponent Player To Watch
Esa Ahmad is where the focus for Iowa State should be. Ahmad leads West Virginia with an average of 12.5 points and 5.7 rebounds per game. At times Iowa State has shown they can defend the post player well and other times they have gotten the best of the Cyclones. As Ahmad is the leading scorer for West Virginia that is currently playing, Iowa State will have to avoid letting Ahmad get what he wants down low and now that Cameron Lard is healthy, it should be in their favor to throw multiple looks at Ahmad and force the Mountaineers to beat the Cyclones in another way.
What Will Happen
West Virginia rarely gets this kind of underdog tag in comparison to years past. As it sits currently, Iowa State is favored by 13.5 points, which should tell you how disappointing this season has been for the Mountaineers. West Virginia started out with some tough luck, but their last three losses have each come by double-digits, and between these two teams, a lot of results over the years haven’t been that close, with 5 of the last 6 meetings being decided by double-digits. Iowa State dominated Ole Miss on the road, and I think that the Cyclones can carry that over against West Virginia, especially inside Hilton. Iowa State will get plenty of opportunities to attack and get the looks the want from all over the floor. I wouldn’t be surprised if this game is close for almost the entirety of the contest, but I think Iowa State pulls away late and covers.
1-Iowa State gets out-rebounded
2- THT builds on his impressive outing at Ole Miss
3- Another name besides Shayok will appear as the leading scorer for Iowa State
The Matchup: No. 20 Iowa State (15-5, 4-3 Big 12) vs. West Virginia (9-11, 1-6 Big 12)
Where: Ames, Iowa - Hilton Coliseum (14,384)
When: Wednesday, Jan. 30, 6 p.m. (CST)
Radio: Cyclone Radio Network/TuneIn Radio Talent: John Walters (PxP), Brent Blum (Analyst)
TV: ESPNU Talent: Clay Matvick(PxP), Tim Welsh (Analyst)