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Basketball Preview: Hardwood Riot Bowl Part One

Huggy roads, take me home.

NCAA Basketball: Kansas State at West Virginia Ben Queen-USA TODAY Sports

After another losing week, the Cyclones hit the road for a difficult test. This time, it’s a visit to our old friend Bob Huggins for the first round of the Riot Bowl. WVU Coliseum has been a house of horrors for Steve Prohm, as he’s still searching for his first win there as Iowa State’s head coach.

Last Time Out

Steve Prohm made a dramatic change to the starting lineup and rotation against Texas, benching Prentiss Nixon in favor of freshman Tre Jackson. George Conditt also played less than 5 minutes. The Cyclones led throughout and even gave a strong showing from 3. They also outrebounded Texas, but Courtney Ramey hit a couple of big shots at the end to push the Longhorns to a 72-68 win in Austin.

About West Virginia

The Mountaineers went 15-21 last season and would have been completely forgettable if not for a surprise run to the Big 12 Tournament semifinals. They aren’t the “Press Virginia” of the past, but Bob Huggins has brought them back in a big way. They still empty the bench with regularity, and anyone could step up on any given night to lead them. They’ll be physical and crash the boards, which gives Iowa State fits. After being ranked 5th in the preseason conference poll, they currently sit 3rd behind Kansas and Baylor, and are 13th in the AP Poll with a 17-4 record. To no one’s surprise, they’ve been a beast to deal with at home, not yet dropping a game in Morgantown.

Player To Watch

It’s not exactly a surprise, but Bob Huggins’ squad is deep and balanced. 10 players average at least 10 minutes per game. Former McDonald’s All-American and freshman Oscar Tshiebwe is the leading scorer, averaging 11.2 points per game. He also averages 9 rebounds and shoots 60% from the floor. Derek Culver is the other big man who averages 11.0 points and 9.2 rebounds per game. Together, they are the top rebounding duo in the Big 12. Miles McBride and Jermaine Haley are the lead guards. McBride is their best 3 point shooter. Chase Harler is every stereotype of a West Virginia player. He’s a local product with long hair who looks like he moonlights as the mascot.

What Will Happen

Look, Iowa State fans are extremely on edge right now. A road matchup against a Top 25 team isn’t exactly what the doctor ordered. The eternal optimist in me sees us hanging around for awhile as maybe West Virginia looks past the game with a road trip to Oklahoma and Kansas on their home floor next week. The Mountaineers’ strength is the front court, and Iowa State has solid guards. Look for a competitive start, but unfortunately the physicality of West Virginia takes over and builds a sizable lead in the 2nd half, condemning us to another loss.

West Virginia - 82

Iowa State - 66

Pick Three

1- Bob Huggins picks up an early tech.

2- Tre Jackson has a career high in scoring.

3- Iowa State shoots under 30% from 3.

Game Notes

The Matchup: Iowa State (9-12, 2-6 Big 12) at #13 West Virginia (17-4, 5-3 Big 12)

Where: Morgantown, WV - WVU Coliseum (Capacity: 14,000)

When: Wednesday, Feb 5th - 6:00pm (CST)

Radio: Cyclone Radio Network/TuneIn Radio Talent: John Walters (PxP), Eric Heft (Analyst)

TV: ESPNU

Webcast: WatchESPN

The Line: West Virginia -12, O/U 145

Live Stats: Cyclonestats.com