Coming off their first loss of the season, the No. 13 Cyclones face another difficult challenge Wednesday against West Virginia (14-2) at Hilton Coliseum.
The Mountaineers are 3-1 in Big 12 play, including a 71-67 win at Oklahoma State. They don't have one person who will beat you, but four players who average double digits; senior center Asya Bussie (13.8), sophomore guard Bria Holmes (13.6), senior guard Taylor Palmer (11.9) and senior guard Christal Caldwell (11.8). They are also very deep with seven players averaging more than 20 minutes a game.
The 6-foot-4 Bussie leads the Mountaineer's in points, rebounds (7.8) and blocks (35) after taking a medical redshirt last year. Prior to her injury she was a first-team All-Big East co-captain. Bussie is the 15th player in West Virginia history to score more than 1,000 points and notch at least 500 rebounds in a career.
Last season, West Virginia and Iowa State split the series, each winning on the other's home court. In Ames, the Mountaineers won, 68-66, mainly by forcing Iowa State into 21 turnovers and scoring 16 points from those second chance opportunities. In that game, Holmes had 18 points and went 4-7 from three.
Hallie Christofferson (6-3) is second in the conference averaging 21 points per contest and in the top 5 in the league in rebounds (7.9). Christofferson will be matched against Bussie, who's third in the league in blocks at just over two per game.
A Mountaineer advantage?
Iowa State and West Virginia couldn't be more similar in almost every statistical category; scoring offense (ISU 79.1 – WV 78.8), scoring defense (ISU 57.7 – WV 59.4), rebounding margin (ISU +9.1 – WV +8.6) and team assist-turnover ratio (ISU 1.15 – WV 1.04).
Where the Mountaineers might hold an edge is on the offensive glass. West Virginia comes into this game the much better offensive rebounding team, averaging 16.69 per game, second in the league.
What to Watch For
Depth and foul trouble. As mentioned, West Virginia is a deep team, having seven players average 20 or more minutes per game, and two more average 15-plus. Only Kidd Blaskowsky sees any substantial minutes off the bench for Iowa State.
Can the Cyclones bounce back from a disappointing loss to the hands of Cowgirls this past Saturday? Iowa State leads the Big 12 in three-point percentage and takes more threes than anyone else in the league. If they want to have success they have to hit the open shots from the outside. They simply cannot have another repeat of 3-for-17 like against OSU. The Cyclones should win, 68-62.