Following a sub-par performance over the weekend in a loss to Florida, West Virginia righted the ship in a major way with its first ever win over the Cyclones in Ames.
Junior forward Devin Williams was all over the floor, scoring 17 points and pulling down a career-high 18 rebounds to help push WVU over the top against a tough Iowa State team that has been virtually unbeatable at home over the last few years.
The biggest key for Williams was that he was only whistled for two personal fouls, which allowed him to play 30 of the game’s 40 minutes and maximized his impact on the contest.
“It’s been a while since he was able to play this many minutes. Let’s be honest. He’s had some foul calls that are less than good for us. We’re not near as good a basketball team when he’s on the bench,” said head coach Bob Huggins on the Northside Automotive Mountaineer Postgame Report
Trailing 70-65 with three minutes and change to play, forward Nate Adrian hit a 3 from the corner which kick started a 16-6 West Virginia run over the final 3:12.
Jaysean Paige gave West Virginia the lead 76-75 with a high-arcing 3-pointer from the top of the key with 1:05 left. The Mountaineers would not relinquish that lead the rest of the way, and bumped their record to 18-4 overall and 7-2 in the Big 12.
Adrian finished with just five points, but played solid defense against some tough assignments, including Iowa State’s leading scorer Georges Niang. Huggins said tonight’s win was a culmination of a bunch of different guys stepping up.
“Teyvon (Myers) came in and made some shots for us. I thought Nate’s 3 was big for us. Devin got 18 rebounds…I told them in there it was a great team win,” he said.
While the end result was certainly to West Virginia’s liking, the early stages were far from pretty for the Mountaineers. Iowa State jumped out to a 25-10 lead, and looked poised to send West Virginia to another crushing loss, but the Mountaineers slowly but surely wore the Cyclones down playing their style of game.
“It looked like it was not going to be good for us when the game started. The thing about these guys is they keep fighting, they keep playing,” Huggins said.
“We went back to pressure. We had absolutely no pressure. I was like ‘listen guys, if we go down can we at least go down the way we’re used to playing?’”
West Virginia and Iowa State each turned the ball over 10 times in the first half, but the Mountaineers kept plugging away and forced Iowa State out of its comfort zone as the game wore on.
“They’re used to playing at their pace. They play fast, but they don’t want to play fast very long. We got them to play fast longer than they wanted to,” Huggins said.
After an embarrassing loss to Florida, West Virginia’s stock seemed to drop around the country. Always looking for a source of motivation, Bob Huggins turned to print media to find some bulletin board material that would light a fire under his team.
“You wake up after the Florida came and you’re 17-4 and you’re 12 in the country and the headlines say 'Mess Virginia'…I read them the article about how we should be in the A-10. I think that got to them a little bit,” Huggins said.
With tonight’s win, the mess sits atop the Big 12 standings with Oklahoma. The Mountaineers will need to take all the momentum they can get from this game, as matchups with Baylor and Kansas await in the next week.