West Virginia-Iowa St. Preview
Neither Iowa State nor West Virginia had much to celebrate on an otherwise dominant day for the Big 12 over the weekend.
Both programs look to put stinging road losses behind them when they square off in an important conference matchup Tuesday night.
Thirteenth-ranked Iowa State and No. 14 West Virginia were two of just three Big 12 teams to lose in Saturday's 10-game Big 12/SEC Challenge. The Cyclones couldn't hold a slim late lead in a 72-62 defeat at then-No. 5 Texas A&M, while the Mountaineers were beaten at their own game in an 88-71 defeat at Florida that drew the ire of coach Bob Huggins.
Iowa State's usually efficient offense was stifled down the stretch by Texas A&M, among the nation's premier defensive teams. The Cyclones were outscored 16-4 over the final 4:04 and were held to 43.3 percent shooting, well below their 50.0 percent season average that's tied for fifth in Division I.
"We weren't perfect offensively but we played hard and competed for the most part," coach Steve Prohm said. "They weren't the better team until the final few minutes. We can take some positives from this."
A return home could help Iowa State (16-5, 5-3 Big 12) bounce back. The Cyclones have averaged 86.7 points while winning 10 of 11 at Hilton Coliseum, including victories over top-ranked Oklahoma, then-No. 4 Kansas and Iowa.
Iowa State has won 18 of its last 20 matchups with ranked opponents at home. That includes a 79-59 rout of the No. 21 Mountaineers on Feb. 14 that completed a sweep of the season series.
West Virginia (17-4, 6-2), one game ahead of the Cyclones, has struggled on the road against Top 25 opponents, dropping 20 of 21 such games.
The Mountaineers haven't been playing their best basketball of late either, losing three of five. They'll also play a second straight game without suspended forward Jonathan Holton, the team's second-leading rebounder who's averaged 12.3 points, 10.3 boards and 70.3 percent shooting in his last three games.
Holton's absence wasn't the primary factor in the latest loss, as the Gators shot 53.1 percent and went 12 of 20 from 3-point range while successfully handling the Mountaineers' press. West Virginia, the Division I leader in steals and turnovers forced per game, recorded 14 takeaways while committing 18 turnovers that led to 21 Florida points.
"We didn't guard and our pressure is close to nonexistent anymore," Huggins said. "We've got guys worried about fouling and guys worried about staying in the game longer."
Iowa State had problems taking care of the ball against Texas A&M, which scored 21 points off 16 Cyclones giveaways. Iowa State is 1-3 when committing more turnovers than the opposition.
The Cyclones have won all three meetings with West Virginia at home and are 5-1 in the series since the Mountaineers joined the Big 12 for the 2012-13 season. They shot 53.1 percent and limited West Virginia to 34.9 in last season's two victories.