Tuesday night, WVU basketball took on Iowa State in a thrilling conference match-up. After a hot start, the Mountaineers would finally pull off a win, bringing their seven-game losing streak to an end and keeping their NCAA tournament hopes alive.
After a seven-game losing streak, the Mountaineers are finally back on track with an upset of Iowa State. One key reason for the Mountaineers’ success was the return of senior guard Taz Sherman, who suffered a concussion against Baylor over a week ago.
Without Sherman, the Mountaineers could not pull off the upset against No. 4 Baylor on January 31st or against No. 14 Texas Tech last Saturday.
Mountaineers started hot, took early lead over the Cyclones
At the end of the first half, West Virginia led the Cyclones by 11. Behind the first-half shooting success of Taz Sherman (ten points) and Seth Wilson (seven points), the Mountaineers led Iowa State, 39-28.
West Virginia closed out the first half, shooting 54.2 percent from the field, with 54.5 percent from the three-point range. For once, the Mountaineers finished a half on fire as they continued to pile onto their lead.
After 20 minutes of basketball, West Virginia led the game in points, assists, and rebounds.
To add to the Mountaineers’ excellent first half, West Virginia shots 83.3 percent from the free-throw line in the first half. The Mountaineers’ ability to capitalize on these free throws would add five points onto their substantial halftime lead.
WVU stays hot
The second half saw more of the same for the Mountaineers, and that is a good thing for once. To open up the second half, West Virginia would continue to maintain their increasingly large lead.
One of the key reasons the Mountaineers could defeat Iowa State was their ability to rebound the ball. Rebounding has been the Mountaineers’ biggest downfall this season, and being able to diagnose the issue would lead to their eventual victory.
WVU would hold a 16-point lead over Iowa State five minutes into the second half. One thing that became ever-present is how crucial Taz Sherman is to the Mountaineers’ success. Last Saturday, West Virginia failed to gain any consistency or momentum without Sherman on the floor.
The Mountaineers would continue to take advantage of many opportunities, especially from the free-throw line. The Mountaineers pushed their lead to 14 points behind a pair of free throws from Sean McNeil.
Three-quarters of the way through the game, the Mountaineers’ bench had proven to be just as valuable as their starting five. West Virginia’s bench would combine for 31 points of the team’s total.
West Virginia finishes strong
The Cyclones began to stage their comeback with less than ten minutes remaining. This was swiftly put to an end by Bob Huggins’ Mountaineers, who would capitalize off of a series of free throws and rebounds to maintain a double-digit lead over the Cyclones.
As the clock counted down to five minutes remaining, the Mountaineers would keep their foot on the gas and put away Iowa State once and for all.
The 79-63 win over Iowa State snaps a seven-game losing streak for the Mountaineers and keeps their tournament hopes alive. The win is West Virginia’s first since January 11th, when the Mountaineers defeated Oklahoma State 70-60 to improve to 13-2. Now, over a month later, WVU basketball picks up its 14th win of the season as they improve to 14-9. West Virginia is now 3-7 in the Big 12 in 2022.
The Mountaineers’ leading scorers were Taz Sherman and Jalen Bridges, who combined for 30 total points.
As a team, West Virginia shot 50 percent from the field and from beyond the arc and shot 86.2 percent from the free-throw line. West Virginia also led the game in assists (14) and rebounds (37). If this game is a sign of things to come, this season may be salvageable.