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February 10, 2014

Mountaineers blow away Cyclones 102-77




It was obvious after the opening tip that the West Virginia Mountaineers were entering Monday's tilt against the No. 11 Iowa State Cyclones with an unbelievable fire. After dropping a close decision at Kansas Saturday, the Mountaineers returned to the Coliseum, this time dispatching their Big 12 foe handily, defeating the Cyclones 102-77.

Early on Iowa State appeared to stick with West Virginia offensively, pushing the Mountaineers around the post and lobbing over Bob Huggins' patented man defense to push ahead to an early 8-4 lead.

But West Virginia had a surprise sighting from a welcomed source bring the Coliseum crowd to life. Saturday at Kansas, Terry Henderson played arguably his worst game of the season. The guard finished the contest in Lawrence with a mere two points in 22 minutes of play, with no other stats recorded.

It took only three minutes for Henderson to overshadow those abysmal numbers by a mile against the Cyclones, putting up a pair of threes and a put back slam to give the Mountaineers a 13-8 lead at the first media timeout.

West Virginia would continue to push the pace in the ensuing span of play, with Henderson again leading the way. Shortly following the timeout, Henderson would continue to pile on the points with his third three in under five minutes of play, quieting what had become a 4-0 Iowa State run.

Other Mountaineers would quickly follow Henderson's suit, albeit inside the arc. A baseline jumper from Remi Dibo and stepback jumper from Juwan Staten sent West Virginia into the second media timeout on an 8-0 run, helping the home squad build an early 21-14 advantage.

Iowa State would continue to struggle matching up with a hot West Virginia attack. Wide open shots simply failed to fall for the Cyclones in the ensuing period while the Mountaineers really failed to do any wrong.

West Virginia would build up to a 12-0 run before Georges Niang broke the streak with a midrange jumper. Even with a 25-16 lead at this point, with 9:34 remaining in the half, many thought this might start a streak for the Cyclones.

But on the following possession, Dibo would quickly silence those thoughts. The versatile forward pushed the Mountaineer's lead back into double digits seconds later with a straightaway three, pushing West Virginia's lead to 28-16. Both squads would then trade a pair of layups, sending the contest into the under 8:00 media timeout with a 30-18 Mountaineer advantage.

Eron Harris would join in on the fun from outside shortly after the break, connecting with his first three of the game. In recent weeks, the confidence Harris has possessed in his shot has seemingly taken an exponential turn. On attempts that he would have questioned a mere three games ago, Harris has been swishing with ease. This continued at the seven-minute mark of the first half, with Harris knocking down a heavily guarded straightaway three to put the Mountaineers up 33-18.

Dibo would tack on a three of his own, his second of the game, helping West Virginia enter the final media timeout with a surprising 13-point advantage over its 11-ranked foe.

While the Mountaineers were seemingly able to throw the ball up at will, connecting with some crazy shots, Iowa State found itself on the opposite end. The Cyclones missed a number of open threes, even several second and third-chance opportunities, on which West Virginia would quickly capitalize.

On one such possession the Cyclones failed to connect with three point-blank layups, allowing Staten to gather up the third and final rebound attempt for a coast-to-coast layup. It was simply one of those halves for the Mountaineers.

The remarkable run for West Virginia continued as the half winded to a close. Since Iowa State's last lead at the 14:57 mark of the half, West Virginia managed to put together a 39-19 run, with a final second layup from Staten sending the Mountaineers into the locker room with a 52-33 advantage.

While one might think the halftime break would slow down the fire of West Virginia's offense, Dibo did his best to prove this idea wrong. On the first possession of the half, the forward would connect with an open three from the corner, putting the Mountaineers up by 22 early in the half.

Several possessions, and four Iowa State points later, Dibo would showcase his abilities yet again from beyond the arc, with his fourth three of the game ending a slight Cyclone run and putting the Mountaineers up 58-37.

But shortly before the first media timeout, the hot-shooting Frenchman found his way to the bench after collecting his third foul of the night. Without Dibo, the Cyclones would quickly close to within 14 points, hoping to parlay this break into momentum with 15:30 remaining.

Iowa State would catch another momentum break with wide-open slam opportunity for Staten rolling out from between the iron. It appeared that the Cyclone run was moments away from reality.

But like with most of the night, the Mountaineers caught a number breaks that helped to kill any Iowa State hope. After the Cyclones cut the deficit to 14, the Mountaineers embarked on a 10-0 run, putting the home squad up 71-46 with 12:06 remaining in the contest.

With all the Mountaineers seeming to get their own moment in the sun, Nathan Adrian managed to join in on the fun. A strip of DeAndre Kane in the front court and go-ahead for the layup might have been shocking from the 6'9 freshman forward, but Adrian, looking like a guard in the sequence, pulled it off to perfection. The basket continued the Mountaineer's remarkable run, putting them up 75-48.

From there the Mountaineers continued to dominate the Cyclones on every major facet of play. Even Kevin Noreen, the little-used weapon on offense, chipped in four-consecutive points, stretching the West Virginia lead to 83-52 with 7:25 remaining.

In the remaining time, the Mountaineers would continue to pull away as the Cyclones simply had no response.

But controversy would arise with 4:30 remaining in the contest, after a lose ball fight left Harris on the receiving end of a technical foul. The guard, retaliating from what he saw as physicality towards his teammate Noreen, threw a brief elbow to the head of the Iowa State perpetrator. Both players would be called for a technical and Harris ejected from the game, with West Virginia leading 90-60.

Even with the late game excitement, the remaining four minutes continued to fall West Virginia's way. The Mountaineers would sink a few more baskets to coast ahead for victory over its No. 11 foe.

Final: West Virginia 102 No. 11 Iowa State 77.

The Mountaineers were led in scoring by Remi Dibo, who chipped in 20 points in the victory. Juwan Staten, Terry Henderson, and Eron Harris also put up double-digit scoring numbers with 19, 16, and 16, respectively.

West Virginia will return to action this Saturday as they travel to Austin to take on the Texas Longhorns. Tipoff is set for 8pm.


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