MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Iowa State’s star forward, Melvin Ejim, rode into West Virginia’s Coliseum riding the wave a record-setting, 48-point performance against TCU on Saturday afternoon, and when he sank the game’s first shot, the feeling of a repeat was in the air.
Forty minutes of basketball later, that was still the only basket Ejim, the Big 12’s leading scorer with a 19.8-point average, scored in the game. West Virginia held him to six points, and the Mountaineers upset the 11th-ranked Cyclones 102-77 before a rollicking crowd of 8,177.
Asked how his team managed to hold Ejim to just one basket, West Virginia coach Bob Huggins jokingly replied, “You mean we let him make one?”
Instead, it was West Virginia’s own candidate for Big 12 Player of the Year, guard Juwan Staten, who had the fans chanting “MVP! MVP!” Staten stole the show with 19 points, seven rebounds and nine assists. Junior guard Remi Dibo scored a season-high 20 points, hitting six of eight 3-pointers, as the Mountaineers (15-10, 7-5 Big 12) won their fifth game in seven.
West Virginia’s past two wins were over nationally ranked teams, Oklahoma and Iowa State, with a loss to then-No. 8 Kansas sandwiched between.
In addition to Staten and Dibo, sophomore guard Terry Henderson arose from a dismal effort at Kansas in which he scored just two points. He ignited West Virginia early with a dunk and three 3-pointers in the first 4:30 of the game. Henderson finished with 16 points, 13 of them in the first half.
“I knew I had to respond,” Henderson said. “I knew I could play better than I played at Kansas. I just trusted the ability God gave me.”
Iowa State coach Fred Hoiberg said, “From start to finish, it was a poor effort on our end. We let them come and get way too comfortable. We were not able to come out and challenge WVU’s shooters.”
Early in the game, the Mountaineers opted to go to a matchup zone, and it seemed to completely befuddle Iowa State, which had trouble getting anything to fall. Normally a good 3-point shooting team and possessing a league leading 194 treys entering the game, Iowa State (18-5, 6-5) made only four of 23 shots from long range.
“They didn’t know what we were running defensively because we didn’t know,” said Staten, not really joking.
Huggins said, “I told the guys at the half that they were confused because we didn’t know what we doing in the matchup … but we did it pretty good.”
West Virginia led 52-33 at the half, but Iowa State cut the advantage to 15 and seemed to have something going.
“We challenged our guys to come out and play well in the second half,” Hoiberg said. “The start of the period went fine, but then we began to make the same mistakes. We allowed West Virginia to get comfortable.
“You have to give them credit. West Virginia played an excellent game by spacing and exposing us. We will go back home and have a long film session. Unfortunately, tomorrow we have to take off with the NCAA rules, but on Wednesday we’ll get back at it.”
NOTES: Iowa State F Melvin Ejim entered the game as the only power conference player averaging at least 18 points and eight rebounds while shooting at least 50 percent from the floor and 35 percent from 3-point range … The Cyclones feature balanced scoring, with at least four players hitting double figures in 19 of their 23 games this season. … West Virginia ranked ninth in fewest turnovers per game and 29th in assist-to-turnover ratio nationally entering play Monday… West Virginia G Juwan Staten committed one turnover, the 18th time in his past 31 games he gave the ball away once or not at all. … Mountaineers G Eron Harris entered the game ranked second in the Big 12 in 3-point field goals made, third in free-throw percentage and fourth in 3-point percentage. He went 2-for-5 from 3-point range Monday and scored 16 points before he was ejected late in the game for a flagrant foul.
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