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No. 8 West Virginia Holds off Iowa State at Home for 70-65 win in Big 12 Opener



(photo: Dale Sparks/WVU Athletic Communications)

No. 8 West Virginia held a second-half lead for less than three minutes and yet escaped with a 70-65 win against a scrappy Iowa State team in the Mountaineers’ Big 12 conference opener.

After an even start to the game, it was West Virginia (7-1, 1-0 Big 12) that went on the first run of the game. The Mountaineers went on a 10-2 run to take an 18-11 lead with less than 12 minutes in the first half. The Cyclones (1-4, 0-2) did not roll over, however, answering with a 12-4 run of their own to take a 23-22 lead.

A back-and-forth end of the first half allowed Iowa State to take a 31-30 lead into break. Friday was the first time all season the Cyclones held a lead at halftime. The Cyclones entered the game averaging just 29.3 rebounds per game, compared to WVU’s 41.9 rebounds per game, and yet the teams were tied with 18 rebounds apiece at the break.

The Mountaineers scored the first four points of the second half, but Iowa State came roaring back with a 12-0 run to take a 43-34 lead. Just like had happened all game, however, West Virginia came right back and responded with a 17-8 run of its own to tie the game at 51.

The Mountaineers could never retake the lead down the stretch until senior guard Taz Sherman put back his own shot with 51 seconds left to give WVU a 64-63 lead. Iowa State was called for an offensive foul on its ensuing possession, but the call was reversed to be a block on WVU’s Gabe Osabuohien following a review. Rasir Bolton made both free throws to retake a 65-64 lead.

On West Virginia’s ensuing possession, sophomore point guard Miles ‘Deuce’ McBride was fouled going up for a shot and made both of his free throws to flip the lead back in WVU’s favor. Sherman then intercepted Iowa State’s inbounds pass, forcing a Cyclone player to knock it out of bounds and give possession back to the Mountaineers. After an intentional foul, Sherman sank both free throws and WVU escaped with a 70-65 victory.

WVU shot poorly from the free-throw line in the first half, just 7 of 15, but shot 18 of 22 from the line in the second half. The Mountaineers struggled from three-point range. From deep, the Mountaineers finished just 3 of 14. Sean McNeil (0 for 3), Jalen Bridges (0 for 2) and Sherman (0 for 2) all missed multiple three-pointers without a make.

WVU was led in scoring by junior forward Derek Culver and McBride with 18 points each. Culver also had 12 rebounds for a double-double while Oscar Tshiebwe (12) and Sherman (10) also scored in double-digits.

The Mountaineers’ next game will be on the road at No. 5 Kansas. WVU and the Jayhawks will tip-off at 9 p.m. on Tuesday in Allen Fieldhouse. The game will be broadcast on ESPN2.

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