It’s not very often that I find myself wanting to turn off my TV during a basketball game, but what took place in Morgantown, W. Va. Monday night was not a basketball game. Calling the game between No. 17 Iowa State and No. 14 West Virginia basketball would be an injustice to Dr. James Naismith and his beautiful creation.
There was nothing beautiful about this Big Monday at the WVU Coliseum. It was frustrating, inconsistent and, to put it lightly, baffling. It was a game that had everything from questionable officiating to a below the belt graze that led to a Georges Niang technical foul.
Mountaineers 97, Cyclones 87.
Two West Virginia players had career-highs in scoring, six Iowa State players combined to score all of their points and the Cyclones shot better than 50 percent from the floor. The Mountaineers grabbed 18 offensive rebounds and forced 15 Iowa State turnovers.
The rebounding was likely the difference in the game. The Mountaineers were dominant on the boards most of the night, and that wasn’t a surprise.
All that being said, the Cyclones still did some good things in this game. They just didn’t do enough good things (especially on the defensive end) in order to win the game.
Here are my four takeaways from Iowa State’s loss in Morgantown:
1 — Iowa State will not make a deep run in the NCAA tournament if they can’t get every player on the floor to commit to crashing the glass.
It’s that simple.
The Cyclones have absolutely no room for error when it comes to crashing the boards. They don’t have that guy like Dustin Hogue or Melvin Ejim that you knew was going to go and get every single rebound.
If they didn’t get it, you sure as hell knew their guy wasn’t going to get it. These Cyclones tend to get caught watching too much. It’s like they’re always expecting one of their teammates to go grab the ball.
You can’t expect that. Take it from WVU, every single Mountaineer is crashing every time a shot goes up. That’s how you end up with nine of the ten players that saw the floor grabbing a rebound.
West Virginia’s point guard, Jevon Carter, had as many, or more, rebounds than every Iowa State player except for one (Abdel Nader, 7). That’s not going to cut it.
2 — Speaking of Nader, it’s hard to believe people were crushing this guy the way they were a few weeks ago. He was the one of the bright spots Monday night for the Cyclones scoring 23 points and knocking down five 3-pointers.
He’s made 15 of his last 27 shots from behind the arc.
3 — I’m not sure what more can be said about Iowa State’s defense at this point. The Cyclones can be so good when they lock in, but they are only ever locked in for a few minutes each game.
I’ll admit, Jaysean Paige and Tarik Phillip were knocking down some incredibly tough shots. Both of them were absolutely electric all night long even when there were hands in their faces.
The Cyclones need to be better at keeping the ball in front of them if they want to make a run. They don’t even need to become exponentially better, just a few possessions.
A few possessions better would likely mean a few more wins.
4 — I hate criticizing the officials. I was never one to argue with calls or talk to the referees when I was a player (usually).
That being said, the officials Monday night in Morgantown were something else. Iowa State is one of the nation’s best teams at avoiding fouls and yet they were called for seven more fouls than the Mountaineers (only five teams have committed more fouls than WVU).
You know the officials were bad when even Brent Blum is questioning them on Twitter. Nobody besides the officials in Morgantown could tell what was or wasn’t a foul Monday night.
West Virginia was physical. They always are. They’re going to hand check, they are going to push underneath and they’re going to do everything they can to take teams off their game.
The refs let them get away with it Monday night. They won’t in the NCAA tournament.
5 — I’m saving my thoughts on the Niang technical for this week’s episode of "The Seniors" which we will be recording Tuesday. I think Rob and I will have some stuff to discuss — including Saturday’s matchup between the Cyclones and Kansas State at Hilton Coliseum.