Jan 31, 2017; Ames, IA, USA; Iowa State Cyclones guard Monte Morris (11) goes up for a shot as West Virginia Mountaineers guard Teybon Myers (0) and forward Esa Ahmad (23) defend at James H. Hilton Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Rachel Mummey-USA TODAY Sports
AMES — The story of this Iowa State season so far is the inability to get over the hump.
That same thing happened on Tuesday when West Virginia rolled into Hilton Coliseum. The Cyclones stayed close for most of the night but could never get hit that extra shot and take a lead on its way to an 83-72 loss to the No. 7 Mountaineers.
The Cyclones trailed by 12 in the first half but clawed back to trail by only four at halftime behind senior guard Matt Thomas, who scored 13 of his team-high 19 points before the break. Iowa State was able to keep the deficit small through the final minutes of the half but could never take control.
“At the start of the game, obviously, we didn’t get off to a great start,” Iowa State head coach Steve Prohm said. “I think we took their first punch and responded really, really well. If you really, really break down the first half, we go in the locker room down four. They had three banked threes and Adrian hit a floater so that’s 11 points. Now, they all count but I thought we matched their toughness defensively. We scored 40. We were making shots and playing really well. We competed in the second half for really the majority of the second half.”
Iowa State went 5-for-20 in the final 10 minutes of the game. The Cyclones shot 28.6 percent from the floor in the second half.
The Mountaineers forced 10 of Iowa State’s 16 turnovers during the first half. West Virginia turned those takeaways into 23 points. They also grabbed 12 offensive rebounds to create extra possessions for 14 second chance points.
Led by 23 points and 11 rebounds from Nathan Adrian, West Virginia shot 47 percent from the field and knocked down 10 3-pointers. They also out-scored Iowa State 34-18 in the paint.
“We got sped up offensively to where I think we got a little hurried,” Prohm said. “The turnovers, we had a couple too many. We did have some opportunities, layups and open threes, that you either have to back it out or you’ve got to attack and finish those. We missed those opportunities.”
Deonte Burton, 11 points and nine assists, and Naz Mitrou-Long, 10 points and four rebounds, were the other two scorers in double-figures for the Cyclones. Iowa State shot just 38 percent from the field and went 10-of-26 from behind-the-arc, including a combined 2-of-12 from Burton, Mitrou-Long and Monté Morris.
The loss is the Cyclones’ second straight and puts their backs against the wall before heading to Lawrence to take on the conference-leading Kansas Jayhawks (1 p.m. on ESPN) on Saturday.
“You’ve just got to prepare the same way,” Prohm said. “This league, it gives you a ton of opportunities to get good wins. We’ve got to go on the road. We’ve played well on the road all season long. Our focus has been good. We’re 2-2 in the league on the road and every game’s come down to the last minute or two. Obviously, it’s a tough place to play. It’s a place where they’ve only lost nine times in his career so it’s a great challenge but it’s a great opportunity.”