By Ryan Decker, Originally written for West Virginia Illustrated
The Cyclones go into the contest winners of each of their last six games and have won seven of their last eight dating back to their upset victory over Kansas in the Phog.
WVU, on the other hand, is coming off a disappointing loss to Baylor Monday in Wacco, and has been playing lately without one of its most important players, Esa Ahmad, who has been dealing with back issues.
“I thought defensively we got really tentative,” Huggins told media members following Monday’s game. “Really they just beat us to death on the glass.”
Tentative defense and lack of rebounding are two things that Press Virginia will have to correct for Friday. Iowa State scores (80.6 PPG) and rebounds (35.2 RPG) at similar rates to West Virginia (83.7, 36.8), and the Cyclones are one of the nation’s best at shooting from behind the arch.
ISU made 15 3-pointers in its win Tuesday over Oklahoma State, led by Matt Thomas’ seven made shots from three-point range. Thomas is head coach Steve Prohm’s most consistent threat from deep, shooting at just over 44-percent.
Nazareth Mitrou-Long, however, has made a Big 12-leading 83 three’s this year, averaging nearly three a game.
To combat the Cyclones three-point attack, Huggins will have to lean on his Press Virginia defense that gives up the second-fewest points per contest in the conference.
Likely the biggest problem, defensively, for the Mountaineers will be containing Iowa State senior Monte Morris for a second time this year. Morris, who averages a team-high 16.1 points per game, managed just eight points in the two team’s previous meeting at the end of January. That was the only game in the Cyclones last 13 contests he failed to reach double figures scoring-wise.
Jevon Carter continues to lead the Mountaineers in scoring at nearly 13 points per game. Carter has seen that average improve as of late, tallying 15 or more points in five of WVU’s last six games, including back-to-back 24-point performances.
Carter also scored his 1,000th career point in Monday’s game in Wacco.
West Virginia could be looking for a repeat performance out of senior Nathan Adrian, who scored a career-high 23 points against the Cyclones in Ames earlier this season.
If the game turns into a shoot out from deep, WVU will likely need either Daxter Miles Jr. or Lamont West, or a combination of both, to hit a couple big threes.
Iowa State is seeking its third-straight win over a Top 25 opponent after starting the season 0-4 against ranked teams.
West Virginia, on the other hand, started out the season winning its first three games against Top 25 teams, but has lost each of its last two contests against ranked opponents.
WVU is also just 5-6 this season in games where the Mountaineers are ranked inside the top 10.
Tip off is scheduled for 7 p.m. and can be watched on ESPN 2.