By Ryan Decker, Originally written for West Virginia Illustrated
MORGANTOWN – Senior night could not have started out much better for No. 10 West Virginia (24-7, 12-6) and its graduating members.
Senior James long made the game’s first shot, a 3-pointer, and seniors Nathan Adrian and Teyvon Myers combined to score each of the next eight points for the Mountaineers.
Adrian continued his good start through the remainder of the game, finishing with 16 points and seve rebounds, but it was Daxter Miles Jr. that put the Mountaineers over the top in the 87-76 win over No. 24 Iowa State (20-10, 12-6), supplying a game-high 23 points and seven rebounds in the victory.
“Our offense was better – we passed the ball,” WVU head coach Bob Huggins said.
Despite the good offensive start from the WVU seniors, Iowa State held a one-point advantage at the first media timeout behind 3 of 4 shooting from behind the arch.
Nazareth Mitrou-Long made four of his first five attempts from three-point land.
Long tallied 15 first-half points but managed to score just seven points in the second half.
As a team, the Cyclones converted on nine of their 18 shots three-point attempts in the first half, and made only five shots from inside the arch.
With Iowa State living and dying by the three ball, West Virginia was able to stay in front for much of the opening half despite also struggling shooting the ball.
One Mountaineer that had no problem scoring in the first half was Miles .
Miles scored 14 points in the opening twenty minutes, shooting 5 of 6 from the floor and making both his two 3-pointers. He also grabbed five rebounds, one of which he slammed home for a putback dunk.
“(Miles) has put some time in,” Huggins said. “I honestly really thought Dax would have a good day after the way he shot yesterday.”
Miles knocked down both of threes as part of an 8-3 run over the final 1:13.
Behind Miles strong first half, West Virginia took a 43-42 lead into halftime.
Miles got the Mountaineers going in the second half with an early three pointer, which started a 7-0 run.
WVU’s lead grew as large as eight points after another trey ball from Miles, but threes by Deonte Burton and Matt Thomas brought the Cyclones back to within two.
West Virginia built it’s largest lead of the game to that point at 65-51 over the next four minutes, using a 12-0 run fueled by two big blocks and a putback dunk by Sagaba Konate.
WVU continued to score points inside, completely dominating the painted area, meanwhile, the Cyclones went over six minutes without a made shot from the floor.
West Virginia outscored Iowa St. in the paint by 28 points, and held a +19 rebound advantage.
Philip gathered eight of WVU’s 40 total rebounds. He also scored seven points and dished out 10 assists in his final game inside the Coliseum.
“I was just trying to play hard and leave it all out there. Coach said it’s your last time on the floor, and it was ringing in my head when the game started and the crowd was going. So I just wanted to go out there and leave it all on the floor.” — Tarik Phillip
Jevon Carter and Elijah Macon joined Miles and Adrian on the list of Mountaineers that scored in double figures. Four Cyclone players also scored at least 14 points, including senior Monte Morris, who tallied 17 points and six boards in his final regular season game.
Asked about his shot, Long said he knew right away what the result would be.
“I knew it was going in. I did,” Long said. “Once I let it go I knew.”
“James has meant so much to this program. It’s hard to put into words how much he’s mean to this program with his work ethic. … He believes in West Virginia University and believes in the program. So, if anyone deserves to get a start on Senior Night, it’s James long.” — WVU head coach Bob Huggins on James Long
Both West Virginia and Iowa State will go nearly a week in between games. Neither team will play again until Thursday in the quarterfinals of the Big 12 Men’s Basketball Championship in Kansas City.
Seedings and pairings for the tournament won’t be official until games conclude on Saturday.