was West Virginia’s perfect antidote for “Hilton Magic.” The senior scored a career-high 23 points and grabbed 11 rebounds to lead the seventh-ranked Mountaineers to an 85-72 victory over Iowa State Tuesday night at Hilton Coliseum, one of the toughest venues in college basketball.
Adrian made seven of his 10 field goal attempts, including two of three from 3, knocked down seven of eight from the free throw line and his basket right before the first-half buzzer really gave the team a big boost going into the locker room leading by four, 44-40.
“He’s been a heck of a player, really, all four years here,” West Virginia coach Bob Huggins said of his senior forward. “He had a really good freshman year, then he had the injury his sophomore year but he still played - and he played well. It’s not easy to be on the front of that press, but how many 6-8, 6-9 guys can sit down and try and stay in front of Monte Morris, (Frank) Mason and the people he stays in front of at the top of that press?”
In the second half, West Virginia (18-4, 6-3) never trailed as the Mountaineers began taking control of the game at the halfway point.
Adrian grabbed Esa Ahmad
’s miss and was fouled by Nazareth Mitrou-Long while trying to follow. He made two free throws to put the Mountaineers up six, 56-50, and then his 3-pointer from the corner off a pretty feed from Ahmad got the lead to seven with 10:26 remaining.
Daxter Miles Jr.
answered a Morris jumper with a 3 from the corner to expand the lead to nine, 64-55, and a Teyvon Myers
steal led to two free throws and an 11-point advantage.
A Sagaba Konate
put-back basket and Jevon Carter
’s driving layup pushed the lead to 15 with 5:42 to go. The widest margin was 16 points with 49 seconds remaining.
West Virginia's Nathan Adrian
blocks Merrill Holden's shot attempt in the first half of tonight's game. The Mountaineers defeated Iowa State, 85-72. Iowa State Athletics photo.
West Virginia knocked down its free throws tonight, hitting 17 of 20, including 15 of 17 in the second half.
came off the bench to give the Mountaineers a big boost with 15, Ahmad contributed 14 and seldom-used freshman guard Beetle Bolden, who has scored just six points in eight prior Big 12 games, came off the bench tonight and scored eight, including a pair of bank-shot 3s. He also made a pretty drive to the basket for two.
“Beetle banked in two 3s and I don’t think he meant to do that,” said Huggins. “We banked in three 3s in the first half so I guess sometimes it’s good to be lucky.”
Preseason Big 12 player of the year Monte Morris had a tough night with Carter mostly guarding him. Morris made just four of 14 from the floor, missing both 3-point attempts, never got to the free throw line and finished with just eight - eight below his season average.
“I really believe that JC is as good a defensive guard as there is in the country,” said Huggins. “He doesn’t get the national acclaim for some reason. I’m watching tapes of games and this analyst and that analyst has their top six guards in the Big 12 and he’s not one of them?"
Matt Thomas led Iowa State (13-8, 5-4) with 19, but 13 of those came in the first half. The Cyclones shot just 29 percent from the field in the second half.
“We were trying to leave (Thomas),” Huggins explained. “We just left him (open) too much in the first half. We tried to do a better job of guarding on the ball and not giving them penetration because we had to help.”
Tonight’s loss was Iowa State’s second-worst loss of the season. Iowa beat the Cyclones by 14 back on December 8.
A crowd of 14,384 watched tonight’s game.
“(Tonight’s victory) keeps us in the hunt,” said Huggins. “Kansas-Baylor tomorrow so one of those is going to have two losses and we’re going to play both of them again. It keeps us moving toward the regular season championship.”
West Virginia returns to the Coliseum to take on streaking Oklahoma State in an important Big 12 game on Saturday. The Cowboys defeated Oklahoma Monday night in Norman and have won four in a row heading into this weekend’s action.
The game will tip off at 5 p.m. and will be televised nationally on ESPNU.