The No. 17 West Virginia men’s basketball team recovered from its upset loss to Florida on Saturday with a narrow 76-72 victory against Iowa State on Tuesday night.
The Mountaineers struggled early on and trailed by as much as seven before ending the first half on a 25-7 run to lead by 11 at the break. In the second half, West Virginia looked poised to close out the game and defeat the Cyclones for the second time this season. However, Iowa State had different plans and nearly roared back to upset the Mountaineers.
“You can’t relax with this bunch,” WVU head coach Bob Huggins said following the win. “We let down. We let down when we get ahead like that, we’ve done it repeatedly.”
Huggins has not been impressed with the defensive play of the Mountaineers as of late. He wasn’t very ecstatic about the offensive effort that his team put forth against Iowa State either.
“I think you have to care,” Huggins said. “I think you have to care about your man scoring on you. I think you have to care about not blocking somebody out. We get ahead and we just kind of stand around.”
Huggins was not pleased with the energy of his team, especially during the Iowa State run that nearly stole the game away from West Virginia.
“There is a situation when they’re (Iowa State) making their run,” Huggins said. “They take a shot from the corner and it hits the front of the rim, bounces twice, and we have two guys standing there and they never take a step. That’s just hard for me to fathom.”
Near the end of the game, Iowa State had the ball trailing by two with 15 seconds to play. On Iowa State’s possession, Rasir Bolton ran into Gabe Osabuohien and lost the ball. Taz Sherman recovered the loose ball and earned a spot at the free-throw line.
Sherman knocked down the two free throws to finish the night with 18 points and seal the win for WVU. On the night, Sherman went 7-of-8 from the free-throw line. Huggins believes Sherman is one of the only players on the team right now that appropriately responds to pressure.
“Play of the game without a question,” Huggins said on the turnover by Bolton. “I thought it was a charge, but that would’ve given us the ball out of bounds instead of Taz (Sherman) going to the free-throw line. I think Taz is our best guy under pressure.”
West Virginia returns to Morgantown to host No. 23 Kansas on Saturday. Tipoff is at 2 p.m. on CBS.