It was West Virginia’s Jermaine Haley who drew the task of guarding Iowa State’s Tyrese Haliburton on Wednesday — one of this season’s most prolific players in the Big 12 Conference.
Haliburton, who entered the day ranking fourth in the conference with an average of 15.7 points per game, ended the night with only 12, helping the No. 13 West Virginia Mountaineers pick up a 76-61 victory over the Cyclones.
Haley said the Mountaineers’ big men played a big role in restricting Haliburton’s offense.
“I think he finishes alright at the basket but, with our size, I knew he was going to struggle with that,” Haley said of Haliburton. “Just not letting him get open looks. When he was catching, crowding him and making it difficult to pass. With that matchup, we did a good job, but you have to guard five guys — not just one.”
Thanks to the strong defensive effort, the Mountaineers were able to limit Haliburton to a meager three field goal attempts during the entire first half.
As a team, the Cyclones were limited to only 28 points in the first half — the second time in three games that they were held under 30.
West Virginia (18-4, 6-3 Big 12) was able to capitalize on Iowa State’s lack of scoring as forwards Emmitt Matthews Jr. and Oscar Tshiebwe combined for 22 of WVU’s 41 first-half points. The Mountaineers headed into the locker room with a 14-point lead.
Emerging for the second half, Iowa State (9-13, 2-7) continued to struggle bridging the gap. Despite sophomore guard Rasir Bolton ending the night with 18 points, the Cyclones were handed their worst loss since losing by 20 to Texas Tech on Jan. 18.
For WVU, Tshiebwe (16 points), Matthews (12), Chase Harler (14), Derek Culver (12) and Jermaine Haley (11) each ended the night with double-digit points.
Tshiebwe also finished with a double-double, coming down with a team-high 10 rebounds. The freshman bigman played a large role as the Mountaineers out-rebounded the Cyclones by a 46-28 margin.
“We were hitting on all cylinders, to be honest with you,” Culver said. “Perimeter guys were making big shots, the bigs were getting rebounds and kicking it out to them so they were able to make those shots. We were hitting on all cylinders today.”
The Mountaineers will see their next game action on Saturday when they hit the road to take on the Oklahoma Sooners. The 2 p.m. tipoff from the Lloyd Noble Center in Norman will be broadcast on ESPNU.