MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — It wasn’t easy, but West Virginia ended its homestand with a win over No. 11 Iowa State on Wednesday.
The Mountaineers continued their strong bit of form, notching their third straight win at home. The victory was definitely not handed to them, and Bob Huggins knew that all too well.
Here’s what the head coach had to say after the game.
On the game’s physicality…
The Big 12 showdown at the WVU Coliseum was highlighted by physical play by both teams. It was not uncommon to see players hit the floor hard as WVU and Iowa State combined for 49 fouls, 30 of which were called against the Cyclones, including a flagrant in the second half.
“Well, that’s generally what happens in this league,” Huggins said. “It was, I thought, an extremely physical game, and I think that’s what you get in this league as well.”
That environment did cost West Virginia its top scorer for much of the game as Erik Stevenson took a knock to his head late in the second half from Gabe Kalscheur. (Emmitt Matthews Jr. later called the play “dirty,” and Stevenson did return to the game and played until he fouled out.)
WVU didn’t miss a beat, though, as several players went on to step up for the Mountaineers in his absence.
“Well, we’ve got good players. I thought Keddy [Johnson] played really well, Joe [Toussaint] came in and played really well. Our front line, I thought, was good. That three-headed monster, you know. Put that in, and we got a couple shot blockers and Jimmy [Bell Jr.] can score pretty good and James [Okonkwo], for that matter, can score as well. Got to play the cards you’re dealt.”
On WVU’s Big 12 turnaround…
West Virginia did not want to start the Big 12 slate with five straight losses, but they have done a good job making up ground since then. WVU’s victory on Wednesday is the team’s fifth in seven games, and it marks the team’s fifth Quad 1 win of the season — a major boost to its NCAA Tournament profile.
Huggins again reiterated the issues that led to their dismal start to contrast with the turnaround.
“We didn’t make shots. We had one and two-footers, and we didn’t make them,” Huggins said. “We had two or three chances, two right at the top of my head where all we had to do was make a free throw and we win, and we didn’t….We shot ourselves in the foot.”
WVU wasn’t quite as strong inside offensively as Huggins would have hoped, shooting 6-for-13 on layups and recording 12 points in the paint. The Mountaineers found other ways to score, though, converting over 42 percent of their 3-pointers while knocking down 84 percent of their free throws.