AMES, Iowa — West Virginia’s losing skid keeps getting bigger, and coach Bob Huggins isn’t quite sure what to do about it.
Donovan Jackson scored 25 points, Lindell Wigginton added 22 and Iowa State, on the strength of 62 percent shooting, rolled past 15th-ranked West Virginia 93-77 on Wednesday night to send the short-handed Mountaineers to their fifth loss in six games.
“I could sit here and make something up. But I don’t know,” West Virginia coach Bob Huggins said about his team’s slide. “If we ever had any pride in our defense, we don’t have any now.”
Add Cameron Lard (18 points, 13 rebounds) to the list of Cyclones (12-9, 3-6 Big 12) who ran all over West Virginia.
They took advantage of the absence of West Virginia’s Daxter Miles Jr. (illness) and that lackadaisical defense to hand the Mountaineers (16-6, 5-4) their biggest defeat since a 23-point blowout at the hands of Texas A&M in the opener.
“Proud of these guys for stepping up through adversity,” Iowa State coach Steve Prohm said of his team, which got blown out by Tennessee at home 68-45 on Saturday.
The Cyclones had West Virginia — which Huggins said “looked tired” — playing catch-up from the opening tip.
The Mountaineers caught them just once and were never able to overtake them.
West Virginia fell behind 25-11 after allowing Iowa State to hit 10 of its first 13 shots. The Mountaineers rallied with an 18-4 run, but the Cyclones answered with a 24-11 spurt and went back ahead 53-40.
Iowa State continued its torrid shooting in the second half. Jackson’s fifth 3 gave it a 74-60 lead, and Wigginton’s drive at the end of the shot clock made it 84-70 with 4:38 left.
The Cyclones also committed just eight turnovers against the league’s leader in turnover margin despite missing point guard Nick Weiler-Babb to knee tendinitis.
Jevon Carter scored 18 points with nine assists and Esa Ahmad and Sagaba Konate each had 17 for West Virginia.
THE BIG PICTURE
West Virginia: The Mountaineers aren’t exactly in a death spiral, considering its previous four losses came against No. 10 Texas Tech, No. 7 Kansas, a good TCU team and No. 21 Kentucky, but they’re heading in the wrong direction heading into February. West Virginia clearly missed Miles, who is second on the team with 12.8 points a game, but even the presence of Miles might not have been enough.
Iowa State: Prohm was highly encouraged by his team’s effort after a loss to the Vols that left him and his players calling the Cyclones “soft” more than once. Iowa State showed resolve against a team that had won four of the previous five meetings in the series. “We needed one like this,” said Jackson, who dished out a career-high seven assists. “It tests our man character when we get blown out of the gym.”
West Virginia grabbed 18 offensive rebounds but just 14 on the other end. …Solomon Young had 14 points, 10 rebounds and two blocks for Iowa State. …The Mountaineers had just two steals and went 9 of 26 on 3s. …Forward Zoran Talley had seven points and five assists after getting the start for Weiler-Babb.
If West Virginia can’t beat Kansas State on Saturday, it might find itself on the outside looking in on Monday.
HE SAID IT
“My guys always before, if somebody beat them, they were (ticked) off. I mean, they were (ticked) that gave up straight line drives because they knew they let their teammates down. This group, it’s like standing at the freeway watching people run by,” Huggins on West Virginia’s defense.
West Virginia: hosts the Wildcats on Saturday.
Iowa State: plays at Baylor on Saturday.