AMES, Iowa (AP) – Iowa State played nearly the entire second half without the Big 12’s leading scorer and still rolled past a team that blew it out two weeks ago.
The Cyclones head into March as one of the hottest teams in the country — and they can thank their depth for that.
Georges Niang scored 24 points, DeAndre Kane had 17 and 11 rebounds and No. 15 Iowa State beat West Virginia 83-66 on Wednesday night for its seventh win in eight games.
Naz Long had 15 points on five 3-pointers and Monte Morris had 12 assists without a turnover for the Cyclones (22-5, 10-5 Big 12), who brushed off star Melvin Ejim’s foul trouble with a balanced and potent attack.
Dustin Hogue helped cover for Ejim’s absence inside with 15 points and nine rebounds, including a rare 3 with 3:17 left that put the Cyclones ahead 79-65.
"Overall, when Melvin went out, we just came together and did a great job of not only keeping the lead but extending it," Iowa State coach Fred Hoiberg said.
Juwan Staten had 19 points and Eron Harris added 15 to lead West Virginia (15-13, 7-8), which lost its third straight.
West Virginia guard Terry Henderson, who averages 12.1 points, missed his second straight game with an undisclosed illness. Henderson’s absence stung the Mountaineers, who shot 35.8 percent from the field and 5 of 20 from 3-point range. Gary Browne was just 1 of 9 from the field in 28 minutes.
"I’m not making excuses for us. But you take Terry out of the lineup. There’s a guy who shot 40-something percent from 3 last year in Big 12 play," Huggins said. "The difference in the game was they made shots. We didn’t."
Iowa State looked ready to pull away from the Mountaineers early in the second half — and perhaps even match the 25-point beating West Virginia put on the Cyclones two weeks ago.
It wouldn’t prove to be so easy.
Ejim, a serious Big 12 Player of the Year candidate, picked up his fourth foul on a technical with 17:13 left. The Mountaineers quickly capitalized, cutting an 11-point deficit to 53-49.
But the Cyclones showed why they have got so much more than Ejim to lean on.
Long and Niang answered with crucial consecutive 3s, and Long’s fifth 3 made it 64-54 with 9:45 left. Kane and Hogue followed with tough inside baskets, and Hogue’s tip-in gave the Cyclones a 72-61 lead.
Iowa State outscored the Mountaineers 46-24 in the paint despite getting just 20 minutes from Ejim.
"Dustin Hogue, I give a ton of credit for being the guy that was doing the dirty work for us," Hoiberg said. "Our two-man game was working well. We’d clear a side of the floor, and Dustin was a recipient of a lot of that because Georges was stepping out and making shots or driving the ball."
Without question, the low point of Iowa State’s season came at the hands of West Virginia.
The Mountaineers jumped on the Cyclones from the opening tip and ran them out of Morgantown. To make matters worse, Harris was ejected late for drilling Morris — shortly after Hogue kicked West Virginia’s Kevin Noreen while going for a rebound.
Things got chippy right away in Ames too, with Ejim and Noreen exchanging early words. Huggins then drew a technical for getting after the officials, and consecutive bank shots by Hogue capped a 24-5 run and gave Iowa State a 28-14 lead.
"We made shots when where (at home). We got them spread," Huggins said. "They made shots here."
But the Cyclones are also prone to bouts of sloppy play, and they finished the half with a number of fouls and ill-advised shots that let the Mountaineers close within 39-33.
Iowa State pulled itself together in the second half for its seventh conference win of February — the most the Cyclones have ever had in one month.
"Coach just tells everybody to just be ready and prepared. One through five, whoever is out there, we trust each other to make shots and make plays," Morris said.