No. 14 West Virginia rallies past No. 13 Iowa State 81-76
AMES, Iowa — Iowa State's Hilton Magic seems to be losing some of its power.
No. 14 West Virginia harassed Iowa State with its trademark in-your-face defense and dominated the rebounding in beating the 13th-ranked Cyclones 81-76 on Tuesday night.
It was Iowa State's second loss in less than four weeks at Hilton Coliseum, where the Cyclones have posted a long string of big victories through the years and have been practically unbeatable the last three.
They were up 15 points in the first half and led by five with a little more than 3 minutes left but couldn't hold on.
"We've got a great team, a great coaching staff. We've just got to finish," Iowa State's Monte Morris said. "We've finished before. I don't think it's the end of the world. We have a lot of games left. We'll just keep working and try to get better every day."
Iowa State (16-6, 5-4 Big 12) also faltered down the stretch in a 72-62 loss at Texas A&M on Saturday and has its second two-game losing streak of the season.
Jaysean Paige scored 23 points, including a crucial 3 with 1:05 left, to propel West Virginia (18-4, 7-2) to its league-leading fourth Big 12 road win.
Devin Williams added 17 points and 18 rebounds for the Mountaineers, who forced 16 turnovers and hammered Iowa State on the boards 43-26.
"It was tough boxing out those guys," Morris said. "Sometimes it was just the roll of the ball. We've just got to prepare for our next game and when we get a chance to play down there, we've got to play harder."
The return engagement in Morgantown is Feb. 22.
Paige shot 10 of 17 from the field, none bigger than the 3 that gave West Virginia a 75-74 lead. The Mountaineers scored 18 second-chance points and two of the biggest came when Tarik Phillips grabbed his own missed free throw and sank two foul shots to seal it with 19 seconds left.
Georges Niang scored 20 points and Abdel Nader had 19 for Iowa State. Matt Thomas scored 11 and Morris had nine to go with 10 assists. Despite the constant defensive pressure, Morris did not have a turnover.
That last figure was no surprise to West Virginia coach Bob Huggins.
"He's got to be one of the best point guards in America," Huggins said. "He's terrific. He's shooting the ball better, more consistently. He's got a great in-between game."
Niang, however, had eight turnovers, which left the ISU star hanging his head.
"That's just unacceptable," he said. "That type of stuff can't happen from a senior, so you can point the finger right at me."
Iowa State fell behind by as many as six points in the second half before Niang's 3 and layup put the Cyclones back on top 68-64. Paige tied it at 70-all on a layup with 2:36 left and the Mountaineers hit six straight free throws in the final 41 seconds.
Iowa State opened this game on a 21-8 run, capped when reserve Deonte Burton went sideways for a thunderous one-handed dunk.
Burton followed with a block and a 15-footer to make it 25-10. But West Virginia's pressure defense and superior rebounding started causing fits for the Cyclones, and the Mountaineers pulled within 37-33 by halftime.
A one-handed dunk by Esa Ahmad and a layup by Daxter Miles Jr. off a turnover gave West Virginia its first lead, 46-45.
"When it came down to making winning plays and toughness plays, they just out-toughed us," Niang said.
West Virginia: Huggins moved to 10th on the all-time wins list with a win at Texas Tech last week. ... The Mountaineers allowed Iowa State to grab back some momentum heading into halftime, as Jameel McKay had a dunk off an alley-oop pass at the buzzer. McKay had seven points.
Iowa State: The Cyclones buried five of their first nine 3-point attempts. ... Jordan Ashton appears to have supplanted Hallice Cooke as the first guard off the bench. He entered the game ahead of Cooke yet again Tuesday. Ashton's first shot was a 3 to give Iowa State a 12-point lead.
Huggins said he's working at trying to "wear a white hat. I've been wearing a black one all of these years."
West Virginia hosts No. 15 Baylor on Saturday.
Iowa State plays at Oklahoma State on Saturday.