AMES — Iowa State’s not talking about grudges, payback or revenge when West Virginia rolls into Hilton Coliseum for Wednesday’s 7 p.m. Big 12 matchup.
OK, maybe revenge, but strictly in terms of competition, given what happened in Morgantown.
“We didn’t come prepared,” ISU forward Georges Niang said of the humbling previous meeting. “They just punched us in the mouth and we never punched back.”
The No. 17 Cyclones, in their own words, were “embarrassed” in a 102-77 rout 16 days ago — an outlier of an outcome that stung a lot more than the late-game brush-up that included a flagrant 1 foul on ISU’s Dustin Hogue and a flagrant 2 on the Mountaineers’ Eron Harris.
“Only revenge I’ve got is just playing better,” said Cyclone point guard Monte Morris, who took the double-shot from Harris — one to the head, one below the belt.
That’s the universal aim for ISU (21-5, 9-5), which allowed West Virginia to shoot 53.8 percent from the field, including a head-spinning 59.1 percent from 3-point range, in its worst loss since 2011.
“Whenever you lose by 25 points to an unranked team, it should definitely wake you up,” Niang said.
Open looks abounded for the Mountaineers (15-12, 7-7), thanks largely to guard Juwan Staten’s 19 points, nine assists and seven rebounds — as well as uninspired ISU defense.
“There’s a lot of things that we did wrong that game, clearly, by the score,” said Cyclone forward Melvin Ejim, who grabbed 12 rebounds in that game but shot 1 of 9 from the field. “We knew that we could play better defensively and we made a commitment after that game and we started playing better.”
ISU’s won three straight since, limiting Texas Tech, Texas and TCU to combined 35.3 percent shooting while rising to a second-place tie in the league standings with the Longhorns, who own the tiebreaker because they earned a win against perennial champion Kansas.
“There were so many things in that game that we learned from,” Cyclone Coach Fred Hoiberg said. “I give our guys credit for the practices that we had after that game and making necessary corrections moving forward. We’ve been much better on that end of the floor since that game and we can still get better. We still have some slip-ups that we can improve on.”
On the other end, that’s 3-point shooting.
ISU made just 1 of 11 in Saturday’s 71-60 win at TCU, but Hoiberg’s focused less on the 1 than he is on the 11.
“The fact that we only took 11, I thought, was a good thing,” Hoiberg said. “I thought we really took what the defense gave us.”
Today, they’ll try to do the same.
Any ill will is mostly forgotten.
OK, partly forgotten — but definitely secondary to remaining on the hot streak that surrounds the one notable hiccup.
“Hoiberg, he’s been around the game a long time and he said you’re going to have a game like that in the season,” Morris said. “He felt like that was that game where just nothing went right. I’m going to take his word on everything. That was our night we couldn’t get going — and that’s better early than late, like in the tournament. I’l take that game if that’s the game.”
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