West Virginia’s physical defense gave Iowa State trouble in the first half. The Cyclones had just four shots inside of 20 feet — including a pair of spectacular dunks by Clyburn — but they hit enough 3s, six, for a 29-26 lead.
Ejim steadied Iowa State’s offense with a pair of inside scores, and Clyburn followed West Virginia’s 12th-straight missed 3 with a three-point play to make it 40-28 with 15:56 to go.
The way the Mountaineers were shooting, it felt like an insurmountable advantage.
Korie Lucious had 15 points and eight assists for Iowa State, which learned the hard way that hardly any lead is insurmountable in league play.
“When you’re up like that and a team starts hitting shots out of nowhere, you’ve got to keep in mind that that can happen on any night and that you’ve got to close out teams,” Ejim said.
Though the Mountaineers got back one of their best players in Staten, one of their most promising youngsters didn’t even make the trip to Ames.
Freshman Terry Henderson, who started the last eight games and averaged 11 points in his last three, stayed back in West Virginia because of a back injury. That might not sound like a ton of points to lose — until you consider that no Mountaineer entered play with more than 10.6 points an outing.
Eron Harris chipped in with 17 points for West Virginia, including four 3s in the second half.
“They caught a rhythm, and they made tough shots,” Hoiberg said. “They hit from 25, 26 feet with a hand in their face. If they hit those shots, you shake their hand. I’m thankful we got this win.”
Iowa State guard Bubu Palo, who was reinstated to the team on Monday after a sexual abuse charge against him was dropped by prosecutors, sat on the bench but wasn’t in uniform.
Palo was suspended from the team in September after being charged with sexually abusing a woman in May. But the Story County Attorney’s Office said Monday that forensic evidence clashed with sworn testimony provided by the woman and her mother.
Palo said Wednesday that he expects to be back in time for next week’s game at Texas Tech.