Iowa State Cyclones vs. West Virginia Mountaineers Pick & Prediction FEBRUARY 24th 2024

No. 6 Iowa State aims to bounce back from a loss to No. 2 Houston when it hosts West Virginia on Saturday in Big 12 play at Ames, Iowa.

The Cyclones (20-6, 9-4 Big 12) fell one game off the pace behind the Cougars with the setback.

Iowa State now looks to end its longstanding problems with West Virginia (9-17, 4-9), which has won eight of the past nine meetings between the schools.

The Cyclones, who are 15-0 at home, never led during their loss to Houston and trailed 17-4 at the midway point of the first half and ultimately fell 73-65.

“We had a very cold start,” said Iowa State forward Tre King, who had 13 points and eight rebounds against the Cougars. “We didn’t make shots we normally make. I also think we turned the ball over more than normal.”

The Cyclones committed 16 turnovers against Houston, which negated their 39-30 rebounding advantage.

Iowa State coach T.J. Otzelberger wasn’t going to let one subpar effort derail his team’s fine season.

“Regardless of what comes our way, we feel we can hit it head on,” Otzelberger said. “… We’ve got a lot in front of us and I still don’t think we’ve played our best basketball.”

Keshon Gilbert scored 17 points against Houston to raise his team-best scoring average to 14.3. He has scored in double figures four straight times and in nine of the past 10 games.

King made all three of his 3-pont attempts while scoring in double digits for just the fourth time in the past 13 games. He’s fifth on the Cyclones with a 9.5 scoring average.

West Virginia is in a three-way tie for last in the 14-team Big 12.

The Mountaineers are winless in six road games this season — all against Big 12 teams — and they have lost by an average of 19.5 points.

West Virginia ended a four-game overall skid on Tuesday with a 77-67 home win over UCF. The Mountaineers limited the Knights to 32.9 percent shooting from the field and never trailed while holding a conference foe under 70 points for just the second time this season.

Our guys locked in on the game plan,” West Virginia coach Josh Eilert said. “We changed some things up defensively in our man (defense) and went back and forth with our defenses. Certainly, our guys took that and ran with it and executed it.”

RaeQuan Battle scored 24 points for the Mountaineers and topped 20 for the third straight game. He is averaging 23.3 points during the stretch.

Battle didn’t make his West Virginia debut until Dec. 20. He was initially denied eligibility after playing two seasons apiece at Washington and Montana State before a federal judge ruled that second-time transfers were immediately able to play.

Before the current three-game run, Battle went through a five-game funk in which he averaged 8.2 points and shot 28.9 percent (14 of 45) from the field.

Battle, who is averaging a team-best 16.7 points, is now playing the way Eilert envisioned.

“He’s doing a lot better job letting the game come to him and just being patient with it,” Eilert said. “He’s going to get his touches one way or another so (the key is) understanding what’s the best opportunity to attack. He’s naturally in attack mode, that’s the way he plays.”

–Field Level Media

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