Cyclones hope to blow past Mountaineers

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Updated: 2/26 9:56 am

Ames, IA (SportsNetwork.com) - The 15th-ranked Iowa State Cyclones will attempt to win their fourth straight game on Wednesday night, as they are set to play host to the West Virginia Mountaineers in Big 12 Conference action at Hilton Coliseum.

WVU's up-and-down campaign has resulted in modest records both overall (15-12) and in league play (7-7), and it has gone only 3-6 on the road. The Mountaineers are currently losers of two straight, most recently dropping a home matchup with Baylor on Saturday, 88-75.

Iowa State's current winning streak, which was extended on Saturday afternoon at TCU with an easy 71-60 triumph, has given it six victories in the past seven contests. The Cyclones are 9-5 in the Big 12, good for a tie for second place with Texas, and they have been nothing short of outstanding in Ames with wins in 13-of-14 matchups at Hilton Coliseum.

The Cyclones hold a 2-1 advantage over the Mountaineers in the all-time series, although WVU earned that victory earlier this month with a 102-77 triumph at home on Feb. 10, Iowa State's most lopsided loss of the season.

The Mountaineers appeared in great position to capture a win in their most recent game leading by eight at intermission, but after shooting 48.1 percent from the field in the first half, they regressed to just 32.1 percent in the second stanza as they unraveled down the stretch and eventually lost by 13. Eron Harris was spectacular despite the setback with 32 points, shooting 6- of-9 from 3-point range and 8-of-8 from the free-throw line in the process. Juwan Staten was also solid with 16 points, eight rebounds and six assists.

WVU has plenty of positive attributes to lean on this season, including a strong scoring offense (78.9 ppg), a large presence from beyond the arc (8.2 3-pointers per game at a 38.9 percent clip) and an excellent turnover margin (+3.5), but it also owns a lackluster scoring defense (73.3 ppg) and gets outrebounded by 0.9 rpg. The team is paced by the efforts of Harris (18.1 ppg) and Staten (18.0 ppg), who have been neck-and-neck for the scoring lead all season. Harris is deadly from long range, knocking down 77 3-pointers at 43 percent efficiency, while Staten is one of the nation's most well-rounded guards with 6.0 rpg, 6.0 apg and 1.3 spg. Terry Henderson (12.1 ppg) and Devin Williams (8.1 ppg, 7.0 rpg) also bring regular contributions.

The Cyclones battled through seven ties and seven lead changes over the weekend before taking control of the game for good by ripping off a 12-5 run midway through the second half against TCU and eventually cruising to the 11- point victory. Although they were uncharacteristically off the mark from 3- point range (1-of-11), they still outshot TCU from the field, 48.3 percent to 36.7 percent. DeAndre Kane had a typically well-balanced performance with 20 points, six rebounds and five assists. Georges Niang (19 points, eight rebounds, five assists) also stuffed the stat sheet, and Melvin Ejim poured in 14 points.

Iowa State is the Big 12's most prolific scoring team this season, putting up 83.6 ppg on a lofty 47.3 percent field goal shooting, which is more than enough to support its defensive effort (.408, 73.3 ppg). Ejim is the conference's leading scorer, netting 18.9 ppg on 52.6 percent from the field and 78.9 percent at the foul line, while adding 8.4 rpg for good measure. Kane chips in across the board with 16.3 ppg, 6.6 rpg, 6.0 apg and 1.3 spg, Niang is also an outstanding scorer with 16.5 ppg on 49.3 percent field-goal shooting, and Dustin Hogue joins Ejim in the frontcourt and puts up 10.7 ppg and 8.5 rpg.

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