It doesn't take a genius to watch West Virginia play basketball and realize that it's nothing like…
"It's never too late. I told them that before the game," said WVU head coach Bob Huggins. "As long as you're still standing, you might as well fight.
"We played [in the second half]. Earlier in the year, we may not have played that hard in the second half after playing poorly in the first."
The game, as with many of the Mountaineers' losses this season, didn't come without some sparks. Through the more than five-minute stretch of the game following a Huggins technical foul with 6:46 to play, WVU outscored Iowa State by nine.
It just wasn't enough to recover from being down by 24 at halftime and 27 with 15:46 to play in the second half.
"We need to get into the mindset that we are down 20 from the start of the game, so we come out fighting from the start," said freshman guard Eron Harris. "If we had the mindset, they would be scared to come into the paint from the beginning. They'd be turning it over – from the start."
Player of the Game
When the Mountaineers cut the game to just six points on a layup from forward Aaric Murray, they couldn't shut the Cyclones out on the other end. Senior forward Deniz Kilicli fouled ISU guard Will Clyburn on a 3-point attempt, and he made all three free throws to go up by nine.
"We just can't start the way we start. If we started better, we would've been just fine today," Kilicli said.
It wasn't over yet, however, as senior guard Matt Humphrey forced two straight turnovers that led to buckets for the Mountaineers, and that cut the lead to just four at 76-72 with under a minute to play.
After ISU free throws and a WVU timeout, a three from Harris was blocked by the Cylcones to seal the victory.
Iowa State would close the game at the free-throw line and escape Morgantown with another win. WVU fell – again – to a Big 12 team above it in the standings. It didn't beat a team higher in the Big 12 standings all regular season long.
"We've got to be hungry. We're pissed right now, and we should've been pissed a long time ago," Harris said. "It just didn't happen like that, but that's what it's going to take. It's up to us."
West Virginia finished with five players in double figures despite no player scoring more than five points in the first half. Sophomore guard Jabarie Hinds finished with a team-high 19 points – 17 of them coming in the second half.
Harris, Humphrey and Murray finished with 11 points each. Sophomore guard Terry Henderson had 10 points.
WVU dropped to 13-8 on the season and 6-12 in the Big 12 Conference. The Mountaineers will head into the conference tournament next week as either the seven or eight seed depending on whether Texas wins or loses later today.
"If we become a team, we're hard to deal with. We know that," Kilicli said. "I know this team play the way we played in the second half for 40 minutes."
Iowa State shot 59.3 percent in the first half and 56.5 percent for the game. WVU shot 52.6 percent in the second half, but a 28.6 percent shooting performance in the first half crippled the team.
West Virginia was outrebounded by 15 but turned the ball over 10 less times. The Mountaineers scored 29 points off turnovers.
WVU struggled in all facets in the first half. Despite taking a 3-2 lead, it would give up runs of 11, 10 and seven straight points to go into the locker room down 44-20.
Kilicli, in his final game at the WVU Coliseum with his parents in town for the first time, finished with four points and four rebounds.
Fellow senior Dominique Rutledge, who was escorted out of the tunnel by his teammates during Senior Day festivities, played three minutes. Humphrey made perhaps his biggest impact of his career in a WVU uniform on Saturday.