The West Virginia Mountaineers (15-10, 7-5 Big 12) took the No. 11-ranked Iowa State Cyclones (18-5, 6-5, Big 12) to the woodshed on Monday night inside the WVU Coliseum in Morgantown in a game that was over by halftime.
When it was all said and done, the Mountaineers would earn a 102-77 resume-boosting victory, per SportsCenter on Twitter:
West Virginia blows out No. 11 Iowa State, 102-77. Melvin Ejim follows career-high 48-point game with 6 Pts (1-9 FG).— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) February 11, 2014
As ESPN Stats & Info points out, it was also a landmark win for West Virginia:
West Virginia is up 19 at half against Iowa State. Mountaineers are 0-8 against top-20 Big 12 teams since joining the conference #ISUvsWVU— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) February 11, 2014
Keep in mind that the Mountaineers were a dismal 1-5 against ranked opponents this season coming into Monday's matchup.
The loss is Iowa State's fifth in its last nine games. The Cyclones, who were once 14-0 this season, now trail the Mountaineers in the Big 12 Conference standings with less than a month remaining in the regular season.
Four West Virginia starters scored in double figures and the Mountaineers shot better than 59 percent from beyond the arc as a team in the rout. Ironically, West Virginia head coach Bob Huggins had been concerned about his team's lack of depth prior to the game, per CBSSports.com. "The hard part about not having depth is we have to play Staten so long, we have to play Harris so long. I don't think it affects us in this game, but it may affect us on Monday (against Iowa State)," Huggins said.
On the other end, nothing was falling for the Cyclones, who even squandered their uncontested opportunities from the foul line, missing nine total free throws and failing to capitalize on 23 offensive rebounds.
Surprisingly, Iowa State's Melvin Ejim, who was just two days removed from a Big 12-record 48-point performance against TCU, finished with just six points on 1-of-9 shooting from the floor.
Melvin Ejim had vastly different looking shot charts for Iowa State in his last 2 games pic.twitter.com/zGTokyoZaz— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) February 11, 2014
Remi Dibo was the X-factor for the Mountaineers, pouring in a game-high 20 points on 6-of-8 shooting from downtown. The junior forward from France was averaging just 7.3 points per game entering Monday's contest.
Although the 13 three-pointers were demoralizing for the Cyclones, plays like this one by Gary Browne showcased West Virginia's determination, which appeared to break Iowa State's will during the pivotal moments of the first half, per ESPN College Basketball on Twitter:
“This team is playing with a great sense of purpose tonight, they are making all the effort plays. “ http://t.co/VmM5RwYMRu— ESPN College BBall (@ESPNCBB) February 11, 2014
The Cyclones trailed by 19 points at halftime and would cut the deficit to 14 with 15 minutes to play. However, a 13-2 run by the Mountaineers would put the game out of reach.
Which team will finish with a better Big 12 record?
For Iowa State, Monday's loss is about as bad as it gets. Not only does the defeat drop Fred Hoiberg's squad to 6-5 in conference play, but it featured a head-scratching lack of effort from the Cyclones, who had won three straight coming in.
Meanwhile, the win is a much-needed one for Huggins' side, who will play at No. 19 Texas on Saturday.
While the victory is without a doubt West Virginia's most impressive of the season, the Mountaineers still have plenty of work left to do if they hope to make the NCAA-tournament field next month. On the other hand, Iowa State will have additional room for error down the stretch thanks to its undefeated nonconference run to begin the season.
West Virginia and Iowa State will meet again on Feb. 26 inside the James H. Hilton Coliseum in Ames, Iowa.