WVU men play ISU today

MORGANTOWN-West Virginia Unversity’s men’s basketball team (14-10, 6-5 Big 12) will look to bounce back from a poor second half performance in an 83-69 loss at Kansas when the Mountaineers play host to No. 16 Iowa State (18-4, 6-4 Big 12) at 7 p.m. today.

The Cyclones swept the season series a year ago taking an 83-74 decision at the Coliseum and then ekeing out a two-point, 69-67, victory at home.

However, two of the major thorns in the Mountaineers’ side in those losses-Will Clyburn and Korie Lucious-won’t be on the court for the ESPNU tipoff.

Clyburn poured in a game-high 27 points and Lucious added 21 as Iowa State University raced out to a 44-20 advantage after the first half of play in the Cyclones’ first visit to Morgantown. WVU, behind the play of Jabarie Hinds, reversed the scoring in the second half, 54-39, but it was too little, too late as the Mountaineers dropped to 13-18 on the season and 6-12 in league play.

This year’s ISU squad comes to Morgantown fresh off of an 84-69 win over TCU while West Virginia was dominated in the paint against Kansas.

The Cyclones are led in scoring this year by senior forward Melvin Ejim, who scored a team-high 16 points in ISU’s home victory over WVU last season, with a 19.8 points per game norm.

Sophomore forward Georges Niang (16.2 ppg) and senior guard DeAndre Kane (16.0) join Ejim in double figures for ISU while the remainder of the starting five will include junior Dustin Hogue (10.9 ppg) at forward and freshman Monte Morris (6.6) at the other guard.

West Virginia will counter with junior Juwan Staten (18.3 ppg) and sophomores Eron Harris (17.5) and Terry Henderson (12.0) at the guards and junior Remi Dibo (7.3) and freshman Devin Williams (8.6) at the forwards.

Fans should also expect to see juniors Gary Browne (5.8) and Kevin Noreen (1.9) as well as sophomore Tyrone Hughes and freshmen Nathan Adrian (5.0) and Brandon Watkins (3.1) on the floor.

With Big 12 tournament play just around the corner, West Virginia can ill afford to drop another home contest. The Cyclones come to Morgantown tied with Kansas State for fourth in the 10-team conference while the Mountaineers sit alone at the No. 5 spot and could move into fourth with a victory.

ISU has won three in a row, including a 98-97 triple-overtime victory at Oklahoma State last Monday. The Cyclones, however, are only 3-3 on the road this year, including a 2-3 mark in Big 12 play.

West Virginia will be playing its sixth straight Top 25 team. A victory would go a long way to improving an NCAA tournament resume that already includes win over Baylor (66-64), Kansas State (81-71) and Oklahoma (91-86 OT). With only three more home games-Baylor (Feb. 22), TCU (Mar. 1) and Kansas (Mar. 8)-the Mountaineers need to come away with a win if they want to be included in the field for March Madness.