Cyclones just miss upset
AMES — Taz Sherman hit two free throws with 6.4 seconds remaining and finished with 18 points as No. 17 West Virginia held on to beat Iowa State 76-72 on Tuesday night.
Sherman was 5 of 7 from the floor and made 7 of 8 shots from the line to lead the Mountaineers (12-5, 5-3 Big 12).
“I’ve been a pretty good free throw shooter my whole life,” Sherman said. “They tried to ice me and I just stayed calm. I was just trying to stay focused.”
Solomon Young returned after missing two games due to COVID-related issues and scored 15 points. Tyler Harris and Rasir Bolton also scored 15 points for Iowa State (2-10, 0-7).
West Virginia moved out to a 63-48 lead on a 3-pointer by Sherman with 10:16 to play, but then Iowa State began chipping away.
The Cyclones closed within 74-72 with 1:37 remaining on jumper by Bolton, but Iowa State missed its final four shots and committed a costly turnover.
West Virginia made only one of its last seven shots and did not make a basket in the closing 5:46.
The Mountaineers continued a season-long trend of letting teams get back into games, which has frustrated coach Bob Huggins.
“We let down,” Huggins said. “When we get ahead like that, we let down. We’ve done it repeatedly.”
Iowa State’s last chance to tie or take the lead ended when Bolton dribbled into a defender and Sherman ended up with the ball.
Sherman put the game out of reach by hitting both free throws, but said his mother will probably send him a text about the one he missed earlier in the game.
“I’m pretty sure I’m going to get one after this,” he said.
A layup and free throw by Young gave the Cyclones a 24-17 lead in the first half.
West Virginia countered with a 19-2 run. Miles McBride scored on a dunk and followed with a jumper, giving the Mountaineers a 34-26 advantage.
Iowa State missed nine straight shots as West Virginia seized control. The Mountaineers were up 42-31 at halftime.
Iowa State’s Harris made 5 of 8 3-point attempts, helping keep the Cyclones in contention.
West Virginia made just two 3-pointers in the second half, and hit 10 of 12 free throws.
“We’ve just got to close out games,” Sherman said. “We’ve got to put teams away.”
BIG PICTURE: West Virginia is one of six Big 12 teams ranked among the Top 25 and looks on pace to make its 10th NCAA Tournament appearance in 14 seasons under coach Bob Huggins. Iowa State continues to reel from COVID-related issues and is on pace for its worst season since the 1970s.
West Virginia: The Mountaineers’ next six games are against ranked teams, starting with Saturday’s game against. No. 23 Kansas.
Iowa State: Plays three straight on the road, starting with Saturday’s game at No. 9 Oklahoma.