AMES, Iowa - A couple of weeks ago Iowa State went to Morgantown and couldn't make a shot, paying for it by being on the short end of a 102-77 rout.
Wednesday night the Cyclones made not only the outside shots they missed at the Coliseum, but became the third straight team to abuse West Virginia in the paint, as well.
The result? The Cyclones took a lead over the Mountaineers early, let them get close, but always had an answer in an 83-66 win over WVU.
It was really no more complicated than that.
"We let them score in the paint and guys who didn't make shots [in Morgantown] came home and made shots,'' said West Virginia forward Remi Dibo. "That's really all there was to it.''
Consider that in that earlier game, West Virginia shot 54 percent and made a season-high 13 3-pointers, while Iowa State - the Big 12's leader in 3-point shots - was making one 3 in the first half and just four for the game. The Cyclones shot 36 percent that night.
Fast-forward to Wednesday and Iowa State became the third straight team to shoot 50 percent or better against West Virginia, making 50.8 percent, and hitting nine 3s. West Virginia, meanwhile, shot 35.8 percent and made just five of its 20 3s.
That the Mountaineers played a second straight game without Terry Henderson, left at home because he is sick, certainly didn't help.
"The first time we made shots and spread them. This time, they made shots and spread us,'' West Virginia coach Bob Huggins said. "Yeah, it pretty much comes down to that.''
The loss was the third in a row for West Virginia (15-13, 7-8 Big 12) and almost certainly ends any chance the Mountaineers had of making a late-season push with a strong finish and working its way back into the NCAA tournament conversation. It's likely now that anything short of winning out and then perhaps even winning the Big 12 tournament won't be enough.
West Virginia has just three games remaining in the regular season, beginning with Saturday's at the Coliseum against last-place TCU (9-18, 0-15). After the game with TCU, though, things get much more difficult. Next Wednesday brings a road trip to Oklahoma and then the home finale a week from Saturday against No. 5 Kansas.
Iowa State (22-5, 10-5) used the game to finish a 7-1 month of February. The only loss the Cyclones suffered was that rout at the hands of WVU in Morgantown.
Shooting was a big deal for Iowa State because after building double-digit leads throughout the game, West Virginia kept whittling the margin. The answer for the Cyclones was usually a 3-pointer, many times by Naz Long, who had five of them.
It wasn't the only difference in the game, though. Iowa State battered West Virginia inside, just as Texas and Baylor had done in the last two games. The Cyclones outscored WVU 46-24 in the paint, making the total over the last three games 130-50.
"We have no one to throw it in to,'' Huggins said. "But I've said that from the beginning.''
Juwan Staten had 19 points for West Virginia, Eron Harris had 15 and Dibo 14.
Harris, booed every time he touched the ball after he was ejected from the teams' first game in Morgantown, missed five of his six 3-point tries.
Iowa State got 24 points from Georges Niang, 17 points and 11 rebounds from Marshall transfer DeAndre Kane and 15 each from Dustin Hogue and Long.
After trailing by as many as 14 points in the first half and then closing it to four, West Virginia started the second half slow and fell behind by 11 in the first 90 seconds.
Just as happened when they dug themselves a hole in the first half, though, the Mountaineers responded and closed the gap to four, 53-49, on three straight second shots.
No sooner than that happened, though, West Virginia got overanxious and overplayed on defense at the other end, leaving Long and Niang ridiculously wide open for 3s that pushed the margin back to 10, 59-49.
The margin see-sawed like that for a while, between five and 10 points, until the final eight minutes, when Iowa State just slowly pulled away.
Reach Dave Hickman at 304-348-1734 or dphickm...@aol.com or follow him at Twitter.com/dphickman1.
IOWA STATE 83, WEST VIRGINIA 66
West virginia (15-13, 7-8)