MORGANTOWN, W.Va. - Save for a handful of November laughers against clearly outclassed opponents, West Virginia's easiest win this season came just over two weeks ago. It was by 25 points, it resulted in WVU's first 100-point output in a conference game in more than eight years and it was never close.
That it was against an Iowa State team that was ranked No. 11 at the time and still checks in at No. 15 in the Associated Press poll made it all the more shocking.
But if that 102-77 win bordered on the absurd where the Mountaineers were concerned, imagine how it went over in Ames, Iowa.
"It was definitely a wake-up call," Iowa State forward Melvin Ejim said this week.
Indeed, if West Virginia can expect anything tonight in the rematch, it is an Iowa State team with its eyes wide open. The Mountaineers (15-12, 7-7 Big 12) face the Cyclones (21-5, 9-5) in an 8 p.m. (ET) game at Hilton Coliseum in Ames that will be televised by the Big 12 Network (locally on WQCW).
"I think this group understands what happened the first go-around with West Virginia. They handed it to us,'' Iowa State coach Fred Hoiberg said. "It was a bad performance by our team, but they had a lot to do with it. They came out with a much greater sense of urgency than we did. They just took it to us.''
Indeed, that might have been the best performance West Virginia has put together this season. Not only did the Mountaineers shoot nearly 54 percent, they had a season-high 13 3-pointers and missed just two of their 21 free throws.
Perhaps more telling, though, was what WVU managed defensively. Iowa State shot 36.6 percent, made just four 3s (the Cyclones lead the Big 12 in 3-pointers) and held the league's leading scorer, Ejim, to one basket. That was just two days after Ejim had burned TCU for a Big 12-record 48 points.
Since that time, though, Iowa State has won three straight. In fact, the Cyclones' only loss this month was to West Virginia.
"We've been better since that one,'' Hoiberg said. "There were so many things to learn from that game.''