Stepping it up: Ejim misses minutes, Iowa State ‘gets revenge’ against West Virginia


The team huddles up before the game against West Virginia on Wednesday, Feb. 26, 2014, at Hilton Coliseum. The No. 15 Cyclones defeated the Mountaineers 83-66.

Alex Halsted

Melvin Ejim went out, and others stepped up.

When the Big 12’s leading scorer went to the bench with four fouls in the initial minutes of the second half Wednesday night, there was Georges Niang. Overshadowed? Not on this night.

Naz Long found his 3-point rhythm, and Dustin Hogue did the work inside. Monte Morris was the facilitator, and No. 15 Iowa State (22-5, 10-5 Big 12) pulled away with an 83-66 victory against West Virginia (15-13, 7-8) without its senior leader for much of the second half.

“It’s a great sign,” said ISU coach Fred Hoiberg. “I thought overall when Melvin went out, collectively the guys came together and did a great job of not only keeping the lead but extending the lead.”

A far cry from the lopsided 25-point loss last time the two teams met more than three weeks ago. This time the Cyclones hit 3-pointers and played defense.

The intensity of the last meeting — a flagrant foul on Hogue and a flagrant two on West Virginia’s Eron Harris — carried over. Harris was booed with each subsequent touching of the ball and West Virginia coach Bob Huggins was handed a technical foul in the first half.

Ejim picked up technical as he pleaded with the official only 2:44 into the second half, sending him to the bench for the next 15:08 of action.

When West Virginia cut it to a 4-point game soon after, Long hit a 3-pointer from the corner and Niang countered on the ensuing possession with a 3 from the top, holding his hands high above his head as he retreated down court.

The Cyclones never looked back, countering every West Virginia run before ending the game on a 9-1 run for a 17-point win.

“They made shots,” Huggins said. “They forced us to help and they made shots.”

Niang finished with 24 points, including nine after Ejim hit the bench. Long made five 3-pointers, Hogue scored 11 of his 15 in the second half and Morris set an ISU single-game freshman record with 12 assists.

No Ejim, no problem.

“Coach just tells everybody when your number is called just be ready and prepared,” Morris said. “We trust each other to make shots and make plays.”

That resulted in keeping pace with Texas for the second spot in the Big 12 and getting revenge on its worst loss of the season.

“When someone embarrasses you away from your home court, you obviously have revenge on your mind,” Niang said. “I feel like we did a good job of getting them back.”