WVU back on the road to face No. 6 Iowa State, which hasn’t lost at home this season

MORGANTOWN — West Virginia enters the final stretch of the regular season looking up at everyone else in the Big 12.

That could change — by a lot — with a victory Saturday against No. 6 Iowa State inside Hilton Coliseum.

WVU (9-17, 4-9 Big 12), in theory, could jump from 14th to 10th with just one win, and move up to eighth by following that up with another victory against Kansas State.

Just one problem: Both games are on the road, where the Mountaineers have been dreadful this season.

“It’s just a matter of us being consistent with it,” WVU guard RaeQuan Battle said about the differences between playing at home and on the road. “If we’re not consistent and we’re jawing at each other the whole game; if someone breaks off a play two or three times in a row, it’s going to be confusing throughout the entire game.”

WVU STATS

Hilton Coliseum is not the place where teams want to attempt to pick up a road win.

Iowa State (20-6, 9-4) is a perfect 15-0 at home this season and the Cyclones have won 42 of their last 50 games played at Hilton.

“When you’re playing somewhere else and you’ve got their fans screaming at us and their players are screaming at us, it’s chaotic,” Battle continued. “It’s about mentally staying tough and trusting each other. If you don’t do that, you’re going to get blown out by 20.”

Which has happened to WVU on the road this season.

At Houston, lose by 34. At TCU, lose by 16. At Texas, lose by 36.

In all 10 games played away from the WVU Coliseum this season, WVU is getting outscored by an average of 14 points per game.

“It’s tough losing,” WVU forward Quinn Slazinski said. “I’m not going to sugar-coat it. We come together and we try and we bust our (butt) every single game.

“As much as you guys want us to win, we want it 10 times more.”

Iowa State has much more at stake than just trying to remain unbeaten at home.

The Cyclones are just one game back of Houston for the Big 12 title and would own the tiebreaker if Houston and Iowa State finished tied at the end of the regular season.

The key will be how WVU handles Iowa State’s physical half-court defense.

The Cyclones lead the Big 12 with 460 turnovers forced and do it with a relentless man-to-man pressure. That’s bothered WVU in the past.

“They really guard, especially in the half court,” WVU head coach Josh Eilert said. “When you look at their numbers, you think they throw a bunch of full-court pressure out there, but it’s really in the half court. Their ball pressure is really as good as anyone in the country.”

WVU at (6) IOWA STATE

WHEN: 2 p.m. Saturday
WHERE: Hilton Coliseum, Ames, Iowa
TV: ESPN2 (Comcast 28, HD 851; DirecTV 209; DISH 143)
RADIO: 100.9 JACK-FM
WEB: dominionpost.com