Derek Culver’s big first half gave West Virginia the boost they needed to snag a road win over Iowa State in Ames, 77-71.
Culver found double figures in scoring in the opening period, racking up 14 points on 7-for-11 shooting inside. He would eventually be one of four Mountaineers to find double-figure scoring marks in the victory.
The long sought-after offense for West Virginia finally seemed to arrive in the first half, with Culver acting as the team’s motor. The lead switched hands six times before the Mountaineers firmly control with 8:40 remaining.
That seemed to set the tone for the rest of the offense, which made 55.6 percent of their field goals. Taz Sherman gave a boost as well from deep, adding a pair of first half three-pointers.
While Iowa State started well, a late drought helped the Mountaineers build a late lead. The Cyclones would shoot just 39.3 percent for the half as West Virginia took a 7-point lead to the locker room.
The hot start for West Virginia seemed to end along with the first half. ISU came out to a 9-point run right off the bat which lasted nearly 7 minutes. West Virginia wouldn’t find any points until Sherman hit a pair of free throws at the 14:11 mark.
In total, the Cyclone lead to open the half would get to 20-4, with their lead getting as high as 4 points.
The Mountaineers would get their act together in the second half, getting wind on the scoreboard behind a 10-point run late. While they would go without a field goal in the last two-and-a-half minutes, they were able to stay on top behind clutch foul shooting from Miles McBride and Gabe Osabuohien.
Culver and McBride both provided the motor inside offensively, each leading WVU with 17 points. Culver’s 9 rebounds also led the Mountaineers, alongside Oscar Tshiebwe’s same mark.
Sherman (13 points) and Tshiebwe (11) were the other two Mountaineers to round out the double-digit scorers.
After a cold first half, Rasir Bolton finished with a team-high 21 points and 4 assists. Prentiss Nixon wasn’t too far behind with 19 points, including 5 three-pointers.
The victory slides West Virginia up to the 5 seed in the Big 12 standings with one game to go in the regular season. They aren’t entirely in control of their own fate, however, as their 8-9 record puts them even with Oklahoma (albeit the Sooners are the current 6 seed), and one game behind both Texas Tech and Texas.
West Virginia rounds out its campaign out on Saturday when they face No. 4 Baylor at 4 p.m.