MORGANTOWN -- Georges Niang waited until the very end to beat West Virginia when the Mountaineers played at Iowa State in January. He did equally decisive damage much earlier and more often Saturday as the Cyclones beat WVU 83-74.
Niang, the freshman forward who made a layup with three seconds to go to clinch a 69-67 win at home against WVU Jan. 16, had a list of contributions in the rematch before a crowd of 9,413 at the Coliseum.
He first turned back a WVU rally with a layup, a 3-pointer and then a blocked layup before Will Clyburn hit a layup. The Cyclones went from reeling to rolling. WVU had cut a 27-point lead to 10, but Niang's push restored order at 68-51.
The Mountaineers would respond from there with a 12-1 run and soon a layup by Matt Humphrey made it 73-65, but Niang threw in a one-handed shot as the shot clock expired to bail the Cyclones out again. Up 73-67, Niang set a screen up top late in a possession that forced a defensive switch.
That left his defender, the 6-9, 260-pound Deniz Kilicli guarding the 6-7, 210-pound Clyburn. Kilicli fouled Clyburn shooting a 3 and Clyburn made all three free throws with 1:31 left to play.
"The thing is if we started the game the way we played the second half, I think we would have beaten them by 15," Kilicli said.
In a sixth straight loss, the longest streak since ending the 2002 season with nine straight defeats, the Mountaineers shot 52.6 percent in the second half and made 9 of 16 3-point attempts. They were done in by shooting 28.6 and scoring just 20 points in the first half. WVU was down 10 points very early in the game, the 16th time that's happened in 31 games this season. The Mountaineers lost 15 of those games.
Still, they responded Saturday better than before despite a 24-point deficit at halftime.
"We played," Coach Bob Huggins said. "Earlier in the year, we may not have played that hard in the second half after playing that poorly in the first half."
Niang had 13 of his 14 points in the second half and the Cyclones (21-10, 11-7) outscored WVU by 20 points in the 32 minutes he was in the game. Clyburn had 27 and 10 rebounds. Korrie Lucious scored 21 and Chris Babb added 11. Iowa State became the third straight team to top 80 points against the Mountaineers, thanks in large part to 14 3s on 23 attempts and 56.5 percent shooting.
"I've been around this game long enough as a player and now as a coach where you do go into that mode a little bit when they hit a couple shots and you hold on tight," Coach Fred Hoiberg said after winning for the fourth time in 12 road games this season. "Thankfully we got out of it and found a way."
Hinds led the Mountaineers with 19 points, Murray, Harris and Humphrey had 11 and Terry Henderson added 10. WVU completed its worst regular since going 8-20 in 2002. The Mountaineers play Wednesday in the Big 12 Conference Tournament as either the No. 8 seed against Texas Tech. WVU is 2-0 against the Red Raiders this season. A third win would set up a third game against Kansas, which is 2-0 against WVU.Winning the tournament and getting the automatic NCAA bid is WVU's only chance to make the postseason for a 10th straight season.