AMES, Iowa (AP) — West Virginia guard Miles McBride has been hot and cold his entire rookie season.
The talented 6-2 freshman helped the struggling Mountaineers ice a much-needed 77-71 win over Iowas State on Tuesday night that pushed West Virginia coach Bob Huggins past North Carolina’s Dean Smith into sixth place on the Division I all-time wins list with his 880th career victory.
McBride came off the bench to score a team high-tying 17 points — including four free throws in the final 16 seconds to seal the victory. Derek Culver also scored 17 points for West Virginia (20-10, 8-9 Big 12), which won for just the second time in the past eight games.
“He’s been like most freshmen, a little bit up and down, but he’s had some huge games,” Huggins said of McBride, his top scoring non-starter. “We’ve just got to continue to work with him and he’s got to continue to work to get more consistent, but he was very good today.”
The same could be said of West Virginia in general, which shot 56% in the first half to take a 44-31 lead. Iowa State (12-18, 5-12) responded by scoring 20 of the first 24 points of the second half and went ahead 51-48 on a 3-pointer by Prentiss Nixon with 12:06 left.
“We’re really young and we haven’t been in situations like that like veteran teams have,” Huggins said of his team’s ongoing issues with consistency. “We’ve done some really dumb things, at times, and we’ve had games where we just turned it over repeatedly and got ourselves in holes we couldn’t get back out of.”
The Mountaineers finally regained the lead for good on a Culver putback basket with 5:35 left and eventually led by 10 before the Cyclones charged back to trail 73-71 with 23 seconds left. That’s when McBride calmly sealed the victory with his first pair of free throws.
Rasir Bolton scored 17 of his 21 points in the second half for Iowa State. Nixon added 19 points — including a season-high five 3-pointers.
“We competed,” Cyclones coach Steve Prohm said. “We just weren’t able to get over the hump. We exerted a lot of energy to get back in it and give West Virginia credit, they were on the ropes and they responded.”
West Virginia: The Mountaineers continued to lack consistency on offense — despite shooting 56% in the first half while taking a 44-31 lead. West Virginia went scoreless for the first 5:42 of the second half and missed six straight 3-point attempts after making 4 of its first 8 from long range.
Iowa State: The Cyclones saw their three-game home winning streak against the Mountaineers snapped. Iowa State fell to 1-15 this season when trailing at halftime and 0-18 when shooting a worse percentage from the field than its opponent.
Depth has been critical to the Mountaineers’ success all season and Tuesday night was no different. McBride’s 17 points in a reserve role helped West Virginia’s bench outscore Iowa State’s 35-2. Taz Sherman added 12 points in 19 minutes for the Mountaineers, who feature 10 players who average between 3 and 11 points per game.
Iowa State said goodbye to two seniors: Nixon and forward Michael Jacobson. The duo combined for 26 points in their final home game. Jacobson hurt his ankle early, but with extra tape managed to stay on the floor and score nine points in 31 minutes.
“This is not how we wanted to go out on senior night,” Jacobson said of his team’s second-half comeback bid. “I think everyone stepped up and started playing for each other.”