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Travis Hines | Ames Tribune | January 29, 2019

Iowa State basketball: Cyclones begin two-game homestand with West Virginia

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Not that Iowa State isn't happy to have a pair of home games this week after being gone for its last two tilts, but the Cyclones can read a weather forecast as well as defenses.

"We were just joking around that it would be kind of cool to have an away game to get out of this weather," freshman Tyrese Haliburton said, "but we love Hilton (Coliseum), love our crowd and know that will be big time for us."

The 20th-ranked Cyclones won't be able to escape Ames and the extreme sub-zero wind chills that canceled classes for the next few days at the school, but ISU will get a couple of games at one of the country's most formidable venues as it looks to bolster both its Big 12 championship aspirations and NCAA tournament resume.

"We've got a huge week in front of us," ISU coach Steve Prohm said. "Excited for this week."

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It's a week that doesn't feature fellow conference contenders, but it does present home games against teams in the bottom of the standings, which means wins will likely be critical if ISU wants to get into the second half of the conference schedule as a legit threat to dethrone 14-time defending champ Kansas as well as improve an NCAA tournament resume it hopes will be strong enough to secure first- and second-round games in Des Moines.

It starts Wednesday when West Virginia comes to town (6 p.m.; ESPNU) as a wounded program, sporting a 9-11 overall record and a 1-6 conference mark, though that one win came against the 11th-ranked Jayhawks.

"The things they bring to the table is their toughness and physicality up front," Prohm said. "That's the biggest thing we need to focus on the next couple days, is defending the paint, defending the dribble and finishing plays."

Bob Huggins' teams has a different look this season beyond the pile of losses that is atypical for the program. The Press Virginia style of full-court pressure has waned as the Mountaineers no longer employ it for large swaths of games and rank 215th nationally in forcing turnovers after ranking in the top-two the last four years.

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"The relentless, full-court pressure, I haven't seen in a couple games that I've watched so far," Prohm said of his Mountaineer prep. "What they do offensively, really trying to attack the paint with post feeds or dribble-drive, but to play 15-feet-and-in, that's still their staple offensively.

"I think defensively, in the couple games I've seen, not as much as the relentless pressure on the ball, 94 feet as you've seen it some times."

West Virginia hasn't totally abandoned aggressive defense, though.

"I think they're still going to try to overplay," Prohm said. "They're going to try to play like Oklahoma State does in the sense of getting in passing lanes and really extending their defense. If not, we'll just have to run good offense and get good ball movement, but whether they extend pressure or not, they're still extending in the half-court. "

The week, which features Texas (11-9, 3-4) on Saturday, takes on added significance given the Cyclones have already lost one conference home game this season.

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"It's big because we lost against Kansas State," freshman Talen Horton-Tucker said, "and we always want to protect our home court."

The Cyclones, though, know they can't win both their home games this week if they don't win the first one.

"It's one game," Prohm said. "It's the next game. It's a big game because they're all big in conference as you go down the stretch here.

"We need to play well and hopefully start a good homestand." 

This article is written by Travis HInes from Ames Tribune, Iowa and was legally licensed via the Tribune Content Agency through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to

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