Just when you think Iowa State basketball finally plants a flag at the top of the mountain, they stumble all the way to the bottom after losing to the Big 12’s worst team. There’s no time for feeling sorry for themselves — a quick turnaround in a huge game against Texas lies ahead. Luckily they’ll be back in their friendly confines to try and regain momentum they completely lost just a day ago.
(17)Texas Longhorns at (9)Iowa State Cyclones
James H. Hilton Coliseum | Ames, Iowa
Monday, January 26, 2014 | Tipoff – 8:00 PM CT
TV: ESPN | Stream: WatchESPN
Iowa State (14-4, 4-2) held a players-only meeting after the disaster at Lubbock. Hopefully the leading topic was a sense of urgency. Whatever the case is with this school’s athletic year, both the football and men’s basketball teams have suffered being able to start a game. They look unprepared and not ready to play as the opponent delivers the first punch (or punches). Sometimes the Cyclones respond, but if they can’t get over the hump against Texas Tech, then they shouldn’t expect to defeat anyone with a slow start.
Texas (14-5, 3-3) has had a rough start to the season and needed to defeat Kansas and/or Iowa State to get back on the map. The Jayhawks cruised, so now the Longhorns face a brutal task of winning in Ames or fall to a losing record in conference play.
What to watch for
Also see: Five players to watch
Texas Longhorns guard Isaiah Taylor (1) drives to the basket against the Iowa State Cyclones at James H. Hilton Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Reese Strickland-USA TODAY Sports
It shouldn’t take much to get stoked for a big game against Texas. Assuming Iowa State players show up on time, the first thing that we’ll have to watch is how the Cyclones handle the Longhorns’ size. ISU has done a better job handling it by doing better at other phases of the game to make up for their rebounding deficit.
If Iowa State couldn’t handle Texas Tech’s defense well in the early going, that will be bad news against Texas. The Longhorns are like an upgraded version of the Red Raiders — stronger in both offense and defense. On defense, Texas is fourth in the nation in effective field goal percentage (39.7), third in shooting efficiency (86.9), and 20th in field goals made (20.2). They’ve allowed opponents to score just 25.2 points by halftime on average and lead the country in holding teams to just 17.1 defensive rebounds while collecting 27.5 themselves — that’s also leading the nation.
Weaknesses are holding onto the ball, firing from downtown, and moving the ball fluently on offense with just a 0.537 assist-to-FGM ratio and a 0.927 assist-to-turnover ratio — those are both ranked 161st and 198th nationally, respectively. Luckily, those are all the things Iowa State excels in. They have to exploit those more than Texas exploits the Cyclones being undersized.
This is a classic Texas team under Rick Barnes that has a little more juice than recent years. There’s a reason why they were ranked as one of the top teams in the nation, but they’ve been less productive on offense and there’s been no improvement when it comes to possessions — they still cough up the ball a ton and don’t force turnovers.
Iowa State basketball and their fans should be pissed for blowing it on Saturday. Losing to Texas Tech after finally separating themselves and being at the top of the Big 12 is embarrassing. In just four hours, Kansas has all of a sudden become the favorites to win this conference. It’s also made this game into a very important matchup for both teams — the loser will have a nearly impossible journey to win the conference with three or more losses in the Big 12 with 11 games to go. I’ll give you a spoiler alert — no one’s winning 10 or more games in a row in this conference.
It’s gut check time.
Stats: Team Rankings
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