Expect defense to be at the forefront and intensity to be elevated when No. 12 Iowa State hosts No. 7 Texas on Tuesday in a Big 12 Conference dustup in Ames, Iowa.
The teams are tied for second place in conference play five games into the brutal Big 12 gauntlet.
The Longhorns (15-2, 4-1 Big 12) head north after another gritty come-from-behind win, this one 72-70 at home against Texas Tech on Saturday. Texas has won three straight after getting walloped at home by Kansas State on Jan. 3, two of those when they were down by at least nine points at halftime.
Marcus Carr led the Longhorns with 20 points and Sir’Jabari Rice added 18, including five free throws in the final 21 seconds to carry Texas to the finish line. Timmy Allen added 17 points for the Longhorns, who are 8-1 under interim coach Rodney Terry.
Rice made pairs of free throws with 20.6 and 14 seconds remaining, respectively, and was fouled again with five seconds left and Texas up by two points. He went 1 of 2, keeping the margin at three points, but the Longhorns immediately fouled to eliminate the chance for a game-tying 3-pointer and were able to hold on.
The second-half charge came after Terry got his team’s attention with a halftime speech that served as a wake-up call. After the break, the Longhorns made 52 percent of their shots, 13 of their 15 free throws and allowed Texas Tech just eight points in the paint.
“Coach challenged us, for sure,” Carr said. “He didn’t like the way we played, and he told us we’re better than that. He wanted us to play like he knows we can play. It was a great halftime speech.”
Texas plays three of its next four games on the road and could ill afford to lose to Texas Tech at home.
“It’s all about being able to close out those games in the right way — getting stops, getting to the foul line,” Terry explained. “About the eight-minute mark, we start to say it’s winning time right now. Our guys did a really good job of that the last two ballgames.”
The Cyclones (13-3, 4-1) return home after a 62-60 loss at league-leading Kansas on Saturday. Gabe Kalscheur scored 23 points and Osun Osunniyi had 14 before fouling out as Iowa State had a six-game winning streak snapped.
The loss to Kansas went down to the final shot after Kalscheur canned a 3-pointer to tie the game with 36.7 seconds to play. After the Jayhawks went up by a bucket, Iowa State had a chance to win, but Caleb Grill’s off-balance 3-pointer was off the mark with just over a second remaining.
“I love my guys. I love their fight, I love their competitive spirit,” Iowa State coach TJ Otzelberger said after the loss. “We came up one play short. We’re going to learn from it, we’re going to be better for it, and we’re going to come together even more as a group as we move forward.”
The Cyclones shot just 38.3 percent from the floor but stayed in the game by making 8 of their 20 shots from beyond the arc.
–Field Level Media