In their first conference road game of the season and in their first game ever as the top ranked team in the country, the Texas Longhorns got a victory. Much like last week's trip to Fayetteville, this one wasn't pretty, but Texas prevailed 90-83.
Texas withstood hot shooting from Iowa State in the first half, including an 11-of-15 stretch, to be down just two points at the half.
The opening minutes of the second half made the difference in this one. Quickly after the break, Dexter Pittman got an offensive rebound and a put-back; Avery Bradley sank a mid-range jumper; Damion James scored a bucket; a sophomore-like Justin Mason got two more off a driving layup; and James finished the 10-0 run with a fast break dunk. As good as the five-for-five start was, it was the defense that made the difference. Iowa State was not prepared for the full court trap from Texas and coughed the ball up on their first couple of possessions.
At that point, Texas led 52-44 and had gained a lead that they would never relinquish.
The Cyclones did pull to within just two points later in the second. However, James and Bradley were too much.
Damion finished with 23 points and 14 boards. His eleventh rebound of the game made him the all time leading rebounder in Big XII history. Congratulations!
Bradley had his second straight off the charts game. Avery was 10-of-14 from the floor, including four three pointers, for a game-high 24 points to go with six rebounds, six assists, and three steals. He also led the team in minutes, which is becoming the norm.
High praise also goes to Dogus Balbay and J'Covan Brown. Dogus smartly attacked the sagging defense, didn't settle for jump shots that he was unlikely to make, and created well for his teammates (five assists/one turnover). Brown was also solid, especially in the final minutes. He protected the ball well, save for the non-call on the push in the back, made a couple of amazing driving layups, and was his usual perfect self from the line. His only sore spot was an 0-for-3 performance from behind the arc.
It is easy to see a seven point win like this and not appreciate it. Think again. Winning on the road is never easy, and with the strength of the Big XII this year, winning away from home may have never been tougher. I won't be shocked if Texas or Kansas wins the conference by going 8-0 at home and 5-3 on the road.
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NEXT GAME: vs. Texas A&M (12-4, 1-1) - Saturday, January 16th 5 pm ESPNU