After getting smoked Saturday in Morgantown, the Texas Longhorns get a chance to quickly wash away their sins on Monday. The Iowa State Cyclones (11-7; 2-5) come to Austin to wrap up their season series with the Horns. Steve Prohm's squad hopes to build off of their Saturday victory over Texas Tech.
A quick look at the Cyclones
Enjoying a senior-heavy squad last season, Iowa State has reset the roster and is rebuilding. The key pieces of that rebuild are 6’2 freshman perimeter scorer Lindell Wigginton, 6'8 sophomore Solomon Young, and 6'9 redshirt freshman Cameron Lard (more on him below). In the meantime the Cyclones get solid guard play out of point guard Nick Weiler-Babb and dangerous shooter Donovan Jackson. Young and Lard are backed up by a trio of graduate transfers: Zoran Talley, Hans Brase, and Jeff Beverly.
You can read a more in depth breakdown of Iowa State in the preview from the last time these two teams met.
What happened the last time these two teams met?
The Texas Longhorns won 74-70 in overtime in Hilton Coliseum.
Dylan Osetkowski found his perimeter stroke in Ames, shooting 7-13 from three point range. Unfortunately, that shooting stroke was misplaced almost as soon as it was found; perhaps it ended up buried in a snowdrift in Iowa.
Eric Davis had one of his best games of the season. The Iowa State game as much as any other is probably the point where Davis consistently switched to being more aggressive at attacking the basket off the dribble. Davis' transition from a catch-and-shoot player to a more multidimensional scorer was cemented on New Year's Day in Ames, and if it holds it will dramatically alter the trajectory of his career.
Meanwhile, Matt Coleman had a solid game; his stat line benefited from his teammate's sudden perimeter shooting breakout, as the Longhorn freshman recorded nine assists, seven of which came off of made threes. This once again served as a powerful reminder that assists are in large part a measure of how well a point guard's teammates are shooting the ball.
For Iowa State, the contest against Texas would be the last game that Cameron Lard would begin watching from the bench. Lard had a breakout performance, scoring 21 points and grabbing 16 rebounds. His scoring inside, along with some spectacular perimeter shooting by Donovan Jackson, was enough to force an overtime. But the Longhorns would do enough in the extra period to grab a four-point victory on the road.
What has Iowa State been up to since last facing Texas?
The Cyclones now have a 2-5 record in conference play, but have managed to win two out of their last three contests — home games against Baylor and Texas Tech.
Coach Prohm's young team has played about like young teams do. They have some talent — no one questions Wigginton's ability and the emergence of Lard has allowed him to displace the Cyclone's grab bag of grad transfers inside — but Iowa State just doesn't seem to have the guys to go against most of the teams in the league on a consistent basis.
That said, in some games they look fantastic. Take their Saturday win against Texas Tech. On the same day Jevon Carter was nuking Texas in West Virginia, Iowa State picked up an impressive 70-52 victory over the Red Raiders, with Lard, Wigginton, Weiler-Babb, and Jackson leading the way. The Cyclones knocked down some shots, protected the interior, and pulled away from Tech down the stretch.
What does this game mean to Texas?
For Texas, despite being eviscerated by the Mountaineers over the weekend, an NCAA tournament bid is still a quite reasonable possibility. It is worth keeping this perspective; no matter how that game went — and it went poorly — it only counts as a single loss and Texas still gets to play the rest of its schedule.
That said, the Longhorns have some work to do. A home game against Iowa State isn't a "must win" game — I have been doing this for too long to ever call a January game a "must win" — but a loss tonight would make things a lot harder on Texas than they would otherwise need to be.
The game tips off in Austin at 6 p.m. CT, airs on ESPNU.