There’s no time for the Texas Longhorns to rest on their laurels.
Just days after topping No. 11 Kansas to notch the program’s first win over the Jayhawks since Andrew Wiggins and Joel Embiid were freshmen in 2014, Texas is on the road aiming to steal another ranked, resume-building win; this time over No. 20 Iowa State.
The Cyclones come into the game sitting at 16-5 on the season and 5-3 in Big 12 action, with four of those wins coming throughout the last five games. Throughout that stretch, Iowa State has notched road wins over No. 8 Texas Tech and No. 20 Ole Miss, with the lone loss coming on the road against Kansas.
Steve Prohm’s squad doesn’t enjoy the luxury of depth, but his considerably short rotation is as talented as any in the Big 12. Iowa State’s rotation essentially runs just six deep, with six players seeing at least 24.3 minutes per contest. But that short rotation is far from short on talent and offensive firepower.
Headlining this year’s transfer-filled roster is Marial Shayok, a Virginia transfer whose 19.6 points per game stands as the best effort in the Big 12. The 6’6 senior is shooting just shy of 40 percent from the perimeter, trailing only freshman forward Tyrese Haliburton, who’s connecting at a remarkable 45.8 percent clip. The latter isn’t stuffing the stat sheet quite as considerably, but Haliburton has been essential in orchestrating Iowa State’s offense. Fellow freshman guard Talen Horton-Tucker, a former top 60 prospect, has been a force offensively for Iowa State, averaging 12.3 points per contest, as is Nebraska forward transfer Michael Jacobson. Nick Babb rounds out the starting lineup, and the senior is contributing nearly 10 points, 4.8 rebounds, and 4.1 assists per game this season while also connecting at an impressive clip from the perimter at 39.7 percent.
Beyond that, what reliable depth Iowa State does have begins and ends with sophomore guard Lindell Wigginton, who’s now up to 13.1 points per game after exploding for a season-high 28 points in a win over West Virginia.
As noted, Iowa State isn’t deep this season, but the entire starting five, and Wigginton off the bench, are plenty capable of getting their own offensively. The Cyclones also lack dominant size in the paint, which could prove favorable for Texas if Jaxson Hayes and Dylan Osetkowski can find their footing, and furthermore, force an already thing ISU rotation into foul trouble, What the Cyclones lack in interior length, though, they account for with length on the perimeter, as Shayok, Horton-Tucker, and Babb are each 6’4-plus.
Against what’s essentially a small-ball lineup, the Longhorns would certainly enjoy Hayes and Osetkowski getting going down low, but more important will be how well the Longhorns guards — specifically Matt Coleman and Kerwin Roach II — can counter and keep pace with a guard-heavy ISU squad that’s averaging nearly 80 points per game. Furthermore, with the entire rotation aside from Jacobson being a credible, if not deadly perimeter threat, Texas will need shots to fall from guys like Jase Febres and Elijah Mitrou-Long.
Tip-off is set for 1:00 p.m. CT on ESPN2.