Head coach Shaka Smart believes that every game should be a statement game for the Texas Longhorns as the program rose to No. 4 in the AP Poll Top 25 on Monday, the highest ranking in a decade.
On Tuesday evening, the Longhorns will have a chance to make a statement against the 2-5 Iowa State Cyclones in Austin at the Erwin Center at 7 p.m. Central on Longhorn Network. The last time the two teams met, the Cyclones beat the Longhorns by 29 points in Ames, one of the low points of the Shaka Smart era.
Smart wants to make sure that Texas doesn’t suffer a letdown against Iowa State after Saturday’s 25-point win in Lawrence against Kansas.
“If where you’re ranked dulls your edge, then then you’re not a real competitor if your last game is still impressive to you two to three days later,” Smart said on Monday.
So Smart has taken inspiration from Nick Saban’s approach to similar situation to fight the rat poison that can enter the minds of players.
Iowa State enters the game with wins against Arkansas Pine Bluff and Jackson State under sixth-year head coach Steve Prohm. Two transfers lead the way for Iowa State — junior guard Rasir Bolton, who spent his freshman season at Penn State, and senior guard Jalen Coleman-Lands, who went from Illinois to DePaul before arriving in Ames. Bolton averages 15.4 points per game and 5.6 assists per game, while Coleman-Lands averages 13.3 points per game and is hitting 42.2 percent of his three-point attempts.
The Cyclones score efficiently inside the arc, but struggle with turnovers, allowing offensive rebounds, and defending without fouling. However, opponents have struggled to hit from three-point range against Iowa State, converting at only 26.5 percent.
If Texas can play defense with enough intensity to get out in transition and then attack the rim and compete hard on the offensive glass, the Horns have a chance to win this game easily.
KenPom.com gives Texas a 90-percent win probability in this game with a projected margin of 77-63.