With only four games left in the regular season and the No. 8 Texas Longhorns only a half game behind the No. 3 Kansas Jayhawks, each contest takes on an added important with the league title on the lane. On Tuesday, that means a high-profile matchup against the No. 23 Iowa State Cyclones at the Moody Center.
If the stakes weren’t already high enough, the Longhorns are seeking revenge for the 78-67 loss in Ames a little more than a month ago. Texas got off to a hot start at Hilton Coliseum, leading by as many as 11 points midway through the first half when a controversial play helped jumpstart Iowa State.
With the Longhorns leading 29-21, Cyclones guard Caleb Grill undercut Texas forward Dillon Mitchell after a missed shot by guard Marcus Carr, but wasn’t called for a foul. On the ensuing fast break, Grill made a layup that started an 8-0 run for Iowa State.
But it was two long offensive slumps that sent the Horns to defeat — the final 7:28 of the first half without a field goal and another 9:20 without a basket in the second half. Three-point shooting was a particular struggle for Texas in making only 4-of-17 attempts (23.5 percent). Carr wasn’t a major factor scoring 11 points and neither was guard Sir’Jabari Rice, who finished with six points.
Foul trouble haunted the Longhorns in drawing 28 whistles leading to 30 free throws for the Cyclones. Forward Timmy Allen fouled out and four other players — Carr, forward Christian Bishop, forward Dylan Disu, and guard Brock Cunningham — were all called for four fouls. So Texas will have to do a much better job of defending without fouling on Tuesday, especially in the thin frontcourt.
For Iowa State, guard Jaren Holmes did the most damage with a game-high 21 points, but Grill also added 17 points that featured some key three-pointers and guard Gabe Kalscheur scored 16 points.
Since then, opponents have often focused on limiting Carr’s playmaking ability by trapping ball screens, affording Rice more opportunities to step forward off the bench. The New Mexico State transfer has taken advantage, averaging 17.7 points per game over the last seven contests while hitting 51.4 percent (36-70) from the floor, including 48.8-percent (20-41) from three-point range. In four of those seven games, Rice has topped the 20-point mark, capped by a season-high-tying 24 points during Saturday’s home overtime victory against Oklahoma in which Rice was 8-of-13 shooting from the floor and 4-of-6 shooting from three.
Texas enters the game with a 15-1 record at the Moody Center this season, while Iowa State is only 2-7 on the road. The ESPN matchup predictor gives the Longhorns a 78.2-percent win probability.
How to watch
Time: 8 p.m. Central
TV: Longhorn Network