AUSTIN, Texas — Fueled by 16 straight points from senior forward Dylan Disu, the Texas Longhorns got within three points against the No. 14 Iowa State Cyclones on Tuesday at the Moody Center, but couldn’t complete the comeback to lose at home for the fourth time in five conference games.
Disu finished with 28 points on 10-of-19 shooting with 22 coming in the second half, adding 10 rebounds, three steals, two blocks, and two assists. The three three-pointers by Disu were the only shots from distance the Longhorns made against the Cyclones — the rest of the team went 0-of-8, including five misses by senior guard Max Abmas, who struggled on his way to 13 points on 3-of-10 shooting with four turnovers.
Nine turnovers in the first half contributed to a 17-point halftime deficit for Texas with Iowa State scoring 14 points on those miscues.
Three players scored in double digits for the Cyclones, led by 13 points from forward Milan Momcilovic.
Texas got off to a cold start, falling behind 9-2 three minutes into the game when head coach Rodney Terry called timeout with Iowa State 4-of-6 shooting and earning a second-chance basket. Momcilovic did a fair amount of the damage himself, hitting a three and producing the put back matched up against Longhorns sophomore guard Chendall Weaver, who is at least five inches shorter than Momcilovic. Terry responded by giving senior forward Brock Cunningham that defensive assignment.
The defense didn’t immediately improve for the Longhorns, though, as the Cyclones hit two more shots to head into the first media timeout up 14-4 thanks to an ugly 2-of-8 shooting start for the home team.
Abmas struggled early, missing his first four shots from the field, including an open three that rimmed out, and Texas was unable to make a run with shots continuing to miss — Iowa State led 18-6 at the under-12 timeout with the Horns 3-of-14 shooting, 0-of-5 from three, and having failed to score for nearly three minutes.
A trip to the line for Cunningham ended the scoring drought and a jumper for the Austin product ended the scoring drought a minute later, but three straight turnovers kept Texas from cutting into the lead as Iowa State hit a 1-of-7 shooting stretch with the margin at 22-11 with 7:33 remaining.
The positive contributions by Cunningham continued with a floater, but junior guard Tyrese Hunter put up an airball to end another possession in a shot-clock violation as Hunter surpassed the poor start by Abmas by missing his first six shots. After Hunter gave up a dunk on a back-door cut, Terry called his second timeout of the half with the Iowa State lead up to 13 points.
The aggressive defense of the Cyclones kept forcing turnovers by the Longhorns, up to six over a five-minute stretch, but an alley-top dunk by sophomore forward Dillon Mitchell after a steal by Disu and a steal by Hunter ignited the Moody Center crowd. Abmas couldn’t take advantage, though, missing an open three in transition before drawing a foul after an offensive rebound to send Texas into the final media timeout of the first half trailing 28-15.
A layup and a floater by Disu got the Longhorns standout going, Texas just couldn’t get enough stops on the other end, allowing Iowa State to hit 6-of-7 shots and extend the lead to 17 points heading into halftime.
Abmas scored his first points at the line after he was fouled on a three-point attempt just over a minute into the second half, then got to the line again on the next Texas possession, converting all five attempts as the Longhorns got three consecutive stops defensively. Seemingly frustrated with the officiating, Terry was called for a technical after a foul call on Hunter that hurt the Texas attempts to cut into the significant deficit, which was back up to 15 points at the under-16 timeout pending free throws following the third foul called on Disu.
Iowa State started 2-of-18 shooting in the second half, but was able to maintain its double-digit lead with the help of seven made free throws after failing to get to the line in the first half, then made four straight shots before the Cyclones called timeout as Texas made three consecutive made baskets, including a three by Disu that cut the margin to 11 points.
Disu got the Longhorns with single digits for the first time since the first time since the 7:05 mark of the first half on a runner, converting the three-point play after the under-eight timeout, but in an important stretch for the Cyclones, an offensive rebound turned into a three by Tamin Lipsey and a turnover by Abmas produced a fast-break layup. Still, Disu hit consecutive threes to cut the lead to five points with 3:37 remaining, a run of 14 straight points for the Austin-area product and 18 of 22 overall.
With Iowa State switching a ball screen, Disu was able to get to the line after posting up a smaller player, hitting both at the line. Disu produced an offensive rebound to give the Longhorns a second-chance opportunity, but Hunter threw the ball away after giving up an open look and the Cyclones responded with a three by Lipsey when Mitchell gambled for a steal and couldn’t come up with it. Although baskets by Mitchell and Abmas got Texas to within three points as the clock ticked under a minute, the Longhorns blew a pick-and-roll coverage and gave up a dunk with 15.2 seconds remaining that effectively ended the game.
Texas finally faces an unranked opponent again when West Virginia visits Austin on Saturday.