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Texas Longhorns Basketball: Horns fall in Hilton 85-76

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Texas stuck with the Cyclones until the last ten minutes, but the Longhorns couldn't get stops on D when they were needed.

The Longhorns had no answers for DeAndre Kane.
The Longhorns had no answers for DeAndre Kane.
David Purdy

Melvin Ejim, DeAndre Kane, and Georges Niang combined to score 67 of Iowa State's 85 points, as the Cyclones defeated Texas in Ames. Isaiah Taylor scored 26 points in the loss.

The game got off to a sloppy start for both teams in the early going, with a steady stream of turnovers and missed shots. When the first TV time out rolled around with 14:35 on the clock in the first half, Iowa State was clinging to a 6-4 lead.

After an ugly start, both teams cleaned things up on offense. Particularly the Cyclones, who finished the half up 36-27.

The Longhorns came back strong in the first part of the second half. With 15 minutes remaining, consecutive Javan Felix threes set the score at 48-44 in Iowa State's favor. A minute later, after a pair of free throws and a score at the rim by Taylor, the game was tied at 48 all.

But the Longhorns could never wrestle the game away from Fred Hoiberg's squad. Over the next several minutes, the two teams traded scores. With nine minutes remaining, Melvin Ejim made a three, Cameron Ridley missed a chance from in close, and Iowa State started to pull away. The Horns just couldn't keep pace. Rick Barnes' team couldn't get stops when they were needed -- or at all, really.

Notes:

  • Cameron Ridley had a difficult night, scoring four points and turning the ball over three times. The strength of Iowa State's defense is its ability to keep the ball out of the paint and away from the basket. The Cyclones accomplish this by playing a very compact man to man defense that limits penetration, and by aggressively double teaming the post on entry passes. It was an approach that by its very design took Ridley's post game out of the picture. Unlike the first time these two team's met, the Texas center was unable to compensate by going the offensive glass.

  • Iowa State's defense essentially begs opponents to shoot threes. When those shots go down, as they did last week when West Virginia hit 13 threes and scored 102 points, the Iowa State defense can look awful. But when those shots don't fall as much -- tonight Texas was 7-25 from long range -- the Iowa State defense is pretty tough.

  • On the other end of the floor, the Texas defense had no answer at all. Ejim, Kane, and Niang are difficult players to contend with. While Kane is the putative point guard, and Ejim and Niang are the big men, all three players are essentially interchangeable. In the first match-up between these two teams, Texas was able to contain Kane (the Longhorns didn't do as well against Ejim and Niang). But tonight, Rick Barnes' team could do nothing defensively against all three players. Ridley was helpless defending Niang on the perimeter, while the Texas guards struggled to defend Kane inside and on his many drives to the basket.

  • Hoiberg probably had fun picking on Javan Felix. Whenever Felix was caught guarding a larger player, Iowa State isolated him in the low post. The Cyclones took advantage of this a few times, and had several additional opportunities to do so that they missed.

  • I typically do not advocate zone defense, and the way that Iowa State was playing this game it probably wouldn't have mattered. Anyway, a zone defense is perhaps asking for trouble against a team that passes and shoots the way the Cyclones do. But in the second half when Kane started to attack the rim, and when Felix found himself isolated and trying to defend a much bigger player on the block, a zone might have made things better. It perhaps would have been grasping at straws to switch, but sometimes straws are all you have.

  • The Longhorns kept themselves in the game for so long because they were able to get to the free throw line and convert. Texas was 23-25 from the stripe, including 10-10 shooting from Isaiah Taylor.

  • Dear Miles Simon: While Isaiah Taylor is a good looking point guard, and he is getting the floater to fall a lot these days, I think we should tap the breaks a bit on the Tony Parker comparisons.

  • Aside from being great at the free throw line, the Longhorns also kept things interesting for longer than they otherwise should have been by getting 15 offensive rebounds, compared with only 6 by Iowa State. And after a sloppy first few minutes, Texas took care of the rock.

  • Did I just propose Texas could have helped themselves by playing more zone? Let's try to forget I ever said that; it was a moment of weakness.