In a game that Texas quite simply couldn’t afford to lose in hopes of keeping their already-narrow tournament hopes alive, Shaka Smart’s bunch often looked lifeless and hardly competitive on the road, falling 81-52 to the Iowa State Cyclones.
As expected given that Texas entered the afternoon without starting center Jericho Sims (back), the Cyclones attacked the Horns inside early and often, enjoying a 6-0 run to start the action with all of those points coming in the paint. To make matters worse, Royce Hamm Jr., who started in Sims’ place, picked up two early fouls before the first media timeout, essentially digging Texas’ into an even deeper hole. It wasn’t until Iowa State’s early lead reached 10-2 that a stagnant Longhorns offense finally found the net with Courtney Ramey connecting on a triple to provide Texas with its first field goal of the game.
Only moments later, though, Michael Jacobson responded with a three of his own, increasing the lead back to eight, 13-5, and forcing a Texas timeout.
Things wouldn’t get much more fortunate for the Horns, even from that early juncture.
A pair of free throws from Ramey and a layup from Jones trimmed into the lead, but a little less than a minute after Texas made some headway, Rasir Bolton and Solomon Young responded with back-to-back buckets — each in the paint — to provide Iowa State with its largest lead, 20-11.
By the time the Cyclones cooled off even a little bit before the halftime break, Iowa State had amassed a 30-13 edge behind what became a 14-2 Cyclones run. Texas ended the half of the higher note from that point, outscoring Iowa State 13-7, but nevertheless, the Cyclones took a comfortable 37-26 lead into intermission, thanks in large part to Texas inability to connect on nearly anything offensively and the inability to prevent Iowa State from completely imposing its will inside.
Rather than Texas responding to the first-half deficit, though, things got much worse in a hurry, as a pair of threes from Prentiss Nixon and Bolton headlined a 9-0 Cyclones run to open the half.
Just like that, the Longhorns trailed by 20 points, 46-26, all before the under-16 media timeout.
Plenty of basketball remained, but as far as Texas was concerned, it wasn’t pretty and the lead only grew, stretching out to as much as a 26-point before the mid-point in the second half.
What took place throughout the final 10 minutes essentially didn’t matter — the outcome had long been decided, and that had seemingly been the case since fairly early in the first half.
Collectively, the effort Texas put forth today was one of its worst of the season. Texas was without two starters in Sims and Jase Febres, and that was glaringly apparent on both sides of the ball, as Texas could hardly buy buckets throughout and couldn’t pay to prevent the Cyclones from getting most of what they wanted. Ramey was arguably the only effectively starter, contributing 21 of Texas’ points. The other four starts tallied a mere 18 points combined.
The result? Texas’ fourth consecutive loss and a 14-11 record overall ahead of a Wednesday evening meeting with TCU.