Posted by Ryan Clark at 1:16PM

Iowa State Cyclones 82, Texas Longhorns 62

The Texas Longhorns entered Saturday’s game with the Iowa State Cyclones boasting the nation’s fifth-most efficient defense. On the perimeter, the Texas D was the stingiest in the country, holding opponents to 23.2% shooting behind the arc.

With the stifling Longhorn defense facing an efficient, sharpshooting Iowa State team, something had to give. Unfortunately for the burnt-orange faithful, it was the Cyclones who imposed their will on Saturday afternoon, as Iowa State cruised to an 82-62 win in front of 14,376 at Hilton Coliseum.

Rick Barnes is still looking for answers this season
(Photo credit: Charlie Neibergall/Associated Press)

The Cyclones posted an incredible 1.302 points per possession in the win, powered by an impressive 42.3% mark from behind the arc. Iowa State kept Texas safely out of reach for most of the game, holding a lead that often hovered around the double-digit mark. The Longhorns repeatedly chipped away at the lead in the second half, but could never get closer than five points. Iowa State ended the game on a 17-4 run over the last seven-plus minutes, sending the Longhorns to their first 0-3 start in conference play since the Tom Penders era.

What looked good

Jonathan Holmes had another solid performance for Texas, emerging as a team leader as fellow sophomore Sheldon McClellan continues to cool his heels in Rick Barnes‘ doghouse. With McClellan on the floor for a grand total of 59 seconds against Iowa State, Holmes led the team with 15 points.

Texas fed Holmes immediately, as he scored the team’s first hoop on a drive from the baseline. He also added a nice finish a few minutes later on a quick spin move from the block. In the second half, Jonathan drove strong to his left and used a jump stop to get to the rim, finishing as the crowd howled for a travel.

Holmes added a triple on a good shot in rhythm, further underscoring the fact that he could develop into a legitimate stretch four. When the sophomore shows any hesitation before his three-point attempts, he tends to miss in an ugly fashion. As he develops more confidence and takes the open long-range looks without thinking about them, that part of his game should improve and force defenders to follow him to the perimeter.

Freshman Demarcus Holland saw his minutes increase with McClellan riding the bench, and he turned in a generally positive performance. Although Iowa State’s Tyrus McGee poured in 15 from the bench, Holland was the Longhorn defender who had the most success limiting McGee’s damage in halfcourt sets. The freshman guard also showed off his quick hands, poking a few balls free from the Cyclone guards. While none of those plays resulted in steals, that defensive pressure will certainly frustrate Big 12 opponents.

On the offensive end, Demarcus easily had his best game of the season. Although he only scored six points in 25 minutes, Holland showed off a nice driving ability on one slashing layup from the left wing, and he used his dribble penetration to set up teammates on four assists. Texas repeatedly worked to free Holland up with screens off the ball, running him through two and three different picks on some sets.

The Longhorns desperately need another shooter to compliment Julien Lewis, and if McClellan is not going to be able to shoulder that load, the possible emergence of Holland is a much-needed development. He was responsible for a pair of turnovers when he dribbled out of control into a double team and threw an interior pass through Holmes’ legs, but the overall performance was encouraging for a guy who was averaging just 12.6 minutes coming into the game.

Julien Lewis made untimely second half turnovers
(Photo credit: Charlie Neibergall/Associated Press)

Julien Lewis also chipped in 15 points for Texas, but had a highly inefficient performance. His scoring came on 40% shooting from the field, including just 20% from behind the arc. Lewis elevated well on his jumpers, but was lacking accuracy until he heated up late in the game.

What needed work

Unfortunately, Lewis also coughed it up four times, including a pair of frustrating, unforced errors. On one possession, he was whistled for a five second call as he simply watched the screening and cutters inside the arc. Late in the game, he rolled the ball off of his foot as Chris Babb defended him on the baseline.

Those turnovers were representative of the kind of frustrating afternoon Texas had at Hilton. Every time the Longhorns tried to make a run to make a serious dent in the Iowa State lead, turnovers or questionable shot selection stifled the momentum. With Texas down just six in the second half, Lewis was called for a carry as Texas rushed up the court. Late in the game, he threw a pass behind Ioannis Papapetrou in transition when the Horns were down by seven.

In the first half, the Texas turnovers were just as painful. Holmes dropped a pass off his foot, Papapetrou couldn’t handle a heater from Lewis as he crashed in from the corner, and the team was called for a 10-second violation against backcourt pressure from Iowa State. Although the Longhorns posted a turnover percentage of 17.5%, much better than their season average, the miscues were either unforced or came at the worst possible times.

In addition, the Texas turnovers exposed some very bad transition defense. The Cyclones repeatedly beat the Longhorns down the court, and spread the floor very well. Texas players failed to find shooters as they ran back on defense, and Iowa State knocked down multiple transition threes as a result. On the afternoon, the Cyclones scored a whopping 23 points off of Texas miscues.

The Texas defense gave up far too many easy hoops
(Photo credit: Charlie Neibergall/Associated Press)

The transition scoring wasn’t limited to possessions after a turnover. The Longhorns also failed to get back after missed shots, allowing open threes or easy buckets at the rim. In one instance midway through the first half, Javan Felix drew the wrath of Coach Barnes when he failed to stop the ball after missing a fadeaway jumper. Will Clyburn easily put the small guard on his hip and hit a trailing Percy Gibson in the lane for two.

Texas also had a very difficult time closing out on the Iowa State shooters, although much credit has to be given to the Cyclones for crisp ball movement and hustle plays. A few of the wide-open threes came after Iowa State won a loose ball or long rebound and the Texas defense was caught scrambling. On many of the others, the Cyclones exploited one mistake by a defender and moved the ball quickly to get the Horns rotating and chasing the play.

On the offensive end, the Texas struggles continued in this game. Papapetrou had a few nice plays and knocked down a pair of triples, but at times forced things out of the flow of the offense. In the first half, a few of his three-point attempts came early in the shot clock as he tried to quickly respond to an ISU trey. On the afternoon, Papapetrou sank just 36% of his looks. Texas clearly needs more scorers, and Papi has the ability to boost the offense, but he has to be smarter with his shot selection.

Jaylen Bond also had a mixed performance on Saturday afternoon. He did some excellent work on the glass early, but struggled to put the ball in the basket. Bond showed the ability to drive from the perimeter, but the end result was often an ugly, contested shot in the lane. If Jaylen can actually use that newfound driving ability and convert some short jumpers, the Longhorns suddenly have another offensive option. On the other hand, if those drives end in the kind of looks he threw up on Saturday, that will simply waste possessions.

Texas also had trouble scoring inside on second and third chances, despite the size advantage. The Longhorns reclaimed 36.8% of their missed shots, a very strong showing against an Iowa State team that was ranked in the Top 20 for defensive rebounding. However, Texas missed numerous tip-ins and putbacks, failing to turn those extended possessions into points. With an offense that struggles to score in halfcourt sets, Texas has to start converting those offensive boards into easy buckets.

Up next: vs. Kansas (14-1 overall, 2-0 Big 12); Saturday, 1 P.M. CT

Posted by Ryan Clark at 10:45AM

Texas Longhorns (8-7 overall, 0-2 Big 12) at Iowa State Cyclones (10-4, 0-1)
Hilton Coliseum | Ames, IA | Tip: 1 P.M. CT | TV: ESPNU
LRT Consecutive Game #236

The Texas Longhorns are 0-2 in Big 12 Conference play for the first time under Rick Barnes, sitting just a game above .500 as they travel to Hilton Coliseum to face a tough Iowa State Cyclones squad this afternoon. The Longhorns are at risk of going 0-3 in conference play for the first time since 1997-98, the last season for Tom Penders on the 40 Acres. After dropping games to Missouri, Kansas, and Oklahoma to open their conference slate that season, the Horns finished 10th in the league with an ugly 6-10 mark.

Korie Lucious and ISU were stunned on Wednesday
(Photo credit: Orlin Wagner/Associated Press)

Texas and Iowa State are both entering this game after suffering heartbreaking overtime losses on Wednesday night. The Longhorns lost a 10-point lead to West Virginia in the game’s final two minutes, while Iowa State was seconds away from their first win at Allen Fieldhouse since 2005. A banked-in three-pointer by KU’s Ben McLemore tied the game in the final seconds and swung the momentum to the Jayhawk bench, allowing them to cruise to a win in overtime.

For Texas, the loss put their already-slim hopes of a 15th-consecutive NCAA tournament appearance on life support. Although the Big 12 has six teams ranked in the Top 55 of the RPI, a rough start to the season means that the Horns have to really impress down the stretch. Snagging a few quality wins in conference play won’t be enough this season. The Longhorns have to beat some solid opposition on the road as well as at the Erwin Center. Hilton Coliseum is arguably the second or third toughest road venue in the Big 12, so pulling off an upset will be a tall order this afternoon.

By the numbers

As was the case last season, Iowa State lives and dies by the three-point shot. More than 40% of the team’s attempts come from behind the arc, with 34.3% of the team’s scoring being done from downtown. Both of those marks are in the Top 40 of Division I hoops, while the team’s 35.9% success rate from long range is 76th in the country.

With so much of the offense coming from behind the perimeter, the Cyclones rarely get to the line. The team’s free throw rate is only 29.7%, ranking Iowa State 294th out of 347 D-I teams in that metric. In simpler terms, it means that for every ten field goals that ISU takes, they earn roughly three free throw attempts. Surprisingly, when the ‘Clones do make it to the line, they shoot a very average 69.2%. With a former sharpshooter like Hoiberg at the head of the bench, one would expect much better numbers.

Another set of surprising numbers for Iowa State come on the glass. The Cyclones are ranked in the Top 20 in both offensive and defensive rebounding percentages, reclaiming nearly 39% of their misses, while limiting opponents to less than 26% on the other end. Texas has been crippled by terrible defensive rebounding late in the losses to Baylor and West Virginia. Allowing Iowa State that same kind of dominance on the offensive glass will be deadly this afternoon.

With great outside shooting and offensive boards extending possessions, the Cyclones have one of the nation’s most efficient offenses. Iowa State puts in an adjusted 1.111 points per possession according to Ken Pomeroy, the 23rd-best mark in the nation. Texas’ defensive efficiency is ranked 5th in the country, with the Longhorns allowing 0.844 points each time down the court. Something has to give this afternoon, and the outcome of the battle on that end of the court could easily decide the outcome.

Meet the Cyclones

Coach Hoiberg brought together a motley crew of transfers last season as he took the Cyclones to the third round of the NCAA tournament, and he again is relying on second-chance guys this season. Former Michigan State point guard Korie Lucious (No. 13) runs the show for Iowa State, where he’s averaging more than 10 points and five assists per game. Lucious is a quick guard with an outside shot and driving ability, but still struggles in the decision-making department.

Shot selection and turnovers were major issues when Lucious backed up Kalin Lucas at Michigan State, and those are still problems now that he’s in Ames. There are many possessions where the point guard takes challenged, first-side three-pointers, and you can almost always tell when he’s going to jack one up. He also has moments where he wants to be “the guy” and tries to over-penetrate against a set defense. When Lucious plays as a facilitator and as a catch-and-shoot guy from beyond the arc, he’s an incredible asset. When he’s trying to play hero ball, the Iowa State offense suffers.

The other new transfer for the Cyclones is former Utah swingman Will Clyburn (No. 21). At 6’7″, he has great slashing ability from the wings and loves to attack the rim and get to the stripe. Although Iowa State doesn’t earn many free throws as a team, Clyburn is certainly the exception. His personal free throw rate is 48%, meaning he earns almost one shot at the line for every two field goals.

Clyburn is tops on the team with 14.2 points per game and is the team’s second-best rebounder with 7.4 boards. He snags 18% of his defensive rebounding opportunities per game, ranking him 350th in the nation according to Pomeroy.

If Sheldon McClellan is tasked with stopping Clyburn, he will likely have difficulty cutting off dribble penetration. To make matters worse, Hoiberg also likes mixing in some post-up opportunities for Clyburn on the block, so the Horns could find their star battling foul trouble.

Another transfer on the Iowa State roster is lockdown defender Chris Babb (No. 2). Unlike Lucious and Clyburn, Babb already has a year under his belt with the Cyclones. Longhorn fans should remember him well, as Babb knocked down 5-of-9 from behind the arc in Iowa State’s win at Hilton Coliseum last season.

While Texas will have to deal with him on the perimeter in this one, the Horns will also have to try to beat him on the defensive end. It’s likely he will be tasked with shutting down McClellan or Julien Lewis, so Texas will have to repeatedly run Babb through screens to free up their shooters. McClellan has shown that he can be easily frustrated when he’s not getting open, so that is a matchup worth watching when Texas has the ball.

In the middle, the Canadian Melvin Ejim (No. 3) is rather undersized at 6’6″. Despite that, Ejim is a vaccuum on the defensive glass, reclaiming 27.3% of his opportunities. That ranks him 13th nationally, while his impressive 13.1% mark on the offensive glass is good enough for 87th in the country.

On offense, Ejim fits perfectly in Hoiberg’s perimeter oriented system. He has great handles and can face up opposing forwards on the arc to take them off the bounce. Although he doesn’t take a ton of threes, he has made 38.5% of his attempts on the season, so opposing defenders have to respect that threat. That opens up driving lanes for Clyburn and also makes Ejim an option on the pick-and-pop.

Georges Niang has emerged as a star in Ames
(Photo credit: Charlie Neibergall/Associated Press)

Another good-shooting big man for Iowa State is freshman Georges Niang (No. 31), who earned his second career start against Kansas on Wednesday night. Like Ejim, Niang doesn’t take many threes, but has made nearly 35% of them, including some big triples early against KU. He also can spread out the defense as a face-up four man, and is an excellent passer. Niang’s ability to knock down the midrange jumper makes him another pick-and-pop threat, and also makes him a dangerous player in the high-low game.

The team’s sixth man is Tyrus McGee (No. 25), who could easily be a starter for Iowa State or most other teams. Despite playing just over 24 minutes per game, McGee is second on the team with 13.2 points per game. He’s a deadly long-range shooter, canning more than 48% of his attempts on the year.

The senior is also much stronger this year, and he is using that strength plus a great slashing ability to make defenses pay for guarding him too closely. McGee can put it on the floor and get to the rack in a hurry, and he has the bulk to get his shot up through contact. Texas still needs to be primarily concerned with his outside shooting, but the Horns also have to be ready to rotate and help when he blows past tight perimeter D.

With Niang likely to earn a third career start today, sophomore center Percy Gibson (No. 24) will have to come off the bench. Ranked as the top recruit out of Detroit two years ago, Gibson is averaging about 16 minutes per game and had started the four games prior to Wednesday night.

Gibson is a long and lean 6’9″, so he has more mobility than many other centers and can quickly slide to offer help defense when opponents penetrate. Although he has yet to make a massive impact in his season and a half at Ames, it’s clear that he can be a key player by the end of his collegiate career.

Prior to Gibson’s emergence as a starter, forward Anthony Booker (No. 22) was the fifth man in the starting rotation. The 6’9″ senior is yet another transfer on the Cyclone roster, having begun his career at Southern Illinois. The former Saluki is not a major threat on the offensive end, but is a solid rebounder and interior defender thanks to his vast wingspan.

Keys to the game

Texas must turn Tyrus McGee into a driver
(Photo credit: Charlie Neibergall/Associated Press)

1) Defend the perimeter – In two wins against Iowa State last season, the Longhorns limited the Cyclones to 10-for-29 (25.6%) from behind the arc. In the team’s loss at Hilton Coliseum, Texas allowed numerous open looks and the Cyclones knocked down 10-of-21 (47.6%), including a 9-for-12 mark in the first half.

It’s clear that the easiest way to shut down the Iowa State offense is to limit their damage from long range. Texas has to keep close watch on McGee and Babb, and the team must force Lucious to take his three-pointers off the bounce.

2) Secure the defensive boards – An inability to close out defensive possessions with a rebound was the main reason that Texas could not put away Baylor or West Virginia over the last week. Facing an Iowa State team that is excellent on the offensive glass only makes this problem even more critical. The Longhorns need to get bodies on the perimeter players when shots go up, and they must also realize that all of those long-range attempts are going to lead to some long rebounds. If the Horns are actually able to limit Iowa State’s three-point effectiveness, they cannot afford to then waste that defensive effort by giving up second and third chances.

3) Establish an inside presence early – Texas found success in their games against Iowa State last season by pounding the ball inside from the opening whistle. The Longhorns have a decided size advantage in the paint, and they need to exploit that today. Cameron Ridley needs to establish good post position and not rush his shots, while Jaylen Bond will need to scrap on the offensive boards and provide some easy points.

Iowa State is a completely different team when Niang is on the floor, so this key to the game has a second layer. Saddling Niang with foul trouble makes the Cyclones much more one-dimensional on offense, and makes it easier for Texas to focus on perimeter defense. Iowa State folded in overtime against Kansas, and while momentum had a lot to do with that, Niang’s fifth foul also played a huge role. If Texas can take him out of the game, their odds for a big road upset can only go up.

Posted by Ryan Clark at 10:59AM

[6] Texas Longhorns (19-12 overall, 9-9 Big 12) vs. [3] Iowa State Cyclones (22-9, 12-6)
Sprint Center | Kansas City, MO | Tip: Approx. 8:30 P.M. CT
TV: Big 12 Network (Affiliate list)/ESPN Full Court #3 | Internet: ESPN3.com
LRT Consecutive Game #218

The Longhorns are up against the proverbial wall as they open Big 12 tournament play tonight. Texas is squarely on the bubble in nearly every bracket projection you can find, so a loss to Iowa State in tonight’s game will almost certainly end any hopes of an NCAA bid. A victory would give Texas four wins against the RPI Top 50, a key metric used by the Selection Committee, and would likely earn them a shot at another quality win against Missouri in the semifinals tomorrow.

The Cyclones and Longhorns split their pair of meetings this season, with each team defending home court. Now that the two teams are squaring off on a neutral floor, it’s apparent just how evenly matched they are. Ken Pomeroy gives Texas a 51% chance to come up with the big win tonight, predicting just a one-point margin of victory.

Meet the Cyclones

For a full look at the Iowa State roster and the team’s style of play, check out LRT’s preview from the first game between these two teams.

The Wangmene effect

The biggest difference in tonight’s third round of ISU/Texas is the sudden absence of big man Alexis Wangmene. While he only averaged 15 minutes in the two games against Iowa State this year, Wangmene’s wrist injury means that the Longhorns now have an even thinner frontcourt rotation, and even less size.

For the Longhorns, that means Rick Barnes will have to get creative with the lineup. The easiest solution would seem to be going with a smaller starting five and leaving Clint Chapman as the sole post presence. This would also get Sheldon McClellan into the starting lineup without having to take out Julien Lewis. McClellan brings extra offense to the table and can really get the offense moving when he’s aggressive. Lewis, meanwhile, provides quality defense on the perimeter and is usually good for a few “take and makes” each game.

The alternative would be to slide Jonathan Holmes right into Wangmene’s spot and keep size on the frontline. The danger in this approach is that Chapman has a tendency to get in foul trouble, and the only other frontcourt player left is undersized Jaylen Bond. Iowa State also makes this approach difficult, because the typical strategy to protect your bigs from foul trouble is a zone defense. The Cyclones are absolutely deadly from long range, so Texas would be taking a monumental risk by using a zone.

Fortunately, a four-out, one-in look matches up very well with Iowa State. It brings more athleticism and quickness to the court, which is key in trying to keep the quick Cyclone players from penetrating with the bounce. In addition, Chapman has actually been very successful against Iowa State this season, as the Longhorns made a concerted effort to get him touches right away in both games. As long as the big man can avoid foul trouble, the Longhorns might be able to survive against Iowa State without Wangmene.

Keys to the game

1) Keep Chapman on the floor– With that being said, it’s fairly obvious that the biggest concern for Texas is keeping Chapman on the court. Royce White was saddled with early foul trouble when the teams played in Ames, but posted a monster 15/15 double-double when he played 35 minutes in Austin. Chapman will be key to stopping the Iowa State superstar, and will also be needed to score easy points inside against an undersized Cyclone squad.

2) Limit the damage from deep– If you want to quickly find the biggest difference between the two Iowa State/Texas games, look no further than the three-point percentages. Iowa State was 10-of-21 in their win over Texas — including a ridiculous 9-of-12 in the first half — and just 5-of-21 in their loss. The Cyclone roster is filled with players who are deadly from long range, so the Longhorns must be vigilant on the perimeter and make sure those long looks are challenged.

3) Stop White in transition– On multiple occasions in both games, Royce White simply brought the ball all the way up the court and was halfway down the lane before a Texas defender challenged him. The Longhorns must stop the ball and cannot allow the big man to score his points so easily. In addition to giving Iowa State easy looks, that poor defense also led to unnecessary fouls when the defense reacted so late. With an even thinner frontcourt this time around, Texas simply cannot afford to let White drive the lane with impunity.

4) Be aggressive with the ball– As Texas fans know all too well, the Longhorn offense has a terrible tendency to go stagnant. When opponents double through ball screens, the Longhorn guards typically retreat instead of attacking. When defenders fight through staggered baseline screens set for the Texas shooters, the guards usually just dribble the air out of the ball at the top of the key.

The Longhorns have athletic guys who can put the ball on the floor and create looks, so they need to use those skills tonight. McClellan, Lewis, J’Covan Brown, and Myck Kabongo must attack with the dribble and get things moving. Iowa State’s defense has proven to be susceptible to dribble penetration, so Texas has to exploit that.

Posted by Ryan Clark at 1:44PM

Iowa State Cyclones (14-5 overall, 4-2 Big 12) at Texas Longhorns (12-7, 2-4)
Frank Erwin Center | Austin, TX | Tip: 8 P.M. CT | TV: Longhorn Network
LRT Consecutive Game #206

With a third of the conference schedule now in the rear-view mirror, the Texas Longhorns are clinging perilously to the NCAA bubble. The young team had two big résumé-building wins within their grasp during the last week, but let both slip through their fingers. Down two against Kansas State last Wednesday, the Longhorns had the ball with 20 seconds left, but turned it over to preserve a Wildcat victory. On Saturday, Texas was up four on a top-five Kansas team with 3:24 left, but failed to score a field goal the rest of the way and let another big win fall through the cracks.

Iowa State’s surprise start is worth celebrating
(Photo credit: Charlie Neibergall/Associated Press)

Those losses mean that the Longhorns are now 0-5 in games decided by six points or less. Even more importantly, those two games were missed opportunities to log victories over teams ranked in the Top 25 of the RPI, a key statistic used by the NCAA Selection Committee when choosing teams to put in the tournament.

While the Iowa State Cyclones are currently just 52nd in the RPI, tonight’s game still amounts to a must-win. Against Top 100 RPI competition, the Longhorns are 1-6, with only eight more games against Top 100 teams left on the schedule. Five of those are at the Erwin Center, so Texas must defend home court against quality competition, a trend they can start tonight.

The first meeting

The Longhorns looked to be in a good position when Iowa State do-everything star Royce White was saddled with two early fouls. Unfortunately, the Cyclones made up for their MVP’s absence by torching the Longhorns from long range. At half, Iowa State held a 10-point lead, thanks to an incredible 9-of-12 mark from behind the arc.

Texas roared back in the opening minutes of the second half, powered by a suddenly-rejuvenated J’Covan Brown. The Longhorns completely erased the deficit in less than three minutes, but the comeback bid stalled out following an ankle injury to Brown. The junior stayed in the game for a few more minutes, but was completely ineffective. When he headed to the bench for good, Texas trailed just 49-47. For the next six minutes, the Horns could only manage seven free throws, and Iowa State rebuilt a lead they would never relinquish.

The big story of the game for the Longhorns was the emergence of Clint Chapman. The fifth-year senior set career highs with 19 points and 14 rebounds, shooting 78% from the field. Texas made a concerted effort to get the big man involved early, and the Longhorn guards consistently found him open when they penetrated the lane. The game was clearly a turning point for Chapman, who has exploded in conference play, averaging 10.8 points and 6.8 rebounds in 27.7 minutes. In non-conference games, Chapman had scored just five points and grabbed 4.6 rebounds per game.

Since then…

Iowa State quickly proved that the win over Texas was no fluke, obliterating Texas A&M in College Station on the strength of a triple-double from White, who was still battling flu-like symptoms. The Cyclone schedule quickly toughened up and tested the surprise team, although the transfer-laden roster performed admirably in close games against Missouri and at Kansas. With their record leveled at 2-2, the Cyclones took care of business last week against lower-tier teams in Oklahoma State and Texas Tech, although it took a last-second, banked-in three by Scott Christopherson to knock off the Cowboys in regulation.

Royce White has been one of the Big 12’s best
(Photo credit: Orlin Wagner/Associated Press)

In conference play, White is averaging a double-double, scoring 12 points per game to go with 10.2 boards. His free-throw shooting, which has been a constant battle, continues to be subpar. The big man has made just 42.9% of his free throws in Big 12 play, so you can be sure that the Longhorns will be making him earn his points when he gets them out of position on defense.

Freshman Tyrus McGee has also increased his contributions in league play, earning Big 12 Rookie of the Week honors for stellar performances against Oklahoma State and Texas Tech. McGee was a blistering 11-of-20 from long range and scored 37 points in the two games, and he also set a career-high with nine boards against the Cowboys.

McGee is not the only Cyclone killing it from long range, and as a result, Iowa State has actually increased the number of threes they attempt. In Big 12 play, the Cyclones have taken 44% of their shots from behind the arc, but when they make 38.8% of their attempts, you can’t blame them. In addition to McGee’s 48% mark in Big 12 games, Iowa State is also getting a solid 41.7% success rate from Christopherson.

Meet the Cyclones
For an in-depth look at the Iowa State roster, check out the game preview from the first meeting between these two teams.

Keys to the game

1) Limit the damage from deep – When a team takes nearly half its shots from three-point range, there’s no way you can hope to completely shut down the perimeter. Instead, Texas must attempt to limit the damage that the Cyclones do from outside. Iowa State came out on fire against the Horns in Ames, so you would have to think that Texas will be playing much tighter on the perimeter in this one. If the Longhorns can hold Iowa State at or below their Big 12 rate of 38.8% behind the arc, they have to like their chances.

2) Be aggressive – Texas was able to penetrate at will during the first meeting when J’Covan Brown was in the game. He and Myck Kabongo will have to do the same tonight to ensure that the offense finds success. When teams cut off Texas’ dribble penetration and hedge hard on ball screens, the Longhorns often stand around for the majority of the shot clock before putting up a challenged shot. Texas obviously cannot afford to do that tonight, so the Horns will have to attack early.

3) Get to the line – Building off of the last point, the Longhorns need to earn a chunk of points at the charity stripe tonight. Texas has scored nearly 27% of its points from the line in conference play, thanks in large part to an impressive 76.4% mark at the stripe. With an offense that can often stall and lose all semblance of movement, manufacturing those points with free throws is key.

In the first meeting between these two teams, Sheldon McClellan did an excellent job earning the whistles, scoring 10 of his 14 points at the line, and the Horns scored nearly 34% of their points on free throws. Doing the same tonight will not only help Texas add to the point total, but it could also handcuff Royce White with foul trouble.

Posted by Ryan Clark at 8:03PM

Iowa State Cyclones 77, Texas Longhorns 71

The old adage holds that the best thing about freshmen is that they eventually become sophomores. Fans of the Longhorns can surely identify with that statement after Texas dropped their conference opener to Iowa State last night in Ames. Texas was without the services of J’Covan Brown down the stretch, leaving the six-man freshman class and Clint Chapman in charge of a comeback bid that fell just short.

Things looked promising for Texas when Iowa State big man Royce White went to the bench with two fouls just minutes into the game. But instead of cratering, the Cyclones built a ten-point halftime lead on the strength of 75% shooting from behind the arc. The Longhorns came out aggressive in the second half, erasing that lead in just minutes, fueled by Brown’s 19 points. Unfortunately, the junior guard injured his ankle as he finished a nice spin move in the lane, and the Cyclones were able to quickly rebuild a lead that they would cling to until the final buzzer.

What looked good

Clint Chapman had the best game of his career
(Photo credit: Charlie Neibergall/Associated Press)

Even with Brown exploding for 19 points in just 25 minutes, the real story of the night was the surprising emergence of fifth-year senior Clint Chapman. The Canby, Oregon native had earned his first start of the season in the team’s previous game against Rice, but immediately found himself in foul trouble and was completely ineffective. Last night’s game provided Chapman a second-straight start, and the Longhorns made an immediate effort to get him the ball.

The big man responded with the best game of his career, putting in 19 points on 7-of-9 shooting, while also locking down the glass on both ends of the floor. His 14 rebounds were a career high, and he led all players in both offensive and defensive boards. Most importantly, Chapman was making the point-blank shots that he — and many of the Longhorns — have struggled with all season. The Longhorns don’t necessarily need Chapman playing this ridiculously well in every game, but his consistent conversion of the easy looks is imperative to the team’s success in Big 12 play.

While Chapman raised the eyebrows in Hilton Coliseum, Brown tied him as leading scorer for the game. This was J’Covan’s most complete, efficient game in quite some time, and it’s not a stretch to say that the team could have pulled out a win if he played the last 12 minutes of the game. He was dicing up the Iowa State defense in the second half, penetrating at will for points inside. When he came out of the game for the last time, Texas trailed just 49-47 and was moving the ball well, notching assists on all three buckets that he didn’t score himself.

On the night, Brown shot 70% from the floor, knocked down all four free throws, and coughed it up just once. After posting 16 turnovers against just nine assists in his last three games, Brown’s lack of miscues against the Cyclones is a huge development.

Longhorn fans can also be reassured by the performance by freshman Sheldon McClellan. His shot was off all night, as evidenced by his 2-of-11 line. He missed all four of his shots from behind the arc, including some where he was completely wide open. Instead of going into a shell and being totally ineffective, he continued to put the ball on the floor and attacked the paint, drawing a ton of fouls on the baseline defenders. McClellan made it to the line 13 times in this game, grinding out a 14-point performance.

Once again, McClellan also avoided any turnovers despite all of his moves to the basket. With another clean sheet, his incredible turnover rate creeps even lower, to just 5.2% on the year. A number that low is typically reserved for your three-point specialists, who rarely attack or try to feed the ball inside.

Texas also did a good job on the defensive glass, ensuring that Iowa State couldn’t extend possessions. The Longhorns held the Cyclones to an offensive rebounding mark of just 22.6%, their worst percentage of the season.

What needed work

Of course, that impressive defensive rebounding performance didn’t mean quite as much when the Horns let the Cyclones knock down 51% of their shots. On top of the poor defense, the few offensive rebounds that Iowa State did manage to grab happened to come at the worst possible moments. Of the seven missed shots that Iowa State reclaimed, two of them were free throws missed as Texas tried to come back down the stretch. With the Longhorn offense already struggling to climb back into it, letting Iowa State have extra chances just made the task even tougher.

While Iowa State made more than 51% of their shots, the real killer was the team’s success from long range. In the first half, the Cyclones made 9-of-12 from outside, and most of the shots were completely unchallenged by the Horns. A simple look at the stat sheet shows how much Iowa State relies on the outside shot, and just how successful they are when they take them. For the Longhorns to continually allow those open looks just speaks to the youth of the team and their inability to remember the scouting report once the bright lights come on.

Texas also struggled to stop Iowa State in transition, giving up numerous dunks and layups on the secondary break. The only thing that gets a crowd more juiced up than a clutch three is a nasty dunk, and the Longhorns let the Hilton Coliseum crowd explode on more than one occasion. The Horns also had two or three possessions in a row where they let White take it coast-to-coast, with no one stopping the ball before White had reached the paint. That kind of lackadaisical defense is going to be absolutely deadly against the kind of athletes Texas will face in the Big 12.

In the half-court, Alexis Wangmene and Jaylen Bond had a particularly tough time defending White. To be fair, we’ve known all season that Wangmene would struggle against bigs who have a good face-up game, so this was a terrible match-up from the start. Bond’s issues, on the other hand, came as a surprise. He further compounded his defensive struggles by wasting his fouls on the offensive end, limiting him to just 11 minutes on the court.

J’Covan Brown was sidelined by an ankle injury
(Photo credit: Charlie Neibergall/Associated Press)

While we mentioned the success Brown and McClellan both had controlling the ball, the same could not be said for the rest of the Horns. Texas coughed it up on 22.6% of its possessions, the fifth time this season that the team has exceeded the 22% mark. Three of those poor showings have come in the team’s last four games, which is a scary trend to start as conference play gets cranked up. The Longhorns have to make their possessions count during these next two months, so they will have to quickly cut down on the errors.

Four of those turnovers came from Myck Kabongo, who once again struggled when Brown was out of the game. When J’Covan fouled out on a technical in New Jersey, Kabongo looked lost and overwhelmed by the moment and extra pressure. Against the Cyclones, he at least tried to break the defense down off the dribble a few times, but that really just meant that he ran full-tilt into ill-conceived drives. On multiple occasions, he simply made a beeline towards the baseline and threw up a wild prayer of a shot against two or three defenders. One of those shots even went off the side of the backboard.

When Myck is on his game, his dribble penetration is just as effective as Brown’s. While he’s not the finisher inside that J’Covan is, Myck has even better floor vision to find passing lanes that his counterpart might not. Unfortunately, finding a way to consistently perform that well has been a challenge for the freshman. Expectations were set very high for Kabongo based on his impressive play at the high school level, but it’s clear that it’s going to take some time for him to adjust to the pressures at this one. Texas’ growth this season will likely follow Kabongo’s own trajectory.

The Longhorns lacking any real penetration threat allowed Iowa State to focus on shutting down Chapman. As a result, in the waning minutes of the game the Texas offense often turned into a stagnant two-man game. The Cyclones could force Chapman well off the block, while Kabongo waited on the perimeter for an entry feed that could only be made much too far from the hoop.

Texas didn’t solely focus on forcing the ball in to Chapman, as there were a few sets where Julien Lewis was able to find some space on cuts without the ball, and Kabongo also worked to get it to McClellan when Chapman was guarded. None of that turned into points, however, and the Horns were only able to manage an and-one putback from Chapman during an especially futile span of more than six minutes down the stretch.

The offense was at least moving somewhat without Brown in this game, which is a vast improvement from how it looked when they were without his services in New Jersey. Unfortunately, “moving somewhat” didn’t equal any points, and it isn’t going to cut it in the Big 12. At this point, it seems that for Texas to succeed without Brown on the floor, there will have to be much more motion off the ball to give Kabongo and the Horns more options.

Up next: vs. Oklahoma State (8-6 overall, 1-0 Big 12); Saturday, 6 P.M. CT

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