Iowa St.-Texas Preview
Iowa State's hot nonconference start hasn't translated into Big 12 play, and now the Cyclones are tasked with warming up on the road.
After a rare home loss, 17th-ranked Iowa State looks to snap a cold stretch with a visit to Texas on Tuesday night.
Iowa State (12-3, 1-2) opened the season 9-0, but two losses in three tight Big 12 games have left questions about the Cyclones' chances of competing for a conference crown.
Iowa State opened league play with an 87-83 loss at then-No. 3 Oklahoma on Jan. 2 before holding off Texas Tech 76-69 at home on Wednesday. But it was Saturday's 94-89 loss to Baylor that left an especially sour taste as it was just the Cyclones' second defeat in 32 games in Ames since Jan. 25, 2014 - both coming against the Bears.
Baylor shot 52.3 percent and scored 60 points in the final 20 minutes, becoming the third team in the last four games to score at least 50 in a half against Iowa State.
''A tough loss," coach Steve Prohm said. "You've got to take care of home (court). We didn't do it.''
Now, Prohm's Cyclones must get it done on the road with Tuesday's game opening a stretch of six of nine away from home.
Iowa State has split its only two true road games - the loss to the Sooners and an 81-79 win over then-No. 22 Cincinnati on Dec. 22 - but the Cyclones are just 14-23 away from home in conference games dating back to 2011-12.
Iowa State, though, ended a six-game losing streak at Texas last season while sweeping the three-game series. The final win was a 69-67 victory in a Big 12 quarterfinal on March 12 capped by Monte Morris' buzzer-beater. Morris, now a junior, scored 24 points and senior Georges Niang added 22 to give the Cyclones their longest-ever winning streak in this series at four games.
Texas (9-6, 1-2) is 7-1 in Austin but has also suffered a pair of tight road losses to open the Big 12 schedule. The Longhorns fell 82-74 at Texas Tech on Jan. 2 and then followed a 60-57 home win over Kansas State last Tuesday with Saturday's 58-57 loss at TCU.
Texas' offense has faltered while dropping three of four. The Longhorns are shooting 39.3 percent - 25.3 from long distance - after connecting on 45.1 percent overall and 37.9 percent from deep in their first 11 games.
Those four have all come since Cameron Ridley broke his foot in practice on Dec. 27, leading to surgery two days later. Ridley was averaging 12.7 points, 10.0 rebounds and 3.4 blocks.
The Longhorns are searching for an identity without their top threat inside.
"I think offensively, we've got to continue to get better at playing faster," coach Shaka Smart said during Monday's Big 12 teleconference, "getting out in transition to get some easier baskets, because right now we're struggling to shoot the ball from outside in the half court."