Hoops Preview: Iowa State

Cam Ridley. (Will Gallagher/IT)

Cam Ridley. (Will Gallagher/IT)

BIG 12 Tournament quarterfinals: Texas – Iowa State game thread

Date: Thursday, March 12
Time: 6:00 Central
Television: ESPNU
Location: Kansas City, MO (Sprint Center)

Big 12 Rematch Game: Iowa State won both regular season meetings.

Depending on where one looks, Texas is either just in the tournament or right on the bubble. Win or lose, tonight’s game will likely go a long ways towards determining whether that bubble stands strong, or whether it bursts with Rick Barnes’ time in Austin along with it.

The good news for Texas is that they’ve been playing well. The bad news is that Iowa State may be the worst matchup for this Longhorn team in the conference.

Can Texas keep things going? Or do they suffer the same defeat they’ve experienced against the best teams they’ve played all season long?

Texas Keys: Offense

Handle the sag. The Cyclones will play a sagging defense where they congest the lane but focus on the early contest after ball movement. It’s been particularly effective against Texas because the Longhorns’ shooters are often hesitant (at best) or unwilling (at worst). You’re going to get open shots against ISU because their emphasis is protecting the middle of the court and forcing offense away from the basket.

To attack this, Texas needs two things to happen: 1) Texas’ shooters must stay comfortable and confident in their perimeter looks because not shooting when open plays into ISU’s hands; 2) Taylor has to have a solid game in penetration and getting to the basket. Isaiah looked terrific against Tech, but ISU’s defense features more athleticism and a faster pace. The floater won’t be enough. He has to get all the way to the rim.

Texas Keys: Defense

String together stops. ISU is going to score. They were held under 70 points only twice throughout the Big 12 schedule. Still, as far as Texas is concerned, there’s a significant difference between ISU scoring 70 points and them scoring 80 points. One of those types of games Texas is capable of winning. The other… Texas’ ability to do that will be dependent upon their ability to string stops together. The Cyclones will score in transition and Texas has to maximize their half-court defensive opportunities.

Turnovers. You can’t give ISU extra possessions because they will turn them into points. In that same vein, the Cyclones are one of the most difficult teams in the country to play from behind against because they are very comfortable playing with pace. Texas needs to stay within striking distance from the tip and that will mean not creating offensive opportunities for Iowa State by suffering from live ball turnovers.

The Endgame

Reading the Members Only board over the last week has been a fascinating case study in Texas fans. A bunch of different opinions, all of them legitimate in their own ways, generally at odds with one another over what is/isn’t reasonable.

Can Texas win this game? Of course.

On the other hand, it would be Texas’ best win of the season, meaning they haven’t had a win of this caliber yet this year.

I think Texas keeps it close and has a shot to win in the end, but I can’t predict a victory over a team at the level of Iowa State considering their strengths match up so well with Texas’ weaknesses.

Prediction: Iowa State 75 – Texas 64

Projected Starting Lineup

Taylor
Yancy
Holmes
Lammert
Ridley

MORE GAME NOTES

TELEVISION: The game will be televised nationally by ESPNU. Dave Flemming (pxp), Miles Simon (analyst) and Holly Rowe (reporter) will call the action.

• RADIO: The Longhorn Sports Network and KVET (FM 98.1/1300AM Sportsradio the Zone) broadcast every UT game on the statewide network. Craig Way (pxp) and Eddie Oran (analyst) will call the action. Check www.TexasSports.com for a listing of affiliates carrying the game.

IOWA STATE SERIES INFO
• Thursday’s contest marks the 31st meeting between Texas and Iowa State.

UT owns a 17-13 advantage in the all-time series which dates back to a 101-87 Iowa State win in Tempe, Ariz., on Dec. 21, 1966.

The Horns are 15-8 against Iowa State during the Rick Barnes era entering Thursday’s game.

Texas has won 11 of the last 16 meetings between the two teams.

UT is 2-0 against Iowa State at the Phillips 66 Big 12 Championship. The Horns won 82-75 in the 2010 first round and posted a 71-65 victory in the 2012 quarterfinals.

NOTABLES

• Success in the Big 12 Quarters: UT enters Thursday’s game against Iowa State with a 12-3 mark in Phillips 66 Big 12 Championship quarterfinal games during the Rick Barnes era. Texas has reached at least the semifinal round of the Big 12 Championship in 12 of its first 16 trips under Barnes.

• Horns Reach 20 Wins, Again: With last night’s win against Texas Tech, the Longhorns reached the 20-win mark for the 15th time in 17 seasons under coach Rick Barnes.

• Taylor Getting the Point: Sophomore point guard Isaiah Taylor posted 12 points along with seven assists against just two turnovers in 35 minutes during last night’s win against Texas Tech. Taylor has recorded at least five assists in six of the last seven games entering Thursday’s contest.

Improving ‘D’ Recently

In their last three games (3-0 record), the Longhorns have held their opponents to an average of 53.7 points per game on a combined 38.4% FG shooting (63-of-164).

Yancy Stepping Up

Sophomore guard Kendal Yancy has played in 66 career games (26 starts). In his career, he has reached double figures in scoring 11 times.

Yancy ranks in fourth on the team in assists (58) this season. He has averaged 28.7 minutes per contest over the last 11 games and has started each of the last 10 contests. Yancy registered 13 points (5-of-9 FG) and five assists without a turnover in 33 minutes during last night’s win against Texas Tech.

He has reached double figures in scoring in five of the last seven games. During this seven-game stretch, he has averaged 12.4 points and 4.1 rebounds in 29.4 minutes per contest while hitting 14-of-40 (.350) from three-point range.