Less than two minutes into the game, junior guard Kerwin Roach II pulled up from beyond the arc at the Frank Erwin Center.
Then he launched another triple. Bucket.
His next two threes? Both buckets.
Roach’s offensive surge has given the Longhorns a spark in both of the past two home games now. On Monday night, Roach bolstered Texas’ 73-57 win over Iowa State.
Entering the matchup as a 29.5 percent 3-point shooter, Roach’s immaculate 4-of-4 shooting from deep in the first half lifted Texas to one of its best offensive showings of the season. Surprisingly, Roach’s recent breakthrough simultaneously lines up with his return from a fractured left hand.
“I’m a junior, so I’ve been playing the game for a while,” Roach said. “Just being out just burned that fire into me. The time I spent off, I did a lot of form shooting and got my mechanics together — just slowed down and took my time during my shots.”
Postgame show live from the Erwin Center as Texas defeats Iowa State 73-57. https://t.co/10OiCJ2SVy— Daily Texan Sports (@texansports) January 23, 2018
The junior guard tied his career high with 22 points, but Texas was blessed with a second star on the offensive end — Mo Bamba.
The freshman forward splashed onto the scene Monday by sinking a spot-up three and slamming multiple authoritative dunks over the Cyclones’ defense. Bamba posted a career-high 24 points, 12 rebounds and three blocks in his strongest game at Texas.
“His motor has really improved,” head coach Shaka Smart said. “He’s really responded better and quicker, when before, it just took him longer. I thought tonight was about as clean of a game as he’s played in terms of efficiency.”
Iowa State’s offense gathered some momentum in the second half and managed to strike as close as six points. But before the Cyclones could turn the corner, Bamba’s scoring swung the game back in the Longhorns’ favor. The future lottery pick nailed 9-of-11 shots on the night and refused to allow any easy baskets on the defensive end.
Texas relied on its defense in the closing moments. The Longhorns didn’t score a single point from the 6:24 mark until just 1:03 remained in the game. But the Cyclones hit a skid of their own, going scoreless over the last four minutes and 10 seconds. The final buzzer concluded a rare wire-to-wire Big 12 victory for Texas — good for a third-straight home win.
“We tried to go small the last couple minutes, and I don’t know if that was a factor with our rhythm because we don’t play that a lot,” Iowa State head coach Steve Prohm said. “We were going to try to go small and see if we could cause some problems for them down the stretch. It wasn’t good for us.”
Both teams in this Big 12 clash fared very differently in their games this past Saturday. Texas suffered a 35-point demolition to a talented West Virginia team, while Iowa State breezed past then-No. 8 Texas Tech, 70-52. But the Longhorns and Cyclones trended in opposite directions when battling Monday night.
“It was a quick turnaround, but at the same time, we had to go into self-reflection mode and build off of what we could do better,” Bamba said. “Our motto coming into this was ‘somebody has to pay for it,’ and unfortunately for Iowa State it was them. The league is very competitive, and you definitely don’t want to go on a losing streak.”
Texas (13–7, 4–4 Big 12) hasn’t won consecutive games since mid-December. The Longhorns will get the opportunity to finally do so on their own hardwood on Saturday when they host a 10–9 Ole Miss squad in the Big 12/SEC Challenge.