Before leaving for Ames, junior guard Kendal Yancy said the Longhorns weren’t going to let themselves get “punked.”
The team did just that for the first 35 minutes of Saturday night’s game, holding up against the “Hilton Magic” that makes it so tough to play in Ames. Texas managed a response every time Iowa State threatened to run away with the game.
But the final five minutes ended in a struggle. The Longhorns made just two of their last 12 shots as the Cyclones handed them an 85-75 defeat — their second road loss this week.
“I didn’t think our commitment to all the things to getting stops was as good as it has been,” head coach Shaka Smart said. “When you’re playing against Iowa State, they have a way of making you look bad on defense.”
Iowa State started the game on the front foot. The Cyclones went on a 10-2 run to take a 21-12 lead with 10:10 left in the first half and threatened to run the Longhorns out of the building.
But Texas responded immediately. Freshman guard Tevin Mack hit the first of his five 3-pointers, and senior guard Javan Felix and freshman guard Kerwin Roach Jr. orchestrated a 12-0 run to put the Longhorns ahead by three.
Then senior forward Georges Niang scored 11-straight points for the Cyclones, including three-straight 3-pointers; however, Texas countered with three free throws from junior guard Isaiah Taylor and another 3-pointer by Mack and went into halftime down just 36-34.
The Longhorns continued to stay within arm’s reach of the Cyclones in the second half, thanks in large part to two more 3-pointers from Mack but failed to get in an offensive punch of their own. Texas tied the game four times in the final 20 minutes, but missed two shots that could have given it the lead.
Foul trouble then hampered the Longhorns’ effort to get back into the contest. Seniors Prince Ibeh and Connor Lammert each picked up their fourth fouls a little over halfway through the second half, and Ibeh eventually fouled out with 2:57 left to play.
At that point the Cyclones finally broke free, going on a 10-2 run to see out the 10-point win.
“You only have one Prince,” Smart said. “When Prince is out there, we’re a different team.”
The Longhorns struggled to contain the Cyclones’ two best scorers, Niang and junior guard Monté Morris. The two, who rank second and fifth respectively in scoring in the Big 12, combined for 48 points and 5-of-6 shooting on 3-pointers.
Mack, who’s been one of the most streaky shooters for Texas, finished with 18 points, along with Felix. His five 3-pointers tied a career high.
The loss drops the Longhorns to 7–5 in Big 12 play and puts them on the outskirts of the conference title race. It also likely pushes Texas out of the rankings after making its first appearance in both the AP and coaches polls in over a year.
But Smart said he doesn’t pay much to the standings.
“We’re just trying to take care of business when we take the floor,” Smart said.
The Longhorns return to Austin to face No. 10 West Virginia — one of four ranked opponents left on the schedule — on Tuesday.