After the Longhorns’ brawny frontcourt duo of Jonathan Holmes and Cameron Ridley combined to score 39 points in the teams’ first Big 12 game on Jan. 18, the Cyclones were able to stir up a remedy for their inadequacy in the paint that night during their contest on Tuesday.
Iowa State counteracted Texas’ strength by inverting its offense and playing its guards in the post and big men in the backcourt. On defense, the Cyclones double-teamed the duo on interior passes into the paint, holding Holmes and Ridley to 18 points, and helping No. 17 Iowa State capture a 85-76 win over No. 19 Texas on their home court.
Melvin Ejim and DeAndre Kane the beneficiaries of Iowa State’s offensive style. Ejim and Kane found more room to maneuver into the paint with Texas’ bigs attending to their men around the outside. And the team’s combined effort to pester the big men underneath the basket allowed the Cyclones’ playmakers to pick off several errant passes and convert them into several easy buckets in transition. Ejim brought the crowd to its feet with two thundering alley-oops off those turnovers in the first half.
Ejim and Kane finished with 25 and 22 points, respectively, while Georges Niang used his eight-inch advantage over Texas guard Javan Felix to add 20 points of his own.
The Cyclones led 36-27 at halftime, but Texas guard Isaiah Taylor kept the Longhorns within arms’ reach with 18 second-half points. The freshman finished with 26 points, seven rebounds and eight assists. But without Holmes and Ridley providing their usual boost, Iowa State’s potent offense proved to be too much.
It was the Cyclones’ seventh win in nine games against ranked opponents. Both losses came to the Kansas Jayhawks.
Meanwhile, the Longhorns have dropped two of their last four games following their seven-game conference win streak. They entered the game sitting one game behind the Jayhawks in the Big 12 but will now need more things to fall correctly to take home a conference title.