All season long, the Longhorns have been known for their fight and their ability to come back and make the big plays in close games. And for a little bit, it appeared that they might just get there against the Cyclones. After Melvin Ejim's dunk put Iowa State up 43-33 with 17:26 remaining, the Longhorns went on a run of their own, tying the game at 48 on an Isaiah Taylor layup.
From there, Texas hung around — the Longhorns trailed by four with 7:40 left at 67-63 — but the Cyclones just kept scoring. In a 49-point Iowa State second half, the Longhorns just lacked the defensive answers to keep up. Less than five minutes later, the Cyclones led 81-67, courtesy of a 14-4 run, and Iowa State wasn't seriously challenged down the stretch.
Melvin Ejim scored 25 points and grabbed eight rebounds for the Cyclones, receiving a major boost from DeAndre Kane (22 points, seven boards, five assists) and Georges Niang (20 points, five assists).
Texas's loss, when combined with Kansas beating Texas Tech on a last-second shot in Lubbock, puts the Longhorns two games back in the Big 12 race with five games left to go. And while the Longhorns (20-6, 9-4 Big 12) remained in second place after the loss, Texas is now only one loss ahead of the Big 12 pack with three conference teams having five losses.
Texas wasn't able to get anything done on the interior, making just 16-of-47 of its two-point attempts (34.0 percent) as Iowa State packed the paint. And the Longhorns didn't shoot all that well from distance, with Javan Felix making 4-of-15 threes (26.7 percent) and the rest of the team combining to make 3-of-8 from behind the arc.
Instead, Texas relied on offensive rebounds — the Longhorns had 20 — and free throw shooting to stick around. The 'Horns made 23-of-25 free throws for the game, with Taylor going 10-for-10.
Taylor scored 26 points, had seven rebounds and dished out eight assists. Felix scored 16 on 6-of-22 shooting, while Jonathan Holmes chipped in 14 points and nine rebounds.
Cameron Ridley, who had a dominant 16-point, 11-rebound, five block performance against the Cyclones in Austin, was held to four points, five boards and two blocks. He failed to convert a field goal attempt.
In the first meeting between the two teams, Texas was able to exploit Iowa State committing a very un-Cyclone-like 18 turnovers. Tuesday night, Iowa State had just six, to go with 21 assists.
The Cyclones didn't shoot especially well from three, making 33.3 percent in knocking down 8-of-24 shots, though Iowa State did shoot a fantastic 59.5 percent on its twos. That allowed the 'Clones to average 1.18 points per possession against what had been the Big 12's best PPP defense in conference play.*
* The Longhorns fell to second, behind Kansas State, after Tuesday's game.
Texas hasn't beaten Iowa State in Hilton since Fred Hoiberg became the coach, and the Cyclones have won 36 of their last 38 in the building.
Texas does get a chance to try and half Kansas's lead on Saturday, when the Longhorns travel to Allen Fieldhouse. The 'Horns claimed a solid 81-69 victory over the Jayhawks in Austin earlier this month.
Tip for that game is set for 6:30 p.m.