Mouton's Career Best Not Enough: ISU 78, Texas 77

No.11 Texas squandered a 14-point second half lead and senior F <B>Brian Boddicker</B> missed a pair of free throws in the final 5.3 seconds as Texas stubbed its toe at Iowa State, 78-77. Was this the same Cyclone team that lost <I>to Baylor </I>last month? It was more like the up-and-down ISU squad that upset Kansas on January 31.

The disappointing loss offset a career high 29 points from senior guard Brandon Mouton (12-of-23 FG, including 4-of-9 treys) as Texas fell to 17-4 and 8-2 in Big 12, one game behind league-leading Oklahoma State. Texas had two shots beneath the bucket after Boddicker's bricks clanked off the rim, an 81 percent shooter from the charity stripe this year but couldn't find his touch with the game on the line.

Damion Staple's slam-dunk with 69 seconds left was the game-winner. The Cyclones played only seven athletes but four scored in double figures. No one did more damage than Jake Sullivan, who tallied 24 (8-of-18 FG) including 10 points during the final five minutes of play.

It was Texas' first road loss of the year (losses to Duke and Arizona were at a neutral site) and, hopefully, a wake-up call.

Head coach Rick Barnes knows that his senior-laden team uncharacteristically lost its poise and let one get away against a scrappy Iowa State team that, at 14-7 and 5-5 in the Big 12, will likely supplant Missouri as the conference's sixth team to reach the NCAA Tournament.

"We gave the game away," Barnes said. "Give them credit. They stayed with it. But we helped them get back in the game with poor decisions. You just can't do that."

Texas held ISU to just nine second-half FG. But poor execution, poor decision-making, poor free throw shooting and poor ball handling (12 turnovers, seven in the second half) doomed Barnes' bunch after building a 61-47 lead with about 14 minutes remaining. While you can chalk that up to a rare mental lapse for a Barnes' coached team, Texas' inability to establish low post presence and/or consistently work the ball inside has been a bugaboo all season.

Offensively, Texas' post play is physical and determined yet spotty. Although junior C Jason Klotz (5-of-6 FG, 13 points) continues to emerge and freshman F P.J. Tucker (5-of-11 FG, 12 points) has been a pleasant surprise, senior C James Thomas (four points, five rebounds) hardly resembles the Mister Double-Double that he was last season while sophomore F Brad Buckman (1-of-5 FG, three boards) struggles as if he has the weight of the world on his shoulders. Inconsistent inside play is part of the reason why ISU was able to convert more free throws than Texas even attempted. The Cyclones were 19-of-26 (73 percent) from the charity stripe while the Horns were 10-of-17 (59 percent).

Texas trailed 44-43 at halftime after overcoming an early 10-point deficit.

ISU jumped out to a 6-0 lead after Texas missed its first five sots from the field before Mouton tied the game with a pair of treys. The Cyclones rebuilt the 6-point margin with the help of Curtis Stinson's FTs followed by his pull-up jumper before Boddicker momentarily stemmed the tide with Texas' third three-ball of the afternoon.

Sullivan's NBA three-pointer against the Longhorn zone gave the home team their largest lead at 26-16 before Mouton answered with his third bucket from beyond the arc. Barnes has made of habit of mixing up his defense all season, as Texas' switch to man-to-man held ISU without a FG for nearly 2:30. Meanwhile Mouton kept chipping away at the Cyclone lead.

His runner in the lane cut the deficit in half, 32-27. Following a Tucker FG, Boddicker converted a traditional three-point play as Texas trailed 34-32 with 3:43 remaining until halftime. Not to be outdone, Tucker nailed a FT after he was fouled on a putback during Texas' next trip down the court. Texas led for the first time, 35-34.

Both squads traded buckets during the next two minutes as Tucker added a lay-up and a turnaround jumper. A pair of FTs gave the 'Clones a 44-39 advantage with 48 ticks on the clock. Senior G Royal Ivey answered as his fadeaway jumper rattled home. In the waning seconds, Tucker came up with a steal along the ISU baseline and followed with an assist to Mouton to keep Texas within one at the break.

The Horns could hardly have gotten off to a better second-half start, beginning with buckets from Thomas and Buckman before Mouton drained another trey. Ivey's FG completed a 14-2 run as Texas led 57-46, but then the senior was whistled for a technical for unsportsmanlike comments. By then, Texas had nailed 6-of-8 FG during the first five minutes of the final frame while ISU started the second half by misfiring on 10-of-11 from the field.

Klotz's putback with about 14 minutes remaining gave Texas its largest lead at 61-47. The Horns won the battle of the boards, 45-28 but, again, it was not enough to overcome its turnovers and hang tough with Iowa State at the free throw line. The Cyclones would then outscore the Burnt Orange 31-16 to pull off the upset.

Texas has the chance to take out its frustration against Texas A&M (0-9 in Big 12) at home Wednesday (8 pm., CST).

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