Horns Look To Bounce Back Against Cyclones

One team is on the rebound; the other badly needs to bounce back from its worst loss of the season. That's the scenario when No. 18/20 Texas hosts Iowa State Saturday at the Erwin Center.

In fact, Texas' 90-65 dismantling at Kansas was the program's worst conference loss since Rick Barnes took over the program seven years ago. The loss dropped the Horns to 15-5, 4-3 in Big 12 play.

"We don't linger long on either a loss or a win," Barnes said. "It's always about taking care of what's in front of you."

What's in front of Texas is a 10-8 Iowa State club that dropped its first five games of the Big 12 Conference season but then knocked off then-No. 13 Oklahoma, 74-66 last Saturday before posting its most complete game of the season by drubbing Baylor, 77-51. The Cyclones are looking for their first road win in league play; Texas is looking to avenge last year's 78-77 loss in Ames in which former F Brian Boddicker missed both free throws in the final 5.9 seconds.

The Horns are tough to beat after a setback, winning 15 of their last 16 following a loss. Texas is particularly tough at home, winning 41 of its last 42 in Austin. But the Horns have to significantly improve in a recent trend toward sloppy ball handling. Texas committed a season-high 20 turnovers in Lawrence. It came on the heels of 15 giveaways, 14 in the first half, in the Horns' 80-73 win over Texas Tech.

"Some guys were careless with the ball," Barnes said. "Kansas did force some turnovers in the post but we had traveling violations when we weren't pressured. Those are the ones we have to eliminate. We gave up 29 points off of turnovers, but half of those had to do with things that we did."

Senior G Sydmill Harris attributes the rash of turnovers to mental mistakes rather than a lack of fundamentals.

"A lot of it is just being too enthusiastic about things, going into the game and not having your mind in it as completely as you should have," Harris said. "At Kansas, we couldn't really hear each other and we're not used to that."

The Horns appeared less than enthusiastic (unnerved and frustrated, actually) when the Jayhawks employed a trapping defense in the low post.

"Once they trapped, they stayed in their trap and everybody went to their spots," junior F Brad Buckman said. "You just got to react quicker, be smart with the ball and not turn it over, dribble it away from the defense and reverse it back out."

Buckman looks to bounce back from his worst offensive showing of the year, a three-point effort against Kansas in which the junior did not record a FG until the final 72 seconds. But he was the game's leading rebounder, grabbing 11 in 28 minutes of play.

"Offense all starts from defense," said Buckman, speaking like a true Barnes' disciple. "Sometimes you can score, sometimes you can't. So you have to work on the things that you're going to do well every game. You can't score all of the time. I've been rebounding the ball extremely well. That's what the team needs right now. Obviously, they need me to score but sometimes you go through slumps."

Sophomore G Curtis Stinson, a pre-season first-team all-Big 12 selection by both league coaches and media, leads the Cyclones with 17.1 ppg. However, the Bronx native has been hampered by a sprained knee and a torn ligament in his finger (non-shooting hand). Senior C Jared Homan (6-10, 250) is the leading rebounder (7.8 rpg) and second-leading scorer (13.7 ppg). He ranks third in league play with two blocks per game.

Texas is coming off the toughest four-game stretch in its schedule and should be a solid favorite in its next five ballgames (at home against ISU, Kansas State and Texas A&M; road games at Colorado and Baylor). A five-game sweep would give the program its seventh-straight 20+ win season.

Tip-off is set for 3 p.m. in an ESPN+ regional telecast.

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