The Sports Network
By Pat Taggart, Associate College Basketball Editor
FACTS & STATS: Site: Frank Erwin Center (16,734) -- Austin, Texas. Television: Big 12 Network, MASN. Home Record: Iowa State 11-6, Texas 15-1. Away Record: Iowa State 2-7, Texas 6-2. Neutral Record: Iowa State 1-0, Texas 2-1. Conference Record: Iowa State 1-11, Texas 11-1. Series Record: Texas leads, 12-8.
GAME NOTES: Fresh off an improbable loss, the fifth-ranked Texas Longhorns get back to action tonight as they host the struggling Iowa State Cyclones in a Big 12 Conference affair.
Iowa State has lost its last nine games, as the team hasn't tasted victory since the middle of January. On Saturday, the Cyclones put forth a solid effort at home against Missouri, but the result of that outing was a 76-70 setback. While Iowa State is 14-13 overall, the club is a woeful 1-11 versus Big 12 competition and enters tonight's tilt with a 2-7 mark in true road games.
As for the Longhorns, their bid for an undefeated Big 12 season was ended on Saturday with a 70-67 setback at Nebraska. That loss halted an 11-game win streak for Texas, which is now 23-4 overall and 11-1 in league action. Still, Rick Barnes' team continues to hold down the top spot in the Big 12 standings, as it has a one-game lead over Kansas with four conference contests remaining.
The Longhorns own a 12-8 series edge over the Cyclones, thanks to six straight wins over Iowa State.
Overall this season, Iowa State is scoring 75.3 ppg while limiting opponents to 69.1 ppg. Unfortunately, the Cyclones are yielding 81.5 ppg in league games alone, as they have struggled mightily at the defensive end of the court since the start of Big 12 action. Iowa State has no depth to speak of, but there is considerable talent in the starting lineup. Diante Garrett paces the squad with 17.3 ppg, and he has handed out 164 assists to go along with 48 steals. Scott Christopherson provides 14.2 ppg, and Jake Anderson contributes 12.3 ppg and 7.5 rpg. Jamie Vanderbeken (11.3 ppg) and Melvin Ejim (10.9 ppg, 7.0 rpg) provided offensive punch as well, but Vanderbeken has an ankle injury that puts his status for tonight's affair in question. Against Missouri on Saturday, Anderson scored 17 points to pace five double-digit scorers, but the Cyclones were outscored 19-4 from the foul line and outrebounded by a 39-31 margin, two obvious reasons for the setback.
Sometimes, a talented team simply cannot get its shots to fall, and that was the case for Texas in Saturday's loss to Nebraska. The normally-efficient Longhorns connected on only 36.4 percent of their field goal attempts in that affair while permitting 47.1 percent shooting to the Huskers. A 39-34 rebounding disadvantage also did the 'Horns in. Jordan Hamilton finished with 18 points, but his 3-of-16 effort from the floor left much to be desired. Teammate J'Covan Brown also managed 18 points in 25 minutes of action off the bench. Overall this season, Hamilton is scoring 18.7 ppg to go along with 7.5 rpg, and he figures to get some Big 12 Player of the Year consideration. Tristan Thompson adds 12.6 ppg and 7.2 rpg for the 'Horns, and he has blocked 60 shots as well. Gary Johnson (11.8 ppg) and Cory Joseph (11.0 ppg) provided balance for Texas, which is scoring 75.4 ppg while allowing 59.9 ppg to opponents on 36.8 percent field goal efficiency.
Texas will undoubtedly bounce back strong with a victory over Iowa State tonight, as a second consecutive loss to an inferior opponent is unthinkable.