Texas Basketball: Horns Escape With Victory Over Iowa State

The Texas Longhorns Basketball team escaped with a two-point victory over Iowa State Tuesday night in Austin.

It looked like the Longhorns were going to experience the most crushing loss of the season against Iowa State. But, Texas survived 67-65 to avenge their road loss against the Cyclones earlier in the season.

Texas never trailed in the game and led by as many as 17 points in the first half. But, Texas fell into their bad habits, Iowa St. finally started to make shots, and the Cyclones’ experience started to overcome the Horns’ youth.

But, Shaka Smart’s team kept fighting off Iowa State. They fought all the way to the last seconds to get their tenth win of the season and fourth in Big 12 play.

With the game tied at 65 with seven seconds remaining, Texas’ Jarrett Allen was fouled as he went for a rebound. Facing a tough one-and-one situation with the game on the line, Allen nailed both free throws.

Then, Texas used their fouls to give to prevent Iowa State from setting up a play. With 2.2 seconds left, Iowa State inbounded to sharp-shooter Matt Thomas, who launched an NBA-range three-pointer that just missed going in. It would have been a crushing, yet fitting end to the game, as Thomas single-handedly kept the Cyclones in the contest.

Texas Basketball Stuffed Iowa State in First Half

Iowa State was coming off their biggest win of the season – an overtime victory at Kansas to snap the Jayhawks’ home winning streak. But, the Cyclones looked completely lost offensively.

Early on, the Texas Longhorns forced the Cyclones to settle for outside jumpers with little ball movement. And, it worked to the point where the Cyclones simply could not score.

– Matt Thomas made a three-pointer three minutes into the game for Iowa State’s first points.

– Iowa State did not score again until the 12:00 mark.

– The Cyclones did not reach 8 points until 8 minutes left in the half. And those points were on free throws when Donovan Jackson was fouled on a three-point attempt.

– Matt Thomas made another three-pointer with six minutes remaining to get the Cyclones to double figures with 11 points.

– Iowa State scored their first points in the paint with 2:30 left when Deonte Burton stole an errant pass and dunked the other way. Overall in the first half, Texas led 20-4 in points in the paint.

But, despite Iowa State’s poor first half, the Longhorns were unable to push out a big lead.

Texas started with perhaps the best four minutes of basketball the entire season. They went to the first TV timeout up 13-3 after executing magnificently with zero turnovers. They kept it going for the first 17 minutes of the half.

But, Iowa State suddenly exploded for 16 points in the final 3:30 of the half. Texas turned the ball over, missed shots, and allowed Iowa State to heat up from the outside.

Texas led by as many as 17 points, but they should have been up by 25 points based on how poorly the Cyclones started the game. The first half lead shrunk to three points until Andrew Jones regained momentum with his signature rainbow three-pointer at the buzzer to give Texas a 35-29 lead at halftime.

Texas Basketball Outhustled Iowa State in Second Half

The only way Texas was going to win this game was outhustling the smaller Cyclones in the second half. That was the difference in the game, as the Horns continued to struggle on offense and Matt Thomas kept nailing three-pointers.

The Horns’ offense stagnated in the half court and too often they threw the ball right at Cyclones defenders for easy transition points the other way. Plus, the Horns guards continued to struggle with confidence shooting from the outside.

Texas only went 3-14 on three-pointers. By comparison, Matt Thomas went 5-10 by himself for Iowa State. If the Horns’ shooters could have stepped into some threes in the first half when Iowa State looked like they were sleepwalking, Texas would have run Iowa State out of the building.

But, the game did not turn out that way. Perhaps it will make Texas better in the long run. Every time Texas needed points to stop the bleeding, there was a hustle offensive rebound. Or, a putback on a missed shot. Or, it seemed like Texas grabbed every loose ball in true Shaka Smart fashion.

The final sequence captured how Texas won this game. Andrew Jones missed a driving layup, but Jarrett Allen crashed the glass. Allen made his free throws, then Texas played solid defense in the last seven seconds. Included was Eric Davis making life difficult for Matt Thomas, who missed what would have been a crushing three-pointer at the buzzer.

The Longhorns absolutely needed this win. In the first 17 minutes, they did exactly what they needed to do to beat the Cyclones. But, the team’s youth and Iowa State’s experience allowed the Cyclones to hang around in the final 23 minutes.

Fortunately, Texas was able to keep the lid on their advantage, never letting Iowa State taste the lead in the game. It was a step forward to make this team a little stronger. They still have so many things to work on, but this should be a confidence booster going forward. How about the first road win of the season this weekend against Oklahoma State?

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