Texas-Iowa St. Preview

After Iowa State’s chronic slow starts resulted in a new low in a shocking road defeat to the worst team in the Big 12, coach Fred Hoiberg is searching for answers back in the comforts of Ames.

The 15th-ranked Cyclones look to end the troubling trend as they go for an 18th consecutive home victory Monday night against struggling No. 19 Texas.

Iowa State fell behind by 12 points at halftime in a 74-73 loss at then-No. 22 Baylor on Jan. 14, trailed by five early in the second half of a 77-71 home win over Kansas State on Tuesday and was down 19 in the first 20 minutes at Texas Tech on Saturday.

Hoiberg tried unsuccessfully to find some energy from his reserves in Lubbock, even sitting star Georges Niang at times during the team’s lowest-scoring first half of the season. The Cyclones (14-4, 4-2) couldn’t recover despite putting up 48 points over the final 20 minutes and lost 78-73 loss to the Red Raiders, who came in 0-6 in the conference.

Iowa State has averaged 33.7 points in the first half of the past six games compared to 42.3 in the last 20 minutes.

"We’ve somehow got to find a way to get off to a (good) start and at least give ourselves a chance,” said Hoiberg, whose team dropped six spots in the Top 25. ”It’s unacceptable. I wish I could tell you why exactly it happened. We’ll figure it out.”

The Cyclones will try to do so during this two-game homestand against Texas (14-5, 3-3) and TCU. They’re looking to regain their shooting touch after going 6 for 31 from 3-point range against Texas Tech.

Iowa State has scored 82.6 per game with a 49.9 field-goal percentage while winning its last 17 at Hilton Coliseum. The Cyclones have taken their last five home games against ranked opponents.

One of those wins came last season against Texas, which is 3-2 on the road and coming off a 75-62 home loss to then-No. 11 Kansas on Saturday. The Longhorns have outscored opponents 101-65 in the first half of their three Big 12 victories, but they didn’t lead after the first 20 minutes in any of their conference defeats.

Isaiah Taylor scored a season-high 23 against the Jayhawks. The sophomore guard had averaged 9.2 in his previous five games after missing 10 due to a broken wrist.

The Longhorns, 3 for 18 from 3-point range Saturday, have a height advantage up front with big men Cam Ridley and Myles Turner, who will go up against an Iowa State starting frontcourt that includes the 6-foot-8 Niang and 6-6 Dustin Hogue.

The 6-9 Ridley has shot 72.7 percent in his last three games, averaging 12.3 points in that span, though the 6-11 Turner is coming off an eight-point, 4-for-11 performance Saturday and has shot below 40 percent in five of six.

”We’re one of the biggest teams in the country and we don’t take advantage of it,” forward Jonathan Holmes said Saturday after Ridley and Turner combined for 16 points on 15 shots. ”I don’t understand it.”

Monte Morris scored a career-high 20 on Saturday for the Cyclones, who average a Big 12-best 79.7 points. The sophomore guard has averaged 13.3 points, 6.5 assists, 5.3 rebounds and 2.3 steals in his last four.

Iowa State has won the past three meetings in Ames, including an 85-76 victory in the most recent matchup Feb. 18. Niang scored 20 points while Taylor had 26 for the then-No. 19 Longhorns.