Big 12 Basketball

Three Thoughts From Iowa State’s 51-47 Win over Texas Tech

NCAA Basketball: Baylor at Iowa State

The Iowa State Cyclones defeated the Texas Tech Red Raiders, 51-47, in a Big 12 men’s basketball contest at Hilton Coliseum in Ames, Iowa, on Jan. 5.

While it was a matchup of Top 25 teams, it was definitely a different type of matchup.

No. 25 Texas Tech (10-2, 0-1) was shorthanded for this game due to injuries and COVID health and safety protocols, including Terrence Shannon Jr. and Kevin McCullar.

The Red Raiders started Davion Warren, Clarence Nadolny, Kevin Obanor, Adonis Arms and Bryson Williams. Marcus Santos-Silva and KJ Allen came off the bench.

The No. 11 Cyclones (13-1, 1-1), meanwhile, were at full strength but coming off a loss to No. 1 Baylor on New Year’s Day. With the victory, the Cyclones won their first Big 12 game since Feb. 25, 2020. The Cyclones are also 3-1 against AP Top 25 teams this season.

 

Izaiah Brockington led Iowa State with 14 points and nine rebounds, while Aljaz Kunc added 13 points.

For Texas Tech, Davion Warren scored 12 points — 10 of which came in the second half — and Bryson Williams added 10 points. While Kevin Obanor only scored three points, he did lead all players with 10 rebounds.

Here are our three thoughts from the game.

The Run That Won It

Marcus Santos-Silva had just thrown down a dunk on a fast break with 2:10 left to give Texas Tech a 42-40 lead. The emotion on his face said it all — Texas Tech had overcome insane odds to finally get the lead. Iowa State didn’t let them have it long. The 6-0 run that followed put the Cyclones in control.

Izaiah Brockington answered with a 3-pointer with 1:52 left to play, which gave the Cyclones a 43-42 lead. It just happened to be Brockington’s only 3-pointer of the game. Brockington drew a foul from Kevin Obanor, made the free throw and gave ISU a 44-42 lead.

On the next possession, the Cyclones forced an empty possession for the Red Raiders, Aljaz Kunc drew a foul on the dribble from Texas Tech’s Clarence Nadolny and he made both free throws to put ISU up 46-42 with 1:22 left.

From there, the Cyclones maintained the lead and hung on for dear life to a victory they really needed.

Defense Really DOES Travel

Without the COVID protocols and injuries, this would have been a great defensive matchup to start with — there just might have been more points scored. Both the Cyclones and Red Raiders are among the best defensive teams in the country, as the Cyclones allowed 57.5 points per game and the Red Raiders allowed 58.2 points per game. Each team held the other under their season defensive average.

But what Texas Tech did, with seven players, was, frankly, more impressive. At one point they held Iowa State to five percent shooting in the second half (the Cyclones ended up shooting 15.8 percent for the second half). Truthfully, the Red Raiders only had two true guards. The rest were forwards and interior players, and they had to find a way to defend Iowa State’s guard-driven lineup and forced 18 Cyclones turnovers.

Texas Tech nearly won this game. Where did the Red Raiders lose it? You can look at that free-throw percentage (40 percent) as a start. The Red Raiders were just 6-of-15 from the line. Texas Tech usually shoots 67.3 percent from the line.

 

The Bounce Back Iowa State Needed

Iowa State played a great game against Baylor on Saturday, even if it ended with a loss. But, if you’re going to be a Top 25 team, and one that finds success in the NCAA Tournament, you can’t allow one loss to become two, or even three, in a row.

The Cyclones did that, though it looked ugly. For the second straight night in Big 12 play, the team that was full strength struggled with the team that was short-handed (Texas did the same with short-handed Kansas State on Tuesday night). For the second straight night, the full-strength team won, but was tested. Iowa State was far more tested than Texas. The Longhorns were able to pull away in the final 10 minutes. The Cyclones had to sweat things out until the very end.

Iowa State’s record right now against Top 25 teams (3-1) will be key in the long run, because the ranked teams are going to keep coming in this conference. Iowa State’s next opponent, Oklahoma, should be ranked, in my opinion. Kansas is in the Top 10, and the Jayhawks follow the Sooners. Then it’s Texas, followed by a rematch with Texas Tech. There is no ‘breather’ in this conference, and Iowa State should be thankful it pulled this one out, as rough as the game was.

You can find Matthew Postins on Twitter @PostinsPostcard.

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