After Wednesday night’s loss, Texas came into this game looking for a restoration of their hope. Losing a 19-point lead was a humbling experience for the team. The Longhorns ensured themselves of avoiding a repeat of that night in this well-rounded performance.
While the Longhorns were without Kerwin Roach again, Dylan Osetkowski found his way back into the lineup after recovering from a mid-week illness. Osetkowski was the only change in the starting lineup for Texas from the Baylor game.
Texas came out flat in the first few minutes of the game. They were down by as much as 9 points in the first few minutes, trailing 16-7. But from this point on, the brilliance of Texas turned on like a light switch. Texas responded to this deficit by going on a 15-4 run, highlighted by two consecutive three-pointers byJase Febres to make the score 22-20. Texas did not settle there, as they continued to dominate both defensively and offensively with by ending the half on a 16-6 run. Despite Texas not playing with their senior guard, players including Elijah Mitrou-Long stepped up when they needed to. There was clear hustle, teamwork, and beautiful passing that set up high percentage opportunities for Texas in the first half. Led by the 12 points Jase Febres, Texas carried a 38-26 lead into halftime, feeling good about their efforts against the Cyclones.
Texas finally built off a strong first half performance by maintaining their tenacity. With three-pointers from Osetkowski, Ramey and Febres, Texas found themselves up by 19 points with the score of 49-30. The difference between this moment against Iowa State and this moment against Baylor was defined by the effort of Texas. Instead of getting complacent, the Longhorns continued to press. For every shot that Iowa State made, Texas always had a response. Whether they drew fouls or executed plays with intricate passing, the team had success maintaining a sizable lead. This allowed Texas to increase their lead to as many as 21 points multiple times in the second half. After Texas extended their lead beyond 15 points, Iowa State was never able to cut their deficit. The game finished with a scoreline of 86-69, showing an all-around strong performance by the Longhorns.
For Iowa State, only the guards were able to make an impact against the Longhorns. Marial Shayok finished with 22 points and 3 rebounds, while Lindell Wigginton finished with 16 points, 6 rebounds and 4 assists. Despite Shayok’s point totals, he struggled mightily during this game with 5 turnovers. The leader for the Cyclones could not do enough to create any comeback magic as Baylor did Wednesday night.
What We Learned:
Texas Has a Top Shooter. – Jase Febres who finished with 26 points, has averaged over 21 points over his last three games, most of which have come from three-point range. Febres has shot over 51% from three point range in his last three games. His impact is becoming a greater threat the deeper into the season Texas goes, which is a great sign for Shaka Smart and the Longhorns. The fact that Febres made a career-high 8 three-point shots is unreal, especially considering he only attempted 10 three-point shots. His growing leadership in the absence of Kerwin Roach makes him a must-start, regardless of who is available.
Texas Can Win – Without Roach. – Several players have shown that they can be successful in the absence of Kerwin Roach. While Roach is the leading scorer for the Longhorns, his teammates have shown they can accomplish a lot without him. Players like Elijah Mitrou-Long have displayed game manager skills, as he was able to rip apart the Iowa State defense with his vision and thought-process. Jase Febres has found his stroke from behind the arc in three consecutive games and has gotten more assists lately. His 6 assists over his last three games are 1.5 more than his season average in that category. Even the ‘Alaskan Assassin’ Kamaka Hepa has made an impact in his absence, seeing an increase in minutes on the court with 39 minutes and 19 minutes in his last two games.
Texas has shown they can be successful as a team, with or without Kerwin Roach. Hopefully Roach can learn from his mistakes, especially through the opportunity he missed tonight with 5 NBA scouts in attendance.
Work to Win the Rebound Battle. – Texas was dominant in most facets of the game. They had a field goal percentage of 54.7% over ISU’s 45.5%, they has 8 turnovers to ISU’s 10 turnovers, they had 18 assists to ISU’s 9 assists. But Iowa State had more rebounds than Texas, especially offensive rebounds. ISU’s 13 offensive rebounds compared to Texas’ 7 offensive rebounds displayed a continuous struggle for the Longhorns. They need to improve this aspect of their game, especially if they want to be successful against Texas Tech.
This was an encouraging performance from the 16-13 Texas team that has had ups and downs every week. It will be interesting to see how Shaka can replicate a performance of this significance in Lubbock against #11 Texas Tech, televised Monday night at 8:00 PM CST on ESPN.
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