The Longhorns might have caught the Cyclones on a bit of a slide or rough patch—Iowa State has now lost its last three Big 12 Conference games—but that doesn’t change the fact that Texas out-hustled and out-played the Cyclones on both ends of the court on Saturday.
It has been nearly three years since the Longhorns’ last win over an AP Top 10 opponent. That came on January 22, 2011 in a road win over No.2 ranked Kansas.
And it has been almost five years since the Texas Longhorns Men’s Basketball team defeated a AP Top 10 opponent at home in the Frank Erwin Center. That win came in December of 2009 against No. 9 Michigan State.
The Longhorns changed that when they defeated No. 8 Iowa State 86-76 on Saturday afternoon and had four players finish in double-digit scoring.
Led by forward Jonathan Holmes’ 23 points and center Cameron Ridley’s 16 points, the Texas bigmen exploded in the second half to help upset the Cyclones and improve to 14-4 overall and 3-2 in Big 12 Conference play.
Javan Felix added 17 points and Isaiah Taylor finished with 12 points. Ridley posted his fifth double-double of the season and second consecutive double-double after finishing with 12 points and 12 rebounds against West Virginia.
“We are improving in a lot of areas, but still have ways to go to get where we want to be,” said Cameron Ridley. “We are getting better with each game and getting better at practice. We are on the right track.”
The Horns forced a season-high 18 Cyclone turnovers while only recording a season-low eight turnovers.
With the win over Iowa State it is clear that the Longhorns are real contenders in the Big 12 Conference and are much improved since last season when they had little to play for towards the end of the season.
“This was a great win for us, no question,” said Coach Rick Barnes. “I really think that it was a really great team win for us. We didn’t have one guy that didn’t go in the game and make a contribution.”
That total team effort by the Longhorn players came when the team out-scored Iowa State in points in the paint, 34-to-22 and kept their team turnovers down.
Holmes and Ridley’s presence in the paint will be needed again as the Longhorns host Kansas State on Tuesday, Jan. 21 and as the Longhorns continue to dive into a Big 12 Conference that is riddled with top-ranked opponents from here on out.
Texas will travel to Waco to take on Baylor a week from today and then host Kansas in two weeks at the Frank Erwin Center on Feb. 1.
After only scoring a combined 18 points in his last two Big 12 games against Texas Tech and West Virginia, Jonathan Holmes scored 23 points with 13 points coming in the second half.
The real turnaround for the Longhorns in the second half was Cameron Ridley’s play. Ridley was not a factor at all in the first half and finished with a mere four points at halftime. He exploded out of the locker room on the boards and was scoring consistently in the paint and from the free throw line in the second half to finish with 16 points total.
Coach Barnes told his players in the locker room during the break that the players needed to take advantage of their superior height over the Cyclones. Ridley was working hard down low in the paint, but the Longhorns were out-rebounded by Iowa State and allowed 10 second-chance points in the first half.
Those statistics flipped in the second half when the Longhorns finished with 11 second-chance points in the second half and held the Cyclones to only four points off of offensive-rebounds.
“Those are big plays,” said Jonathan Holmes when asked about having a big game in regards to offensive rebounds. “Every time we can get them and convert on them, it changes the momentum of the game. We put big emphasis on crashing the board and we did that tonight. We just have to improve and keep doing that throughout conference play.”
Texas also did a great job taking care of the ball and limiting the turnovers. Last year the Longhorns were averaging 14.7 turnovers per game, but this year they have decreased that number to 13.4.
Tonight the team finished with eight turnovers and had 12 assists.
Texas plays Kansas State on Tuesday, Jan. 21 at 6 P.M. Central Time. The game will be televised on ESPN 2.
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