No. 20 Iowa State hosts enigmatic Texas
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It won't be easy to predict which Texas team will show up against No. 20 Iowa State at Hilton Coliseum in Ames, Iowa, on Saturday afternoon.
The Longhorns often have been baffling this season, beating the likes of No. 7 North Carolina, No. 20 Oklahoma and No. 11 Kansas, but losing to Radford and Virginia Commonwealth at home, and at Oklahoma State in conference play.
Texas' 73-63 win over Kansas on Tuesday snapped a 10-game losing streak to the Jayhawks and was produced just three days after the Longhorns laid a proverbial egg in a 98-88 loss at Georgia in what was their worst defensive game of the season.
Texas (12-9, 4-4 Big 12) responded by beating Kansas at its own game, playing tough on the ball, making key shots and converting its free throws down the stretch.
"We really challenged the guys in practice," Texas coach Shaka Smart said. "We spent a lot of time on habits. We did a lot of boring basketball drills that coaches love. The players probably don't, but I thought that probably helped us (against Kansas)."
Dylan Osetkowski scored a season-high 16 points to lead Texas in the victory. Kerwin Roach II hit for 15, Jaxson Hayes added 13 points and nine rebounds, and Jase Febres tallied 12 points that was highlighted by two key-3-pointers in the stretch run.
"Before this game, I was zero-and-seven versus KU," Roach, a senior, told the Austin American-Statesman. "It's very hard to get a win versus KU."
Texas has struggled just to keep its collective head above water, and things won't be any easier when its faces off against the Cyclones.
Iowa State (16-5, 5-3 Big 12) will host Texas on the heels of a dominating 93-68 win over West Virginia on Wednesday. The Cyclones got 28 points off the bench from Lindell Wigginton, the most points scored in a game by a Iowa State player this year.
Marial Shayok added 18 points for Iowa State, with Nick Weiler-Babb hitting for 14 points.
Iowa State has already exceeded its conference win total from a year ago (four).
"I've liked this team for a long time," Iowa State coach Steve Prohm said. "From the summer on, I've said we had a chance. We're nearing the second half of conference play where we need to take our step."
Wigginton, who nearly bolted for the NBA after a high-scoring freshman season, missed 10 games near the beginning of this season because of a foot injury and has been coming off the bench since returning on Dec. 21. He has slowly rounded into form, thanks to putting in some extra work.
"I've been getting extra shots up and watching film with the coaches," Wigginton told the Ames Tribune.
"And my teammates just telling me, 'It's gonna come.' They believe in me, my coaching staff believes in me, so when you got players and coaches that believe in you, you're gonna give it your all, and the confidence is staying high."
--Field Level Media
Updated February 1, 2019