It was over when: J'Covan Brown hit two 3-pointers on back-to-back possessions for Texas early in the second half. Not only did that put Texas up 12, but it kicked the offense into gear.
With Brown hitting his shots, Iowa State was forced to be more aware of where he was on the floor. That allowed Texas to more effectively utilize its other players and ball movement to get better looks as it stayed in front the rest of the way in the 62-55 win at the Frank Erwin Center Tuesday.
Iowa State was able to make a run late, aided by Clint Chapman's mental errors. Chapman took a ball off the rim and was called for goal-tending. One minute later Chapman fouled Tyrus McGree on a 3-pointer, giving away three easy free throws and allowing Iowa State to pull within six, 48-42 with less than four minutes left. The Cyclones weren't done there as they hit back-to-back 3s with less than 45 seconds left to make it somewhat interesting. But ultimately they could not overcome the hole they had dug for themselves early in the second half.
How the game was won: The only way Texas knows how -- with defense. With the offense struggling (more on that later) Texas has had to lean on its defense to get wins in the Big 12. Against Iowa State, Oklahoma State and Texas A&M, the defense has performed. Now it's true that is not exactly the Big 12's murderer's row when it comes to opponents. But Texas is not exactly a juggernaut either.
Texas proved against Iowa State that it was the tougher team defensively. The Cyclones came into the game averaging 75.4 points per game and were shooting 46 percent. Against Texas, Iowa State only managed 55 points and shot 34 percent.
Leading scorer Royce White still got his with 15 points. But the second-leading scorer, Chris Allen, was locked down until the final minute of the game. Allen finished 1-of-9 for 3 points. He had averaged 12 points per game.
In the middle: Clint Chapman had the best game of his career against Iowa State in Ames. The senior had 17 points and 14 boards. Chapman appeared on his way to those type numbers early. With the rest of the offense struggling Chapman stepped up with 8 first-half points and 5 rebounds. He added two blocks and played 19 minutes.
On the perimeter: Freshman point guard Myck Kabongo has been encouraged to pull the trigger on shots late in the game. He finally did it against the Cyclones. With Texas only up six and struggling to find some offense, Kabongo knocked down back-to-back jumpers to give Texas a 10-point lead. Kabongo, who sat for periods in the first half, figured out the offense in the second half and finished with 13 points. He still only managed 2 assists but came up with a steal and a layup to seal the game in the final seconds.
Stat of the game: Texas continued its trouble scoring in the first half of Big 12 games. The Longhorns only scored 28 against Iowa State. That was two points below their Big 12 first half scoring average of 30.
But the 28 points did represent one of their better home halves in Big 12 play. Prior to the ISU game, Texas was averaging just 22 points in the first half at home against Big 12 opponents.
The problem for Teas is twofold. First, Kabongo refuses to run the offense or get the ball to the proper place when the post players are running the floor. Secondly, Brown has been unreliable. Brown is 0-for-17 in his last two home first halves. In Texas' four home Big 12 games, Brown has shot 14-of-59.
What it means: That Texas still has a tenuous hold on NCAA tournament hopes. Coming into the Big 12 season it was assumed Texas had to go 9-9 to get a hard look from the committee. The Longhorns are 3-4 in the Big 12 right now with only one bad loss -- at Iowa State. If the Longhorns can continue to beat the teams they should -- Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, A&M and Texas Tech -- plus sneak in one upset, they could still have an outside shot at their 14th straight NCAA bid.