If ever there were a one and done this could be it for Texas.
A loss in the first round of the Big 12 Tournament and the Longhorns’ hopes for their 14th straight NCAA Tournament are over.
On the flip side, one win and sixth-seeded Texas (19-11, 9-9) just might get in.
Standing in the Longhorns’ way is Iowa State, a team that won two of its last three -- all against NCAA Tournament teams -- and is 1-1 against Texas this year. The third-seeded Cyclones (22-9, 12-6) look to have already locked up an at-large big to the NCAA tournament. But that doesn’t mean they are not vulnerable. Iowa State has dropped a few games that maybe it should not have during the regular season like to Oklahoma State, Drake, Northern Iowa and Texas. But five of their nine losses have come against top 15 teams.
Texas only has three wins against teams that are projected to be in the field of 68. It also only has one win over a ranked team -- Temple. Iowa State is not ranked, but is right on the verge heading into tonight’s game at the Sprint Center in Kansas City, Mo.
Key to Texas win: In order for Texas to put points on the board and keep up with Iowa State, point guard Myck Kabongo has to stay within the offense and make sure the offense is run. The freshman is 0-of-13 from the floor in his last two games and Barnes places the blame squarely on Kabongo’s unwillingness to get the team into an offense and get good shots.
If Kabongo can become an extra scorer or even a threat to drive and dish, it will force Iowa State not to double team J’Covan Brown. Also if Texas runs its offense, it could lead to some wide-open shots for Sheldon McClellan along the baseline.
Key to Iowa State win: The Cyclones have to control the boards. With Alexis Wangmene out of the game, ISU should have decided advantage on the glass. Iowa State is the fourth-best rebounding team in the Big 12 and with Royce White inside has a wide body presence that Texas cannot match up with. The Cyclones should be able t pound the offensive glass and get plenty of easy offensive putbacks.
Additionally attacking the rim on those putbacks could force some fouls on Texas. The Longhorns only have 15 fouls to give from their post players, so Iowa State wants to go hard right those players.
The X-factor for Texas: The first time Iowa State and Texas played, Clint Chapman had career highs in points (17) and rebounds (14). Texas lost tat game but Chapman found out how to take advantage of a team without a true center or shot blocker. Chapman typically struggles against longer, more athletic centers like North Carolina’s Tyler Zeller or Kansas’ Jeff Withey. But the 6-foot-10 senior has become more comfortable with his back to the basket against smaller players who cannot push him off the block so easily. Iowa State does not have an intimidating player inside so if Chapman can find a grove and settle in for a double-double, Texas should be in the game until the end.
The X-factor for Iowa State: Royce White might be the player who everyone identifies with the Cyclones but it is the shooting of Scott Christopherson that has propelled ISU at several points this season. The guard shoots 44 percent from behind the arc ad scored a team-high 25 points in the upset win over Missouri.
Texas, especially Kabongo and Brown, have had trouble defending the three. Against Oklahoma State that pair allowed Keiton Page to hit four 3-pointers and fouled him on two other attempts. He made all six free throws. Against Baylor, Kabongo failed to keep up with Brady Heslip as he hit four of five threes in the second half to start the Bears’ comeback.