#13 Iowa State rolled into Lubbock, undefeated and heavily favored, and despite an uncharacteristically shaky second half, the Cyclones left United Spirit Arena with their perfect record in tact.
Iowa State led by 15 at the break and stretched the lead to 17 in the second half, but Texas Tech battled back to tie the game before ISU turned it on down the stretch, coming away with a 73-62 victory.
The Cyclones have gotten out to more than a few slow starts en route to compiling their 13-0 record, but today's game played out completely opposite. ISU looked dominant throughout much of the opening 20 minutes and it looked as if they were going to cruise to an easy road win. Texas Tech used a 21-6 run, however, to knot the game up at 50 and memories of last year's debacle in Lubbock started to creep into the back of all of our minds.
During that stretch, Iowa State got away from what they do best - moving the ball around, spacing the floor and controlling the glass. As we've seen many times from this team already, though, they responded well to the adversity, collected themselves and controlled crunch time.
The Red Raiders made things a little more difficult than we all had hoped for, but take a breath, relax and take solace in the fact that this was a conference road win against a not-so-awful team and at the end of the day, Iowa State is 1-0 in conference and was able to simply out-talent Texas Tech.
- First and foremost, I want to single out the play of Iowa State's young guards, Matt Thomas, Monte Morris and Naz Long. Each made significant contributions that allowed Iowa State to come away with today's win. Thomas didn't quite have the breakout game we've all been long for, but 2-3 from deep and 8 points should prove to be a nice confidence boost for the young sharpshooter. Above all else, Thomas looked confident today. He let the shots come to him, didn't force anything and played a very solid 22 minutes. Morris proved to be the star off the bench. You could argue that this might have been his best game in a Cyclone uniform yet. He scored 11 points, was aggressive in his offensive approach and dished out 3 assists while not turning the ball over. He now has 37 assists to only 9 turnovers on the year. Finally, Long's stat line isn't going to wow anyone, but he played an excellent game. You want your bench guys to provide a spark and Long did just that. He did an outstanding job defensively and seemed to be on the floor after every loose ball. Just an all around great effort from these three.
- That 23-36 performance from the free throw line against Iowa seems to be a distant memory as Iowa State has been superb from the stripe ever since. That continued on Saturday as ISU shot 24-29 from the line, including 6-6 from Melvin Ejim, 9-13 from DeAndre Kane and 5-5 from Monte Morris. Despite not being a great free throw shooter, if Kane is getting 10 attempts per game, that should bode well for Iowa State down the road.
- This team can really take care of the basketball. Iowa State only coughed it up 5 times, which is a great number against Directional State of WhoCaresville, but to only give it away 5 times on the road in conference play is really a testament to how well this team has controlled the rock throughout the year. And while we're talking about limiting mistakes, Iowa State only had 13 team fouls for the game. This game could have gone quite a bit differently had Iowa State not limited those types of mistakes.
- It was mentioned that Dustin Hogue had the flu, which hopefully he's able to recover from before Tuesday's showdown against Baylor, but it was nice to see Iowa State come away with a win even though they didn't get good performances from the entire Core Four. Hogue only scored four points, but still managed to grab 7 rebounds whille Kane, Ejim and Georges Niang shouldered the load as each scored at least 15 points.
- Did anyone else cringe when they noted that Iowa State had lost 6 of their last 7 in Lubbock. I feel like we should take up collections and send another gift basket to Creighton. It's been about two years since we sent the last one, right?
- So ISU got that one out of the way. Now, they'll have to turn it around quickly and focus on Tuesday's mega match up with Baylor in Ames. The Bears should come into the game with a top ten ranking, but they're still 0-10 all time in Hilton Coliseum.