Those road woes? A thing of the past. After four straight conference road losses, Iowa State has now won two in a row away from Ames and appears to be hitting their stride in preparation for March. The Cyclones withstood yet another Texas rally and managed to best the Longhorns, 85-77.
Hot shooting from the perimeter allowed Iowa State to build a double-digit second half lead, but this win was yet another example of the toughness and resiliency that this team has methodically developed over the last month. Every time Texas tried to make a run or cut into the lead, the Cyclones answered.
Matt Thomas served as an unlikely hero, scoring a career-high 17 points off the bench while knocking down 4-6 from deep. Frankly put, Thomas needed a confidence boost and Saturday's break out game might just be what allows him to snap his recent cold spell.
Thomas wasn't the only star off the bench, however, as Bryce Dejean-Jones scored 16 points of his own in relief. Georges Niang finished with 17 points, which included 14 in the second half and Dustin Hogue (11 points) and Naz Long (12 points) also notched double-figure efforts.
Jameel McKay failed to reach double figures for the first time since being inserted into the starting line up, but did pull down 9 rebounds and blocked 3 shots. Monte Morris ended the day with a steady 9 points and 5 assists. Abdel Nader failed to score in limited minutes.
The long ball was good to the Cyclones on Saturday as Iowa State hit 12-21 from deep with Thomas, Niang, Hogue and Long all hitting at least two treys. For the second straight game, Iowa State also took excellent care of the ball, turning it over only 8 times, which is an outstanding number on the road (or anywhere for that matter).
Iowa State wasn't particularly exceptional from the line over the last four minutes as the Horns attempted to muck up the pace in order to get back in the game, but the Cyclones hit just enough to keep some distance. Overall, Iowa State finished 21-33 from the line.
Kendal Yancy had the game of his life for Texas, scoring 29 points and knocking down 6-9 from outside. Yancy was the only consistent offensive threat for Texas for most of the game, though Isaiah Taylor made a late push to finish with 23 points. Texas only shot 40.8% from the floor, which is surprisingly low number considering their significant size advantage. A lot of credit has to be given to Iowa State's post defense, which was superb for most of the day.
Coming into this week, most fans would have been happy with a split given that both games came on the road, but Iowa State managed to pass this test with flying colors and now the question about winning out in the regular season becomes a legitimate talking point.
Iowa State returns home to host Baylor on Wednesday, then travels to Kansas State next Saturday, comes back to Hilton Coliseum to take on Oklahoma on March 2nd and closes the regular season at TCU.
With the win today, Iowa State moves to 10-4 in conference play and 20-6 overall. This is the fourth straight year Iowa State has recorded 20 wins, which is a program first. The Cyclones also look to be a lock for their fourth straight NCAA Tournament, which would also be the first time in the program's history that they've accomplished that feat.
Wednesday game with Baylor will tip at 8 PM.