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The hottest team in the Big 12 isn't Kansas, it's this Texas team that has won nine of its past 10 games. However, only three of those wins coming on the road. The Longhorns will get a big test in this game travelling to Ames where Iowa State is usually close to unbeatable.
The Cyclones haven't been as good in conference play, having gone 5-5 over their last 10 games. They are two spots behind the Longhorns in the conference, yet are only a half-game back in overall records. ISU has been stout at home all year with its only loss coming against a tough Kansas team.
It's similar for Texas on the road where two of its three conference losses have come, both by double-digits. The last road game for the Longhorns resulted in a 17-point loss at Kansas State.
The last time these teams played, Texas not only used its home-court advantage, but dominated down low with Cameron Ridley and Jonathan Holmes. The Cyclones had no answer for the two big men, as they finished with 39 points, 18 rebounds and seven blocks. There's no question that problem will arise again as Iowa State doesn't have true big men that can throw weight around with regularity against guys like Ridley.
While ISU would love to run against a bigger team, Texas also has guys like Javan Felix and Isaiah Taylor that can run themselves. This team is no fluke. Texas has somewhat of a similar squad to what Kansas brings and the Jayhawks already beat Iowa State twice this year.
Once again Ridley and Holmes will be used as much as possible for Texas in this game. Those two will go against two smaller players in Georges Niang and Melvin Ejim. The thing about this matchup is that the Cyclones can go through both of those guys on the offensive end because the Texas bigs don't have the athleticism to cover them all over the floor. Ejim and Niang combined for 35 points, 15 boards and nine assists in the first meeting.
For the Cyclones to win, DeAndre Kane will need to put in a big game, as well as Dustin Hogue who will need to help on the bigs down low. Kane, Hogue and Naz Long shot just 7-for-27 from the field in that first game. Then again, Felix, Taylor and Demarcus Holland were 7-for-28 for the Longhorns. Will one of those guys step it up in this game, or will we see another battle of the forwards?
Felix has been huge for Texas as of late, scoring 45 points in the past two games while Taylor is as consistent as they come alongside him. Can Felix keep that up and top Long and Kane of Iowa State? The problem for ISU is that if and when Texas works down low, the Cyclones will need to help out which leaves open looks for Felix and company.
The Longhorns are still searching for that big road win and this would be it. It doesn't get easier for them either as they'll travel to Kansas in their next game.
As for the Cyclones, this is the last ranked team on their schedule according to the latest poll. A loss here would leave them with no real chances to improve their résumé outside of the Big 12 tournament.
Iowa State has its home court, but will it be enough against the surging Longhorns?
Predicted Score - Iowa State 88 Texas 78
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