Texas Tech visits Iowa State with new confidence

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Guard Diante Garrett drives the ball down the court while avoiding a Baylor opponent Saturday, Jan. 15. Garrett scored a total of 16 points throughout the game.

Chris Cuellar

Iowa State beat a Baylor team that was supposed to be competitive by 15 points, and Texas Tech got trounced by 34 points at Kansas State on Jan. 15.

The teams were supposed to be headed in different directions.

Less than two weeks later, both squads are 1-4 in Big 12 play and each having lost four out of their last five games.

Both squads will be looking for a foothold Wednesday as the Cyclones (14-6, 1-4 in Big 12) and Red Raiders (9-11, 1-4) are tied at the bottom of the conference standings and face-off at Hilton Coliseum.

“This is a very important week for us, we need to bounce back,” said ISU coach Fred Hoiberg. “We’ve got two games at home where we’ve played very well this year. The support from our crowd has been off-the-charts, especially since we started league play. We just need to come out with a great effort.”

The Cyclones know what they do well — outside shooting and tenacious defense — but in the blow-out loss to Missouri on Saturday, Iowa State struggled on both ends of the floor. After a long road trip, some mental fatigue and young players working to adjust to Big 12 play, the first year coach senses this game and this week could be a fork in the road.

“Everybody needs to step it up, adversity hit us this last week,” Hoiberg said. “Two things can happen when adversity hits a team. One, everybody can splinter off and start worrying about themselves as individuals, or two, you regroup, you get together as a team and you go out and do the things that made your team successful with the wins we’ve had. I’m confident this group will do that.”

Perhaps some of the struggles have just come with confidence. The Cyclones played with a chip on their shoulders to start the season, slighted by being picked to finish last in the conference. The confidence reached heights not expected for at least another season when the squad went on a seven-game winning streak before Big 12 play started. Recent problems have brought expectations back down to earth, but the players think getting on the plus-side again is attainable.

“It’s going to be real fun, because those guys can play some ball,” said senior guard Diante Garrett. “You’ve got to be there mentally and physically. We’re there physically, but I think sometimes you have lapses mentally, but everybody goes through that so we just have to move on.”

Garrett had been on a tear until the Missouri game, putting up 21.6 points and 5.8 assists over his previous games. Against the Tigers, he had just six points and five assists.

As far as Hoiberg’s players are concerned, the downgrade for the entire team in the Missouri game was an aberration, and they’ll be ready to go for a Texas Tech team coming off of a dramatic last-second win against Nebraska on Saturday night.

Tech is led by a pair of seniors, guard John Roberson and forward Mike Singletary. The two lead the team in minutes, points per game, assists and Singletary leads the team in rebounds. Coach Pat Knight runs the same motion offense his father Bobby Knight ran during his historic coaching days, but hasn’t had as much success on his own in the Big 12. Hoiberg wants to make sure that doesn’t start in Hilton.

“They’re very long, they’ve got guards that can shoot the ball and they run a very good motion-style offense,” Hoiberg said. “We’re going to have to do a great job getting through screens, and you’ve got to be ready to get through those at all times.”

Tip-off is scheduled for 8 p.m. at Hilton Coliseum where the Cyclones are 5-2 all-time against Texas Tech.