Iowa State will be tasked with shoring up its poor defense against Texas Tech

Michael Jacobson attempts a shot for Iowa State in a 73-63 win over Kansas State on Feb. 8 in Hilton Coliseum.

Zane Douglas

A fall from the top could be exactly what the Cyclones need as they play a struggling Texas Tech team who has fallen out of the rankings.

The now-unranked Red Raiders are 4-1 in their past five games, but that loss came to Oklahoma State — at the ninth best team in the Big 12 with a 3-10 record.

“Every team brings a different flavor to the game,” senior guard Prentiss Nixon said. “Texas Tech plays the passing lanes, Kansas kind of has a couple guys that are ball hawks […] every team has a different type of style.”

Despite the 4-1 record in the last five games, the loss kicked the Red Raiders from No. 24 to unranked. Some of that could be contributed to the competition that Texas Tech beat in that stretch with only Oklahoma — the middle team in the conference — even cracking the top half of the Big 12 standings.

Texas Tech will continue its easy schedule with the No. 8 team in the conference in Iowa State.

The Cyclones have traded blowout wins back and forth in their last five games as they have dominated the lower-level competition while getting destroyed by the top teams in the conference in West Virginia and Kansas.

For Head Coach Steve Prohm, the problem isn’t on the offensive end — a hypothesis that was supported in Iowa State’s previous game against Kansas where poor defense led to a 20-point loss.

“Offensively in the first half, we did a lot of good things,” Prohm said. “I thought we shot it well, we moved it well, we got good shots, good opportunities.

“It’s the same broken record, we just haven’t figured out ways to guard people and really sustain our defensive effort.”

Iowa State blew up the Jayhawks defense for 40 first half points, including a 3-point clinic as the team shot 9-12 in the half. The other end of the floor proved to be the downfall however, as the Cyclones went into that same half down by 10 with the Jayhawks pouring on 50 first half points.

The shooting went away and the Cyclones were left with an insurmountable defect that they carried to a loss in Lawrence, Kansas.

This was the case against Kansas, but Texas Tech’s strength comes in the form of team defense.

“There’s certain ways you gotta be able to attack Tech,” Prohm said. “Through cutting, through ball movement and then through attacking the transition.”

The defending NCAA runner-ups have been active all year on that end of the floor, but with the loss of two of the best players on the team in Jarrett Culver and Matt Mooney, the Red Raiders have had to learn on the fly.

No one has done that better than freshman guard Jahmi’us Ramsey.

Ramsey is averaging 15.9 points, 4.0 rebounds, 1.9 assists, 1.4 steals and 0.8 blocks in 31.4 minutes per game coming out as one of the top recruits in the nation.

Ramsey has been efficient as well, shooting 46.2 percent from the floor and 44.8 percent from three. No Cyclone, besides injured sophomore guard Tyrese Haliburton, is even over 40 percent from that distance.

Ramsey has learned the defensive system, but has taken on the largest offensive burden for Texas Tech, which will be a challenge as the Cyclones try to shore up their defensive woes.

“The defense has been bad,” Jacobson. “[Against] Texas it was good, obviously they were down a couple guys but still had some good players, thought we did a good job you still gotta guard them, so I thought we did a good job with that but, yeah Kansas 50-points in a half wasn’t good.”

Jacobson and Nixon only have a handful of games remaining with the Cyclones and have stepped up in recent games to keep the team moving forward despite Haliburton’s season-ending injury.

They’ll be looked at by the coaching staff and teammates to step up on Saturday in Hilton Coliseum.