Iowa State faces a small break in Texas


Sophomore Rasir Bolton attempts a shot against No.1 Baylor on Jan.29.

Zane Douglas

Losing is getting all the more common with Iowa State, but it faces a simpler task on Saturday.

The Cyclones (9-11, 2-5 Big 12) and the Texas Longhorns (13-7, 3-4) will meet on Saturday to duke it out as two of the lower half conference teams in the Big 12. Texas has a better record overall and in conference, but it has had its own troubles in conference play.

The Longhorns are led by junior guard Matt Coleman who is averaging 12.3 points and 4.3 assists on 44.1 percent from the field and 43.6 percent from three.

Coleman has been a staple with Texas for three years now and has taken the reins as its leading scorer.

Three other Longhorns are averaging over 10 points —Andrew Jones, Jase Febres and Courtney Ramey — but perhaps the second most important player is junior Jericho Sims.

Sims is a rim running center — much like Iowa State’s George Conditt — who earns many of his points off of dunks and pick and roll situations.

Sims is not as prolific of a shot blocker as Conditt, but Sims also sends back over a shot a game as Texas’ leader in that category.

The Cyclones have a team that’s set up a bit differently.

Iowa State has two players that average more than 15 points a game — sophomore guards Tyrese Haliburton and Rasir Bolton — and then a supporting cast that has mostly not been able to find offensive consistency.

Haliburton and Bolton have the ball on virtually every possession and are involved in what happens each possession at a high rate.

For the latter, conference play has been kind to Bolton. His 34 percent three-point percentage isn’t all that impressive, but he is shooting 44.4 percent in conference play from that range.

He’s increased his assists per game, rebounds per game and field goal percentage as a whole as well.

Haliburton has seen a minor dip in his statistics since conference play started but has still had to shoulder the load for Iowa State.

Coach Steve Prohm said after the game on Wednesday against Baylor that Iowa State needed to find a third option on offense. The offense looks stagnant right now and two starters — Prentiss Nixon and Michael Jacobson — are in slumps that haven’t helped as of late.

Texas provides something that Iowa State likely needs to get back on track. Texas is around Iowa State’s skill level, making them a more beatable opponent than recent foes.

Prohm will have an easier time with Texas to utilize one of his favorite tools — the small ball lineup.

Texas has some long wings, but its main scorers are either guards or Sims, who Iowa State would be able to cover as he’s only 6 foot 9 inches.

Iowa State benefits from having one wing that has been giving the team solid minutes lately in junior Terrence Lewis.

Lewis only played two minutes on Wednesday, but against Auburn, Lewis — along with Solomon Young — brought the Cyclones back to almost upstage No. 16 Auburn.

Lewis could see more action against Texas than he did against Baylor and his unique play style could have an effect on the game.

The game starts at 1 p.m. Saturday in Austin, Texas.