Three Big Takeaways: Texas’ pressure too much for Iowa State to handle


Daniel Jacobi II

Emily Ryan tries to push through the Kansas State defense in Hilton Coliseum on Jan. 11, 2023.

Coming off a strong win against Kansas State at home, the Cyclones traveled down to Austin, Texas, with hopes of taking down a tough opponent; Texas.

Although the Longhorns weren’t repping a top-25 ranking, they had the talent and momentum to take down any team in front of them. Texas came into the matchup with a 3-1 record in the Big 12, the same as the Cyclones, and was still aiming for the top spot in the conference.

From the start, it was Texas all night long, as the Longhorns’ constant pressure was too much for the Cyclones to handle. Iowa State played well at times, but Texas took care of business throughout the full 40 minutes to come out on top 68-53.

Dealing with physicality

Going into the game, the Cyclones were expecting to deal with a strong Texas team that would be playing more physical than any team they’ve dealt with so far in the season.

Texas’ physicality was a thorn in Iowa State’s side last season, and that trend continued on Sunday. From the jump, it was clear that Texas wasn’t going to give Iowa State any breathing room through the full 40 minutes.

Iowa State players had to look for points and drive down the court with Texas players constantly in their faces. Whenever Iowa State inbounded the ball, they had to deal with Texas’ full-court pressure.

That pressure from Texas caused multiple turnovers before the Cyclones could start their possessions. In a tightly-contested game, turnovers would be critical for leaving with a victory.

Texas was also relentless on defense, giving the team more opportunities on offense. Texas was dominant in the paint in the first quarter, out-scoring and out-rebounding Iowa State.

Texas had 16 paint points to Iowa State’s 10 in the first quarter. Texas maintained that nearly double-digit lead in the paint through all four quarters.

Texas’ dominance in the paint was a big reason the Cyclones found themselves trailing through a large majority of the game. Despite Iowa State’s struggles against the unyielding pressure, there were some glimpses of greatness among the starters.

Iowa State players would have to finish through Texas’ physical defense, and they did throughout the game. As the first half came to a close, Emily Ryan drove to the rim and put up a contested shot to pick up the and-1 to put the Cyclones within a point.

Ashely Joens tries to push through the Kansas State defense in Hilton Coliseum on Jan. 11, 2023. (Daniel Jacobi II)

Although Texas hit a corner three in the final minute, the Cyclones’ adjustments helped them keep the game close at the half. Iowa State also surged back to tie up the game multiple times in the third quarter.

Although Iowa State kept the game close, Texas’ lockdown defense was too much for Iowa State to handle as the Longhorns sealed the deal in the second half.

By the final quarter, Texas started to run away with the game, forcing turnover after turnover to stifle any Iowa State attempt at a comeback.

Costly turnovers

Late in the game, with Iowa State close on Texas’ heels, the Longhorns turned on a switch. Texas went on a 13-0 run with minutes left in the game to dash any hopes of an Iowa State comeback.

It seemed that every possession the Cyclones had late in the game ended with a turnover. Throughout the entire game, those costly turnovers came around to keep the Cyclones away from a win.

At the first media timeout in the first quarter, Iowa State had four turnovers to Texas’ one. After a quarter, Iowa State had five turnovers.

The trend through the game would be Iowa State attempting to close the gap in turnovers before Texas surged back. Although Iowa State was shooting better than Texas, the turnovers allowed Texas to mount a big lead in the first quarter and hang onto a lead at the half.

The Cyclones were able to close that margin early in the second quarter after a pair of steals from Ryan. Closing the gap in the turnover battle allowed the Cyclones to surge back within one possession.

Just as the Cyclones closed the turnover margin, Texas pushed right back forcing three in the final few minutes of the half. With Texas getting back on top, the Longhorns neared a double-digit lead with time running out.

Both teams had double-digit turnovers by the third quarter. It was clear that defense would win the game for either team and points off of turnovers would be crucial.

As Texas iced the game, the Cyclone walked away with 20 turnovers. Texas took advantage of those turnovers throughout the game, finishing with 26 points off of turnovers.

Can’t guard Joens

Despite the relentless pressure from Texas, Ashley Joens found her way to the basket time and time again. Even with multiple defenders on her, Joens made layups in the paint.

As the Cyclones continue facing tough Big 12 opponents, Joens will have to continue her dominance in the conference.

When Joens wasn’t driving down the lane to bully the ball into the basket, she was hitting daggers from beyond the arc. With the Cyclones trailing for most of the game, Joens helped keep the game close.

Joens ended the game shooting 9-14 from the field, putting up 21 points. Her efforts allowed her to put up nearly half the team’s points. She was also the only Cyclone to get in double-digits.

Joens was also putting in work on the defensive end of the court, finishing the game with six rebounds. With Stephanie Soares out, it was clear that Iowa State was struggling to keep up with Texas’ defense. Despite that, Joens found ways to expose Texas at times.

As the season rolls on, the Cyclones should get more comfortable playing without Soares, and other players will get used to the uptick in minutes played.

Texas may have secured a comfortable win, but as Iowa State head coach Bill Fennelly has said, with how competitive the Big 12 is, any given game can go either way.