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Iowa State takes on Texas again for Big 12 championship

Jaylynn+Bristol+shoots+a+3-pointer+during+the+Iowa+State+vs.+Oklahoma+basketball+game+at+T-Mobile+Center%2C+March+11%2C+2024.
Elizabeth Lane
Jaylynn Bristol shoots a 3-pointer during the Iowa State vs. Oklahoma basketball game at T-Mobile Center, March 11, 2024.

For the second-straight season, Iowa State will play No. 5 Texas for the Big 12 championship. The matchup comes after Iowa State stomped Oklahoma 85-68 and Texas survived a late comeback from Kansas State to win 71-64.

The tournament run for the Cyclones looks nearly identical to last season, with a quarterfinal win over Baylor, a semifinal win over Oklahoma and now a rematch of last season’s championship against Texas.

“For some of us, we get to come back and play in a championship game,” Iowa State head coach Bill Fennelly said. “There are five freshmen, a D-2 transfer and another transfer that weren’t in Ames last year. So they’ve never done it. So it’s kind of like literally watching your grandkids open presents at Christmas because it’s new, it’s exciting for them. This is cool. It never gets old for those of us that have been blessed to get to do it.”

Iowa State, however, has looked a lot different. With five freshmen and a couple of transfers, Iowa State completely changed its look, but finds itself in the same position as it did a year ago.

“It’s really cool to do it with this group because they have been through a lot, and it hasn’t been easy,” guard Emily Ryan said. “I’m just grateful I get to show up with the coaching staff I get to show up with and the team that I get to show up with every day.”

With a 12-6 conference record, Iowa State has increased its win total to 14 with the addition of the two tournament games. Monday’s semifinal win over Oklahoma was Iowa State’s 20th win overall this season.

The Cyclones enter the title game on a six-game winning streak. Iowa State’s last loss was Texas.

An 81-60 loss was what happened in Austin, Texas, in the first and lone regular season game between the two. Even though the Cyclones lost by 21, they stuck around until the fourth quarter came around, which is when things spiraled out of control.

Texas is on a three-game winning streak entering the championship, with its last loss coming to Oklahoma by one point. One streak will have to end, because only one can be atop the Big 12.

Offense is the name of the game for Texas. The Longhorns have the top offense in the Big 12 and average nearly 82 points per game.

Iowa State has the number three offense in the Big 12, with an average of just over 75 points per game. All three teams the Cyclones will face in the Big 12 Tournament were in the top four in offense, with Iowa State being the other team.

Defensively, Texas holds a big gap over the Cyclones. At third in defense with 58.2 opponent points per game, it is a large margin over Iowa State at 67.9 points per game.

Big 12 Freshman and Co-Player of the Year Madison Booker will be the one to watch on Texas. Throughout her freshman campaign, she has averaged 16.7 points per game.

Iowa State will need to rely on what it does best: getting the ball to freshman Audi Crooks and kicking it out for three. A strong defensive effort will be needed as well to try and slow down a high-powered Texas offense.

Texas matches up similarly to Baylor, in that each are top-four in offense and defense in the conference. Iowa State got the job done against Baylor, but with a more powerful offense and defense, Texas is a tough draw for the title game.

“We’ve persevered throughout the season,” Crooks said. “We are here and a lot of people said we wouldn’t be, and I think that speaks volumes.”

The Big 12 Women’s Basketball Championship between Iowa State and Texas will start at 8 p.m. Tuesday at the T-Mobile Center in Kansas City, Missouri. ESPN2 will carry the broadcast for the game.

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